Avoiding players that ultimately don't live up to their draft position is just as important as selecting players that end up outperforming their ADP when building a winning Fantasy team. Whether it be due to injury concerns, expected regression or a change in team situation/role, here are eight players Fantasy managers should consider fading on draft day.
Benn was fantastic in 2022-23, racking up 33 goals, 78 points and 190 shots on goal while appearing in all 82 games for the Stars. However, there are plenty of reasons to expect the Dallas captain to regress in a major way in 2023-24. Benn's 33-goal performance last year was driven by a career-high shooting percentage of 17.4. With a career average of 13.2 percent, odds are Benn won't come close to the 30-goal mark this season. The 34-year-old also tied his career high with 30 power-play points last year, a mark he hadn't hit since his age-26 season in 2015-16. With second power-play unit usage likely on tap for Benn, there's little reason for managers to expect him to offer that sort of production with the man advantage this year. 55 points is a much likelier outcome than 75 plus for Benn this season.
Stone was excellent when in the lineup last season, finishing with 17 goals and 38 points in 43 regular-season contests before adding 11 goals and 13 helpers in 22 playoff appearances en route to Vegas' first Stanley Cup championship. I don't expect his production to be much different when he's on the ice in 2023-24, but his health remains a major concern. A chronic back issue has cost Stone 82 regular-season games over the past two campaigns alone, and it's a problem that's expected to affect him for the rest of his career. Stone could still end up being a major value on draft day if he's able to stay healthy throughout the season, but I think the odds of that happening are slim – let someone else roll the dice.
As a 26-year-old rookie, Kuzmenko's first NHL season couldn't have gone much better. The Russian winger burst onto the season with an eye-popping 39 goals and 74 points in 81 contests in 2022-23. However, he converted his shots at an unsustainable 27.4 percent clip, the highest rate in the NHL by a wide margin – Tampa Bay's Brayden Point finished second with a 21.7 shooting percentage. Although Kuzmenko's role should continue to grow in his second NHL season, the near-certain forthcoming dip in his shooting percentage may leave Fantasy managers expecting a 40-plus goal performance regretting their decision to pick him up on draft day.
Burns continued to be a force in his 18th NHL season in 2022-23, finishing the campaign with 18 goals and 61 points, 23 of which came with the man advantage. Although his offensive-minded game has clearly aged well, Father Time eventually catches up with everybody, and at 38 years old, there's a chance this is the year we finally see a significant dip in production from Burns. The fact that offseason addition Tony DeAngelo could cut into Burns' time with the No. 1 power-play unit certainly doesn't help, either.
Karlsson exploded in 2022-23, racking up 25 goals and 101 points in 82 games with San Jose en route to his third Norris Trophy. Following an offseason trade to Pittsburgh, Karlsson's supporting cast will be better than it's been in years in 2023-24, but there's still one major concern surrounding the 33-year-old Swede as a Fantasy asset, and that's his health. Although he finally played a full 82-game schedule last year, Karlsson had been plagued by injuries for much of the previous four campaigns, Although his upside is immense, spending an early-round pick on a player who has missed large stretches of action in recent years could backfire on Fantasy managers in a big way.
Montour finds himself on this list for two reasons. The 6-foot defender was undoubtedly excellent in 2022-23 with 16 goals and 73 points in 80 contests, but that breakout campaign didn't come until he was 28 years old. Although there are certainly other examples of players breaking out and continuing to perform at a high level in their late 20s, it's fair to wonder if we can expect the Montour we saw a year ago going forward, or if he'll settle in somewhere between last season's performance and his 37-point output in 2021-22 in future campaigns. Additionally, Montour is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, and the Panthers have only stated he's expected to return sometime between November and January. That level of uncertainty makes Montour a tough player to get excited about heading into this year's drafts.
Ullmark took his game to new heights last season, going 40-6-1 while posting an exceptional 1.89 GAA and .938 save percentage through 49 regular-season appearances en route to his first Vezina Trophy. While I expect him to continue to perform at a high level in 2023-24, his peripherals will almost certainly regress toward his career averages (2.50 GAA, .919 save percentage), and with the Bruins set to take a step back as a team following several key offseason retirements and free agent departures, Ullmark's win total will also likely take a hit in 2023-24. The presence of capable backup Jeremy Swayman doesn't help Ullmark's case, either. Ullmark should remain a solid Fantasy option this year, but there are enough concerns to make him a fade for me at his current ADP.
Bobrovsky was excellent in the first three rounds of the playoffs last year, going 11-2 while posting a 2.21 GAA and an exceptional .935 save percentage, helping propel the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Finals. That may be enough for some Fantasy managers to overlook his mediocre at best showing during the regular season (24-20-3, 3.07 GAA, .901 save percentage), but it shouldn't be for you. With netminders like Juuse Saros and Tristan Jarry going in the same range, Fantasy managers should be able to do better than Bobrovsky on draft day.