As much as it pains me to say it, the hockey regular season is most likely over now. The only chance remaining, in my opinion, is potential playoffs which are doubtful. This means, fantasy hockey is absolutely done. In that case, let’s look back at some fantasy hockey letdowns of this season. Which ones will rebound?
Brent Burns is getting old, there is no question about that. The 35-year-old has now been in the league 16 years. The veteran was coming off his best points total in 2018-19 and fantasy owners were betting on another big season for him. This was not the case. While 45 points in a shortened season is not terrible for a defenseman, it was not up close to the 83 points he had last season. However, this was all around a bad year for the Sharks. They had a lot of key injuries to players like Couture, Karlsson, and Hertl. The injury to Karlsson, however, almost seemed to boost the production from Burns who was just starting to turn it on towards the end of the season. I do not think Burns is done. Do I think he will reach the 80-point plateau again? Probably not, but I can see him putting up around 65 points. He was also minus 22 which I think will improve as well.
Johnny Hockey was coming off a huge season for the Flames reaching 99 points with 36 goals, the biggest season of his career. However, for one reason or another he had a letdown this season (for his standards). Only putting up 58 points in the 70 games played. The bright side for Gaudreau? He is only 26. He is still young and on a very talented Flames team. Johnny was not the only Flames player to significantly drop their point total, Mark Giordano the Norris Trophy winner and captain also had a significant drop in points. Nevertheless, all the Flames’ big names are locked down for next season. Going forward I think Gaudreau will rebound which could make him steal for next season’s draft.
Not every 1st overall draft pick works out as planned, just ask the Oilers who drafted Nail Yakupov first in 2012 or the Islanders who are still paying Rick DiPietro $1.5 million until 2029. “Lose for Hughes” was a common expression people were saying during the 2018-19 season. Jack Hughes was that highly touted prospect that fans wanted. Most wanted their teams to tank the season, just to have a better shot at getting him. However, it seems like the Devils may have drafted the wrong Hughes because Jack’s brother Quinn had 32 more points than Jack and might win the Calder.
The good news for Jack; he is only 18. Yes, you heard that right he is 18 until May. Some people are still in high school at 18, but not Jack he is playing in the NHL. So, while he did not live up to the hype this season, he will come into next season with less hype and less pressure. This can mean a lot for an 18-year-old kid. While the Devils are in bad shape, they do have some things going for them. Nikita Gusev came over from Russia and looked very good after a rough beginning to the season, and their rookie goalie MacKenzie Blackwood had a .915 save percentage with a less than stellar Devils’ defense. I think we all need to give Jack some time.
Kakko’s storyline is similar in many ways to Jack Hughes. He is only 19 and was drafted 2nd overall by the Rangers with a lot of hype around him. Kakko, like Hughes, did not live up to expectations only registering 23 points in the shortened season. However, like I said with Hughes, he is young and would be just out of high school. Unlike Hughes, Kakko did not break into the top 6 forwards for the Rangers, but Kakko started to show promise right as the season was suspended. I think Kakko can break into the Rangers’ top 6 (which was spectacular this season) and then we will really see the 19-year-old break out.
I think all fantasy owners this season kept thinking this could be the week Debrincat takes off, but that time never really came. The 22-year-old had a breakout season in 2018-19, with 76 points, and everyone saw just how good the right winger could be. However, following that very good season, DeBrincat managed only 45 points in the shortened season. The upside for DeBrincat is again is only 22 which is still very young, and he is surrounded by talent. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have not lost a stride in their age. Also, Dominik Kubalik really broke out in his rookie season. DeBrincat’s line was changed throughout the season but remained consistently on the first powerplay. I expect this will stay the same as the Blackhawks will need DeBrincat to return to form if they hope to make the playoffs next season.
DeBrincat’s price in the draft will drop but I recommend him as a steal in the later rounds.
A 26-year-old veteran defender suffered a terrible injury this year, but he returned right before the season was suspended. However, Rielly did not perform up to expectations for fantasy owners before this injury. Coming off the best season of his career with 72 points, Reilly was a hot commodity on the draft market. However, Rielly did not play up to the expectations. At one point in January, before he went onto the injury reserve, Rielly said he was playing with an injury. We do not know how long he could have been playing with this injury before he went down. He is the Leafs best defender and means so much to the team. Thus, there is a lot of pressure for him to go out there even if he is injured. I think this suspension is good for Rielly who can take the time be truly get to 100% and return as a potential Norris Trophy candidate.
With only 28 points in 57 games played, saying Arvidsson was a disappointment would be an understatement. The 26-year-old Swede has had bad luck with injuries the last 2 seasons, but even when he was on the ice he underperformed big time. The Predators did switch up his line many times to try to get him going with almost no luck. The upside for Arvidsson looking forward is that he started to turn things on at the end with 3 points in 3 games and was unlucky that the season was suspended. The Predators in general had a disappointing year, but still have a lot of talent. I do not see them disappointing again next year. You will be able to snag Arvidsson in the late rounds for next year.
We all saw Timo Meier come alive not just in the 2018-19 regular season, but also on the center stage in the playoffs. The 23-year-old Swiss native had 66 points in the regular season in 2018-19 and then went on the record 15 points in 20 playoff games. Fantasy owners were chomping at the bit to get ahold of Meier this season. However, for the greater part of the season Meier was a letdown. Massive cold streaks and a minus 22 lead many fantasy owners to drop him. Meier looked to right the ship just when it mattered most for fantasy owners (if they made the playoffs). Meier had 6 points in his last 4 games and was another unlucky soul who suffered for the early suspension of play. I think his end of the season play is more indicative of what we will see in the future.
Talk about a letdown. The 27-year-old just extended his contract last June to make $72 million over 8 years. If Skinner continues to play like he did this year, we could be talking about one of the worst contracts in history. He was only able to record 23 points in his 59 games played and was minus 22, on a very poor Sabres team. We could be looking at a very different Sabres team next year because they have 5 forwards who are UFAs, 4 forwards who are RFAs, plus Ullmark and Montour are RFAs. The upside for potential fantasy owners is he will likely slide down to the later rounds in your draft. For a player who reached 60 points 3 times in his career, I might pick up a flyer on him in the later rounds of the draft.
Arguably, the biggest bust of the season Subban did not enjoy his first season in New Jersey. Subban only had 18 points and was minus 21. What looked to be a massive signing for the Devils is now looking like a massive waste of money. You could point to many things as potential reasons why he has been himself the last 2 years. You could say he is aging. After all, he is 30 years old now. You could say his past injuries are affecting his play. You could even say it was his personal celebrity life and his recent engagement to Gold Medal Olympian, Lindsey Vonn.
Personally, I think we need to give him time to settle into New Jersey. Subban wasn’t even there for a full season and the Devils were already switching coaches on him. It is hard enough to adjust to a new system never mind having to switch twice. I could see the Devils going all out to get a coach like Gerard Gallant and turning things around. Tough call on Subban, but I would not give up on him just yet.
Notable mention: Braden Holtby
Holtby is 30 years old, an UFA, and just had the worst year of his career. He could end up on another team next season especially because the 23-year-old Ilya Samsonov was bright in his appearances. I would like to see where Holtby ends up next season before I would take a chance on him.
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