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Fantasy: Buyer beware these players in 2017-18

Overdrafting top-ranked goalies, Karlsson comes with risk

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

When players who are carrying any number of concerns are being overvalued in fantasy drafts, sometimes it's best to go in a different direction.

Concerns from a fantasy standpoint include, but are not limited to, a change of scenery, lack of lineup support, age, injury history and/or a performance-related trend. Although players with any of those concerns have upside if the right pieces fall into place, it's important to balance the risk and potential reward on draft day.

 

[RELATED: Fantasy hockey cheat sheet for 2017-18Fantasy goalie bargains | Top 250 rankings]

 

Buyer beware the following players with high Yahoo average draft positions in 2017-18. We're not necessarily telling you to avoid these players altogether, but rather identifying the potential risks surrounding their value.


 
Carey Price, G, MTL -- ADP: 5.6; NHL.com rank: 23

The Montreal Canadiens have traded defensemen P.K. Subban and top prospect Mikhail Sergachev in back-to-back offseasons. Left wing Max Pacioretty remains a top-50 overall fantasy asset and Jonathan Drouin brings high scoring upside. But the lack of proven centers and other defensive losses (Andrei Markov, Nathan Beaulieu) on this roster are concerning for Price's fantasy value, not to mention position changes for Drouin (to center) and Alex Galchenyuk (to wing). Price is still ranked second in NHL.com's fantasy goalie rankings because of his track record and individual ability, but taking him among the top 5-10 overall is way too high. It's fair to expect Price's usual elite peripherals when healthy, but his win total could disappoint.

Video: OTT@MTL: Price extends pad for tough goal-line save


 
Braden Holtby, G, WSH -- ADP: 12.7; NHL.com: 24

The Washington Capitals won the Presidents' Trophy in each of the past two seasons, and Holtby has three straight 40-win seasons. That said, he could be bound for some fantasy regression given the Capitals' personnel losses and how much tighter the Metropolitan Division standings are expected to be this season. In addition to defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk signing with the New York Rangers, Washington lost Marcus Johansson (traded to New Jersey Devils), Justin Williams (signed with Carolina Hurricanes) and defensemen Karl Alzner (signed with Canadiens) and Nate Schmidt (selected in NHL Expansion Draft). Holtby is a first-round pick according to ADP, but would be a much better investment if available a round or two later.



Erik Karlsson, D, OTT -- ADP: 18.6; NHL.com: 22

Karlsson skated Saturday for the first time since having offseason foot surgery, but he's uncertain for the start the season. He and goaltender Craig Anderson were largely responsible for the Ottawa Senators reaching Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, but Anderson, 36, is another year older and the Senators could easily get off to a slow start if Karlsson misses a few weeks. Karlsson would've been worth a top 10 overall pick if healthy, but his injury concern and the loss of defense partner Marc Methot (selected in the NHL Expansion Draft) make him a risk to draft until the late second round. Monitor Karlsson's situation leading up to your draft and weigh the risk and reward of drafting him in your particular format. It's worth noting Kris Letang, another injury risk who's healthy entering the season (unlike Karlsson), is attainable a round or two later and just as much of a threat to produce nearly a point per game when healthy.

Video: OTT@NJD: Karlsson picks the corner for nice PPG



Steven Stamkos, C, TBL -- ADP: 29.3; NHL.com: 21

From Stamkos' broken tibia in 2013 to his blood clot in 2016 to his torn meniscus last season, the risks are clear when considering him for your fantasy team. That said, he has lined up with elite right wing Nikita Kucherov and left wing Vladislav Namestnikov on the Tampa Bay Lightning's top line this preseason, bringing renewed optimism to his value. But taking Stamkos inside the top 20, especially over a reliable center like Nicklas Backstrom, Tyler Seguin or John Tavares, could bring disappointing results.



Artemi Panarin, C/LW, CBJ -- ADP: 31.3; NHL.com: 26

Panarin was a top 25 fantasy asset when he was playing on the Chicago Blackhawks' top line with Patrick Kane. But after being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, there's a chance his production could dip from the 70-point range into the 60s. He will still have a strong linemate in Alexander Wennberg and will be a fixture on the first power-play unit with defenseman Zach Werenski, but it's unclear just how much Kane had to do with Panarin's success. Panarin also enters coach John Tortorella's system and could have a lesser fantasy impact if the Blue Jackets offense takes a step back. Panarin, fourth among left wings by NHL.com, remains a solid third-round pick given the lack of strong options at the position, but is no longer worth reaching for in the first two rounds.

Video: Artemi Panarin takes the No. 31 spot


 
Pekka Rinne, G, NSH -- ADP: 36.3; NHL.com: 59

It was a memorable Stanley Cup Playoff for Rinne, until he visited the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rinne, who will turn 35 on Nov. 3, had a .930 save percentage in the postseason but was 0-3 with a .755 SV% in three road games against the eventual champions. The Central Division could be extremely competitive this season with the improvements of non-playoff teams like the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets, and goal support could be an issue with secondary scoring questions after losing James Neal in the expansion draft. Younger backup Juuse Saros could compete for starts, and the chance that Ryan Ellis (knee) could miss a chunk of the season is a huge blow to Nashville's defense. The 50-60 overall range is fine for Rinne, but any earlier comes with plenty of risk.


 
Logan Couture, C, SJS -- ADP: 87.8; NHL.com: 93

The 28-year-old's supporting cast didn't cut it last season, with wings Joonas Donskoi and Mikkel Boedker falling way short of fantasy relevance. Injuries have limited Couture to 125 of a possible 164 regular-season games during the past two seasons. He brings exposure to Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton on the San Jose Sharks' first power-play unit, but is two seasons removed from putting up 67 points and 263 shots on goal. Avoiding injuries has been challenging enough, but the Sharks' window may be closing and their secondary scoring could be worse after Patrick Marleau's departure. Couture led the NHL in postseason scoring in 2016 (30 points in 24 games), but that hasn't translated to fantasy value. High-upside centers like Ryan Johansen, Aleksander Barkov and Anze Kopitar are falling in drafts, but Couture's ADP is surprisingly higher than those players.

Video: SJS@VAN: Couture fires a wrist shot top shelf for PPG


 
Justin Faulk, D, CAR -- ADP: 97.1; NHL.com: 115

The 25-year-old has missed time because of injuries in each of the past two seasons. With the emergence of Jaccob Slavin and a slew of other young defensemen on the Carolina Hurricanes roster, there are some threats to cut into Faulk's offensive usage. Even with all the runs on defensemen in preseason drafts, it's tough to justify Faulk being taken inside the top 100 overall considering he's minus-83 in 401 career NHL games.


 
Ryan McDonagh, D, NYR -- ADP: 100.4; NHL.com: 146

The addition of Shattenkirk will mean fewer first power-play minutes for McDonagh and second-year defenseman Brady Skjei. McDonagh (114th in Yahoo last season) had 42 points and 15 power-play points as the New York Rangers' No. 1 defenseman, but is likely to dip back into the 30-point range with fewer than 10 PPP, similar to how it was when Keith Yandle was around.

Video: WSH@NYR: McDonagh snipes top-shelf goal in the 1st


 
James Neal, LW/RW, VGK -- ADP: 107.5; NHL.com: 126

Neal has been a category coverage asset before, but his best seasons have come alongside elite linemates (Evgeni Malkin with Penguins, Ryan Johansen and/or Filip Forsberg with Predators). His performance dipped in each of the six standard categories last season, and he's now suiting up for an expansion team that could struggle offensively. He's also dealing with a hand injury that could hinder his production.


 
Zach Parise, LW, MIN -- ADP: 120.5; NHL.com: 136

Another player with injury issues in recent years, Parise has been limited in training camp because of a back injury. The 33-year-old has missed time in each of the past four seasons for the Minnesota Wild and declined in production last season (0.61 points per game; 0.80 in NHL career). He has a high shot volume and solid linemates when healthy, but his draft range is better suited for a potential breakout or sleeper candidate.

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