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Searching for answers

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The Hockey News

Looking through the statistics, you'll find many players who are falling short of expectations. From stars such as Alex Ovechkin, Jordan Eberle and Claude Giroux, to some of the lesser lights who fill out the bottom half of fantasy teams, poolies are looking for answers. And replacements.

You can't drop an Ovechkin, but here are some disappointing players you should consider dropping (if you haven't already), along with suggested replacements.

Ryane Clowe, San Jose

The issue: He has yet to score a goal, despite 59 shots…Just nine points in 25 games…A career-worst minus-7…Penalty minutes have skyrocketed.

Possible reasons: Clowe still lines up with skilled players (line combos here) and his shots on goal are at the appropriate level for him. The penalty minutes are high because of one game (Jan. 27, 35 PIM). I would guess the reasons are two-fold - one, the "luck" factor. His PDO sits at a low-ish 971, but the drag on that number is the team's shooting percentage of 4.08 percent when he's on the ice. That's mostly because he hasn't scored with any of his 59 shots. In a typical 59-shot run, he would have about five goals. That still wouldn't fix his horrible stats, but it would help. Secondly, I wonder if Clowe has changed a little bit as a player since last year's concussion/facial injury.

Suggested replacements: You probably won't be able to compensate for the hits Clowe gets, but the other stats will make up for that. Lee Stempniak (Calgary), Bryan Bickell (Chicago), Magnus Paajarvi (Edmonton), Devin Setoguchi (Minnesota), Jakob Silfverberg (Ottawa), Eric Fehr (Washington).

Michael Del Zotto, NY Rangers

The issue: As with anyone on the Rangers not named "Rick," Del Zotto can't score…Last goal was Jan. 29…Just four points in 19 games since…Coming off a career-high 41 points, a player is expected to build on that number when he's just 22 years old.

Possible reasons: His shot total is down a little, but mostly it's because the Rangers have 63 goals as a team. That's three more than Columbus, who sit in the basement in terms of offense. It's hard to get assists when nobody is scoring.

Suggested replacements: Although Del Zotto hasn't been killing poolies these past two or three weeks, thanks to his decent hits and plus-minus, there are better options out there. With 20 games left in the season, give or take, you can't afford to wait. Patrick Wiercioch (Ottawa), Roman Josi (Nashville), Andrej Sekera (Buffalo), Matt Irwin (San Jose), Kris Russell (St. Louis).

Jason Garrison, Vancouver

The issue: Plus-minus is where it should be at plus-8 and his booming shot is being used just as much as it was last year…Would be on pace for 12 goals in a full 82-game season…Has just two assists.

Possible reasons: Unrealistic expectations after a 16-goal, 33-point season was followed by a huge contract. But the bottom line is he's a 12-goal, 30-point player who overreached during a contract year. He is solid defensively and owns a wicked shot. But let's leave it at that.

Suggested replacements: Same as Del Zotto

Mark Giordano, Calgary

The issue: On pace for 11 points…Penalty minutes and shots on goal are down…After posting a plus-17 in 2009-10 he has been a combined minus-10 in three seasons since.

Possible reasons: His 43 points in 2010-11 were a bit of a stretch, as were his 11 goals in 2009-10. Nine goals and 32 points seem about right to me and to expect more than that is, much like with Garrison, setting unrealistic expectations. Pro-rating nine goals and 32 points into a shorter season, you get five goals and 19 points, which is still far higher than his pace. The main reason for the drop-off is the fact his PP time has dipped from 3:21 per game to 2:18. That's the Dennis Wideman effect.

Suggested replacements: Besides the players listed for Del Zotto and Garrison, also consider T.J. Brennan, who was recently acquired by the Panthers.

Mikhail Grabovski, Toronto

The issue: Normally he's steady-as-she-goes, posting between 0.59 and 0.72 points-per-game over the past four seasons…Currently on a 0.38 clip, with an ugly minus-8.

Possible reasons: Besides his wallet being too small thanks to that shiny new contract, Grabovski's role has changed. The emergence of Nazem Kadri has made it necessary to give Grabovski defensive zone faceoffs, while the inexperienced Kadri gets the offensive faceoffs. Grabovski has started just 36.1 percent of the time in the offensive zone. Kadri is at 50%.

Suggested replacements: Mike Fisher (Nashville), Lars Eller (Montreal), David Legwand (Nashville), Vladimir Sobotka (St. Louis), Nik Antropov (Winnipeg), Zack Smith (Ottawa), Matt Cullen (Minnesota), Jarret Stoll (Los Angeles), Derick Brassard (Columbus), Shawn Matthias (Florida), Mathieu Perreault (Washington).

Olli Jokinen, Winnipeg

The issue: A former 91-point player, hasn't topped 61 points since 2008…After rebounding to 61 points last season, on pace for just 15 with his new team…He did manage to replicate one stat from last year - his minus-12.

Possible reasons: My first instinct was to see if he's getting similar offensive zone starts as Grabovski. Nope. Quite the opposite. Jokinen has started 54.7 percent of the time in the offensive zone. Jokinen's PP time was 3:06 per game in Calgary last year, but is still a respectable 2:29 with Winnipeg. This is just a plain ol' career decline.

Suggested replacements: Similar to Grabovski.

Tyler Kennedy, Pittsburgh

The issue: Kennedy had found a niche in the 0.55 points-per-game range…This year his points-per-game is 0.23…He's a minus player on a team mostly filled with guys who have a positive plus-minus.

Possible reasons: His PP time is down slightly, thanks to both Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby being mostly healthy. But the main reason for the decline is he no longer has the magic with his linemates. Last year he had Jordan Staal. This year he has Brandon Sutter. It's just not the same.

Suggested replacements: Besides the wingers listed under Clowe (above), consider grabbing Radim Vrbata, who is available in many leagues since he’s been on the IR for so long. I get the sense he will be back next weekend.

Kyle Okposo, NY Islanders

The issue: A once highly coveted prospect due to the potential of a John Tavares-Okposo tandem…After 52 points in 2009-10, his numbers have declined…On pace for 17 points and a minus-14 rating.

Possible reasons: Okposo isn't seeing a lot of time with Tavares at all, thanks to the arrival of Brad Boyes. Instead, he's often lined up with Josh Bailey - who is a bust in his own right - and Frans Nielsen. The Islanders' team shooting percentage when Okposo is on the ice at even strength is 7.8 percent, which is reasonable. His offensive zone starts sit at 54.3 percent, which is high if anything. And his power play ice time is similar to last season. I have to shrug my shoulders on this one, as there is no logical explanation, other than weak linemates.

Suggested replacements: Vrbata isn't the only one expected back in a week or so; Nashville's Patric Hornqvist is another one.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.

Want more fantasy insider information or to contact The Dobber? Check out or follow him on Twitter at @DobberHockey.



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