NHL.com identifies 10 buyer beware players with high Yahoo average draft positions for 2018-19. This list identifies the risks involved when reaching for these players, with factors including performance trends, offseason movement, coaching changes, lineup concerns, age, injury history and contract status.
[RELATED: Fantasy team power rankings for 2018-19 | NHL.com/Fantasy]
Video: Which players should you avoid reaching for?
Patrick Kane, RW, CHI (Yahoo average draft position: 8.2) -- The Chicago Blackhawks right wing has declined from 106 points in 2015-16 to 89 in 2016-17 to 76 last season despite not missing a game in the span. Chicago remains a questionable fantasy team with uncertain line combinations and starting goalie Corey Crawford (concussion) still recovering from the injury that sidelined him last season. Kane is absolutely worth a second-round pick, but to take him over forwards like John Tavares (9.4), Auston Matthews (11.0) and David Pastrnak (14.2), among others, in the opening round comes with great risk based on team security.
Video: WPG@CHI: Kane beats Comrie five-hole to open scoring
Pekka Rinne, G, NSH (ADP: 19.0) -- The Nashville Predators goalie is a potential 2019 unrestricted free agent, has struggled at stages of each of the past two Stanley Cup Playoffs (against Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017 Stanley Cup Final, Winnipeg Jets in 2018 second round) and will turn 36 on Nov. 3. The 2018 Vezina Trophy winner is being selected high in fantasy drafts because of his name value, elite track record and team depth, especially on defense, but Rinne also has the threat of 23-year-old backup Juuse Saros, who could cut into his starts in a potential transition year for the Predators. Rinne remains a top 10 fantasy goaltender (sixth in NHL.com consensus rankings), but drafting him in the 1-5 range at the position comes with increased risk based on all these factors.
Brent Burns, D, SJS (ADP: 20.4) -- The top two scorers among defensemen since 2015-16 are now on the same team after Erik Karlsson was traded to the San Jose Sharks, but the move could alter Burns' fantasy value for the worse. There will be an even-strength competition for big minutes between Karlsson, Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Karlsson is five years younger than Burns. Burns and Karlsson have each reached 70 points multiple times separately, but defenseman teammates haven't done it in the same season since 1993-94. The first power play would be loaded if Karlsson and Burns play together, but there's also a chance the Sharks could split them up onto two groups. Burns would also lose value if he's moved back to forward. He still provides elite category coverage and is valuable in the scope of his position, but a further scoring dip is possible (67 points last season; 76 in 2016-17) if his shooting percentage (3.6) doesn't revert.
Video: Brent Burns takes the No. 4 spot on the list
Carey Price, G, MTL (ADP: 47.8) -- The Montreal Canadiens goalie came with concerns based on ADP last season (5.6) and ended up being a huge fantasy disappoint, as predicted. Price is no longer being considered in the first few rounds but is still going much earlier than his NHL.com consensus rank (133), even after the Canadiens traded top forwards Max Pacioretty (to Vegas Golden Knights) and Alex Galchenyuk (Arizona Coyotes). Price dealt with injuries last season but had the worst peripherals of his NHL career (3.11 goals-against average, .900 save percentage) in 49 appearances. There's always a chance a team can stay in contention because of an individual player of Price's caliber, but the injury absence of top defenseman Shea Weber (knee surgery) means the risk outweighs the reward for Price.
Mathew Barzal, C, NYI (ADP: 49.1) -- The New York Islanders center and 2018 Calder Trophy winner faces the challenge of replicating his 85-point rookie season after the departure of elite center John Tavares (signed with Toronto Maple Leafs). Barzal is now New York's No. 1 center and building block, but Tavares leaves a major void at second-line center (top candidates: Jan Kovar, Brock Nelson). Barzal will play in a more defensive-oriented system under new coach Barry Trotz, which could help the team but hurt Barzal's point ceiling in the short term. Another potential drawback is that Barzal will now face shutdown defense pairs and two-way forwards on a nightly basis with little help behind him. Barzal is still projected for 76 points by NHL.com based on his big-game potential (three five-point games), but his floor is too low to reach for him in the top 50 overall.
Video: Looking at the hockey analytics of Mathew Barzal
William Karlsson, C/LW (ADP: 61.7) -- The biggest surprise in fantasy hockey last season was Karlsson, who remains in a favorable spot on a line with either Jonathan Marchessault or newcomer Max Pacioretty at left wing and Reilly Smith at right wing. But some of Karlsson's fantasy totals, specifically goals (43, third in NHL) and plus/minus (plus-49, first), will be difficult to replicate over another full season, especially the rating with top defenseman Nate Schmidt suspended for the first 20 games. Karlsson has room for improvement in power-play points (16), especially if Pacioretty makes an impact on the first unit, but Karlsson's shooting percentage (23.4; led NHL, minimum 100 SOG) is bound for a dip. It's also worth noting Marchessault (ADP: 54.9) would lose fantasy value if Pacioretty takes his spot on the top line.
Mikko Rantanen, RW, COL (ADP: 62.6) -- After going undrafted in most 12-team standard leagues last season, fantasy owners will now have to target the Colorado Avalanche right wing in the fifth or sixth round. Regression concerns surround the Avalanche, who saw little secondary scoring outside their top line of Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. Rantanen's high shooting percentage (16.3 percent) coupled with a low shot volume (178) is cause for concern. The Avalanche will have to fix their lopsided home/road splits (28-11-2; 15-19-7) if they hope to have the same, or more success than last season. It's also worth noting Rantanen lost dual eligibility in Yahoo (previously LW/RW).
Video: COL@SJS: Rantanen fires home top-shelf PPG
Brock Boeser, RW, VAN (ADP: 65.6) -- The 21-year-old finished second among NHL rookies in points per game (0.89) and goals (29). Despite missing 20 games with a back and wrist injury, his 55 points were tied for the Vancouver Canucks' lead with Daniel Sedin. The Sedin twins retired at the end of last season, and Boeser could have additional pressure to be Vancouver's primary scoring threat. Boeser will likely play on the top line with center Bo Horvat, who also dealt with injury last season (missed 18 games). Boeser has high upside whether Horvat is healthy or if he plays with rookie Elias Pettersson, but improvements in the Pacific Division (Sharks: Karlsson; Golden Knights: Pacioretty, Paul Stastny; Los Angeles Kings: Ilya Kovalchuk) will make it an uphill battle for the Canucks to contend.
Ilya Kovalchuk, LW/RW, LAK (ADP: 77.7) -- The Los Angeles Kings' dual-eligible wing led the Kontinental Hockey League with 63 points (31 goals, 32 assists) in 53 games last season but will have to adapt to a younger, faster NHL after spending the past five seasons in Russia. Age is also a concern for the 35-year-old, who is being selected on average in the sixth round of 12-team standard drafts ahead of wings Matthew Tkachuk, Logan Couture and Jonathan Huberdeau. Kovalchuk is expected to play on the top line with center Anze Kopitar and wing Dustin Brown, who each finished top 20 in Yahoo last season. But even with potential lineup security, it's no given Kovalchuk's past production in the NHL or KHL will translate.
Video: Discussing how Kovalchuk will fit in with the Kings
Rasmus Dahlin, D, BUF (ADP: 105.5) -- The No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft has an unknown ceiling but also floor heading into the season. There's risk associated with drafting the Buffalo Sabres rookie ahead of more proven defensemen Ryan Ellis, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Mark Giordano, among others. It's arguable that Dahlin should even be drafted ahead of teammate Rasmus Ristolainen (110.9), who gains value from hits becoming a standard category. The last 18-year-old defenseman to be fantasy relevant was Aaron Ekblad in 2014-15, when he had 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in 81 games for the Florida Panthers. Dahlin comes with much more hype than Ekblad, meaning fantasy owners will likely have to reach for Dahlin. But the Sabres, even with other offseason improvements (Jeff Skinner, Carter Hutton, etc.) have team concerns and play in the Atlantic Division, which has four teams projected for at least 45 wins.