It’s not fun to pick out fantasy hockey busts.
You’ll sit down on draft day, cue up your excel spreadsheet, select these guys gleefully, start to daydream about the future and your forthcoming playoff glory, only to have your heart broken by box scores filled with zeroes (the worst kind of box scores).
Fantasy busts are a lot like the first 30 minutes of Wedding Crashers. They promise you this rip-roaring good time of endless musical montages, early morning parties, and Old School-esque entertainment, destined to deliver an experience for the cinematic ages… only to wilt over next hour and a half into a sad, tired, completely expected run of romantic comedy clichés.
You’ll notice that most of the guys on this list are of the “well-known” variety. I tried to avoid including lesser, supporting players, since they aren’t really a “bust” in the traditional sense if very little was expected to begin with.
Here are the six players I’ll be sliding down my draft board this post-season…
I know, I know. Adding Datsyuk to a “busts” list is akin to admitting you don’t really like puppies (why don’t you like puppies man!?). Firstly, I rather like puppies. They’re uber cute and make for endlessly entertaining youtube videos. Secondly, I absolutely like Datsyuk as a hockey player, but his fantasy value and name recognition are starting to outweigh actual production. Last year he finished with only nine points in 14 games. This season he has battled injuries and inconsistency to finish with only 35 points in 43 games. Is he still an incredible talent? Yes. Is he worthy of a top 15 or 20 pick at age 35? I don’t think so. This year I’d let some other manager gamble on Datsyuk's name in the early rounds.
Here I go, picking on another elder statesmen. Chara has actually had a nice season after a worrisome 2012-13 in which he finished with only 19 points in 48 games (of course it was the lockout season and wacky stuff was happening in terms of scoring – yes, I’m looking at you Mike Ribeiro). This year he has been utilized more offensively, even seeing time in front of the opposing net during power plays. The issue I have with Chara is centered on ice time. He’s already skating almost 25 minutes per game and I would expect that number to push even higher come playoffs. The Bruins will lean on him heavily in all situations and as a result his offence may suffer. Last year’s playoff numbers may be a tad misleading (15 points in 22 games), since the two post-seasons previously he had a combined 12 points in 31 games. Much like Datsyuk he’ll certainly be productive this year, but may not warrant the very early round consideration other poolies will afford him.
Dany Heatley – Minnesota Wild
Just kidding. He is already so much of a disappointment I don’t know what else he could possibly do. Heatley is to fantasy “bust” lists what mil and eggs are to your weekly grocery list – ALWAYS THERE in permanent ink.
Ryan Getzlaf? He’s out of his mind. Who is this guy and how did he end up writing an article for Puck Daddy!? The insanity! Ok, I’ll concede that putting the NHL’s second leading scorer (87 points) on this list is less than conventional, but hear me out. The Duck’s captain currently boasts a shooting percentage of 15.3%, a full three percent higher than his career average. Furthermore, when we look at PDO (the addition of a team’s shooting percentage and save percentage with a specific player on the ice – generally a proxy for “luck”) Getzlaf has the second highest mark in hockey – 104.9. There is no doubt that 2013-14 has been an incredible year for him, but the music has to stop, or at least slow down, at some point.
Marc-Andre Fleury – Pittsburgh Penguins
This might be the worst kept secret in fantasy sports – Fleury doesn’t exactly excel in postseason matchups. In 2011-12 he finished with a save percentage of .834 and goals against average of 4.63. A year later those numbers were followed up by .883 and 3.52. Part of me wanted to consider him as a “sleeper” candidate simply because most poolies are so unmistakably down on him. I just couldn’t do it. Even with relatively strong regular season totals this year there is still too much uncertainly. Pittsburgh is in line to play Columbus (12th in the NHL for goals per game). I’m attaching a giant BUYER BEWARE sticker to his name. Don’t say you weren’t forewarned.
Jeff Carter – Los Angeles Kings
There is a theory in fantasy hockey around “residual value.” Essentially it refers to the value a guy retains after his breakout season or a period of sustained elite production. When it comes to Carter most poolies swooned during his 46 goal, 84 point 2008-2009 campaign. Since then he has been a bit of a mixed bag. A few seasons of 60 plus numbers in Philadelphia, an awkward stop in Columbus (he’ll play with Rick Nash! The dynamic duo!), and now he seems to have settled in as a mid-50 point player in Los Angeles’ defence first system. The issue (yes, there’s always an issue) is that many still think of him as the fresh faced, potential laden star from 2008 – which he isn’t. The one caveat with Carter is that even with lesser production there is the likelihood that possession giants Los Angeles go deep into the playoffs – providing you more games to work with. Ultimately he is another member of the “name recognition club” that I tend to avoid early on.
The Entire San Jose Sharks Roster
Ok, I’m not trying to troll any fans here. I actually like the Sharks. Notwithstanding their playoff follies the past few seasons they’ve been a fantastic group to watch and a mark of consistency in a league with increasing levels of parity. So why have them on a potential “busts” list. The problem is quite simply their first round match-up. With the Sharks destined to play Los Angeles there is a real chance (likely more than 50% in my opinion) that they’ll be sent home in seven games or less. There is so much inherent risk in drafting multiple Sharks. On the one hand they have an array of offensive weapons (Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Couture…etc) and on the other they may cost you your pool if you over invest.
Those are the key names on my list, who are some of your potential busts for 2014-15?
Darren Kennedy is a writer for DobberHockey and admitted Valeri Nichushkin fanboy. You can follow him on twitter @fantasyhockeydk