NHL Fantasy: Biggest disappointments going into the All-Star Break

With the league officially in its 2023 All-Star break, it means crunch time is upon us. Only a few weeks remain in the 2022–23 fantasy regular season, and the push for the playoffs has begun. At this point in the season some clear surprises and disappointments have arose.

We went over the biggest surprises of the 2022–23 season a couple weeks ago, so let’s now go over the biggest disappointments. Every year there are players who are hyped up coming into the season and drafted early only to have disappointing seasons and provide much less fantasy value than expected. Here are some players who have failed to live up to their preseason rankings in fantasy. I’ll try to avoid including any players who have missed significant time with injury and thus rank lower than expected in fantasy.

Jonathan Huberdeau – Calgary Flames – F

ADP: 12 | Current rank: 184

Jonathan Huberdeau has without question been the biggest disappointment in fantasy this year. After posting a career-high 115 points last season and finishing second in the NHL in scoring, his production has fallen off a cliff in 2022–23. Huberdeau currently sits with just 33 points in 47 games on the year. He’s on pace for just 55 points this season which represents a gigantic 60-point drop-off from his 2021–22 total, and his lowest total since 2014–15.

He came into the year being drafted right at the end of the first round with an ADP of 12, but currently ranks 182nd in Yahoo! leagues. At his ADP, he was being drafted as the eighth forward off the board but currently sits 110th in scoring among forwards. I don’t think anyone expected Huberdeau to match his 115-point total from last season, but most expected him to remain a point-per-game player at the very least. Instead he’s on track for one of the worst seasons of his career and his fantasy value has tanked.

Jacob Markstrom – Calgary Flames – G

ADP: 30 | Current rank: 262

After finishing 2021–22 as one of the top goaltenders in fantasy, Jacob Markstrom’s play has completely deteriorated this season. He’s worked his way into a timeshare and is still fighting to regain his form 50 games into the season. If you drafted Markstrom as your number one goalie, you’re likely in desperate need of goaltending help.

Markstrom finished last season fourth in the NHL for wins, fourth for save percentage, third for GAA, and first for shutouts. As such he was being drafted with an ADP of 30 and as the third goalie off the board coming into 2022–23. So far this season he ranks 24th for wins, 32nd for save percentage, 17th for GAA and hasn’t registered a single shutout. In fantasy he sits 261st among all players and 25th among goalies. He’s on pace to only start 54 games and get 21 wins this season after starting 63 games and putting up 37 wins last year.

Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks – F

ADP: 42 | Current rank: 155

It appears as though playing for a bad team has finally caught up to Patrick Kane. After posting 92 points in 78 games last season, Kane currently sits with just 34 points in 45 games entering the break. He’s currently on pace for 60 points this season which would be the lowest total he’s ever posted in a full season. It would also be the first time since 2017–18 that he didn’t finish the season at a point per game.

After finishing last season 15th in the NHL for points, Kane ranks 119th this season. He was being drafted with an ADP of 42 and as the 29th forward off the board but as it stands he ranks 155th in Yahoo! league’s among all players and 113th among forwards. He’s not a big hits or blocks producer, so if he isn’t racking up points his value is limited. He also ranks 44th in the NHL for shots after ranking 11th last year. Perhaps a deadline move to a contender will boost his production, but right now Kane isn’t providing nearly as much as expected given his track record.

Victor Hedman – Tampa Bay Lightning – D

ADP: 15 | Current rank: 143

Victor Hedman hasn’t had a bad season by any means, but with the pedigree he carries and after a monster 2021–22 season it’s fair to say his 2022–23 season has been a let down. Hedman is widely regarded as a top-five player at his position in fantasy, so anything but elite production is a disappointment considering how early he gets drafted. In Yahoo! leagues he was the second defenceman picked, behind only Cale Makar.

After posting 20 goals and 85 points in 2021–22 and finishing third among defenceman for points, Hedman’s production has fallen off this year. He currently sits with 33 points in 45 games which ranks 18th among defencemen. His current pace of 58 points would represent a drop off of 27 points. He also finished 2021–22 fifth among defencemen for shots, but currently ranks 32nd and is on pace for 53 less shots compared to last year. His production has been far from bad, but well below what we’ve come to expect from him.

Thatcher Demko – Vancouver Canucks – G

ADP: 54 | Current rank: 667 *Injured since December 1st

Thatcher Demko’s play up to his injury was so far below expectations hat he still warrants a spot on this list in my opinion. Coming into the season, Demko was viewed as one of the top goalies in fantasy, as he was being drafted with an ADP of 54 and as the 8th goalie off the board. After his tremendous 2021–22 season, most expected him to become a truly elite workhorse goalie in fantasy in 2022–23.

Last season Demko ranked ninth in the NHL for wins, ninth for save percentage, and 10th for GAA among starters. His 61 starts were the fifth most in the league. Before getting injured back in December he ranked 54th for wins with a record of 3–10–1. He also ranked 35th for save percentage and 36th for GAA among goalies with at least 10 games. By the time he was injured he was essentially in a timeshare with backup Spencer Martin. Your best hope now if you drafted Demko is that he gets dealt by the rebuilding Canucks to a better team before the deadline.

Evan Bouchard – Edmonton Oilers – D

ADP: 108 | Current rank: 300

A lot of people were high on Evan Bouchard coming into the season, and rightfully so. The 2018 10th overall pick was coming off a great rookie season in 2021–22. Playing in one of fantasy’s best offences it seemed like the sky was the limit for Bouchard. He posted an impressive 43 points and 205 shots in 2021–22 in his first full season in the NHL. His 43 points ranked 28th among defencemen, while his 205 shots ranked eighth. This season he’s seen his production and ice time drop-off instead of increase.

So far in 2022–23 he sits with just 18 points and 100 shots in 50 games. His 18 points rank 60th league wide, while his 100 shots rank 26th. On his current pace he’d put up only 29 points. It was expected he would take over as the quarterback on the Oilers deadly top power play, however that hasn’t happened. He’s also lining up on the team’s third pairing and averaging only 17:54 TOI a game compared to his 19:48 last year. It appears as though we’ll have to keeping waiting for Bouchard’s big breakout season.

MacKenzie Weegar – Calgary Flames – D

ADP: 80 | Current rank: 284

I sincerely hope you didn’t target Calgary Flames in your draft. Like Huberdeau and Markstrom, MacKenzie Weegar has had an incredibly underwhelming season in fantasy after some strong prior seasons. Over the past two seasons, Weegar posted 80 points in 134 games which ranked 15th in the NHL among defenceman. This year however he’s really struggled to produce.

Weegar currently sits with one single goal and 15 points in 49 games. He’s currently on pace for just 23 points which would be his lowest point per game rate since 2018–19. He ranked 26th among defenceman for points last season, but ranks 75th so far this season. After ranking 12th among defenceman for shots in 2021–22 with 203, he currently ranks a much lower 43rd this season. He also had 179 blocks last year but is on pace for only 120 this season. Considering he was being picked as the 14th defenceman in drafts but ranks as the 59th defenceman in Yahoo! right now, he’s vastly underperformed.

Underwhelming with little time left

While it’s crunch time in the NHL, it’s even more of a crunch in fantasy hockey. For managers who have had these players rostered, it would have likely been a struggle to keep pace with other teams who aren’t underperforming. The Flames have disappointed the most with three individuals on this list, but there are other huge misses elsewhere in the league too. Only time will tell whether these players contribute to the fantasy playoff push or even for their own teams.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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