2013 Draft Prep: Busts
As with sleepers, most "busts" fall into three types. There are those who are overrated on the basis of the situation they're in, those that are overrated because they're coming off a career-year, and there are those who are big names but overrated based on pure merit. Situational busts are such because of where they play, whose line they are on, or because of the personnel changes on the team. Career-year busts are pretty self-explanatory - you don't want to get caught up chasing last year's regular season or playoff stats. Big-name busts usually consist of players returning from career seasons, never to return to such heights, or are in some cases overhyped rookies that aren't ready for prime time just yet.
Brooks Laich , WAS, C: Laich seemed locked and loaded for the second pivot spot in Washington with Mike Ribeiro taking his talents to the Desert. All that changed when Mikhail Grabovski signed in the U.S. Nation's Capital, relegating Laich to third line duty. While Laich is still a key member of the Capitals, unless Grabovski struggles like he did last year in Toronto, his production will be limited, making the 40+ points prediction for him a thing of the past.
Jiri Hudler , CGY, LW: Hudler started his Calgary career with a bang in 2012-13, scoring seven points in his first five games. And while he didn't continue that pace throughout the season, he still wound up with a respectable 27 points in 42 games. Translated over a full season, he likely would have topped the 50-point mark, a pretty good season for the Czech winger. This season with the Flames finally in a rebuilding mode, if Sven Baertschi can take a step forward and with Curtis Glencross there as well, Hudler could end up on the third line.
Zack Kassian , VAN, RW: Kassian, Buffalo's 2009 first-round pick who came over for Cody Hodgson , started off the season on a tear, netting five goals though the first seven games while skating on the top line with the Sedin twins. But his output quickly tapered off and he lost his place on the top line, finishing with just 11 points in 39 games. Kassian remains a big (6-3, 214) power forward with top-six upside, but his type of player tends to mature slowly, like fine wine or single-malt Scotch. He currently projects to start the 2013-14 season on the Canucks' third line and will need to up his effort quotient with new coach John Tortorella in town.
Francois Beauchemin , ANA, D: Beauchemin has two strikes against him. First, he is coming off May surgery to repair a torn right ACL, so there is no guarantee he will be 100% to start the year. Second, and possibly partially impacted by the first, he scored just 10 points his last 30 games of the season after notching 14 in his first 18. In addition, Cam Fowler likely will take a step up, so even with Sheldon Souray sidelined with a wrist injury, don't overrate Beauchemin.
Martin Brodeur , NJD, G: While Brodeur is still the team's No. 1, the odds of him playing past the 2013-14 season are slim, as are the chances of Brodeur playing anything close to the 70-plus games he did earlier in his career. Cory Schneider will definitely see more starts than the typical Devils backup and has the upside in New Jersey's team-first, shot-limiting system. Brodeur will still see the majority of the starts, but the rationing out of playing time between the two goalies will be a closer share than usual, reducing Brodeur's fantasy value.
Bryan Little , WPG, C: The Jets made a big commitment, signing Little to a five-year deal worth $23.5 million this past July. Little, who racked up 32 points (7g, 25A) in 48 games for the Jets this past season, putting him on pace for a career-high 55 points over a full year, will earn an average of $4.7 million over the span of the deal. It's a decent chunk of change for a player who scored just seven goals, but Little did score 24 times for Winnipeg in 74 2011-12 contests, so a bounce-back in that category certainly looks achievable for him in 2013-14. That said, a total in the mid-40s point-wise seems reasonable, rather than the pace he was at last year or higher.
Bryan Bickell , CHI, LW: The Blackhawks and his fantasy owners are hoping that a hot 2013 playoff performance will propel Bickell to a huge 2013-14 season. He earned a big new contract on the back of a nine-goal performance, including the game-tying goal in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, during the Hawks' Cup run. He could have signed an even bigger contract had he left Chicago, but wisely realized his best bet was to stay and ride shotgun on a line with Jonathan Toews . Can he take the next step? Time will tell, but that postseason will likely make him an overdraft or at least one with unreal expectations.
Jeff Carter , LA, RW: Carter's first full season in Los Angeles certainly went better than his time in Columbus as he netted 26 goals in 48 games, a tally that was good enough for fourth in the NHL. His overall point production wasn't helped much with just seven assists though, making his stat line look more like a pitching rather than hockey one. An abnormally high shooting percentage (19.5 percent last year; 11.5 percent for his career) will make a repeat performance in the goal-scoring department difficult. Expect a drop off.
Kimmo Timonen , PHI, D: Timonen turned back the clock by nearly a decade last year, scoring 29 points in 45 games, which placed him in the top-10 of defensemen scoring in the league. At 238, with lots of miles on him and Mark Streit added to take some of the offensive burden off him, while I believe Timonen will have a solid year, don't expect a major leap in points above and beyond what he posted last season. In addition, he tallied between 37 to 44 points from 2007-08 through 2011-12 with the floor of that total a realistic mark for this season.
Sergei Bobrovsky , CMB, G: In his first season with Columbus, Bobrovsky was stellar, finishing second in the league with a .932 save percentage and fifth with a 2.00 goals-against average. In the process, he recorded a 21-11-6 record and captured the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender. Bob got better as the year wore on, peaking in March and April, as he came close to leading the Blue Jackets to the playoffs. The reason for including him here is while he still will notch a ton of wins and games between the pipes, expecting a goals-against average and save percentage like last year's remarkable numbers may be a bit of a stretch.
Big Name Busts
Sam Gagner , EDM, C: Last year, Gagner scored 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) in 48 games. He had 26 points in 27 games, before tailing off down the stretch with 12 his last 21 contests. His best offensive season came in his rookie season when he scored 49 points in 79 games, but his output last season would have netted him 65 points over a full season. Of course, prior to last year, Gagner had scored 49, 41, 41, 42 and 47 points. Gagner has a ton of offensive talent around him, which could help his numbers, but once Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is healthy enough to play, Gagner could slide down a line, so don't expect him to score at the pace he did a year ago.
Chris Kunitz , PIT, LW: Kunitz eclipsed the point-per-game mark for the first time in 2012-13, netting 22 goals and 52 points in 48 contests. He also contributed with 16 power-play points (9G, 7A) and finished second among top-50 scorers with 104 hits, parlaying those numbers into a three-year, $11.55 million extension. A late-season slowdown -- 13 points in his final 20 contests -- is a warning to fantasy owners not to overvalue him on draft day. Kunitz will likely skate with Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis once again, giving him plenty of value as a multi-category player. That said, expecting more than 60 points out of the 34-year-old would probably be a mistake, which is why he ends up in this column. Many will project his 52 points in 48 games over the 82 contests this season, which is a mistake for someone whose career-high is 61 set two years ago and who had a 19.7% shooting percentage last season.
David Clarkson , TOR, RW: Big dollars mean big and sometimes unreal expectations. That may be the case for Clarkson in hockey-mad Toronto. Clarkson signed a seven-year, $36.75 million deal in July with the Maple Leafs, bringing them a physical presence upfront. He potted 30 goals two seasons ago for New Jersey and started this past season with 10 goals in 14 games before netting a modest five in the final 34. Clarkson has to prove he can be a primary source of scoring for Toronto alongside Phil Kessel and live up to the weight of that contract. While the former may be possible, the latter likely will result in some hard times for him, so weigh your expectations for him wisely.
Torey Krug , BOS, D: Be wary of relying on a playoff hero to carry your fantasy team the following year. When injuries hit the Bruins' blue line in the playoffs, Krug was a revelation, holding his own defensively, while provided a spark to the B's attack. He finished up the playoffs with four goals and six points in 15 games, with much of that production coming in the series against the Rangers, and appears poised to spend the entire 2013-14 campaign with the big club. That said, with Zdeno Chara still the main man in Boston, Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk around and Dougie Hamilton expected to take a step up, Krug may have a good year but nowhere near how he performed in the playoffs.
Jaroslav Halak , STL, G: Halak entered last season as the No. 1 goalie in St. Louis after sharing the Jennings trophy with Brian Elliott the previous season. But that is where the excitement stopped for Halak, who struggled out of the gate and then had his season cut short by a groin injury suffered in early April. He didn't play another game after that and posted a pedestrian 6-5-1 record to go along with a 2.14 GAA and .899 save percentage on the year. Halak should be de-facto number one to start the season due to his contract, which is in his final season. However, the leash will be short and with the Blues' glut of goaltending talent, especially Jake Allen , Halak could lose his spot as top dog or he could be traded because he is in the last year of his deal.