3 Players Due to Take Steps Back in 15/16

(photo via calgarysun.com)


Every year we see players take massive steps back in their play. Sometimes it’s just a brief slump, but sometimes it’s a permanent dip in their production and signals the players hitting the twilight stages of their career. I’ve taken a look at a couple players who I believe fall under the permanent decline section as both their age and abilities are becoming a problem. I also looked at one player who will be grossly overvalued in your fantasy hockey league and explain why you can expect declines from these three. Hope you enjoy my take on three players due to have poor 2015/2016 seasons.


Chris Kunitz

He used to be a bargain grab in the second round of any fantasy hockey league since he was the primary target of Sidney Crosby. But last season the 35 year-old winger took a massive step back as he saw his point production drop by a whopping 28 points, while only playing four less games.

There are many factors that I believe will contribute to Kunitz taking another step back in his career. The former Olympic gold medalist is 35 now and its no secret that his best years are behind him, but it also seems like the Penguins are starting to move on from Kunitz as well.

Kunitz saw his playing time with Sid cut in half over the past two seasons from 1022 to 578 total minutes and with the additions of David Perron half way through last season and Phil Kessel over the summer, the Pens are getting pretty full on the wings, there may not be anymore room for Kunitz to be in the top six at all.

While his possession numbers stayed strong the past two seasons, posting CF% of over 52.4 both years, I think it’s safe to assume those numbers will drop as Kunitz will most likely see his minutes on the Pens power play drop significantly.

My best fantasy advice on Kunitz would be to avoid taking him until the first 100 picks have gone. I feel as though he will have a tough time cracking 50 points again in his career.


Milan Lucic

Lucic’s points per game has been declining since his breakout season in 2010-2011 posting PPG’s of 0.75, 0.58, 0.73 and 0.54. But that’s not the only number that concerns me with Lucic.

Not only did he only put up 44 points in 81 games last season, but he did so while riding a PDO of 103.1, which is a good amount higher then the average number of 100. What that tells us is that even though he experienced some good puck luck, he still struggled to hit the 40 point plateau in a full season.

The final stat that leaves me to believe Lucic won’t bounce back from his season long slump are his numbers in close or tied games. Tight games used to be Lucic’s bread and butter as he could cause chaos around the opposing teams net, but over the past three seasons he’s seen drops in virtually every individual category when games are close or tied including points/60 and iCorsi/60.

The one glimmer of hope for Lucic might be the change of scenery he received at the draft when the Bruins dealt him to Los Angeles in exchange for goalie Martin Jones, Colin Miller and the 13th overall pick. The spark of playing with a new group of teammates and a new coach might give Lucic a bit of a jolt to start the season. But even if all goes well, I wouldn’t count on the 6’5 winger from Vancouver to crack 55 points this coming season.

In your fantasy draft I would avoid taking Lucic at all as there is probably some Kings or Bruins fan who will go trigger happy and take him in the first 50 picks.


Johnny Gaudreau

The Johnny Hockey bandwagon is overflowing. I’ll admit it was awesome to watch that Flames team defy all odds and squeak into the playoffs. But realistically, the numbers that team put up are incredibly unsustainable.

Gaudreau, like the rest of his team posted a very high PDO (102.6). That number only got higher as they games got closer too. Despite his high scoring numbers, his possession stats were not very good. He only posted a CF% of 46.6% and it dropped a good amount when Jiri Hudler wasn’t on his line.

Although they didn’t posses the puck very much, the few chances they got often went in. That’s a analytics recipe for disaster.

I don’t believe Gaudreau will be able to keep up his high shooting percentage so naturally we should see a dip in production from the 22 year old. Another thing that may hurt Gaudreau is that he is no longer a surprise to opposing defenses. Teams will have much more video and scouting reports available on the young American.

Things will definitely get a lot tougher next season for Gaudreau. I believe we will see his point production drop by about 5 or 10 points down into the mid 50’s. Still I feel like he would be a good pick around the 75th overall point of your draft especially if your league puts an emphasis on power play points.