Fantasy hockey owners have no time to be patient during this lockout-shortened season.
Normally, you should give your fantasy players about six weeks before you start getting concerned about their lack of production. But in this abbreviated season you cannot afford a slump from your fantasy squad early on. Feel free to freak out right now if some of your top guys are playing like they should be in the AHL and not the NHL, or are just not getting the ice time they deserve.
Here are three players fantasy hockey owners should be worried about:
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (LW)
We are nearly a month into the NHL’s abbreviated regular season, and Ovechkin has scored fewer points than Raphael Diaz and Alexander Edler, and the same amount as Fedor Tyutin and Andy Greene. All four are defensemen and none of them are exactly the next coming of Brian Leetch.
This is a problem.
While you may think it is too early for the fantasy owners who selected Ovechkin in the first or second round of their drafts to panic, remember that the season is only 14 weeks long. It is not like he has a couple months to get his goal-scoring game into gear. He and his hapless Capitals have to start scoring and winning faster than Martin St. Louis can skate.
But Ovechkin has just not been the same superstar he was a couple years ago when 50 goals and 100 points per year was the norm for him. Now he is your run-of-the-mill point-per-game guy. Over his last 168 games he has 157 points. This season he has eight points in a dozen outings.
Ovechkin could and should go on a hot streak—you would hope. But it is not the certainty it would have been back in 2009-10. Now you have to have your doubts.
Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks (G)
Schneider owners were banking on Roberto Luongo getting traded by now so Schneider could finally be Vancouver’s No. 1 goalie, but instead, Luongo is starting as many games and outplaying his longtime understudy.
Schneider has not been a sieve—2.36 GAA, .921 SP—but Luongo has been standing on his goalie mask like Dominik Hasek in his prime. Luongo currently has a 1.53 goals-against average and .940 save percentage, and with outrageous numbers like that he will continue to play in at least as many games as Schneider—if not more.
Schneider deserves a better fate.
He proved last season that he has all the tools and talent to be a starting goalie, and he showed his superb skills during the Stanley Cup playoffs. If he could be a 60-game-per-season goalie he would quickly become one of the top 10 fantasy goalies thanks to the combination of his play and the Canucks being an above-average team.
But with Luongo playing like he will get $100,000,000 if he wins the Vezina trophy and with Vancouver likely having a tough time moving him because of his long-term, multimillion dollar contract, it looks like Schneider might have to settle for playing just 50 percent of the time this season.
David Jones, Colorado Avalanche (RW)
Not too many players have played worse this season than Jones. In fact, probably just a handful. He has netted just one goal, had no assists and is an unforgivable minus-nine in eight contests. And for those fantasy owners in leagues where penalty minutes are a good thing, the cherry on top is that Jones has not been in the penalty box yet.
Now fantasy owners were not expecting Jones to be Mike Bossy. Jones is a 20-goal, 40-point player over the course of a full season. But when they spent their late-round draft choices on Jones, thinking that maybe he could provide some punch from right wing, they were not figuring on him posting a performance like this.
Colorado as a team has had more trouble scoring goals than a roster full of Stu Grimsons. You would hope that once the team starts turning things around that Jones would follow suit, but this terrible start should not have his fantasy owners believing that will happen.