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Fantasy Hockey: 10 overvalued players you should avoid drafting

Steven Psihogios
·8-min read
Claude Giroux is still a solid player, although his fantasy production has dipped in recent years. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
Claude Giroux is still a solid player, although his fantasy production has dipped in recent years. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

The goal in fantasy hockey drafts is to find value with every selection you make. Whether it’s a small gain or a massive reward, you always want your pick to net a positive return. What you want to avoid in your draft, however, is taking players who offer a smaller chance of returning value given their average draft position (ADP).

Below are 10 players you should avoid selecting around their ADP considering their track record and 2021 season outlook.

Elias Lindholm, C/RW, Calgary Flames (70.4 ADP)

Lindholm had a very good 2019-20 season, setting a new career high in goals with 29 while playing in 70 games. The concern with Lindholm, however, is that he did it on an unsustainable 17.2% shooting percentage. Expecting him to score at a similar rate this season isn’t something you should bank on, especially when you consider the 169 shots he took last season sat just outside the top-75 across the league in that category. He is a good offensive player and does offer some hitting and shot blocking ability, but at his current ADP, better value can be found.

Claude Giroux, C/LW, Philadelphia Flyers (67.8)

For the second straight season, Giroux’s points-per-60 minutes dropped from the year prior and in 2019-20, his PP60 was actually down 1.3 points from where it was in 2017-18. Part of this had to do with new head coach Alain Vigneault’s defense-first deployment of the two-way center, which resulted in Giroux’s offensive zone start percentage dropping below 50% for the first time in his career. Considering he’s going to be 33 years old before the start of the 2021 NHL season, it’s fair to wonder if Giroux offers the same offensive upside he once did.

Gabriel Landeskog, C/LW , Colorado Avalanche (36.2)

I’m a huge fan of Landeskog’s style as the Swedish forward has proven to be a bruising player with an offensive touch. In 2019-20, however, he took a step back as his points-per-game dropped to 0.81 from 1.03 the year prior. He did miss an early portion of the season due to a lower-body injury, but that can be expected with the Avalanche’s captain as he’s missed seven or more games in four of the last five seasons and hasn’t suited up for a full campaign since 2014-15. Another development that’ll likely hinder his fantasy appeal is that he opened up training camp on Colorado’s second line with Nazem Kadri and Brandon Saad, instead of playing alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. Additionally, in his nine-year career, Landeskog has topped a point-per-game pace just once. While a bounce back is entirely possible as the 28-year-old enters a contract year, a good portion of his upside is already being baked into his ADP. He’s someone who’s going ahead of where you should feel comfortable selecting him, especially in head-to-head points leagues.

Jakub Vrana, LW, Washington Capitals (109.7)

Vrana started the 2019-20 season extremely hot, recording 23 points through the first 28 games. At the end of the year and during the playoffs, however, Vrana’s production sputtered as he had just eight points over Washington last 25 games and none during the Capitals’ eight-game playoff stint. These dry spells are even more noticeable for fantasy hockey managers as Vrana doesn’t contribute hits or blocked shots. Given that Vrana is just 24 years old, there’s certainly a chance he can take his game to another level, but it’s better to wait a few rounds and take a flier on someone else.

Travis Konecny, RW, Philadelphia Flyers (86.5)

For the third straight season in 2019-20, Konecny finished his campaign with 24 goals. Only this time he did it with a 17.0% shooting percentage, which is just under 4% more than his career average through four seasons. Of course, at just 23 years old, he’ll likely continue to grow and develop as a forward, but that shooting percentage will be hard to replicate and there’s also concerns about the opportunities he’ll receive. He’s not currently slated to receive time on the top power play, according to DailyFaceoff, which obviously limits his upside for power-play points and points in general. He also isn’t a volume shooter, as his 141 shots were tied for the 147th-most in the NHL last season. Additionally, he hasn’t been a huge factor in the hits or blocked shots categories. Konecny has a couple of red flags that should make you skeptical about his 2021 season outlook.

Alexander Radulov, LW/RW, Dallas Stars (124.3)

Radulov had a very underwhelming 2019-20 season, notching just 15 goals and 34 points. He was easily one of the more disappointing selections in fantasy hockey drafts thanks to an uneventful ending to the regular season which saw him net just six points over his last 19 contests. At 34 years old, the questions begin to shift from “Was it just one bad season?” to “Can Radulov be the producer he’s been in the past?” Another issue is the Stars play a conservative, defense-first style and scored the third-fewest goals in the entire NHL last season. With no Tyler Seguin to start the year either, offense will be even harder to come by. At this point of the draft, fantasy managers should be shooting for upside, and there’s not a ton of it there with Radulov.

Brent Burns is being drafted too high given his outlook for 2021. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
Brent Burns is being drafted too high given his outlook for 2021. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

Brent Burns, D, San Jose Sharks (54.5)

Burns is currently the sixth defenseman coming off the board in fantasy hockey drafts. The Barrie, Ontario native is still a reliable option for fantasy managers, but his ceiling has come down a bit entering his 17th NHL season. Last year he finished tied for 11th among blueliners with 45 points, a noticeable drop off from the 60-plus-point campaigns he provided in each of the previous five years. The Sharks are also a team on the decline, which took its toll on Burns’ plus-minus as he wrapped up the year with a minus-22 rating, the lowest total of his career. He’s still a solid source for goals, assists, points, and blocked shots, but his current ADP doesn’t seem to be fully factoring in where he is at this stage of his career.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Arizona Coyotes (116.1)

If you haven’t already, please go and check out the Arizona Coyotes’ projected lines for 2021. Now you tell me: where is the offense going to come from? At 29 years old, Ekman-Larsson is still in the prime of his career, but there’s not much to love given his supporting cast. He’ll remain heavily involved on the power play and will be among the minutes leaders on a nightly basis for this team, but after a disappointing year in 2019-20, there’s not a lot of reason to believe he’ll rebound. He’s a decent source for goals and a solid provider of hits, but expect his plus-minus to take a hit this year. There’s always the chance he is traded given the reports from this offseason, but that’s not something you can bank on. Defense is a shallow position but there are other options worth pursuing.

Igor Shesterkin, G, New York Rangers (49.7)

Shesterkin was unbelievable upon his arrival to the Rangers last season, earning an impressive .932 save percentage and 2.52 goals-against-average. The issue is that the promising Russian netminder only played 12 regular season games. At his current ADP, fantasy managers are taking a sizeable leap of faith, especially when you consider the Rangers defense. Players like Adam Fox, K’Andre Miller and Ryan Lindgren make it an intriguing young group, but it doesn’t have a whole lot of experience and it could be a trying year for the budding blueliners. New York also has a very capable backup in Alexandar Georgiev, who presumably will also play a fair amount this year, particularly if Shesterkin falters at points during the season. The Rangers still profile as a team that is going to play in a lot of high-scoring contests which will make it hard for Shesterkin to return value at his current draft position.

Petr Mrazek, G, Carolina Hurricanes (92.0)

Mrazek is currently being selected roughly 80 spots ahead of James Reimer in Yahoo fantasy hockey drafts, which is a little perplexing. Sure, Mrazek will likely get the first crack to be the team’s starter as he did last year, but the issue is Reimer posted better numbers than his counterpart in both the regular season and the playoffs. As demonstrated in the postseason this summer, the team isn’t married to rolling with Mrazek through good and bad. Reimer will likely see a solid amount of action and this could very easily turn into a hot-hand approach. Given their current draft positions, Reimer is the much better selection.

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