Fantasy Hockey

2021 Fantasy Hockey Busts

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Welcome to the 2021 Fantasy Hockey Busts!

When Fantasy Hockey draft season rolls around, Fantasy managers spend hours in hopes of finding the best sleepers.

Whether it’s injuries, new coaching schemes, or age, many Fantasy managers fall victim to oversight.

When they’re looking at who could separate their teams from the pack, they often take for granted some of the bigger names in the NHL.

It’s always a prudent decision to take last year’s numbers with a grain of salt. With a shortened upcoming season and last season being truncated due to a global pandemic, this mantra is even more relevant.

It’s always a battle of musts versus busts when drafting. With the 2021 NHL Fantasy Hockey Busts, we’ll identify some of the players you should steer clear of in your upcoming drafts.

2021 Fantasy Hockey Busts

Center

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Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston Bruins (ADP: 41)

There’s no question that Patrice Bergeron is one of the best two-way players in the league.

For years, the Bruins dynamo has been an offensive force and a fantasy darling. Last season, the veteran centerman scored 56 points (31 goals, 25 assists). A large part of his production should be attributed to playing between two elite playmakers in Brad Marchand (87 points) and David Pastrnak (97 points).

The thought of this trio leaves defenders trembling. Outside of Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid’s line, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more elite group of scorers.

So why hedge your bets on Bergeron?

The Boston Bruins were the East’s top team on the man-advantage last season scoring at a 25.2% clip. Boston’s holy trinity scored 86 of their combined 240 points on the powerplay. Now with Pastrnak likely out of the lineup until February, this unit (which is heavily dependant on the man advantage) is bound to regress.

Also, Boston’s powerplay quarterback, Torey Krug, who notched 28 of his 49 points with an extra man on the ice, signed with the Blues in the offseason.

Power-play points are important in fantasy hockey and Bergeron at 35-year-old is fighting an uphill battle.

Gabriel Landeskog, C/LW, Colorado Avalance (ADP: 36)

At +650, the Colorado Avalanche begin the 2021 season as betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup.

An embarrassment of riches is usually a good problem to have in the NHL, especially in a sport as physically taxing as hockey.

Last season, the Avs featured a top-heavy scoring attack that included MVP front-runner Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog.

Of these three, the player most likely to see a downturn in the upcoming season is Landeskog.

Coming off a respectable 2019-20 season, registering 44 points in 54 games, Landeskog is slated to start training camp on the second line with Nazem Kadri and Brandon Saad. While they’re both adequate players, the gap in talent between the first and second line is vast.

Colorado’s captain was also deemed “unfit to practice” to begin the Avalanche training camp. While this news should come as little surprise considering the pandemic’s stranglehold over the world sporting landscape, it certainly doesn’t help Landeskog’s draft stock.

Landeskog is currently being drafted in the third round of most drafts. His draft position is far too high, considering he’s unlikely to crack the top-line. Fantasy managers should seek top-line talent at this point in their drafts.

Brayden Point, C, Tampa Bay Lighting (ADP: 19)

There’s no question that Braden Point is becoming one of the best young stars in the NHL.

Outside of his rookie campaign, the 24-year-old centerman hasn’t scored less than 64 points in a season. He played an integral role in Tampa Bay’s successful Stanley Cup run, scoring 33 points in 23 post-season appearances.

Why should Fantasy managers balk at his lofty draft position?

The answer is Nikita Kucherov.

Arguably the deadliest pure-sniper to enter the league since Alex Ovechkin, Kucherov played a gigantic role in Point’s previous success. Kucherov’s 2021 regular season was flatlined when he underwent hip surgery in late December.

Point will inevitably struggle to match his near point per game average now that Kucherov will be watching from the press box for the entire regular season.

In the last two seasons, Point’s five-on-five stats show he’s much more productive with Kucherov on the ice. Point’s GF/60 (goals for per 60 minutes) drops from 4.16 to 3.47 when he’s without the sniper.

With a bounty of other options at center, Fantasy managers can afford to overlook Point at his current ADP.

Winger

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Max Pacioretty, LW, Vegas Golden Knights (ADP: 38)

Over the past 10 seasons, Max Pacioretty ranks 11th in regular-season goals with 274. He is also coming off a 66-point campaign with the Golden Knights.

At 32-years-old he’s also on the precipice of decline.



While including a player who has been historically consistent on the bust list may seem strange, identifying value versus ADP is important when considering when to draft the player in question.

With an ADP of 38.6, Fantasy managers should expect elite output. Last year the winger scored 66 points. In 2018-19 Pacioretty registered 40 points in 66 games, not to mention a -13 rating. In 2017-18, his last season with Montreal, Pacioretty scored 37 points to go along with a -16 rating.

The Connecticut native registered a career-high 307 shots on goal in just 71 games. Looking past the stats, regression is likely for Pacioretty, especially with a 56-game season on the horizon.

With a shortened season Fantasy managers should wait until the mid-to-late sixth round to pick to bring congruence to his output and draft capital.

Travis Konecny, RW, Philadelphia Flyers (ADP:84)

Last year Travis Konecny had a break-out season with the Flyers. In 66 games, the London, Ontario native notched 24 goals and 37 assists for a total of 61 points.

In the post-season, however, Konecny was a ghost, going goal-less through 16 post-season appearances. The usually scrappy winger lacked intensity and seemed out of place in the NHL bubble.

This upcoming season is unlike any other in the history of the NHL and Fantasy managers should beware. Not every player is going to be able to acclimate themselves to the new environment.

If Konecny’s post-season performance is any indication of how his season will go, it’s a good idea to look elsewhere for consistent production.

Phil Kessel, Arizona Coyotes (ADP: N/A)

Phil Kessel is going into his 15th NHL season and is looking to bounce back in 2021.

Last year was his first season as an Arizona Coyote. It was his worst year from a production standpoint in nearly a decade. Only scoring 14 goals and 24 points in 38 games more halves his production from his two previous seasons. For the Penguins, the sniper scored 92 and 82 points in back-to-back seasons before being shipped to the desert.

While he shouldn’t have an issue improving on his dismal numbers (his 14 goals were the lowest since his rookie season) Fantasy managers should look elsewhere for offensive production.

Hurting Kessel’s value is the style of hockey played in Arizona. Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet has chosen to employ a defensive-minded strategy. I can’t blame him for his approach because Arizona lacks offensive weapons. Even with Taylor Hall for the second half of the season, Arizona ranked 23rd in goals per game.

Although he’s a big-name player, the ship has sailed on Phil the Thrill.

Defense

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Tony DeAngelo, D, New York Rangers (ADP:104)

Last season Tony DeAngelo burst onto the scene, reaching career highs in just about every fantasy metric. His career-high 15 goals and 38 assists were outshined only by his 19 power-play points.

The blue liner’s shooting percentage was equally astounding, scoring on 10.1% of the 149 shots he took.

While he certainly had an impressive 2019-20 campaign with the New York Rangers, Fantasy managers should temper their expectations.

Sure, his numbers were magnificent, but the league is filled with one-and-done players who come out of nowhere and produce, never to be heard from again.

While I think he’ll still be fantasy relevant, the biggest red flag resides in his shooting percentage. 10.1% is unsustainable for a player of his caliber, which points to regression in the upcoming year.

Fantasy managers may want to consider Boston Bruins point man Charlie McAvoy who is bound to break out as a result of Torey Krug jumping ship to St. Louis this past offseason.

Alex Pietrangelo, D, Vegas Golden Knights (ADP: 56)

Alex Pietrangelo is off to Vegas after 12 years with the St. Louis Blues. By signing a seven-year $61.6 million contract with the Vegas Golden Knights, Alex Pietrangelo is under pressure to perform.

For the first time since entering the league, he’s on a new team. While the Golden Knights are a Cup contender, gelling with a new squad takes some time. Given the abbreviated training camp, it may take time for Pietrangelo to adjust to his surroundings.

Last season, the Blues’ former captain notched 52 points in 71 contests. With a 56-game season on the horizon, it will be tough for the 30-year-old to hit the ground running.

He’s always been a fantasy-relevant player and that won’t change. His current ADP, however, is leaves something to be desired, given the COVID-associated hurdles that stand in his path.

Morgan Rielly of Toronto is currently being drafted later than Pietrangelo and has a higher ceiling being on the jet-fuelled Leafs powerplay.

Goaltender

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Braden Holtby, G, Vancouver Canucks (ADP:103)

Last season Braden Holtby’s numbers took a dip in the wrong direction, posting a .897 save percentage and 3.11 goals-against average. With a record of 25-14-6, the Capitals decided not to re-sign the veteran netminder and named youngster Ilya Samsonov their starter.

Inking a two-year $8.6 million contract Holtby is now the new kid on the block in Vancouver.

Over his career, the 31-year-old has a 282-122-46 record to go along with a 2.53 GAA, .906 GAA, and 35 shutouts.

While his stats are bound to return closer to the norm, he’ll have a tough time in the North Division. Playing against offensive powerhouses like Toronto, Edmonton, and Winnipeg, Fantasy managers should expect high-scoring affairs.



Holtby will also have to compete with budding goaltender Thatcher Demko. The 25-year-old shined his brief appearance in the playoff bubble. Demko posted a 2-1 record in relief of Jacob Markstrom last postseason allowing only two goals on 130 shots.


Check out the rest of our Fantasy Hockey Content from the great team of F6P writers.

About Tyler Mulligan

Sports Journalist from Toronto, Canada. Fantasy hockey, basketball and football aficionado.

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