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Midseason Fantasy Hockey Breakdown: Most Disappointing Players

Jason Chen explores some of the biggest disappointments in fantasy hockey this season, including poor efforts from some of the game's brightest stars.
Elias Pettersson

Nearly half the league has reached the halfway mark, and it’s time to take stock of this year’s wild fantasy hockey season… but, really, which season really has gone as we predicted? That’s part of the fun, so let’s put the first half in the rear-view mirror and see which names have been the biggest disappointments.

This is Part 2 of 4, so stay tuned for the other parts that will be coming over the next couple days, highlighting impact rookies, rotisserie league unicorns and candidates for either a bounce-back or regression in the second half.

All player information quoted are for Yahoo leagues.

Most Disappointing

Elias Pettersson, C, Canucks (Pre-season: 38)

Maybe he’s turning it around, and maybe he’s not, but there’s no denying that Pettersson has fallen well short of all expectations. His once-dangerous power-play shot is now rarely seen, his shooting percentage is at a career low and he still can’t win any faceoffs. His potential is the only reason fantasy managers are hanging onto him, but even though the Canucks are vastly improved under Bruce Boudreau, Pettersson has yet to get going. After Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller were ruled out for Friday’s game against the Panthers, paving the way for Pettersson to carry the team, he finished with zero points and just one shot in 22:29. If the turnaround is coming, it certainly doesn’t feel imminent, and managers in deeper leagues might want to see what they can get in a trade for Pettersson, or otherwise drop him outright because his current production doesn’t justify being rostered in nearly 90 percent of fantasy leagues.

Alexis Lafrenière, LW, Rangers (Pre-season: 134)

Blame the never-ending hype for the first overall pick – Nail Yakupov, anyone? Lafrenière doesn’t seem to be headed down that path, but his improvement in his second season has been very marginal, if at all. He never seems to be ahead of the play, he hangs around the perimeter a little too much and he’s too shy about shooting the puck. The Rangers’ success means they’re looking to win first and develop their prospects second, but Lafrenière is approaching his 100th game and still has not had any memorable moments. It’s peculiar that Kaapo Kakko, who has the best on-ice possession metrics at 5-on-5 on the Rangers per naturalstattrick.com, is rostered in only eight percent of Yahoo leagues yet Lafrenière is at 28 percent.

Cole Caufield, RW, Canadiens (Pre-season: 91)

If you noticed something about this list, it’s that most of them are young players who have fallen short of expectations. That’s partly our fault because we tend to think player development happens in a straight line, but it doesn’t. Caufield has one goal and a minus-15 rating on a very bad Canadiens team, and while we knew they would be hard-pressed without Phillip Danault, Shea Weber and Carey Price, we also didn’t think it would be THIS bad. Caufield was a viable keeper in dynasty leagues at the conclusion of last season, but he’s far from it now and may not even be a big factor in next year’s fantasy drafts unless he manages to really turn it around in the second half.

Tyson Barrie, D, Oilers (Pre-season: 61)

Barrie racked up 48 points in 56 games last season as the primary quarterback on a talented Oilers power play, and it seemed like the easiest job in the world just passing to Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl when the other team was down a player. Well, the joke’s on us because Barrie’s been a massive downer, ranking 48th among defensemen in points. If he wasn’t scoring when the Oilers’ power play was converting half of its chances at the beginning of the season, there’s certainly less reason to think he’d be able to do it now, especially if they spend all their time trying to keep pucks out of their own net.

Jakub Chychrun, D, Coyotes (Pre-season: 86)

Chychrun set the table really high for himself and it was going to be difficult to follow up given Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong seems pretty intent on tearing everything down and gathering prospects and picks. Chychrun posted 41 points in 56 games last season on 10.2 S%, which is abnormally high for a defenseman, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised his scoring rate has dropped. He’s a good source for shots but little else, and with eight points and a minus-31 rating remains a double-edged sword that seems more harmful than helpful in most standard leagues.

Philipp Grubauer, G, Kraken (Pre-season: 70)

I can’t remember a goalie who has been more disappointing in recent memory. The Kraken thought they lucked into a gold mine when Grubauer opted for free agency after failing to come to terms with an extension with the Avs, but instead he’s been the worst starter in the league by a significant margin. He’s the worst goalie based on GSAA in pretty much all public models, and his problems are made worse by the fact that the Kraken don’t really defend very well or score very often. Grubauer went from a high-priority draft pick to just 58 percent rostered in fantasy leagues, and has become the poster boy as a goalie who benefitted from playing behind a very strong team. 

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