OOOOOOHHHHHH FAAAAAANTASSYYYY! MY HOME AND NATIVE LAAAAND – you get the joke… Fantasy Hockey is back, beautiful, thirty, flirty, and thriving! And I must say that I personally have never been more excited. After last year’s shortened (but appreciated) season, I have a Fantasy itch that was never properly scratched.
Now, there are a lot of fantasy storylines to follow this year: Will Connor McDavid continue to produce at his ridiculous point pace for a full season? Will Kirill Kaprizov play the full season or will his holdout carry over into the regular season? Can Sam Bennett be a top 30 fantasy player now that he’s out of Calgary? And at the end of the year will Matthew or Brady be the superior Tkachuk?
There’s so much to follow. But, who are the fantasy hockey players not to draft? Who are the guys that can’t possibly repeat their previous success or are simply being taken far too early in the draft?
So without further ado, here are five fantasy hockey players not to draft in the 2021-22 season.
Darcy Kuemper, G, COL
I do not believe in Darcy Kuemper. I believe in the Colorado Avalanche, sure, but not in Kuemper. And to be honest, I’m not sure the Avalanche believe in Kuemper either.
Mere hours after General Manager Joe Sakic lost Philipp Grubauer to the Seattle Kraken in free agency – a move no one saw coming – the GM traded a 2022 first-round pick and defenseman Conor Timmons to Arizona for the 31-year-old Kuemper. It felt more or less like a panic overpay, but it did soften the blow of losing Grubauer.
🎥 Hear from GM Bill Armstrong on the Darcy Kuemper trade and acquiring defenseman Conor Timmins and additional draft picks on the first day of free agency. pic.twitter.com/DTOqkG0yQP — Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) July 29, 2021
Had a “better” trade option been available at the time, Colorado likely wouldn’t have impulsively poached their divisional rival’s netminder. Plus, you have to imagine that he’ll now split time with a healthy Pavel Francouz and if neither is performing to Sakic’s liking he’ll likely look elsewhere again.
Evander Kane, LW/RW, SJ
Due to his off-ice issues, Kane is actually ranked far lower than he likely should be.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
However, he’s here for another reason. I do not believe that Kane will have nearly as productive a season. To go a step further, I think he’s appropriately ranked. Despite producing 22 goals and 27 assists in just 56 games for his statistically most productive season, I don’t see Kane repeating his performance or being a gamble worth taking.
On paper, Kane should be a fantasy darling. He contributes in PIMs, hits, shots, and even in special teams, but there are far too many distractions and question marks for me to justify picking him whatsoever. Oh, and being on a bad San Jose Sharks team doesn’t help either. Avoid the temptation.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, WSH
Yes, Kuznetsov’s name has been in trade rumors lately, but that’s not why he’s on this list. Even if he was traded he’d more than likely end up in a top-six scenario, likely a top-line. No, Kuznetsov is on this list simply because of the names listed after him.
Yahoo Sports has Kuznetsov ranked above the likes of Mathew Barzal (56th), Ryan O’Reilly (62nd), Anze Kopitar (68th), and teammate Nicklas Backstrom (59th). Those are four names that I would take over Kuznetsov in a heartbeat. No question, no hesitation.
Doesn't take much for Ryan O'Reilly to get going. pic.twitter.com/YzNdId6bt3 — NHL (@NHL) May 8, 2021
Kuznetsov had a down year last year and I’m betting he’ll bounce back (unless he chooses to violate team Covid rules, again), but a revitalized Kuz is still not better than a down O’Reilly year. Kuznetsov is actually a statistically terrible centerman with a career faceoff percentage of 43.5 percent.
For comparison, in his entire career, O’Reilly has only dropped below 50% in the faceoff circle once during the regular season – his rookie year (47.9%)
I’m sure Kuznetsov will be fine this year, maybe even great. But he’d be a lot more valuable in Fantasy Hockey if he were a winger or if he had dual eligibility.
Jake Oettinger, G, DAL
What the hell is going on in Dallas? This net makes no sense. You have four starters all vying for sole ownership of the crease: Oettinger, Anton Khudobin, Braden Holtby, and Ben Bishop. Is this a joke?
Now, don’t get it twisted, I’m a huge fan of Oettinger. I got to watch him play at Boston University – GO TERRIERS – before his jump to The League and let me tell you, there is a legitimate reason Dallas took Oettinger 26th overall in 2017.
The kid can play. The kid can play so well in fact that Yahoo Fantasy has him ranked higher than all three of his padded teammates.
So, to be clear, it’s not just Oettinger, it’s all four netminders – Do Not Draft Them. I was hoping that Oettinger would finally take the net for himself and push Khudobin out once Bishop is finally healthy again, but the Holtby signing this offseason throws a wrench into everything.
My guess – Oettinger starts in the AHL with Bishop on LTIR and Khudobin and Holtby splitting the net.
Steer clear. There’s too much controversy in Texas.
Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, LW/RW, PIT
Guentzel and Rust are both blessed and cursed by a beautifully horrific stipulation known as Sidney Crosby. And Sid the Kid can both giveth and taketh away.
With reports coming this past week that Crosby will be out for a minimum of six weeks to start the season, walk away. Do not let these two tempt you with their first-line siren song. It doesn’t matter that they have dual eligibility, they’re not worth it, especially where they’re ranked.
GUESS WHO JUST SCORED OUR SECOND POWER-PLAY GOAL?! Bryan Rust! Pittsburgh takes the 2-1 lead. Guentzel and Crosby pick up the helpers. pic.twitter.com/Pd9mj0tTSg — Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 6, 2021
To solidify my stance, Evgeni Malkin is projected to be out longer than Crosby. This means that the next center in line to start on the top-line is a 36-year-old Jeff Carter. Trust your dear friend Dan and drop down to draft Matthew Tkachuk (34th overall) and William Nylander (110th overall) instead.
Five Fantasy Hockey players not to draft in 2021-22 | Daniel Blanda | 9-14-21
Featured Image via Patrick Smith, Getty Images