Trying to avoid getting stuck with a bust on your fantasy hockey roster this season? Feel like you are reaching for a player by taking him at his suggested value? Well, consider yourself warned. Here are 10 players who I see as overvalued assets, in context of rankings and average draft position, heading into the 2017-18 season.
Ever since Oilers coach Todd McLellan confirmed plans to launch camp with Draisaitl as his second-line center, the fantasy community has collectively fallen back to massaging expectations. While the soon-to-be 22-year-old held his own in limited action in that position in 2016-17, he was found most often on the right side of Connor McDavid, all the while racking up 29 goals and 48 assists in 82 games. As skilled as Draisaitl is in his own right, a dip in production feels inevitable, competing apart from the reigning Hart Memorial/Art Ross/Ted Lindsay winner. In that view, I'm knocking him just outside of our group of top-20 fantasy forwards.
Now a member of the Blue Jackets, it's unfair to expect Panarin to produce at the same clip that he did adjacent Patrick Kane for two full seasons. So we won't. Since jetting the KHL for the NHL only two years ago, Panarin has 61 goals and 90 assists to show for only 162 contests, most of which came by Kane's side. And while competing on a Jackets' top line and power play with young, talented center Alexander Wennberg and winger Nick Foligno (or Cam Atkinson or even up-and-comer Oliver Bjorkstrand) is sure to bear productive fruit, it will be difficult to match the numbers reaped alongside one of the league's elite scoring forwards.
Milan Lucic, LW, Edmonton Oilers (43rd)
Perennially appreciated for putting up solid production numbers along with an impressive haul of penalty minutes, one of the league's toughest competitors appears on the downslope, particularly in the latter category. In his heyday with the Bruins, Lucic averaged 1.6 PIM/game (2011-2013). Last season, tasked with shielding superstar Connor McDavid from undue harm, that number dropped to 0.61 PIM/game. As a more mature player, Lucic himself admits he's settling to "pick his battles" more often. Fine and good, unless your fantasy league treasures penalty minutes. Outside of power play production, the 29-year-old physical forward has less to offer as a second- or even third-line winger. One caveat: The opportunity remains for Lucic to tear it up on offense as regular running mate to center Leon Draisaitl. Keep an eye on how the lines play out in Edmonton.
No skater (more than 30 games played) in the NHL enjoyed a more robust shooting percentage than Oshie last season. Nearly a quarter of his pucks fired on net -- precisely 23.1 percent -- caught the twine. Now that's impressive ... and utterly unsustainable. Plus there are issues to address up front now that veterans Justin Williams (signed with Carolina Hurricanes) and Marcus Johansson (traded to New Jersey Devils) are settling in elsewhere. Striving for balance within his top six, coach Barry Trotz may choose to shift Oshie away from Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, a move that would also adversely affect the 30-year-old's path to equaling last season's career-best 0.49 goals/game.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Washington Capitals (56th)
As outlined in our Eastern Conference fantasy primer, Kuznetsov is kicking off 2017-18 with a new and developing set of linemates now that Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson are gone. Three seasons into his NHL career, 22-year-old Andre Burakovsky has yet to flourish into the player that Capitals' management keeps championing, and for all the promise that 21-year-old Jakub Vrana has to offer, he's seen limited action in only 21 NHL games (six points). Maybe this young trio lights it up right out of the gate, but maybe it doesn't, forcing Trotz to reshuffle his top six forwards. For our comfort, there are too many variables in play to justify projecting Kuznetsov -- coming off a disappointing campaign and freshly secure with an eight-year, $62.4-million deal -- as a top-35 fantasy forward.
While coach Bruce Boudreau appears committed to begin the preseason with Granlund alongside center Mikko Koivu and winger Jason Zucker, with whom he enjoyed unprecedented scoreboard success in 2016-17, that combo isn't carved in concrete. There's a ton of pressure on rookie Joel Eriksson Ek to fill a void in the middle of Minnesota's third line. If the 20-year-old isn't yet up to task, look for Boudreau to split up Granlund and Koivu as second- and third-line centermen, respectively. Since Granlund scored a large chunk of his breakout 26 goals and 43 assists on Koivu's wing, the latter scenario doesn't bode well for a repeat performance. Also -- for those who subscribe to such theory -- the 25-year-old's recent signing of a three-year, $17.25-million deal might siphon off any extra incentive.
Even at face value, it's a challenge to defend Krug as a top-5 fantasy asset, and there are other factors in play, in no way connected to his recovery from a torn MCL (going well, apparently). Prospect Charlie McAvoy is quite a talent, as demonstrated by his recent outstanding season at Boston University, and the 19-year-old offensive defenseman is beyond jazzed to build on his six games played with the Bruins during last spring's playoff run. While the odds don't necessarily favor McAvoy snatching away Krug's current gig on Boston's top power play, there's no guarantee it doesn't work out that way.
First off, the acquisition of offensive defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk immediately bumps McDonagh off the Rangers' top power play. Cobbling that significant signing with the blue-line emergence of 23-year-old Brady Skjei and trade for promising puck-mover Anthony DeAngelo (Arizona Coyotes), we're not sure that New York's captain sees much action with the man advantage altogether over the course of the campaign. Considering, then, nearly a third of McDonagh's points tallied over the past four seasons -- 49 of 152 -- have come with the extra skater, his current fantasy stock is set to slide quickly. On the upside for the Rangers, the 28-year-old, one of the best all-around defensemen in the game, will be able to focus his efforts elsewhere.
Braden Holtby, G, Washington Capitals (3rd)
The offseason departures endured by the Capitals ahead of 2017-18 aren't limited to their forward corps. Losing defenders Karl Alzner to the Canadiens and Nate Schmidt to Vegas will, no doubt, affect how the club protects its own net. Holtby has won 40-plus games these past three seasons. With the losses of Alzner and Schmidt in mind, plus a diminished veteran presence up front, it won't be easy to make it four in a row. From a fantasy perspective, that bumps Montreal's Carey Price, at minimum, ahead of Washington's No. 1.
Addressed in our current Western Conference fantasy primer, the Predators would, ideally, prefer to reserve their veteran No. 1 throughout the regular 2017-18 season, with a look to ultimately winning the Stanley Cup next June. If all goes to plan, look for Rinne to split starts more often with up-and-comer Juuse Saros. That timeshare would add up to fewer than the 60-plus appearances the soon-to-be 35-year-old has made in each of his past three campaigns.