Every year we try and present to you a firm collection of guys who from a fantasy perspective are just never as good as you'd expect. These guys remind us of a popular song from the 80's; "She Ain't Pretty, She Just Looks That Way". Drafting these guys and keeping them probably means you won't win your pool. Drafting these guys and moving them early when it appears that they are finally living up to their hype/potential or pedigree could be a smart move. Just be warned....
Olli Jokinen - At the tender age of 31, and having survived 13 years in the league, Jokinen returns to the Flames this season after posting 15 goals and 50 points last year; 4 of those goals were scored in the 26 games he played for the Rangers. Reports have Jokinen dedicating himself to getting back to the "shoot first", goal scoring center that he demonstrated during his glory days with the Panthers. The Flames need Jokinen to return to being a PPG guy; someone who can post 30+ goals. That means that Tanguay turns into the playmaker on the big line in Calgary, AND Jokinen applies himself to be that go-to guy. What are the chances? It's just too big a risk for us to recommend - we think somewhere around 50 points is what you are going to see again from Jokinen.
Kari Lehtonen - When a guy gets drafted in the 1st round, 2nd overall by a young franchise like Atlanta, you'd think that eventually he would be able to assert himself as a bona fide No. 1 goaltender. But Lehtonen has managed to miss so much time over his 7 seasons that he has his own medical files to reference in the inevitable occurrence that he finds himself on the DL. The Dallas Stars are in the midst of a rebuilding exercise and Lehtonen is likely to see lots of pucks, and we think that time on the DL will naturally follow. There are a lot of better options in net.
Alexei Kovalev - Kovalev has made this list before, and last year's performance reinforced that notion. He's been a possible PPG guy with 30+ goal potential for his entire career. Earlier in his career he may have been the one of the most talented players in the league. He's still got lots of skills, even at the age of 37, but now suffers long stretches where he doesn't come close to registering the type of fantasy value that most poolies end up hoping for when they him. He flat out just wastes games for you. Kovalev will be coming off of ACL surgery this year, and as most poolies know, it takes at least one season for a player to fully return to pre-surgery production levels after this injury. It's been 3 seasons since he last hit 30+ goals and a PPG, and the chances of him returning to that level are very slim.
Wade Redden & Chris Drury - It's a bit of a noggin' scratcher for us how a GM like Glen Sather has his job after making three of the most horrendous free agent signings in league history: Chris Drury, Scott Gomez and Wade Redden. Redden is in the 2nd year of a 6 year deal that sees him earning $6.5M per year. In the 2 years with the Rangers he's posted 26 and 14 points respectfully; brutal. As a result of this lack-lustre play Redden is in serious danger of being sent down to the minors this training camp. Even if he does make the team, the likelihood of him cracking the 30 point plateau is very remote. Redden's competition on the Rangers is really not that stiff (Girard, Rozsival, Staal and Del Zotto) and yet he still cannot seem to get on track. Thinking that Redden will be able to turn it around is a serious mistake.
Joining Redden on the pool killer list for this year is Chris Drury. Last season was a season to forget for Drury - it never appeared that he was going to get it on track. He's paid a huge salary to post more than 32 points and a -10. Drury rebounding and hitting the 50 point plateau is a big hope for the Rangers but we just don't see it happening. Last season the Rangers tried to ignite Drury by playing him with Gaborik and Prospal, but he's not a natural play-maker and needs PP time and set-up wingers (i.e., Pominville, Brunette or Tanguay) to be successful - the Rangers have no one that fits that description.
Michael Ryder - There is no one doubting that Ryder has goal scoring ability. The issue is that his play without the puck sees his +/- hit the basement resulting in limited minutes or even time in the press box. Ryder needs PP time in order for him to have a significant fantasy value, but the Bruins have decent scoring depth up front and Ryder's opportunities on the PP will be very limited. He's not going to come close to scoring 30+ goals again, and if there was a way that the Bruins could unload Ryder's 14 goals and $4M salary they would. If you have him, and he gets hot at all, move him FAST.
Chris Kunitz - You'd think that with the opportunity to play with one of Sydney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz would be able to post at least 30 goals by simply lacing up his skates and keeping his stick on the ice. Unfortunately for owners of Kunitz, he hasn't come close. He's either been injured, or he's been unable to produce when given the chance to play with either superstar. Kunitz is feisty, plays bigger than he actually is, and consistently puts his teammates ahead of his own stats; to the chagrin of fantasy owners everywhere.
Alexander Frolov - After hitting a career high of 71 points and 35 goals in '06-'07, Frolov has consistently posted decreasing numbers in every season since. He hit only 51 points last year despite playing on one of the Kings top two lines for the entire season. At the age of 28 Frolov should be stepping into his fantasy value max years, but right now he's going in the opposite direction. He's going to try a new start this year with the Rangers but he's not likely to meet the production expectations of the team or of poolies. Relying on him to find his previous form is just not wise.
Kris Letang - So much has been expected of this talented yet under-producing rearguard. He is 4 years into his development and some believe this is the year that he turns the corner. Now that Gonchar is in Ottawa it's just he and Goligoski manning the points on the talented Pens PP. That all said, Letang has seen lots on minutes on the PP is his first four years and played with the same talented group of forwards since he's been in the NHL, and he's yet to crack the 30 point plateau. Every year he goes very high when the rearguards begin to get drafted with the expectation that he's going to breakout and every year he disappoints. Letang's mental game has certainly been impacted by the loss of his best friend Luc Bourdon, and we wouldn't hold that against him. But we think what you have seen is what you will continue to get from him. Let someone else take a chance.
Ales Hemsky - Last year was one to forget for Hemsky, but it didn't start out all that bad. He finished with 22 points in 22 games, all before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. Blessed with great offensive instincts, Hemsky reminds many of a younger version of Kovalev - he should score more but he does not. He's a max 70 point guy. He's not going to get you more than that, so please stop taking him in the 80-90 point guy range when selecting. Oh yeah - this specific year, the Oilers will be entertaining, but they will still lose more games than they win.
Fantasy Hockey Journal