By Chris Wassel
Bring on the Hate: Monaghan
Showin’ some love: Monaghan
This article will not be a ‘What Did I Do On My Summer Vacation’ post but if it is September then we are back. The toughest part of choosing a top 10 list like this is the simple fact that there are so many good candidates not to touch this year. Injuries are likely to be up slightly so if you thought last year was bad, well then just wait.
Now injuries were not our only criteria here, we did consider fantasy duds from previous years and breakout artists who might come back to Earth this year. Also, unknown circumstance plays a role as well. Then there are the inevitable rule changes that seem to occur on a yearly basis. Some bring up one’s fantasy value while killing another player’s fantasy value. It is the nature of the beast and we are all just fantasy pawns in it.
Hate is also a very strong and callous word here. It is not to be taken lightly but there is a time to just say yes I hate Player X. When undertaking this article, objectivity swerves all over the place and there is disagreement and debate everywhere. That is the whole point.
So who is amongst our 10? Well first note that we have no numbers here. There is no particular order. This is just a list, like a one tiered piece.
Our list of 10 to HATE…
Marian Gaborik, Right Wing, New York Rangers
Again this is not hard to figure out ladies and gentlemen. Gaborik was a bottom feeder in the truest sense last year feasting on the worst the Eastern and Western Conferences could muster then would almost disappear against the team that mattered as the Rangers struggled to make the playoffs. Three of Gaborik’s biggest games were against the NY Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Edmonton Oilers. Let’s be honest. Those teams are just not very good at all. 48 points in 62 games does not impress me at all even with the addition of Brad Richards.
Richards causes some apprehension amongst the masses because now a player has to be placed on the first line to protect these injury prone players. There are too many questions with Gaborik and not about his groin for once. What is he going to do when improved teams come calling? While he may enjoy a better season, there are better options out there. If the injury bug does bite, do not expect us to be surprised. Even most Fantasy GM’s are scared to take him in the fourth or fifth round and that speaks volumes.
Alexander Semin, Right Wing, Washington Capitals
Well talk about a player who does not care, oh wait Matt Bradley said that for all of us fantasy owners. However, we already knew that. What had to hurt fantasy fans of Semin last year was the genuine decline of the Washington offense to play more of a defensively conscious style. Last I checked, that does not sit well with Semin, who is more of a cherry picker. Yes it sounds cold but facts are facts as far as fantasy hockey.
54 points in 65 games is hardly appetizing to any fantasy hockey fan who expects 1.1 to 1.2 points per game from Semin. The fact that Washington should bounce back some is not going to offset the simple idea that Semin never plays a full season for the Capitals.
Yes he plays with Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom but that does little to ease the potential fantasy pain of a guy who could be so much more if he ever got his head screwed on straight. Most figure last year was a bad blip on the radar but do not be so sure. This guy is still one year from going to Russia. Then again we probably say that every year. Buyer beware on drafting him very high. You have been warned!
Jordan Staal, Center, Pittsburgh Penguins
He is one of the most frustrating fantasy players to figure out because he really does have the ability to raise his game but maybe last year was a little too much for him. That being said, Jordan Staal failed to meet expectations last year and the Penguins went belly up in Round 1 of the playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Yes he did have foot, leg, hand, wrist and nearly every ailment to man last season but he still did play 42 games and had 30 points which would have some question why he is on this list. At first glance, even I had hesitations but some will look at the .72 points per game and see some potential for a guy who previously had played two full healthy seasons in a row. For a player who played most of the year as a first line Center with the injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, he sure did not produce like one especially on the man advantage. That has to raise a major red flag because most felt “if only he got power play time”.
Well with that debunked, what do you do? Do you draft a guy like him higher with the still lingering concussion issues that Sidney Crosby has? The answer is no. Pittsburgh was hideous last season almost like the 2003-04 New Jersey Devils without Scott Stevens. While Staal will be around 50 points, do not expect 60 or more like some are shooting for.
Jason LaBarbera, Goalie, Phoenix Coyotes
There are times where the explanation is almost self explanatory. This is one of those times but for the sake of debate, let us levy a dash of common sense into your deepest, darkest reaches.
LaBarbera was just okay to begin with and yet he was a third round pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers. While that in itself is not a crime, how they played him was. They were so afraid to rush him like they did with Dan Blackburn that the Rangers just traded him off where he started 42 games for the Los Angeles Kings one season and then faded back to distant backup. After all he has only started 118 games in the league and he is 31. Sure he could be a very late bloomer but also Mike Smith is in town which means he will get chances to start but the Phoenix Coyotes are not the same team they were a year ago.
By the way, LaBarbera’s career .906 save percentage is hidden by the fact that he just does not have starter’s talent in this league. At best he is worth maybe a FA pickup if he gets a little hot but honestly for a guy who has not played more than 20 games since 2007-08, I am very afraid to even draft him.
Dion Phaneuf, Defenseman, Toronto Maple Leafs
Yes we hanker for a little more controversy here but this is a case where the acquisition of J.M. Liles hurts a bit more fantasy wise than hockey wise. However, the real problem is Phaneuf likely will never come close to the magical fantasy season he had in the 2007-08 campaign where he had 60 points and 182 PIMS. He was on a logical progression to keep staying steady or even go up and then a myriad of misfortunes hit him from injuries to sloppy seconds.
Clearly more than words hurt Phaneuf as he mentally had some chinks in the armor so when it began to go South, he had nothing in his arsenal to right himself mentally. The results have been disappointing with a 30 point year last season in 66 contests. Yes he did have 12 points on the man advantage which was somewhat encouraging but the shots started to drop off. He only had 96 shots in his last 42 games. Phaneuf is only 215 pounds or so and people forget that his wheels (speed) have regressed some the past couple seasons.
On the other hand, the shot is still there and has to be utilized more often. His hand-eye coordination is also quite a bit above average but again, in Toronto, Phaneuf seems to go stretches at a time where he is almost afraid to turn the offensive game on. That hurt fantasy owners immensely last year because there were times where he looked ready to return to his old form. How he meshes with Liles will be key but I just do not see two guys on the #1 PP unit shooting like these guys gelling enough for Phaneuf to make the fantasy impact some are calling for. He will have a better year and may come close to 45 points but that is somewhat optimistic.
Jamie Langenbrunner, Right Wing, St. Louis Blues
Anyone who knows us from The Program, will know this name would somehow come up here. Whether people believe it or not, Langenbrunner and a few others ruined the New Jersey Devils last year and most of the blame has to be heaped upon a Captain who just flat out quit on his team. The numbers did not lie either. Langenbrunner went from a 60 point season to a 32 point disaster. Add in that he is also 36 and you have the recipe for a guy who literally had his skills regress before our eyes.
March 30th, 2010 likely ended Jamie Langenbrunner ‘s career or at least as we know it. The heated exchange with then Coach Jacques Lemaire was warranted and a Captain should have known better but for whatever reason it had an awful effect on the player himself and really has not recovered fantasy wise at all and in some ways hockey wise as well. In less than a calendar year, he went from a class act in New Jersey to a guy who could have considered retirement. Ultimately from Dallas, he did sign with St. Louis this summer.
What will he do in St. Louis this year? Well his head seems to be on better heading into training camp so though his days of fantasy relevance are pretty well over, he should be able to mentor some of the younger players while at least providing a bit of an offensive spark here and there. 40 points would be pretty nice if he got there but a late round flyer is probably the highest he should go.
Jaromir Jagr, Right Wing, Philadelphia Flyers
These will get faster and faster. Jaromir Jagr comes back to the NHL after a three year vacation in the KHL. While he was still a pretty productive player over there, the KHL is certainly not the NHL. The pace of the game is way different but where Jagr could excel is on the man advantage where he always has. Not many players can say they had 50 or more points on the power play with the New York Rangers in one season. Jagr is one of them with 52 in the 05-06 season.
Now at 39, what does Jagr have left in the tank? Does anyone know? While he did dominate Team USA in the World’s this year, that is again a level of competition not quite up to the NHL level. Taking a look at the KHL numbers suggests a guy that’s talent level has diminished somewhat but not as fast as some may believe. He did have 50 points in 49 games with Avangard Omsk. 31 of those points came on special teams by the way.
Many will draft Jagr on name recognition and potentially early. I would not waste a 3rd or 4th or even 5th round pick on a guy who is a bit of an unknown quantity. There are other players in the pool that are more known quantities. The risk is not worth the reward in this case but Jagr could get 50-60 points if everything breaks right.
Sheldon Souray, Defenseman, Dallas Stars
Simply there is not too much to say here other than he is getting a shot in Dallas because they are desperate as hell. He has a booming shot that tends to hit net more often than it does not but Souray just cannot stay healthy. Being in and out of the lineup is generally a problem for fantasy owners.
Please respect us with our following opinion. Do us a favor and do not draft Sheldon Souray unless you are in dire need of a defenseman and even then, just say no.
Rick Nash, Left Wing, Columbus Blue Jackets
Simply and say this with me, Rick Nash is not a first round pick and he may never be period. In his career, he has tallied 40 goals twice. That is it! Furthermore, he comes off a 66 point season last year. No one wants to hear anymore how he has no one to play with. There are many players out there who perform better with less. See Zach Parise before he got hurt or here is a real Debbie Downer for everyone, Sidney Crosby had the same amount of points in 34 less games played.
Even his ice time went down by just about a full two minutes (from 20:55 to 18:56). Really, even with the acquisition of Jeff Carter, there still does not seem to be that feeling he will be drafted in the first or even second round. That is his fantasy talent level and maybe someday he plays up to then. Your guess is good as mine as to that answer but still he will be somewhere around 70 points.
Alex Burrows, Left Wing, Vancouver Canucks
There is no other way to say this but Burrows’ fortunes depend on if he is playing with the Sedin Twins. Like every player not named Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh, never has a player been tied more to other players like Vancouver LW who plays with the two talented twins. When Burrows was off their line he was a half point a game guy but when he was on it, he was near a point a game.
With Ryan Kesler gone, a huge battle will erupt to see who plays with the twins. I do not see it being Burrows at this time because a fellow Swede is likely to take that spot and Mikael Samuelsson is believd to be 100%. Sorry Burrows owners but at least you can still get 45-50 points out of him.
With that, we are done. Please leave your comments and by all means, let us have it. Thanks again and stay tuned next week as we give out some love.