This week’s question is:
Who has been the biggest fantasy disappointment this season?
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Joey: There was a fair amount of hype around Ilya Kovalchuk's return to the NHL. Some people thought he'd light it up, while others were a little more reserved with their projections. So far, everything that's gone on in Los Angeles has been a huge disappointment. Sure, the fact that Kovalchuk missed 10 games with an ankle injury didn't help, but he's on pace to score 18 goals and 42 points this year. That's low considering the 35-year-old has two years remaining on his current deal at a cap hit of $6.25 million. It's not looking like a very good deal.
Brian: No one has been more disappointing to me than Vladimir Tarasenko, but since he registered a hat trick on Sunday, I'm going to do go with someone less obvious, James Neal. True, Neal has been nothing more than a 45-point player since 2016, but with only five goals and 15 points in 53 games to date, he is on pace for a grand total of 22 points this season. That makes Neal unworthy of a fantasy roster spot regardless of the size of the pool, and a huge disappointment in my books.
Corey: Taylor Hall had been doing a good job of avoiding the injury issues that plagued him early in his career, but he has missed a sizable chunk of 2018-19. He hasn't played since Dec. 23 because of a lower-body injury and he hasn't been skating much. Now, the Devils plan to have him back before the end of the season, but a timetable remains unclear. His play has been fine when he's been in the lineup, but fantasy owners who invested a high pick (average of 16.4 on Yahoo) in him have to be disappointed that he has been out of commission for this long without much in the way of information.
Ryan: I'm not sure if you'd call Patrik Laine the biggest disappointment of the season, but he's definitely been a disappointment and has certainly frustrated fantasy owners. After scoring 36 goals and 64 points as a rookie and 44 goals and 70 points as a sophomore, he's dipped to 25 goals and 36 points in 56 contests this season. That's a decline, but at first it doesn't seem like a huge one - at least not in terms of goals. However, 18 of those 25 goals came during a 12-game stretch from Nov. 1-29. He hasn't done much of anything for fantasy owners before or since then and it's only gotten worse as we've gotten deeper into the season. He has just two goals and six points in his last 23 contests. At this rate, his numbers are going to continue to look worse as we get deeper into the season and that one amazing stretch gets further isolated. The fact that his contributes have been so uneven has also made him basically useless for several months now in head-to-head leagues in particular.
Keep in mind, all this is happening during a season where scoring is up and one where his average draft position in Yahoo leagues was 7.6. The only players taken ahead of Laine on average were Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin, Nikita Kucherov, Sidney Crosby, and Brad Marchand. So relative to where Laine was taken, he's been a huge issue for the vast majority of the season.
Daniel: It was obvious that William Karlsson was likely not going to improve upon his 78-point season from a year ago, but the backslide this season has been tough for fantasy owners. He was drafted to be a top-50 fantasy player after scoring 43 goals with a plus-49 rating in his breakout 2017-18 campaign with the Vegas Golden Knights. Karlsson isn't having a dismal season by most other player's standards, as he has 17 goals and 36 points with a minus-4 rating. Of course, that ranks 103rd in the NHL, and that's a far cry from tying for 23rd in points like he did in 2017-18. Last season he did rack up 16 goals and 36 points with a plus-23 rating in 34 games after the All-Star break, so there is time for him to easily exceed the 60-point level, but so far he hasn't shown any signs that he can roll up points in bunches this season, posting just two multi-point performances over the past 19 contests.
Michael: Alexander Wennberg has been a huge disappointment this season. Even with a goal and two assists in his last three games, all he has done is double his goal production to two in 54 games and with 21 assists, that is not what fantasy players nor the Blue Jackets were expecting from the 24-year-old. They slotted him in as their number two center and he has been anything but. There were great expectations after his 2016-17 campaign when he had 13 goals and 59 points in 80 games but he only had 35 points in 66 games last season and this year has been worse.