(Note: Our friends at Dobber Hockey are back for some fantasy fun. All stats are through Wednesday night's games.)
If you lost in a fantasy league this year — and most of you have — then there is a smoldering anger inside you about at least one player. You'd sooner hear Rebecca Black's greatest hits on repeat then draft that particular player again. Ever.
That's precisely the type of player who makes our Top 10 Fantasy Goats list. The criteria are simple. The expectations were reasonably high for the player in September and that player failed to come through. Scratch that. Fail is too gentle a term. The player pulled a Wade Redden.
Oh, and no major injuries. Of course the unlucky poolies who drafted Evgeni Malkin, Mike Green and Zach Parise in their first round (where they should have been taken, make no mistake) are harbouring some resentment. But that's part of the game.
No, these players had to earn their goat horns.
10. Nik Antropov, Atlanta Thrashers
We weren't aware, in September, that Antropov's bum hip would be an issue that would linger throughout the season. To follow up his best campaign (67 points, plus-13) with what could be his worst points-per-game average since 2001 is pretty sucky. Not even losing Ilya Kovalchuk as a linemate should do this much damage. In fact, this year losing Kovalchuk as a linemate would be a blessing. Thankfully in most leagues Antropov was a middle-round pick at best and expectations were tempered in that 60-65 range.
9. Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
Rask followed up an awesome rookie campaign in which he stole the No. 1 job in Boston with a rather Steve-Mason-like sophomore campaign in which he let the job get stolen back. Widely considered one of — if not the — best young goaltenders in the NHL, Rask ran into the same wall that most pucks in Boston have run into: Tim Thomas. It was no secret in September that he would have to share duties with a $6 million/season Vezina winner, but it was still expected that he build on his 22 wins and maintain his stellar 1.97 goals against average. Instead, he has given us 10 wins.
8. Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks
Boyle is traditionally one of the safer defensemen to draft, but despite a fairly healthy season he is posting his worst numbers of the post-lockout era. Goals, points, penalty minutes and plus/minus are all down quite a bit, to the point where Christian Ehrhoff is the better option in every one of those categories. That Ehrhoff would surpass Boyle in fantasy value this season was about as predictable as an NHL disciplinary action.
7. Wojtek Wolski, New York Rangers
Was Greg Sherman a fantasy owner? He definitely knew when to sell high on Wolski, who looked as though he was on a sure path to becoming a 75-point player. After dazzling in Phoenix with 18 points in 18 games to end 2009-10, he psyched a lot of fantasy owners into picking him up. But not even the worst-case scenario foresaw 32 points with six games to go.
6. Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
A first overall pick in many leagues, and a Top 5 pick in pretty much all of them, Ovechkin is producing as if he should have been drafted closer to 15th. That doesn't seem like a "disappointment" on the surface, but consider this — if you chose him first or second overall, your next draft pick would probably fall somewhere in the 24 to 30 range. So to end up with the same player that your opponent grabbed at 13th…and then again at 14th, actually does a lot damage.
5. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
Just like with Ovechkin, Backstrom owners have been victimized by the shift in strategy in Washington. While the team is better built for the postseason now, that does fantasy owners little good. Drafting a 100-point player and watching him manage only 60 is pretty heartbreaking.
4. Dany Heatley, San Jose Sharks
Heatley's 0.80 points-per-game is his lowest ever in the NHL. He may not be the 100-point player that he was as a 27-year-old, but managing just 60 or 65 at what should still be his prime is ridiculous. Offensively, the entire San Jose first line has been the biggest letdown this side of Washington.
3. Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
Last year's Norris winner was the top defenseman picked in most fantasy drafts, but he's barely in the Top 20 in scoring for his position, and not at all in the Top 100 for plus/minus. In fact, 147 defensemen have a better plus/minus this season than Keith. You know it's a rough year for that category when Peter Harrold puts you to shame. This is a guy who was plus-84 in the three years leading up to this one.
2. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
The guy who has posted 37 or more wins in 12 of the last 13 years will probably fall short of 25. I understand that he was hurt, but I'm making him eligible on account of it being just 14 games and as a goaltender he really only missed 10 or 12 of them. After 45 wins a year ago, he was counted on by fantasy owners to do so much more. Since you usually only carry three goalies and dress two, to have one become such a non-factor like this is devastating.
1. Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils
The winner of the midseason WTF Award has turned things around in the second half somewhat. But that provides as much solace to his fantasy owners as handing a Band-Aid to a guy who was just pounded on by five guys in a dark alley. These useless, end-of-season goals that he's scoring is just him laughing at us for wasting a first rounder on him.
Dishonorable mentions go to Alex Semin, who I left off this list to show mercy to owners of Caps players; Travis Zajac, who is as lost without Zach Parise as Jon Cryer is without Charlie Sheen; Paul Martin, whose 23 points puts him right up there with Nate Thompson; Tom Gilbert, who has teased us with late-season surges for the last time; Michal Frolik, who is having his sophomore slump a year late; Brian Campbell, who during a contract year would have had his 25 points by Christmas; Marty Turco, for leading many poolies to believe that he would get 30 wins just by default as Chicago's No. 1; Dion Phaneuf, who didn't show up in Toronto until Tomas Kaberle was gone; Joe Thornton, who hasn't blown it as badly as teammates Heatley or Boyle, but he gave it a good run;
Special dishonorable mention goes out to the entire Nashville forward corps, who managed to follow up a season in which none of them tallied 52 points with a season in which none of them will likely tally 51 points. Well done!