Players To Avoid For Your League

So a few weeks ago, we released our sleepers, Grit N’ Grind list for our fantasy hockey preview series. The second instalment is naturally who you should avoid if you want to win your league.

Editor’s note: This post is sponsored by our friends over at Honest Hockey.

William Karlsson
Im going to be the first one to tell you that I didn’t expect the Vegas Golden Knights to do so well last year (granted, no one did). There’s one name in particular that no one expected to do as well as they did, and that’s William Karlsson. Last season, Karlsson scored 43 goals, 35 assists, and was the Lady Byng Memorial trophy winner. Remember, this is the same guy that was traded by the Columbus Blue Jackets along with a 1st, 2nd, and David Clarkson’s contract just to ensure he would get picked.

There can be an argument that last season he should have done better than his last year in Columbus because of his better analytics numbers, and a consistent improvement year after year, but no one would have expected more than tripling his point total in one more game. Our biggest red flag was his shooting percentage last year. It was a staggering 23.4%! That jump is unheard of, and there’s really no explanation for it. His career shooting percentage is 14.6%, but if you remove last year from the total, it’s 8.3%. Now I’m not saying that you avoid Karlsson like the plague, but ESPN ranks him at 47, Yahoo at 59. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if he gets 25-30 goals next season, but the way fans are hyping him up, you would think he would be challenging McDavid next year.

Better options: Mark Scheifele (ESPN Ranking 58), Mikko Rantanen (Yahoo Ranking 74)

Jonathan Toews
Every year, someone in your league will draft Jonathan Toews way too early and become disappointed. He’s a great leader for a team, don’t get me wrong, but his hockey production does not justify his high rankings (ESPN Ranking 100, Yahoo Ranking 94). In terms of analytics, he still remains an analytical darling, with high CF%, and FF%, but a lot of that is due to his strong defensive play. He has been in the running for a Selke trophy every year since 2008-2009 but most leagues don’t reward strong defensive play, only offensive play. His Points per game numbers have been dropping steadily since this 2012-2013 peak of 1.02 points per game, and his point share has dropped from 9.4% in 2014-2015 to just 5.0% last year. There is nothing to suggest that the number will improve next year. Just like Karlsson, he’s a good pick in the middle to later rounds, but his name recognition often gets him drafted too early.

Better options: Jeff Carter (ESPN Ranking 104), Dylan Larkin (Yahoo Ranking 107)

Mikko Koivu
Koivu just like Toews is a great leader, and a great two way player, but fantasy leagues don’t reward defensive production that well. At best, it will reward defensive players with +/-. Koivu is a great defensive player with him being ranked 5th in Selke voting last year, but was only a +9 for the season. If his 2016-2017 season is not taken into account, he has never been higher than a +13. In terms of offensive production, he is not an elite producer, and his age suggests his production will continue to decrease. He has taken on a defensive role in the last two years, with his starts in the defensive zone rising to 57.5% last year and 63.8% a year before. His CF% is 49.6% and his PDO last year was 101.3. Some fans may argue that his 2016-2017 season is proof that he isn’t regressing and his stats last year were a fluke. He had 58 points was third in Selke voting, and had 63.8% of his starts in the defensive zone. I would argue that his 2016-2017 season was the fluke and not last year. His individual PDO was 104.2, which would suggest that it was a combination of good goaltending, and offensive teammates that were shooting their lights out. I expect that his production this year will be around 12 goals, 25 assists and 37 points. There should be better options out there at his rankings (ESPN Ranking 148, Yahoo Ranking 203).

Better Options: Ryan O’Reilly (ESPN Ranking 150), Nick Schmaltz (Yahoo Ranking 206).

What do you think? Do you agree with our busts or did we hit it spot on? Are there better replacements than we have suggested? Let us know! Do you think you can beat our busts on the ice? Make sure you have the right stick on the ice! Check out our friends over at Honest Hockey for the honest reviews on sticks here: https://honesthockey.com/gear-reviews/sticks/best-senior/!

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