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Fantasy Friday: Veterans losing their luster

by Matt Cubeta /

It wasn't long ago that Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa was one of the elite forwards in fantasy hockey. During the 2013-14 season, Hossa finished with 30 goals, 60 points, a plus-28 rating and was the 41st best fantasy player in Yahoo leagues. Last season he was even better, finishing as the 33rd best fantasy player.

However, the soon-to-be 37 year old seems to have taken a turn for the worse in 2015-16. Through 23 games, Hossa has 10 points and is a minus-1. Drafted on average with the 96th pick coming into the season, Hossa currently ranks as the 180th best fantasy player in Yahoo leagues.

Not many of us saw this steep decline coming after such a productive season last year, but this is the reality of the game. Eventually age seems to catch up to the player. While Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr continues to buck the trend, Hossa has seen his production fall off. But he's not the only victim.

Below is a list of players who are currently 35 or older that have carried significant fantasy value in recent years but have seen a major decline in production this season.

Marian Hossa, RW, Chicago Blackhawks -- Age: 36

Marian Hossa
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 10
SOG: 70 | +/-: -1
Despite averaging 3.0 shots per game (which is close to the 3.3 he averaged in his career prior to this season), Hossa has four goals and a career-worst 5.7 shooting percentage. Bad luck could be part to blame, but Hossa has spent some time on the third line in recent games. Hossa is still owned in 78 percent of Yahoo leagues, but if he doesn't stick on a line with Jonathan Toews, I would say he might end up being droppable. For the time being, stash him on your bench.

Joe Thornton, C, San Jose Sharks -- Age: 36

While some might say they could see Thornton's decline last season, he still managed to finish among the top 100 fantasy players with 65 points in 78 games. However, the decline seems to be in full swing this season. He has three goals and 15 points in 24 games and is the 140th ranked fantasy player in Yahoo. Thornton remains the team's top center and does have the lethal Joe Pavelski on his wing, but that hasn't prevented him from disappointing offensively, specifically in the power play department where has four man-advantage points. Owned in 71 percent of Yahoo leagues, it's a good idea to keep Thornton on your bench.

Chris Kunitz, LW, Pittsburgh Penguins -- Age: 36

Kunitz remains somewhat valuable for those of you who play in hits leagues (his 94 hits are sixth most in the NHL), but for those of you who don't, he's become droppable after years of fantasy dominance. Kunitz has spent most of this season bouncing around the Pittsburgh lineup, but on Tuesday against the Sharks, he found himself in a familiar place skating on a line alongside Sidney Crosby. He finished the game with two assists. However, those two assists were the first assists of the season for Kunitz, who has five points in 24 games. While playing on a line with Crosby certainly boosts his value, I'm not sure it's enough to justify keeping him on your roster.

Dan Boyle, D, New York Rangers -- Age: 39

Dan Boyle
Defense - NYR
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 5
SOG: 20 | +/-: 7
For a while Boyle was one of the best defensemen in fantasy hockey, and he managed 12 goals and 36 points on the blue line for the Sharks in the 2013-14 season. Even last season, his first with the Rangers, Boyle was able to contribute nine goals, 20 points and a plus-18 rating in 65 games. But boy does one season make a big difference. Boyle has been in and out of the lineup this season as a healthy scratch, and while he'll be a regular right now because of the injury to Kevin Klein (who is out 2-3 weeks with a strained oblique), Boyle has no goals and five assists in 21 games. He's ranked 416th among all players and four of those five points have come on the power play. Boyle's plus-7 rating still remains valuable, but that's about it. Owned in 32 percent of Yahoo leagues, it's time to cut this veteran loose.

Marek Zidlicky, D, New York Islanders -- Age: 38

Like Boyle, but to a slightly lesser degree, Zidlicky used to be one of the more consistently valuable fantasy defensemen in the game. Even as recently as last season, he had 11 points in 21 games after being traded to the Detroit Red Wings. But in his debut season for the Islanders, Zidlicky ranks 474th among all players in Yahoo with eight points and 16 shots on goal in 23 games. He's averaging a career-low 15:22 of ice time and while 2:06 of that comes on the power play, it's resulted in just two power-play points. Zidlicky is owned in 28 percent of leagues, but you can definitely feel free to drop him.

Ryan Miller, G, Vancouver Canucks -- Age: 35

Ryan Miller
Goalie - VAN
RECORD: 7-9-6
GAA: 2.59 | SVP: .910
Miller has always seemed to have been more of a name than a performer in fantasy hockey, as evidenced by his mediocre .915 career save percentage and 2.59 goals-against average. He's obviously shown flashes of dominance (the 2009-10 season with the Buffalo Sabres), but now he's become a bit of an overrated goalie in fantasy hockey. After finishing last season as the 22nd best fantasy goalie in Yahoo leagues, Miller currently ranks 411th among all players. In 22 games for the Canucks he is 7-9-6 with a .910 SV%, 2.59 GAA and one shutout. While his 22 starts are tied for most in the NHL, one has to wonder if Jacob Markstrom will start to cut into his playing time. Workhorse goalies are hard to find in fantasy hockey so I'm not recommending dropping Miller, who's owned in 86 percent of leagues, just yet. But if Markstrom starts to steal starts, you might be wise to try and trade the aging Miller.

Just Missed: Shane Doan (Arizona Coyotes, Age -- 39), Brad Richards (Detroit Red Wings, Age -- 35), Brian Campbell (Florida Panthers, Age -- 36)


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