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
Yahoo Ranks: 26th Overall, 3rd by position
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.
All this to say, do not draft Kuemper over Connor Hellebuyck, Igor Shesterkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, or even Philipp Grubauer.
Evander Kane, LW/RW, SJ
Yahoo Ranks: 145th Overall, 44th by position (LW)
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
Yahoo Ranks: 54th Overall, 17th by position
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 –