Fantasy Hockey: Duds of the 2019-20 Season

If you have been following the “Fantasy Forecast,” you know that with good there is also bad and maybe even some ugly. After covering the Studs of the 2019-20 season, it’s time to look at the players that fantasy owners invested in, hoping for high rewards, but were left wondering what could have been.

Related: Fantasy Forecast: Studs of the 2019-20 Season

Some players were drafted too high and didn’t meet their expected draft value. Others struggled statistically and could not find their scoring touch, and some rookies failed to live up to their draft hype. Hopefully, you did not fall victim to drafting one or more of these players for your fantasy roster.

All players’ average draft positions (ADP) are based on Yahoo Fantasy Hockey Rankings.

Worst Draft Value

A fantasy manager must be sure to hit on their early-round draft picks to have the best chance of gaining a competitive edge. Unfortunately, some of these players may have cost a pretty penny, but their high ADP did not match their play on the ice.

Sergei Bobrovksy – Goalie, FLA (ADP: 22.0)

During his time with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Bobrovsky solidified himself as one of the best goalies in the league. But, after signing with the Florida Panthers as a free agent, he was anything but.

Sergei Bobrovsky Florida Panthers
Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He was expected to be the missing link on a Panthers team that struggled in net, but perhaps his big contract weighed too heavily on the Russian goaltender.

After Bobrovsky signed with Florida many people had big expectations of him in his first season as a Panther, projecting him for over 30 wins.

Bobrovsky’s 23-19-6 record, .900 save percentage, and above 3.00 goals-against average prevented the Panthers from finding their full stride and hurt fantasy owners who selected him as a top-five goalie, expecting him to be a workhorse for their roster.

Joe Pavelski – Center/ Right Wing, DAL (ADP: 58.8)

After spending the entirety of his career with the San Jose Sharks, Joe Pavelski signed with the Dallas Stars as an unrestricted free agent for his 14th NHL season. He was expected to provide secondary scoring on a team desperate for offensive help, making him a great target in 2019-20 fantasy drafts in the middle rounds. Unfortunately, his first season with his new team did not go as smoothly, and it left many fantasy owners wanting more, especially after spending a fifth-round pick in 12-team standard drafts to acquire his services.

Joe Pavelski Dallas Stars
Joe Pavelski, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Pavelski put up his worst statistical season since the lockout-shortened season in 2012-13, matching that total with 31 points in 67 games. Some may argue that the adjustment to a new team was the reason for his underwhelming season, and others may fear that the 35-year-old has seen his best years, and this is the start of his decline in play.

Johnny Gaudreau – Left Wing/ Right Wing, CGY (ADP: 17.8)

The Calgary Flames have relied on Gaudreau in previous seasons to be a competitive team; this season did not follow suit. After putting up 99 points last season, he was leaned on to be a top point producer, and fantasy drafts reflected that as he was one of the first 20 players off the draft boards.

Johnny Gaudreau Calgary Flames
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Although it may have been a stretch to expect Gaudreau to replicate what he did last season and a slight decrease in scoring was expected, owners were not prepared for a 58-point season from a second-round pick. The team’s more balanced scoring approach may explain some of Gaudreau’s drastic decline, but his inconsistent play is the main reason.

Related: Best NHL Players Not in the Hockey Hall of Fame

With his worst offensive regular season behind him, Gaudreau should drop in draft position next season and would be an excellent bounce-back player to target if he falls out of the second round.

Statistical Underperformers

As important as it is for managers to trust their gut, there are instances when a player falls, but the scoring they can provide is too much to pass up. These players were drafted to score points but were not the offensive powerhouses they’ve been in the past.

Taylor Hall – Left Wing, ARI (ADP: 21.8)

The former Hart Trophy winner was looking for a bounce-back campaign after his previous season was cut short due to a knee injury. Hall is one of the best left-wingers available in fantasy drafts, although his offensive numbers did not meet the second-round pick it cost to draft him. He only had six goals in his first 30 games with the New Jersey Devils.

The pending unrestricted free agent was moved in mid-December to the Arizona Coyotes, which gave fantasy owners hope that he could shake off his rusty start and produce at an elite level offensively. Unfortunately, that was not the case. In 65 games, Hall failed to hit the 20-goal mark and performed at under a point-per-game pace, which was not what was advertised when owners drafted him.

Phil Kessel – Right Wing, ARI (ADP: 68.5)

Like many players in the bust column, Kessel struggled after his trade to a new team. After some of his best offensive seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, including two Stanley Cup championships, Kessel was traded to the Coyotes, who were in desperate need of offensive punch. The lack of star players on the Coyotes roster, compared to Pittsburgh, hindered the winger, and he suffered a similar fate to his days with the Toronto Maple Leafs when he had to carry the offensive load.

Phil Kessel Arizona Coyotes
Phil Kessel, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Although Kessel remained on the top power-play unit with his new team, he saw a drastic decline in power-play points to only 17 this season compared to 36 last season. This was the first campaign since 2007-08 that he failed to hit the 20-goal mark, putting up 14 goals and 38 points, which is underwhelming for such a dynamic sniper. Many owners predicted a lower offensive output after leaving Pittsburgh, while others learned that the risk of a fifth-round selection was not worth the reward.

P.K. Subban – Defense, NJ (ADP: 59.2)

The former Montreal Canadien didn’t miss a beat after he was traded to the Nashville Predators in 2016. However, he was out of step when he was dealt out of “Music City” to the New Jersey Devils in the summer of 2019.

P.K. Subban New Jersey Devils
P.K. Subban, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Subban was supposed to play a big role in helping turn the Devils around and provide some major help on a depleted blue line. But, he was unable to deliver, putting up 18 points in 68 games. Playing major minutes, including quarterbacking the top power-play unit, did not help Subban’s point totals, and his overall game suffered compared to his previous seasons.

As the ninth defenceman taken off the boards, there were plenty of other options after Subban that left fantasy owners kicking themselves, including Dougie Hamilton, Keith Yandle, and the player he was traded to Nashville for, Shea Weber.

Rookie Slumps

Although it’s not ideal to be tough on rookies, it’s easy to be critical when you take a risk on one with your draft pick only to be let down. This is especially true when they are highly-ranked prospects going into the NHL Entry Draft and are expected to make an immediate impact.

Kappo Kakko – Right Wing, NYR (ADP: 113.3)

Taken with the second-overall pick in the 2019 Draft, Kakko was considered more NHL-ready by many scouts than first-overall pick Jack Hughes. With the New York Rangers in the middle of a rebuild and roster reconstruction, it was expected that Kakko would be given a lot of opportunities to succeed, but that did not come to fruition.

Kaapo Kakko New York Rangers
Kaapo Kakko, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Finn averaged just over 14 minutes of ice time, appearing primarily on the third line and second power-play unit. High offensive production was expected, as it is usually from a top pick, and after appearing in 66 games, fantasy owners were left underwhelmed and disappointed by his 23-point campaign.

Jack Hughes – Center/ Left Wing, NJ (ADP: 133.3)

It’s hard to be critical of a rookie campaign, but when the price tag is a first-overall selection in the draft, high expectations accompany the honor. The younger Hughes brother did not have as great a fantasy season as his older brother, Quinn, (even though Jack’s ADP was higher) with 21 points on the season, including only seven goals.

P.K. Subban and Jack Hughes New Jersey Devils
P.K. Subban and Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Hughes played mostly on the left-wing, although his natural position is center. It’s unfortunate that his scoring totals were as low as they were considering he did appear on the team’s top power-play unit, albeit it may not have been a very potent one.

Related: Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson Trade Revisited

There is no doubt that the 19-year-old will only go up from here, and his value in dynasty formats should still be extremely high. Those in redraft leagues may be kicking themselves since they could have used that pick to grab Mathew Barzal, Jonathan Toews, or Matt Duchene, who all had a lower ADP.

Alexander Nylander – Left Wing/ Right Wing, CHI (ADP: 200.1)

Nylander is another highly-touted prospect who has yet to meet his full potential. He also did not meet the standards of a former eighth-overall selection. After spending most of his career in the American Hockey League (AHL) and bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the Buffalo Sabres’ AHL affiliate, he has been unable to find any sort of consistency in the big league.

Alex Nylander Chicago Blackhawks
Alex Nylander, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After a trade to the Chicago Blackhawks over the summer and a fresh start with a more stable and mature leadership group, many thought Nylander would find consistency and finally prove himself as an NHL regular. However, he continued to be inconsistent throughout the season, and the young Swede was rotated around the lineup playing with several different linemates. The projected breakout of the former first-rounder will have to wait another year after scoring 26 points in 68 games in his failed first crack at full-time NHL duties.

Bounceback Appeal

The only good thing to come from fantasy duds is the fact that their ADPs will take a hit going into next year’s drafts, meaning they will come at even bigger discounts. A lot of the players who changed teams may not have had enough time to adjust to their new surroundings, and an extra season to get familiar with everything may prove to be beneficial for their performance on the ice. If you’re a general manager who likes to double down, you could find elite-level talent at bargain prices next season.