By Alexander Monaghan
Are there players that just drive you insane, fantasy hockey-wise? Whether it was hoping to get more than 44 games out of Pavol Demitra or taking Mario Lemieux too early after 2003, we at DailyFaceoff.com feel your pain. We’ve been there, and likely will go there again.
In order to prevent your fantasy hockey organ-eye-zation from falling into rough times, we recommend staying away from a few of these characters.
Brad Richards, Center, New York Rangers
As a fan of the Rags, my first selection reminds me why we separate church and state. While the team acquired the top center available, his health, coupled with the organization’s free agent track record, is clearly enough to steer me away from him in the second or third round.
Richards missed 44 games over the past four seasons, suffering a concussion during his latest campaign. A transition between leagues and systems would in theory become a hardship on the 31-year-old despite previously playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning and coach John Tortorella. Uncertainty can be defined as something not certain to occur. His new team — which needed breakout campaigns from numerous players just to make the playoffs — boasts too much uncertainty for us to confidently recommend Richards at his current price tag.
Breaking 70 points for the seventh time in his career is certainly attainable, but if Ryan Kesler or Ryan Getzlaf also remain on the board, take a pass on Broadway Brad.
Carey Price, Goalie, Montreal Canadiens
Taking a goaltender too early is usually the biggest fantasy hockey faux pas. Last season, Ryan Miller went sixth overall following his magnificent, Vezina Trophy-winning season. This year, I will certainly not be taking Price with my third round pick, especially with Tim Thomas presumably available in the fourth round. Starting goalies like Jonathan Quick, Antti Niemi, Corey Crawford and Jimmy Howard all rank lower than Price despite some notable outliers.
Price played a career-high 72 games last year. His team ranked in the bottom third in goals-per-game. Their power play finished with an overachieving 19.7 percent rate which helped Price’s goal support. However, are we to rely on an overachieving power play to get him some wins? Price may have gotten better as the season progressed but his team hardly improved while their division got even stronger.
Price very well could repeat his numbers from last season. Nevertheless, even a regression in wins would make his higher selection hurt that much. Let the enthusiastic Francophone in your league take the leap.
Dustin Byfuglien, Defense, Winnipeg Jets
Easily the easiest choice on this list.
In standard Yahoo! fantasy hockey leagues, Byfuglien has been taken between the fourth and fifth round. The thought of taking an offensive defenseman on a weak team over a legitimate scoring threat like Alexander Semin, Claude Giroux, Rick Nash or Joe Thornton is simply baffling. Nothing personal, Big Buff, but you simply are not worth that kind of price to me, so we will have to let the sucker on autopick get his come- upins.
If you remain a fledgling Byfuglien supporter, here are my arguments. He posted 40 points through 2010 portion of the season then finished the season with only 53 points. That production is good for five goals and 13 points through 40 games which prorates to 26 points over a complete season. Considering his previous career high was 36 points, it should be safe to say Byfuglien hit his fantasy hockey ceiling. He could come close to 20 goals if fully healthy but that would remain his absolute ceiling. For the same price, a shrewd fantasy GM could nab a 40-goal scorer.
Joe Thornton, Center, San Jose Sharks
We touched upon Jumbo Joe briefly in my recent ‘Has Joe Thornton Become a Power Play Specialist?‘ but he deserves another mention.
At a likely fifth round price tag he won’t be that bad, but something tells me Thornton goes higher in most drafts. The hulking pivot likely continues to center the top line for the San Jose Sharks but doesn’t the emergence of Logan Couture somewhat negate his worth? As a somewhat elite up-and-comer, how long until we consider the Couture line #1 with Thornton considered #1A?
His even strength scoring is a cause for concern as is his decrease in production — mainly assists. Thornton barely eclipses 20 goals and will continue to be a useful player. However, his ability to pile 50-60 assists gave owners a boost from the get-go. David Krejci could amass 50 assists next season and he is averaging the 13th round. Alex Tanguay only finished two assists behind Thornton as well and he will probably we available in the 12th round as well (Tanguay also scored more goals than Thornton last season).
Miikka Kiprusoff, Goalie, Calgary Flames
Another incredibly easy one.
First, the Flames are a non-playoff team, so we prefer to avoid a player of this calibre. Second, he finished last season’s Goalie Ladder ranked 23rd among active starting goalies and did so mainly due to his larger win totals. Third, the Flames would probably be better off starting Henrik Karlsson, Joni Ortio or Leland Irving in his place.
Why? Because Kipper simply makes his team worse. From FlamesNation.ca:
There’s no nice way to put this, really. Miikka Kiprusoff has been at the heart of the failures of the Flames since 06/07. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that he had a very good 09/10 in the midst of this bad run, but that season is looking more and more as if it were an outlier rather than a bounce back year after being freed of the Iron One
Consider yourself enlightened and please read the rest of the above referenced article for further epiphanies.
Milan Lucic, Left Wing, Boston Bruins
Lucic played 104 games last season — three shy of the League maximum — so understand that him making my list is more a tale of caution than hatred.
In fact, every asset of Lucic’s game I like. Well, actually, every asset except his injury-prone nature. He missed time in each of his four full seasons with a bevy of ailments that included an ankle injury and both broken fingers and toes. He continues to be a tough customer but how long can he continue playing such a reckless game?
Considering his toe remains broken and his lengthy journey to the Cup, he won’t be used with my sixth or seventh round pick. Last week he made the cut on our “Prevent a Stanley Cup Hangover from Becoming Your Headache” article. He remains on my wait-and-see list as far as playoff warriors are concerned. Next season? No problem. Preemptively, I will avoid Lucic.
Jonas Hiller, Goalie, Anaheim Ducks
I’ve said my peace here.
Christian Ehrhoff, Defense, Buffalo Sabres
We understand the inflated value of unrestricted free agents but did it have to translate over to fantasy?
Ehrhoff is coming off two consecutive seasons as a member of the Vancouver Canucks where he, for the most part, played on a five-man unit with the Sedins. His production increased with the Canucks to the point where he can probably be considered a lock for 40 points. Unfortunately, he is no longer a member of the reigning Western Conference Champions and will have to settle for a lesser supporting cast. No offense to Thomas Vanek or Drew Stafford but they are simply not elite players. Very nice players, but not elite.
New owner Terry Pegula has committed to building a Stanley Cup roster so the roster can continue to improve. Nevertheless, Ehrhoff played on some very competitive San Jose Sharks teams with middling results. He will need to share his offensive playing time with fellow blue-liners Tyler Myers, Jordan Leopold, Andrej Sekera and rookie Marc-Andre Gragnani which scares a GM like myself from taking him in the seventh round, especially when you can grab another 40-point lock like Kimmo Timonen in the 14th round.
Tyler Bozak, Center, Toronto Maple Leafs
There is really no reason to roster Bozak in a standard 12-team or 14-team league. None.
Bozak will start the season presumably behind Tim Connolly, Mikhail Grabovski and Matthew Lombardi. With Philippe Dupuis and Darryl Boyce under contract next season, he could possibly even lose out on the fourth line center role. In fact, with top prospects Nazem Kadri and Joe Colborne all vying to make the team this season, the jury remains out whether Bozak even has a guaranteed spot on the roster.
After a promising rookie season in which he posted eight goals and 27 points in 37 games, Bozak regressed as a sophomore despite mostly pivoting prized sniper Phil Kessel. His 15 goals and 32 points in all 82 games displayed a regression — one which likely will be the trend for the former collegiate standout. Bozak filled a hole that a very bad Leafs team needed filled at the time. As the team gets better, he will be replaced. When you consider the age of several top producers on the Leafs — Kessel (23), Nikolai Kulemin (25), Clarke MacArthur (26), Grabovski (27) — his days in blue will be numbered and in no way warrant a 10th round pick, let alone a draft selection at all.
Steve Mason, Goalie, Columbus Blue Jackets
If there was ever, eeeever a player to hate in fantasy hockey, it’s Steve Mason.
As a once-promising, perhaps elite prospect, Mason climbed into respectability behind an above-average effort by his Blue Jackets and amid the defensively trapped coaching of Ken Hitchcock. That season the team seemed to hit lightning in a bottle as their defensive responsibility did not hamper their ability to score goals. Unfortuntately, the following season the offense dried up, the defense was porous and Mason looked god-awful, finishing the season with a GAA 3/4th of a point higher, a save percentage 15 ticks lower and 13 less wins despite only three less games played.
If you thought it was just a bad season, then boy were you wrong. Mason was a complete detriment to fantasy hockey squads last year as well when he posted a nearly identical 3.03 GAA and .901 SV%. We don’t trust him and encourage you to do the same. At this point in his development, Devan Dubnyk ranks higher on my list, which clearly says a lot. Despite improvements in Columbus, steer free of this starting goalie as Mark Dekanich could become much more than a backup goalie before the end of the season.
We hope you enjoyed our latest as much as we enjoyed writing it. If there are glaring omissions let your voice be heard in the comments. Regardless, make sure to take all of the advice in and continue to check our renowned starting goalies section, which is updated all day until game time and follow us on Twitter @DailyFaceoff