2019-20 Fantasy Hockey: Bust candidates
Kyle Riley previews a few of the biggest potential busts for 2019-20.
Snagging a few studs while rounding out your roster with high-value/high-floor players has always been a winning recipe for building a successful Fantasy team. However, it's equally important to avoid overspending on players based on their draft position. Here are some of the riskiest potential busts heading into 2019-20:
No one can deny that Binnington was the primary driving force behind the Blues' miraculous turnaround and eventual Stanley Cup victory, but Fantasy owners would be wise to pump the brakes on selecting the sophomore netminder early on in this year's Fantasy drafts.
When the 26-year-old made his season debut on Jan. 7, the Blues were in last place and eyeing a lottery pick rather than a spot in the playoffs. Binnington went on to put together one of the most impressive rookie seasons in recent memory, compiling a 24-5-1 record while recording a fantastic 1.89 GAA and .927 save percentage en route to a playoff berth. The Ontario native's measurables were less impressive in the playoffs, which is to be expected, but he was still able to maintain a respectable 2.46 GAA and .914 save percentage through 26 postseason contests, helping St. Louis capture its first Stanley Cup in franchise history. That being said, it's safe to assume Binnington won't be able to replicate that outstanding performance in 2019-20, as there is a lot of room for regression to the mean.
Let one of your league mates roll the dice on Binnington being the real deal while you target a top-tier option like Andrei Vasilevskiy in the early rounds or a high-floor backstop like Devan Dubnyk in the later rounds.
The reasoning behind Giordano's inclusion on this list is similar to that for Binnington. You may be thinking, how can the reigning Norris Trophy winner be considered a potential Fantasy bust? While Giordano obviously remains a fantastic defender, his 2018-19 Norris-winning performance should be considered an outlier rather than a sign of things to come.
Prior to his absurd 17-goal, 74-point and plus-39 rating output last season, Giordano appeared to be showing signs of aging, failing to crack the 40-point mark in consecutive seasons after racking up 21 goals and 56 points in 2015-16. Again, there's a ton of room for regression to the mean for Giordano in 2019-20, and it would be extremely unwise to expect him to come anywhere close to the magical campaign he put together in 2018-19.
I have no doubt that the 35-year-old should be able to register a positive plus-minus rating, eclipse the 40-point/double-digit goal mark and fire over 200 shots on net in 2019-20, but he'll likely be drafted based on his admittedly enormous upside rather than what should be considered a fair expectation. Let someone else take that gamble.
Gustafsson finally landed a full-time role with the Blackhawks in 2018-19, and he didn't waste the opportunity, racking up 17 goals, 43 assists and 160 shots on net in 79 games. However, just like Giordano, it wouldn't be smart to bank on the 27-year-old Swede replicating that performance in 2019-20, as he had only totaled five goals and 25 assists in his previous 76 appearances with Chicago. Beyond it being a risky venture to assume Gustafsson will continue to perform like an elite offensive defenseman during the upcoming season, there are several reasons to believe he may be at risk for a reduced role.
For one, the Blackhawks added Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta via a pair of trades this offseason. While those additions won't affect Gustafsson's standing as the quarterback of Chicago's top power-play unit, they will almost certainly cut into his overall ice time, as de Haan and Maatta are both superior players in their own end, which is exactly what the Blackhawks will need to succeed in 2019-20 after giving up 3.55 goals per game last season, second worst in the NHL. Furthermore, general manager Stan Bowman may be looking to trade Gustafsson at the deadline if Chicago isn't in playoff position. Gustafsson will be an unrestricted free agent in 2020-21, and Bowman knows he will likely fetch a pretty penny at the deadline.
If he goes to a contending team with an established power-play quarterback, his performance will suffer. Avoid all of those unknowns and select a safer option.
You may be sensing a trend here. Skinner had a career year in 2018-19, setting a new high in goals (40) while matching his career high in points with 63. The former Hurricane settled in nicely with his new club while proving once again to be an elite scoring threat, so why would that change in 2019-20? Although it may seem trivial, Skinner's goal total has seemed to consistently fluctuate from year-to-year over the past six seasons.
he 27-year-old winger racked up 33 goals in 2013-14, only to go on to pot a meager 18 in 2014-15 before bouncing back with 28 in 2015-16 and an impressive 37 scores in 2016-17, and dropping back down to earth with 24 in 2017-18. While 20-plus goals is nothing to sneeze at, with Skinner you're essentially banking on 30-plus scores for Fantasy purposes, as his assist totals have always been one of the more underwhelming aspects of his game. Additionally, he set a career high in shooting percentage at 14.9 last season, so it's safe to assume that will decline at least marginally during the upcoming campaign.
Skinner is one of the safer bets on this list, but I think there are definitely some concerning trends with his performance over the past few seasons, so I'd let someone who thinks he's a lock for 35-plus goals roll the dice while I target safer options with slightly less upside during drafts this year.
Hertl exploded in 2018-19, setting career highs in goals (35) and assists (39) while firing 176 shots on goal. The 25-year-old winger's performance during the previous campaign -- 22 goals and 24 assists in 79 contests -- wasn't poor by any means, but he had never really shown the potential to be a near point-per-game player and a 30-plus goal scorer up until last year, his sixth in the league. While it can be argued that Hertl's explosion can simply be attributed to him entering his prime, it can also point to an unsustainable shooting percentage of 19.9.
The 2012 first-round pick's career average in that category sat at 11.3 percent up until last season, so there's no doubt in my mind that his goal total, and thus his total points, will regress in 2019-20. I think Hertl will be a rock-solid option in Fantasy leagues this season, but he'll likely be selected too early due to last year's performance and his perceived upside on a contending Sharks team, so I'd let someone else make that mistake while selecting a more established player at a similar point in the draft.
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