Biggest Fantasy Hockey Busts

Identifying the biggest busts of this year’s fantasy hockey drafts and finding what has gone wrong.

We are quickly approaching the halfway point of the 2021-22 NHL season. The point when I think it is fair to start evaluating players as steals and busts of the draft. Some of these names may be able to salvage the rest of the season and for the fantasy managers who have separation issues, it may end up being a smart move holding onto them. Nonetheless, here is FantasyPuck’s All-Bust Starting Lineup.

For this article I have selected three forwards, two defenseman and a goalie that have not lived up to their expectations or ADP (average of Yahoo and ESPN) and have identified the “fantasy replacement” that has stepped up with the opportunity. I tried to avoid names like Alec Martinez or Nikita Kucherov who have missed considerable time with injury.

Elias Pettersson, VAN (ADP 46)

Vancouver fans are still waiting for the near point-per-game Pettersson that was seen in his rookie and sophomore seasons to return. Last season, Petey was limited by injuries and only appeared in 26 games. Over his last 60 games, Pettersson has only tallied 38 points (0.63 pts/g) compared to 132 points in the previous 139 games (0.95 pts/g). This production as of late is not what fantasy owners are expecting from a Centre selected in the first five rounds.

Pettersson - Canucks Army

Petey has seen no real change in his ice time throughout his career, staying steady at around 18 mins. per game. There is no doubt he still has some bulking up to do, but there has never been a better time for undersized or underweight players to succeed.

Pettersson is shooting at his worst rate since his rookie season. Not only in quantity, but quality as well. He is on pace for only 180 shots this season and is shooting 8.0%. That is 50% lower than his career average. For a forward who relies on that wicked shot of his so much, he needs to start producing more on a Canucks PP that has been average this year (20.6%).

Perhaps the wrist injury last season has impacted his shot and offense more than expected. I liked him to be a bounce back candidate this season but only Petey truly knows the extent of the injury and may not be 100% because of it.

Fantasy Replacement: J.T. Miller has become a leader on and off the ice for the Canucks. He has secured the 1C role and leads the team in power play points, something Pettersson should be doing.

Tyler Seguin, DAL (ADP 53)

It is safe to say that Seguin is no longer the offensive threat he once was. A once 40-goal scorer and two-time 80-point producer, he is on pace for just 34 points this season.

Dallas, as a whole, has struggled to score all year. They currently sit tied for 25th in the NHL in Goals For as veterans like Seguin have been relied on to provide the offense.

Similar to Pettersson in Vancouver, Seguin also was limited last season to just three games due to a hip injury. Is this to blame for the lack of production? Potentially. But we started to see some downhill trends dating all the way back to 2019-20 when Seguin only had 17 goals in 69 games (0.25 goals/g).

Occasionally, players see a dip in offensive stats because they are improving or focusing on defensive play. This is not the case either for Seguin as he is currently a -12 with a CorsiFor% around 47%.

Seguin - Forbes

Seguin’s 30-goal seasons are likely behind him as are his seasons being drafted in the first eight rounds. He still holds some name value and is 74% owned in Yahoo leagues. I would look to ship him off. If you want a Dallas veteran on your team, try Jamie Benn instead.

Fantasy Replacement: Unlike Seguin, Joe Pavelski hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Pavelski continues to impress in a top-line role sending Seguin down the depth chart and to PP2.

Dominik Kubalik, CHI (ADP 149)

Fantasy owners drafting around the mid-100’s don’t expect to be picking league-winners, but one would think a Calder Trophy finalist just two seasons ago would be entering his prime around now. Unfortunately, for Kubalik, he has not quite been able to replicate his form from 2019-20 when he had 30 goals and 46 points.

With captain Jonathan Toews back in the lineup and legitimate PP anchor Seth Jones being welcomed into the Blackhawks’ lineup, what is causing Kubalik’s lack of production?

Kubalik - Second City Hockey

He is shooting at a career-low 7.9%, about 6% lower than his career average. While he does sit second on the lowly Blackhawks in Expected Goals For (10.2), he ranks seventh on the team in points, behind names like Brandon Hagel and Kirby Dach.

Kubalik has bounced around the lineup playing anywhere from line 1 to line 3 and PP1 to PP2. With no consistency, coaches Colliton and King have had no reason to reward Kubalik with consistent top-six minutes. Without a goal in his last five games and only four points in his last 13 games, Kubalik should be nothing more than a streamer when Chicago plays 4+ games in a week.

Fantasy Replacement: The offense is hard to come by in Chi Town. Even Patrick Kane only has 7 goals on a team that desperately needs some secondary scoring. Alex DeBrincat has become the go-to sniper and the opportunity is there for Kubalik to up that shooting percentage.

Jeff Petry, MTL (ADP 75)

In what seemed like a potential opportunity for Petry to emerge as a legitmate Norris Trophy contender, he has essentially fizzled out from being relevant in any fantasy format. He currently sits with just two points in 27 games. That is not a mistake, 2 assists and a -7.

Montreal has been terrible this season so I will cut him some slack. We can’t expect him to produce like he did in the high-scoring North Division from last season, but a 5th consecutive 40-point season seemed more than fair given he would be heavily relied on with no Shea Weber or Joel Edmundson. Petry admitted earlier in the year that he was feeling the effects of not having Weber on the team both offensively and defensively. Perhaps the pressure has gotten to him, but it seems very odd to have as big of a 180 degree turn as he has had.

Petry just does not shoot anymore after being good for 2+ per game in recent seasons. Mix this in with putrid production the Montreal offense has been able to muster (30th in NHL in Goals For) and it makes sense why Petry’s stats have tailed off. He still leads all Montreal defenseman in PP TOI, so the lack of opportunity is no excuse.

Petry - Montreal Gazette

Many, including myself, underestimated just how bad Montreal would be this year and this led them to drafting Petry ahead of names like Morgan Rielly, Jacob Trouba and Miro Heiskanen. At 35% ownsherip on Yahoo, I assume that is from the large group of fantasy managers that have given up on the fantasy hockey season over the Christmas holidays. He is not worth a roster spot.

Fantasy Replacement: There has been no definite answer on the Canadiens who have taken advantage of the lack of offense or a true PP1 quarterback. Alexander Romanov is making progress but is not quite there so a collection of career depth defenders have taken reps in that position. Chris Wideman, Sami Niku and Brett Kulak come to mind.

Jakob Chychrun, ARZ (ADP 60)

Fantasy owners who took a flier on Chych last season were truly spoiled with his production. The draft steal of the year perhaps. Chychrun really came into his own putting up 18 goals and 41 points as a defenseman.

Chych ranked second among all D-men in shots (176) and was often the driver behind a ton of Arizona’s offense. This season however, is much different. The 23-year old has a measly seven points in 26 games and ranks last in the NHL in plus/minus (-29), essentially removing all fantasy value from his game. We knew this was going to be a tough year for the Coyotes but no one expected this big of a dip in Chychrun’s production.

While his shot rate remains around the same as last season, his quality of shots has gone down as the high-danger chances have evaporated. I guess that is what you get when majority of the ice time is in your own zone.

Check out these shot maps courtesy of comparing Chychrun’s 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons:

2020-21 Chychrun Shot Map
2021-22 Chychrun Shot Map

Notice how few shots are coming in that home plate area in front of the net? Mix this in with an Arizona team with no Ekman-Larsson, Garland, Dvorak or Bunting and it is no surprise Chychrun is being dropped in so many leagues.

I do believe he is still worth rostering in non-plus/minus leagues based on his 3+ shots per game. Adding him may be a high-risk, high-reward situation if the rumours about him being dealt come true this year. I would love to see him getting the assists Tyson Barrie does in Edmonton for example.

Fantasy Replacement: The worst part about Chych is that he has not had any competition for his ice time or PP1 spot. Shayne Gostisbehere has stepped up and returned to form but he has replaced Alex Goligoski from last season.

Philipp Grubauer, SEA (ADP 54)

The goalie spot here was close between Grubauer and Darcy Kuemper in Colorado (ADP 19), but Kuemper’s past month has turned a bad season into an acceptable one, from a counting stat perspective at least. At this point of the season Grubauer is available in several of my leagues, I don’t think any fantasy owner should be dropping Kuemper even after his shaky start, hence the Grubauer selection.

Grubauer was the sixth goalie taken in fantasy drafts this season ahead of Vezina caliber names like Igor Shesterkin, Jack Campbell and Tristan Jarry. Fantasy managers were expecting the Grubauer we saw in Colorado posting 30-win and sub-2.00 GAA seasons. Unfortunately, Seattle is no Colorado and Grubauer owners realized that right away after he only posted five games with a Sv% above .900 in his 15 appearances.

The decision to depart Denver was confusing enough as Grubauer was coming off of his best season yet with a team that looked poised to compete for The Stanley Cup. Seattle in general are underperforming many projections and simulations and appear to be several years away from competing.

Grubauer has already allowed more goals this season in 26 games than he did all of last season in 40 games. He is the victim of bad defense from his teammates and bad play from himself as he ranks dead last by a mile in Goals Saved Above Expected (-23.5). He is really only worth a stream in matchups against Arizona or perhaps Chicago, but even then this Seattle team cannot be trusted to secure victories against weak opponents.

Fantasy Replacement: Grub is still a good source for games played. He is signed long-term in Seattle so they will have no choice but to play him. I don’t support adding any of the backups given how poor the Kraken have played, but no one has been worse than Grubauer this year.

Honourable Mentions:

F- Taylor Hall, BOS (7G, 15A, 22P, ADP 81)

F- Jonathan Toews, CHI (4G, 11A, 15P, ADP 99)

F- Cole Caufield, MTL (1G, 6A, 7P, ADP 113)

D- Oliver Ekman-Larsson, VAN (2G, 4A, 6P, ADP 134)

D- Rasmus Ristolainen, PHI (1G, 7A, 8P, ADP 120)

G- Darcy Kuemper, COL (16-5-0, 2.77 GAA, .908 Sv%)

Thanks for reading another FP Don article. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know who your biggest bust has been this year and keep an eye out for the Biggest Steals article coming soon!

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