Fantasy Hockey: Rangers’ fading King Henrik, Kris Letang among bust candidates for 2018-19
Former NHL royalty Henrik Lundqvist, Kris Letang and Corey Perry are among Doug Greenberg’s bust candidates for 2018-19.
Building a successful Fantasy roster hinges on drafting the right players, but it is equally as important to avoid picking the wrong ones. With that mind, here are some of the biggest potential busts heading into the 2018-19 season.
It may sound like blasphemy at first, but the fact of the matter is that Lundqvist has been in decline for some time now. The King has not compiled a save percentage of .920 or better since 2015-16, his GAA has steadily increased from 2.25 in 2014-15 to 2.98 last season, and his win totals have precipitously dropped in the last two seasons as well. That last piece is especially troubling for the impending campaign because the Rangers are in the midst of a rebuild. The team managed to hold on to most of its major offensive playmakers, but the departure of Ryan McDonagh last season left a sizable hole in the defense, and it's unclear how the team is going to fill it.
Essentially, this iteration of the Rangers is not going to do Lundqvist any favors, and considering the depreciation of his play the past few years due to age, health or both, it's not shaping up to be the best year for the King. You should look elsewhere for a more solid keeper in a more secure situation.
Letang was able to stay healthy for all but three games last season, a positive sign considering his lengthy injury history. That said, the 31-year-old seemed at least moderately affected by the neck surgery he underwent during the 2016-17 season because the 2017-18 campaign was one of the weakest he's had in awhile, taking into account seasons in which he played 69 games or more, Letang posted the fewest goals and fewest points he's had since 2010-11. Perhaps more concerning is the fact that the defenseman endured the worst plus-minus of his career last season at minus-9, meaning he may also be losing a step in the defensive end. So, while it's certainly encouraging that Letang played almost an entire season, keep in mind that he's becoming less effective as time goes on.
Petry's name doesn't elicit the type of excitement that most top-tier defensemen would, but he posted career highs in goals (12) and assists (30) last season. Much of this extended production likely came because the Michigan native was filling the role of Shea Weber (knee) on the first defensive pairing, a role he will likely have to maintain for at least the first couple months of the season until Weber returns. Once that happens, Petry will probably return to the type of production we've come to expect from him over the course of his career -- a stay-at-home blueliner with a previous career high of 28 points. He is even slipping in the defensive end, as his minus-30 rating last season will attest.
The Golden Knights' top line of Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith was one of the league's best last season, but digging a little deeper, there's reason to be skeptical that it will last going into 2018-19. Per Corsica.Hockey, of the 79 lines that played at least 200 minutes together last season, the Vegas top unit ranked 26th in Corsi For Percentage, 25th in Expected Goal Percentage and a hideous 73rd in Penalty Differential. It would be unreasonable to expect the same or better scoring production from them this season.
There are also concerns around Karlsson himself. At the time of writing, Wild Bill does not have a new long-term deal in place with the Golden Knights, an indication that the front office might not be convinced by last year's breakout. Additionally, the 25-year-old Swede scored goals at a ridiculously high 23.4 shooting percentage, a figure that can really only go down next season. Karlsson's play was magical last year, but something just doesn't feel right here.
Many players around the Islanders' organization are likely going to see dips in production following the exit of John Tavares, and no player has more to lose than Bailey. The top line of Bailey, Tavares and Anders Lee was the 10th highest-scoring line in the league last season, which led to Bailey posting career bests in goals (18) and assists (53). It shouldn't come as a surprise that Bailey's past two seasons, the only two in which he skated with Tavares, saw him post new career highs in points, with his previous career high being a measly 38. Tavares' absence will also probably be felt on the power play where Bailey obliterated his previous career high.
This one might seem obvious considering Perry's weak numbers coming out of the last campaign, but for some reason, many Fantasy owners still hold him in high regard. In CBS leagues last season, the 33-year-old winger had an average draft position of 82.76, higher than Taylor Hall, Jakub Voracek and Anze Kopitar, among others, and was owned in 83 percent of leagues by year's end despite his mediocre 49 points. Considering he won the Hart Trophy in 2011, perhaps it's a subconscious sentiment that keeps Perry in the Fantasy conversation. However, the reality is that the longtime Duck hasn't had a noteworthy season since he broke the 60-point barrier in 2015-16, and his production on the power play, which once was top notch, has dissipated to just 11 power-play points last season.
Don't let nostalgia get the best of you here.
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