As with sleepers, most "busts" fall into three types. There are those who are overrated on the basis of the situation they're in, those that are overrated because they're coming off a career-year, and there are those who are big names but overrated based on pure merit. Situational busts are such because of where they play, whose line they are on, or because of the personnel changes on the team. Career-year busts are pretty self-explanatory - you don't want to get caught up chasing last year's stats. Big-name busts usually consist of players returning from career seasons, never to return to such heights, or are in some cases overhyped rookies that aren't ready for prime time just yet.
Bryan Little, C, WPG - Little had a fairly solid year last season in Winnipeg, tallying 24 goals and 22 assists, and looked to be a member of the Jets' second line. The acquisition of Olli Jokinen pushes him down a notch, plus Alex Burmistrov being a year older and Marc Scheifele possibly joining the Jets also hurt him. Little won't fade to oblivion, but his fantasy impact has taken a hit.
Rich Peverley, W, BOS - Peverley racked up 11 goals and 42 points to go along with a plus-20 rating last season in his injury-shortened 57-game campaign. He slots in as a third-liner, but when injuries hit, the Bruins aren't hesitant to have him roll with one of the team's top two lines. The latter part of the prior sentence is the key, because if the Bruins stay relatively healthy, Peverley loses much of his fantasy value.
Fedor Tyutin, D, CLM - Tyutin had another typical year in Columbus, filling a key role on the PP while scoring 20+ points. This year, the Blue Jacktes have decent depth on the blue line with Wisniewski, Johnson and Nikitin along with John Moore, Adrian Aucoin and Tim Erixon. What that means is that Tyutin, when he is on the ice, may need to focus more on defense, limiting his output.
Nikolai Khabibulin, G, EDM - This one is a tough call, as I can just as easily see Khabibulin end up on the “sleepers” side of the ledger. That said, all signs point to Devan Dubnyk being the choice to see most of the time between the pipes for an improving Oilers team, relegating the Bulin Wall to back up duty. In addition, Khabibulin is still working his way back from hip/groin issues, which doesn't bode well for success in a shortened, compressed schedule.
Adam Henrique, C, NJD - Henrique ends up as a bust mainly due to his uncertain status because of an injury. Henrique underwent surgery last month to reattach a torn UCL in his left thumb, and will now need to regain his full range of motion after getting the cast removed. He had the cast removed this week but will require three and a half to four weeks of rehab before he can resume playing, meaning he may not be back until sometime in early-February.
Radim Vrbata, W, PHO - Vrbata was coming off good seasons in 2009-10 and 10-11 before exploding with 35 goals and 27 assists last season. Part of that rise was fueled by a 15.1 percent shooting percentage along with a bump of over two minutes nightly in ice time. While the bottom will not fall out on Vrbata, to expect a repeat at 31, especially with Ray Whitney no longer on a line with him in the Desert, might be a bit of a stretch.
Jason Garrison, D, VAN - Garrison rode a career-year performance - 16 goals, 17 assists - into a monstrous six-year, $27.6 million deal from the Canucks. The pressure of playing in Vancouver is already big, let alone trying to live up to the expectations created by that big deal. In addition, the Canucks have several solid d-men, so while Garrison may have a good year, it won't be enough to live up to that contract. If Garrison gets off to a slow start, it wouldn't be surprising to hear calls for Vancouver to use one of their two buyouts before the 2013-14 season on him.
Brian Elliott, G, STL - Elliott took advantage of a poor October by Jaroslav Halak to earn a time-share in net in the Arch City. Elliott led the NHL in save percentage and goals-against average, earning a two-year extension in the process. Despite the brilliant numbers, Halak is still the #1 netminder in St. Louis and if he plays like he did after that poor opening month, he - and not Elliott - should earn the lion's share of time between the pipes.
Big Name Busts
Mikko Koivu, C, MIN - Like with any big-name acquisition, everyone expects that player's linemate to experience a substantial rise in points. In this case, it's Koivu following Minnesota's signing of Zach Parise. While Koivu will skate on a line with Parise, to expect a meteoric rise in points, especially with a shortened training camp, might be a bit of a stretch. Koivu should have a good year but don't take him figuring on a point-a-game production.
Chris Kreider, W, NYR - As most of the readers know, I am Broadway Faithful and very high on Kreider. The reason for him appearing in this column is because the likelihood of the expectations for him being way out of whack after his solid playoff performance last spring. Kreider should produce nicely playing on the second or third line in NY, but don't draft him with delusions of grandeur as he still needs to full adopt to John Tortorella's system and the compressed schedule.
Brian Campbell, D, FLA - Campbell turned back the clock last year, putting his disappointing campaigns as a Blackhawk behind him with a rebound season in Florida. He received the Lady Byng Trophy as the league's most sportsmanlike player and notched 49 assists to go with his four goals to slot in as the league's second-best scoring d-man. To expect that kind of a year is unlikely, so while Campbell should be good, figure on some regression.
Jimmy Howard, G, DET - Howard put up dazzling numbers last season - 35 wins, 2.13 goals-against average and .920 save percentage - while putting a disappointing 2010-11 campaign behind him. The loss of Nicklas Lidstrom and perhaps to a greater extent, Brad Stuart, along with the failure of Detroit to infuse the team with any new talent will have an understandably large impact on Howard's numbers this season. The Red Wings also have a better back up in Jonas Gustavsson, so if Howard does struggle, they do have someone who could start a few games in a row.