Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar's fantasy struggles in the early parts of the 2014-15 season have been well-documented. He has seven points in 14 games after putting together a 70-point effort a season ago. Coming into this season, Kopitar was drafted on average with the 19th pick. Right now he ranks 449th among all players in Yahoo fantasy leagues.
It's been an ugly start for Kopitar. However, he missed three-and-a-half games because of an upper-body injury. We can sort of give him a free pass for his struggles due to the injury. An excuse, perhaps. Plus, Kopitar has two goals and two assists in the past three games. Maybe he's breaking out of the slump. If so, the buy-low window may have just disappeared.
If you can't acquire Kopitar, there are two other elite players you should be targeting: Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane and Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. Try and pry either of these guys away from their owners at a discounted price right now. It may be the last chance you have.
Let's take a look at their situations.
Coming into the season, Kane was ranked 11th among all players in Yahoo fantasy leagues. Of players that have remained healthy this season, no forward drafted that early has been a bigger disappointment than Kane, who currently ranks 122nd.
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 10
SOG: 46 | PIMs: 0 | +/-: -3
For Kane, it's been a bit of a weird start. To begin, his linemates haven't been consistent. He's seen Brandon Saad
, Andrew Shaw
, Kris Versteeg
, Patrick Sharp
and even Jonathan Toews
at his side on occasion. The combinations have been shuffled around throughout this season, and quite often. The results haven't been what Kane owners would expect: four goals and six assists in 16 games. Part of this lineup inconsistency has led to inconsistent production as well. Last season Kane recorded at least one point in 46 of 69 games (67 percent) and multipoint games in 19 of 69 (28 percent). This season Kane has points in eight of 16 games (50 percent) and multipoint games in just two of 16 (13 percent).
Another key factor to his sluggish start is the fact he's simply not shooting the puck as often as last season. Kane is averaging 2.88 shots on goal per game, which is a significant downgrade from his 3.29 shots per game last season. While his current 8.7 shooting percentage should rise closer to his career mark of 11.5, the fact he's not shooting as frequently is a little alarming.
While his production isn't where it should be, there are reasons to expect a turnaround. Kane is averaging more ice time per game than last season, including nearly a minute more of power-play time per game (4:07 this season versus. 3:18 last). He still plays on an elite team with plenty of talent around him. And of course the biggest reason to expect Kane to heat up is because, well, he's Patrick Kane.
Defense - MTL
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 9
SOG: 31 | PIMs: 24 | +/-: -1
Coming into the season, Subban ranked 16th among all players in Yahoo fantasy leagues. Of players that have remained healthy this season, no defenseman drafted that early has been a bigger disappointment than Subban, who currently ranks 145th. Sound familiar?
Yes, Subban has struggled, like Kane. And yes, he too will come around. Subban has no goals and five assists in his past 11 games, but the biggest problem with his numbers is the fact he has just one power-play point after finishing with 26 and 23 in each of the past two seasons. While his power-play ice time per game is down from last season (from 4:39 per game to 3:48), the Montreal power play unit as a whole should improve once it begins to get more opportunities (it's fifth-to-last in time spent on the power play at 80:37 on the season). Right now the Canadiens rank third-worst in the League in conversion rate (8.5 percent). Last season they had a power play percentage of 17.2. Expect them to get better.
Shot on goal stats provided by war-on-ice.com
|SUBBAN SHOT COMPARISON
|BLOCKED SHOTS AGAINST
SHOTS ON GOAL
One thing Subban needs to improve on is getting the puck to the net more often. He's averaging 1.82 shots per game. In his previous 284 games, Subban averaged 2.59 shots on goal per game. And it's not so much that he isn't attempting shots as frequently, it's that he's not getting his shots on goal. Check out the table on the right comparing this season vs. last season.
Assuming the Canadiens start to get more power-play opportunities and convert on more of them, Subban's shot on goal totals should increase, which will in turn increase his point production. As with Kane, you simply need to wait out this rough patch. Time will heal all wounds.