Offseason Notebook: Western Conference busts
We continue our look at some of the busts I anticipate will be overvalued at drafts this season. We did one player from each Eastern Conference team last week, so this week we & go West!Western Conference
Jonathan Toews, C, Blackhawks: Why do I think Toews is a bust? He's a rookie not named Crosby or Ovechkin, his value hinges on injury-prone linemates, and we don't even know what kind of a role the 'Hawks will give him. He'll go as a No. 2 center in your league, but he should be a fantasy reserve to start the season in re-draft formats.
Michael Peca, C, Blue Jackets: I don't even think even wins the first-line center spot. There is a lot of competition in Columbus and Peca is a checker at this point in his career. I can't see him keeping up with David Vyborny or Rick Nash.
Dominik Hasek, G, Red Wings: Last year he completely defied all logic and strung together a mostly healthy campaign. There is just no way he can do it again. No. Way. Besides, Jimmy Howard is ready to start developing into a No. 1 goalie and the Wings may start working him into the rotation a bit more.
Marek Zidlicky, D, Predators: Some folks will look at Zidlicky as even more valuable with the loss of fellow blue-line playmaker Kimmo Timonen. Nope. Shea Weber is now the No. 1 defenseman on Nashville. Heck, Dan Hamhuis is probably No. 2 in line for power-play duties. Zidlicky is an afterthought; a No. 4 defenseman at best.
Paul Kariya, LW, Blues: Keith Tkachuk and Doug Weight have good chemistry, so does Kariya move to the right side in the twilight of his career? I have my doubts. I think he ends up playing a majority of his time with names like Lee Stempniak, Brad Boyes and Jay McClement. No thank you. Kariya is a low-tier No. 2 left-winger.
Dion Phaneuf, D, Flames: People are expecting way too much out of Phaneuf. He is a big-time hockey player that plays sound defense and throws big hits. He has a big shot and scores a lot of goals. That translates into 15-20 goals, 30 assists, 100 PIMs (penalties in minutes) and an even plus/minus. Phaneuf gets looked at as a No. 1 defenseman in fantasy. There are probably 20 guys who will produce more points than him and at least dozen who have more overall value. Phaneuf is a strong No. 2 defenseman, but he is not a No. 1.
Peter Budaj, G, Avalanche: I have concerns about Budaj taking on a full workload. With Jose Theodore not looking ready for the start of the season, Budaj will have to be in charge of the Avalanche crease until Theodore is healed up from knee surgery. Budaj, at best, looks like a goaltender that can share the load for a strong team. He is not the type of goalie you expect to take you deep in the playoffs, be it fantasy or NHL. Theodore still has that intangible that can make him a star. He just needs to recapture it and, from the Avalanche not buying out his contract and not going after a clear-cut No. 1, we can deduce that the team is still hoping he can. I just don't see Budaj as anything in fantasy but a low-tier No. 2 goaltender and I'll be taking a flier on Theodore in the last rounds.
Sheldon Souray, D, Oilers: Souray is going to be somebody's first defenseman, but don't let him be yours. I wouldn't expect a repeat of his 26 goals on any team, let alone the Oilers. His minus-28 rating is going to be a lot worse. Look for Souray as a No. 2 defenseman and you'll be fine, but as a No. 1, he'll disappoint big time.
Niklas Backstrom, G, Wild: Josh Harding is a future No. 1 goaltender in the NHL and he'll be Backstrom's backup this season. Nikl-Back is 29 years old and will inherit the starting gig after posting just half a season of solid numbers. He doesn't project as a regular NHL starter. Harding could use a year as a backup, but if Backstrom stumbles, he'll be pressed into duty. I wouldn't draft Backstrom as my fantasy No. 1, despite the Wild's history of cultivating top-notch goaltending numbers.
Kevin Bieksa, D, Canucks: There are too many other options to get the power-play points that Bieksa needs for value. Mattias Ohlund and Sami Salo aren't going away. Lukas Krajicek projects as a quarterback for the power play. Luc Bourdon or Alex Edler could steal time if they make the team. There are just too many cooks in the kitchen for the Canucks. Bieksa should be drafted as no better than a No. 3 defenseman.
Corey Perry, RW, Ducks: There is no guarantee that Perry will play among the top 6, even if Teemu Selanne retires. He would have to beat out Bobby Ryan or Todd Bertuzzi. I'm sure Perry will get his as other players are hurt this season, but without a starting job on a scoring line Perry should be drafted as a fantasy bench player.
Mike Modano, C, Stars: How much longer can Dallas keep marching out Modano as their No. 1 center? He's one of the greatest hockey players over the last two decades, but at 37 years old it's time the Stars started looking towards the future. Modano scored only 46 points last season because of injury and only 44 points two seasons prior because of ineffectiveness. The 77-point season that was sandwiched by those two is going to be the exception, not the rule, for Modano from now on. I would draft him with expectations of 50 points and a good plus/minus. That would make Modano my No. 3 center.
Jack Johnson, D, Kings: Way too many cooks in this kitchen. Johnson will be learning from some pretty darn good defensemen, but they are all capable of playing 30 minutes a night and handling the puck on the power play. That won't leave a lot for Johnson. His future looks brighter because he'll soak up knowledge from Rob Blake, Lubomir Visnovsky, Tom Preissing, Brad Stuart and Jaroslav Modry; but this season won't be one worthy of fantasy leagues.
Shane Doan, RW, Coyotes: Do yourself a favor and just don't draft any Coyotes. The myth surrounding Doan's career includes him being a contributor to your PIMs and a prolific scorer. He has never scored more than 30 goals, never scored more than 70 points and only once since his rookie year with the Winnipeg Jets has Doan made it to triple-digit PIMs.
Evgeni Nabokov, G, Sharks: Handing the goaltending duties solely to Nabokov is going to bite the Sharks back. They made it through last season on a rotation between Nabokov and Vesa Toskala, where the hotter goalie would play the bulk of games. Nabokov hasn't played the more than 3,500 minutes a season since 2001-02. In fact, post-lockout, Nabokov hasn't played more than 2,778 minutes in either season, and he still missed time with groin strains and abdominal injuries. I don't expect that Nabokov can handle the workload of No. 1, and in fantasy leagues I'd make him a No. 2 goaltender because of it.
Sean Allen is a fantasy hockey and baseball analyst at ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at alla_rino@TalentedMrRoto.com.
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