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  • Several players will be tempting to draft early based of their performances last season but be cautious. Who may not be worth the risk this upcoming season?
By Dan Falkenheim
August 08, 2019

Fantasy players pride themselves in finding the season’s breakout stars who have league-winning potential in later rounds. On the other end, though, nothing sours draft-day excitement more than busting on a player selected in the first few rounds and scrambling to fill a mammoth-sized hole. Busts aren’t always bad—they just don’t provide enough production to merit their rankings. Disappointments, like Evgeni Malkin, Patrik Laine and Drew Doughty last season, are inevitable. Here are some possible bust candidates who may not be worth the risk this upcoming season:

FORWARDS

Patrice Bergeron (Bruins) ESPN: 37 | NHL: 21 | CBS: 36
Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron all finished as top 25 fantasy forwards after each had set career highs in points. Will that happen again this season? Probably not. The “Perfection Line” is only getting older—Marchand is 31 and Bergeron turned 34 in July—and there’s going to be some comedown from the trio’s combined 1.24 point-per-game pace. When healthy, Bergeron has been a much better fantasy contributor the past two years. That’s part of the problem, though. Bergeron has also missed 35 games in that time and has only eclipsed 70 points once in the last 11 seasons. Don’t reach for Bergeron over other centers like Sebastian Aho or Jack Eichel.

Max Pacioretty (Golden Knights) ESPN: 67 | NHL: 68 | CBS: 81
Let’s get this out of the way: Max Pacioretty went berserk in the playoffs, scoring five goals in seven games, and he dominated when playing with Mark Stone and Paul Stastny. That as much as anything is fueling the hope that Pacioretty will become a 30-goal scorer again. Turning 31 in November, Pacioretty hasn’t surpassed 22 goals and has missed 34 games in the last two seasons. He’s no longer a threat to record lofty shot totals, making his floor lower than other players in his range.

DEFENSE

Mark Giordano (Flames) ESPN: 48 | NHL: 74 | CBS: 86
The Calgary captain turned in the best year of his career and won the Norris trophy behind stalwart defensive play along with career highs in assists and points—and he did that at 35 years old. There’s still a lot to like: Mark Giordano will be quarterbacking Calgary’s power play, he should be a lock for double-digit goals and he’ll eat up a ton of minutes. But, Nicklas Lidstrom is the only defenseman since the lockout to notch 60-plus points after turning 36. There’s nothing wrong with making Giordano a top 10 defenseman—his potential regression is limited in league’s that count shot blocks—but don’t overpay for last year’s performance.

GOALIES

Pekka Rinne (Predators) ESPN: 114 | NHL: 43 | CBS: 54
After winning the Vezina trophy, Pekka Rinne suffered a dropoff last season and recorded the fewest starts and wins since the 2013–14 lockout-shortened season. Rinne’s save percentage (.918) and goals-against average (2.42) reverted to around his career averages, too, and he will be turning 37 in November. At 37 or older, only 13 goalies in the NHL’s history have maintained those numbers in a season. Expect another dropoff from Rinne and keep an eye on Juuse Saros, who should be in line for a larger workload this year.

Marc-Andre Fleury (Golden Knights) ESPN: 68 | NHL: 24 | CBS: 22
How many more good years can Vegas get out of Marc-Andre Fleury, who is turning 35 this year, while also expecting him to carry the lionshare of the workload? While the departure of defenseman Colin Miller isn’t a death blow to Vegas’s defense, it also doesn’t do Flower any favors. His career has been revitalized since joining the Golden Knights (64 wins, 2.40 goals against average, .919 save percentage) and his potential “bust” label is based more on his longevity than his ability. Avoid reaching for Fleury in early rounds when his value should be much safer as a second-tier goalie.

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