Well, it's boxing day in Canada, which means it's time to take all of those unwanted presents back to the store and cash them in for something useful. Now wouldn’t be spectacular if you had that option with your fantasy hockey team? After all, I'm sure there a few picks that you were feeling warm and tingly over when you opened them in October, only to find out that they're not quite what you hoped they would be. In the spirit of Christmas, I'll give you the 12 gifts that need returning this fantasy hockey season. Thankfully, I only drafted about half of these guys...
12. Mike Green (D-WAS)
OK, so I wouldn't exactly give him back. I'd more ask for a partial refund. After taking him in the first round in more than one league, this has hurt me and hurt me bad. Green has been a shadow of his former self this season in terms of fantasy production. A lousy 14 points at Christmas time? He had that in a week last season. At this point, there are about 45 defensemen outscoring Green. Refund, please.
11. Travis Zajac (NJ)
Zajac was clearly on the upward swing. After seasons of 34, 62, then 67 points, it seems he was ready to be a point-a-game player for sure. The injury to Parise has clearly affected his production, but 3 goals and 17 points is uncalled for. Just glad others got to him before I could at the draft table.
10. Jason Spezza (OTT)
Spezza is on pace for a whopping 46 points, which would be a career low since his 33-game rookie season. He's currently being outscored by about 10 rookies and 22 defensemen, and even a couple rookie defensemen. There's no silver lining here, take him back.
9. Marty Turco (G-CHI)
I knew it was just a matter of time before Crawford would seize the number one job, I just expected it to wait until the start of 2011. It seems his usefulness as a starting fantasy goalie is a thing of the past and it's time to trade this one in for a shirt or something.
8. Erik Johnson (D-STL)
Johnson was expected to make a giant leap this season. Seems like he's going in the wrong direction right now. With just 1 goal and 9 assists through 32 games, he's on pace for a lousy 24 point season. He had a week or two of hope in early December, but he's now riding a 5 game pointless streak. Not ready to completely write him off for the season, but I'm getting close.
7. Phil Kessel (F-TOR)
I was very high on Kessel in the pre-season, and after the first few weeks, all seemed well. He had 7 goals through 8 games to start the year. Since then, he's managed just 5 more in 25 games. If he's not scoring goals, he's not worth having on your roster, and right now, he's not scoring goals. This one hurt me in several leagues.
6. Antti Niemi (G-SJ)
Nobody was quite sure what to expect out of Niemi after emerging as the surprise starter in Chicago, winning the Cup, then moving on to San Jose. Nonetheless, he has been an enormous disappointment with the Sharks. Though Niittymaki hasn't clearly won the job outright, Niemi has done little to earn a starting role with the Sharks, or with your fantasy roster. I returned this gift back in November.
5. Sergei Gonchar (D-OTT)
Maybe what Gonchar needs is a good injury. The last few years, he's kicked off the season with an extended vacation, only to return as one of the top scoring defensemen in the game. With a healthy start to the 2010-11 season, he's been a huge disappointment. While 16 points in 35 games isn't a complete disaster, his -19 rating clearly is. It appears he left his best days behind him in Pittsburgh.
4. Patrick Marleau (SJ)
I think Marleau likes messing with fantasy owners. After two monster seasons in 2005-2007, fantasy owners tripped over themselves, only to be rewarded with a lousy 48 point effort in 2007-08. He then bounces back with a 71-point season, and then a 44-goal, 83 point total last year. He found his way into the top 10 on many draft lists. And what has he delivered? 11 goals, 14 assists for 25 stinking points in 34 games. And oh yeah, there's that -15 to add to the fun. A little consistency would be nice, Patrick.
3. Tuukka Rask (G-BOS)
Many fantasy owners dived in head-first to the glass of Tuukka flavored kool-aid. Thankfully, I stayed home. After all, Thomas's numbers last season weren't any where near as bad as many made them out to be. While it's shocking that it turned so fast, it's not the first time a rookie goalie disappeared as a sophomore. Disappointing either way.
2. Martin Brodeur (G-NJ)
This one killed me. I had faith in the greatest goalie to ever play the game and now, I'm struggling. I know it's foolish at this point, but I just can't bring myself to drop Martin Brodeur. If feels wrong somehow. Perhaps the return of Mr. Demaire will help me recover some losses on my early round investment.
1. Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ)
Kovalchuk may go down in history as the biggest let down ever in the sport. Ever. At least that's the way it feels after drafting him in Round 2 and boasting that it was a steal. His recent "hot stretch" has cushioned the blow slightly, but if you crunch the numbers, he's still on pace to be a -56 along with just 20 goals to finish the year. All for just 100 million dollars.