Fantasy Hockey Forwards
Which fantasy hockey forwards should you avoid for the 2021-2022 season? Hockey guy Trey and reigning fantasy hockey champion has you covered. (Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2021-2022 Fantasy Hockey Forwards To Avoid

It’s my favorite time of the year (seriously). Fall is here and fantasy hockey is so back. As your reigning fantasy hockey champion, I feel it is my duty to create fantasy hockey content leading up to the new season. I just had my draft so it feels like a good time to spill the beans on what I was thinking prior to the season. In a Fluery (It’s hockey season… shut up) of posts that will be on the way, this iteration focuses on fantasy hockey forwards to avoid for the 2021-2022 NHL season.

Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers) ESPN 13 (LW 3)

Jonathan Huberdeau is a really good hockey player. The Florida Panthers don’t sniff the playoffs without him. Huberdeau finished last season as the 36th overall skater a year ago and is now ranked 13th. Can he make that big of a leap? Keep in mind, Huberdeau is separated from Aleksander Barkov on even-strength lines.

Huberdeau also has new linemates. Alex Wennberg got scooped up by the Kraken. Patric Hornqvist likely won’t be a top 6 player at this stage of his career. Sam Bennett was a good acquisition at the deadline but Owen Tippett doesn’t present the same offensive prowess Wennberg did.

Also, keep this in mind. Huberdeau played about as well as possible last year. He ranked 11th in points and 4th in power-play points. He still ranked 36th overall a year ago. You’re essentially asking him to repeat that production while asking Tippett to perform like Barkov? It doesn’t make sense. Ranked too high. I’ll pass.

Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg Jets) ESPN 21 (RW 5)

One of the strategies I used last year worked very well. Anybody over the age of 30 will not be on my roster. Maybe you don’t need to be that aggressive but it’s a good rule of thumb. Blake Wheeler is no spring chicken anymore. Actually, that’s probably being kind. Do you want age 35 of Wheeler when you have to pull the trigger on him in the late second or early third round? I do not.

The days of Wheeler being a 90 point guy like a couple of years ago are gone. You can get both of Wheeler’s linemates (Kyle Conner & Mark Scheifele) much later in drafts and are considerably younger. Wheeler’s corsi number is already mediocre at this stage. The cliff is coming. Don’t be on the wrong end of it. It’s much safer to pass.

Mika Zibanejad (New York Rangers) ESPN 23 (C 6)

I will die on this hill; Mika Zibanejad stinks. I had the opportunity to take Zibanejad who fell hard in my draft and I couldn’t do it. The Rangers center iceman scored 50 points in 56 games last year. I think that’s a bit of fools gold. 21 of his points last year came against the dreadful Flyers. If you recall, the Flyers defense was so bad last year that they couldn’t stop bank robbers carrying around plastic forks.

Wake up, people! We have a full season now. There is no beasting and feasting on one opponent this year. Okay… maybe we chalk that up to being streaky? Still a horrible thing in fantasy hockey where an early pick on Zibanejad kills you for 3-4 weeks at a time.

Zibanejad’s ranking isn’t as egregious as it was last year when he was ranked SIXTH for some god unforsaken reason. He’s still too high. Better question; Why is Artemi Panarin ranked lower? I’m way out on this bum.

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) ESPN 31 (C 7)

Remember the thing I said about avoiding old players? There really shouldn’t be an exception minus maybe Alex Ovechkin because the man has the most electric shot of all-time and doesn’t even have to move on the ice. He’s literally a statue on the power play but it doesn’t matter. The man puts pucks in nets.

Sidney Crosby MAYBE will be remembered as a better player because of the postseason success, but it’s time to jump ship. Crosby is aging and isn’t healthy. He’s already ruled out for the few first games of the season because of offseason wrist surgery.

Crosby, 34, was flat out bad in the postseason against the Islanders notching a 62.8 Corsi rating, a 60.48 shot share, a 62.61 scoring chance ratio, a 58.70 high-danger scoring chance percentage, and a 59.63 xGF (per Natural Stat Trick). Crosby was also on the ice for three goals for but five goals against in five on five situations.

Crosby is still a very good player but the eyeball test tells you he’s not the peak guy anymore. It’s why Pittsburgh isn’t a Stanley Cup team anymore. Not to mention a lot of his teammates are aging rapidly too. If the Penguins were a stock, you would sell them yesterday. You should do the same with Crosby in fantasy regardless of how legendary of a player he is.

Roope Hintz (Dallas Stars) ESPN 36 (C 9)

Listen… I’ll take dart throws on injury risks all the time. In fantasy football, I’m literally addicted to Will Fuller and there’s a better chance I beat Usain Bolt in a 40-yard dash than Fuller has of playing an entire regular season slate. Be that as it may, Hintz is such an injury risk I just don’t see how you can use such a high pick on him.

For weekly lineup leagues, Hintz is a nightmare. You lock him in on a Monday and by Friday he’s already had two days of load management. He’s a constant questionable with a lower body injury for the rest of time. The Stars forward notched 43 points but only played in 41 of 56 games which somehow feels high based on how last year went.

The on-ice effect is a bit of a different story. Look… Hintz was a monster last year. Nobody is denying that but we do have some different circumstances this upcoming season. Tyler Seguin is healthy and Jason Robertson looks so good that he may even have a shot to go on a date with Emma Brown. Can’t confirm that one though.

Maybe the added offense helps Hintz pick up assists but I can’t imagine he’s ahead of a healthy Seguin in the pecking order or on the power play. Hintz’s ranking feels like his ceiling and the floor feels like a crash to eternal hell. Remember Hintz went undrafted in most fantasy leagues last year.

Anže Kopitar (Los Angeles Kings) ESPN 46 (C 12)

This is nothing against Anže Kopitar. He’s a franchise cornerstone of the LA Kings. He’s also heading into his age 35 season and the Kings are still a bad hockey team. Sorry, not sorry, but Viktor Arvidsson couldn’t get me less excited below the belt. Even big time hockey fans don’t even know who the hell Dustin Brown is. That’s their first-line right winger. May as well be a generated created player in a video game.

I want players on good offenses if possible. The only thing the Kings are excited about right now is their farm system. That doesn’t help me win a fantasy championship. I’m out.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau (New York Islanders) ESPN 82 (C25)

I don’t get this one. Jean-Gabriel Pageau is a better ping pong player than a hockey player. Okay, he wins a lot of face-offs. Big whoop. I don’t understand how you justify taking Pageau this high when he’s quite literally the third line center on his own team. Anders Lee, Kyle Palmieri, Anthony Beauvillier, and Brock Nelson went undrafted in my league. I’m now supposed to believe Pageau is a stone cold top 100 pick? On what planet? Not this one.

Josh Norris (Ottowa Senators) ESPN 86 (C 27)

Not much here. If I’m taking a flier on a guy in Ottowa it’s Drake Batherson. They’re ranked around the same area. Why not just take the guy who’s better and more advanced in the development curve on his own team?

Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins) ESPN 103 (C 29)

You’re just not paying attention if you use a top 100 pick on Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins veteran is out a minimum of two months to start the season. I guarantee the bum who drafts Malkin doesn’t realize that. If you really want Malkin, let the dumbass in your league pick him. By the time the person realizes Malkin isn’t close to suiting up, they will cut him and you can pick him up for free to stash on the IR for later. You’re welcome.

We’re also not talking about stashing someone like Nikita Kucherov for two months who changes the complexity of your team. Even if you have Malkin, he’s a borderline start as it is at this point in his career.