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Draft Kit - Busts: Beware the Career-Year

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He's also in the FSWA Hall of Fame. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).


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. We polled the RotoWire Staff to provide their busts in these categories, and here's what they provided.

Big-Name Busts:

Pavel Datsyuk, C, DET - Don't get us wrong, Datsyuk is one of the top five forwards skill-wise in the league. The problem is his linemates. While Valtteri Filppula seems to be emerging on his left flank, the right flank is taken up by an aging plumber in Todd Bertuzzi. At this stage in his career Bertuzzi shouldn't be playing top six minutes, let alone top three. The 37-year-old Bertuzzi has averaged a meager 15 goals and 42 points over the last five seasons. Call it karma, call it aging but the fact of the matter is that Bertuzzi has not been the same player since he attacked Steve Moore breaking his neck and ending his NHL career seven years ago. We'd be more bullish on Datsyuk if Mikael Samuelsson were on his right flank. Samuelsson scored 30 goals as recently as the 2009-10 season and he's been scoring at a 21-goal per season pace for the past seven seasons (129 goals in 495 games). Sadly for Datsyuk he won't get to play with the better finisher. Once again a 90+-point talent will struggle to surpass 70 points. This has happened for the past three seasons and we don't see it changing in 2012-13.

Patrik Elias, C, NJD - Elias is a name guy who's coming off a big bounceback season, with 26 goals and 78 points for the Eastern Conference champs, but he was invisible in the playoffs, scoring just eight points in 24 games, and he enters this season as a 36-year-old who just played in 95 NHL games last year. His goal-scoring is bound to regress after last year's meager 164 shots (the lowest full-season total he's ever put up) produced 26 markers for a 15.9% shooting percentage that's well above his career high, and though he'll surely still produce with Ilya Kovalchuk on the power play, a slide back into the 55-point range seems likely.

Ilya Kovalchuk, W, NJD - Yeah, he's a great player and will continue to light the lamp, but losing one of the best players in the game to free agency in Zach Parise is bound to take its toll on anyone. He can't do it all by himself.

Paul Martin, D, PIT - Martin has averaged 26 points in two seasons with Pittsburgh and has never scored more than six goals in any of his eight NHL campaigns. His game is puck movement and he excels in transition. Unfortunately, Pens GM Ray Shero thought he was getting a player who could serve on a power-play point but instead signed a blueliner whose slap shot is feared by no one. Martin's name in fantasy drafts is annually called before his offensive production warrants.

Rick Nash, W, NYR - Nash was by far the biggest name to change teams this offseason, and will likely be overvalued by fantasy owners who gravitate towards name-brands. Nash is a supremely talented player, but he also benefits from his reputation a bit more than he should as he's never posted more than 79 points in a single season, and that was four years ago. While the 28-year-old will benefit from a superior cast of supporting players in New York, the Rangers are also a defensive-minded club and Nash will more than likely be overvalued headed into drafts.

Zach Parise, W, MIN - Parise is a stud. But bust will be the exact thing that happens -- he's going to get pounded and beaten to a pulp by those big Western Conference defenders. And he'll end up hurt. Does Minny really think Dany Heatley can skate on the top line with him? Parise will be the first man into the zone on every single play unless the Wild get wild with their thinking and move Cal Clutterbuck to the top line. He needs room to move; he can't be the guy creating it.

Pekka Rinne, G, NAS - Rinne is a great goalie and may continue to be so but this was a team built from the goalie on out and now that they have lost a key part of their defense, Ryan Suter, you have to wonder if their lack of offense will finally catch up to them. Rinne should see more rubber this season and it only stands to reason that more pucks will go in the net. I still like him, but not as a top five goaltender anymore.

Career-Year Busts:

David Clarkson, W, NJD - Clarkson caught lightning in a bottle. Seriously -- 30 goals? He'd never scored more than 17 or recorded more than 32 points. But he hammered in 30, finished with 46 points and powered home 138 PIMs. That's gold; no, fantasy platinum. Too bad it'll be a tarnished 20 goals this year.

David Desharnais, C, MTL - The squirt has one chance -- and one chance only -- to repeat his superhero feats from 2011-12. And that's if he continues to center the two towering power wingers, Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole. If the Habs juggle their lines and push Tomas Plekanec up the ranks, Desharnais might become exposed as just another 110 pound weakling. Too bad -- he has great tools.

Pascal Dupuis, W, PIT - Fantasy owners likely profited handsomely in 2011-12. At 33 years of age, the winger broke the 50-point barrier for the first time in his 11 NHL seasons. Dupuis potted 25 goals and 59 points despite seeing mostly third-line action with little power-play time. Considering he averaged just under 16 goals in his first three seasons with Pittsburgh, expecting another 25 out of the penalty-killing specialist might be expecting too much.

Scott Hartnell, W, PHI - If you're waiting for Hartnell to come anywhere close to 37 goals and 67 points again this season, don't hold your breath. Hartnell's goal totals have fluctuated wildly throughout his career and can reasonably expected to land in the low-to-mid-20s. Hartnell ripped off 60 points once prior to last year, in '08-'09, and promptly slumped to 14 goals and 44 points the next season. The Flyers just gave him a big contract (big for being Scott Hartnell, anyhow), and they'll probably start regretting that sooner rather than later.

Wayne Simmonds, W, PHI - For the first three years of his NHL career Simmonds was a third-line checking forward who completes his checks and bags 13 goals and 39 points in 80 games per season. Then Simmonds gets traded to Philadelphia, bouncing between the second and third line for much of the year, and scores 28 goals and 49 points in 82 games. The fact of the matter is that Simmonds is more in the mold of a third line forward despite his 28-goal season of a year ago. Simmonds' 28-goal season was a great achievement but, based on his past production in the league and his junior numbers, it is a feat that is highly unlikely to be repeated.

Radim Vrbata, W, PHO - Vrbata has been a solid player throughout his career, but he took a huge jump last season in posting 35 goals and 64 points. Part of that was due to an uptick in his ice time, but there also might be a case of fool's gold here, as well. Vrbata's career-highs in goals and points came in 07-08, where he totaled 27 and 56 respectively, so there are some warning flags in a player upping his career highs in the year of his 31st birthday. A large part of Vrbata's jump was due to a 15.1 shooting percentage (as compared to his career average of 9.4%). He'll be a solid middle-round player, but expecting a repeat of last year is an errand in futility.

Ray Whitney, W, Dallas - This one is just way too easy. Whitney is great, but his 77 points last season were the second-highest of his career. At 39. Now 40, he cannot be expected to do it again, particularly on a rebuilding squad like the Stars.

Situational Busts:

Craig Anderson, G, OTT - Anderson is coming off a decent regular season (.914 save percentage, 2.84 GAA) and had a great series against the Rangers in the playoffs (.933, 2.00 in a losing effort), but it's hard to feel good about him coming into this year. Anderson has only played 70 games in a season twice, and he's never been remotely close to that figure in any other season. The last time he played 70 games, in 2009-10 with Colorado, he came back the next year and was horrendous for 33 games until he was traded to Ottawa, where the change of scenery apparently did him good, as he sparkled down the stretch for the Sens (.939, 2.05) before settling back into good-but-not-great mode last season. This year could see another decline, and in Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop, the Sens have a pair of young goalies who are going to push for playing time. In short: Don't count on Anderson to carry the load again.

Matt Cooke, W, PIT - Cooke took advantage of a two-week run as Sidney Crosby's linemate, contributing with seven goals in one six-game span. Cooke collected a career-high 19 goals in his 13th NHL campaign. While he was able to reform his on-ice persona - his PIMs dropped from 129 to 44 - it would be unwise to bank on another 19 goal season.

Josh Harding, G, MIN - Harding showed flashes of brilliance during the first few months of the 2011-12 season, but his value hit a ceiling as he found himself taking a backseat to the Wild's veteran netminder, Niklas Backstrom. Harding's numbers (2.62 GAA, .917 save percentage) indicate he has the skills to take over as the Wild's top goaltender if Backstrom falters, but the 28-year-old won't provide better value than his ADP indicates unless he's able to change his zip code.

Jimmy Howard, G, DET - This really has little to do with Howard. He's a good but not great goalie. When you lose a Hall of Famer (Niklas Lidstrom) to retirement, and another solid d-man in Brad Stuart to free agency and don't make any significant upgrades, you're going to take a hit. It doesn't help any that most of this team's top players are up there in age. The Red Wings are one team that might really benefit from a long lockout - a shorter season would seem to help them out.

Justin Schultz, D, EDM - The poor kid just doesn't have a chance. He was called (by many) the second-best defender on the free agent market -- after Ryan Suter, of course -- and his dog-and-pony show took him around the league. The Oil are still young and vulnerable in their own zone, and Schultz hasn't played more than a shade over 40 games a season. There's just too much pressure this year for him to succeed.