Five players to avoid in your NHL fantasy draft

Buffalo Sabres GM Kevyn Adams discusses the reason that the club has decided to strip the captaincy from Jack Eichel, and why he doesn’t want to be a distraction to the team. Courtesy: WKBW.

Memo to fantasy owners: Do your homework before you draft.

It’s one thing to be able to identify marquee talent to target, it’s another to recognize who to pass on.

Whether it’s injury, off-ice drama, or the semblance that someone’s just downright overhyped, there’s always a crop of names and situations worth avoiding at all costs. To be fair, the average draft position of a player has significant bearing on this ideology. And it should.

Bottom line, draft responsibly; gambling on mid-level picks could plague your season. Unless you find irrefutable value or circumstances change, steering clear of these five players would be a wise decision:

Jack Eichel, C, Buffalo Sabres (ADP – 87)

Honestly, this soap opera could give Days of Our Lives a run for its money. To be fair, not much has changed in this saga since the beginning of training camp when Eichel failed his physical and was also stripped of the captaincy. Having said that, it sounds like there’s been a bit of traction on the trade front the past couple of days. If/when that goes down, that should pave the way for some much-needed clarity on what the next step will be for Eichel and his injured neck.

From a fantasy scope, there’s just too much uncertainty surrounding this situation. It’s difficult to justify utilizing a high pick on an injured player at the best of times, never mind on Eichel, a player who’s currently mired in the standoff of the century.

Evgeni Malkin, C, Pittsburgh Penguins (ADP – 109)

When healthy, Malkin can still bring it. But he's not healthy right now. The Penguins all-star centre, who’s entering a contract year, is expected to miss at least the first two months of the year following off-season knee surgery. It’s the same old fantasy story for the Russian pivot every season, he gets banged up quite a bit. In fact, the 35-year-old has missed 10 or more games in all but one season in the past decade. Additionally, Malkin’s coming off a career-low 0.85 points per game. The injury and age combo make it an easy decision to steer clear of the future Hall of Famer this time around.

Evander Kane, LW/RW, San Jose Sharks (ADP – 152)

Under normal circumstances, Kane’s versatility makes him an extremely valuable fantasy commodity. Unfortunately, these are far from ordinary times for the 30-year-old winger, who’s currently missing in action from Sharks training camp due to numerous ongoing investigations. Given the severity and seriousness of the situation, there’s no telling where this will go and how long it will take to unwind. On top of that, there’s no guarantee San Jose would welcome Kane back to begin with. Before camp, multiple reports suggested several Sharks teammates didn’t want him back on the team.

Jakub Vrana, LW/RW, Detroit Red Wings (ADP – 171)

Sadly, the Vrana breakout we’ve all been forecasting will have to wait a little bit longer. The Red Wings were dealt a major blow last week when it was announced that the 25-year-old needed shoulder surgery and will be out of action at least four months. After landing in Detroit via Washington at last year’s trade deadline, Vrana potted eight goals and three helpers in 11 contests and was poised to build off that this season. There’s no need to reach on Vrana, a late round flier or waiver claim will suffice. He’s the perfect IR stash, that’s it.

Ben Bishop, G, Dallas Stars (ADP – 176)

Have you looked at Dallas’ goaltending depth chart lately? Something doesn’t add up. And that something could be Bishop, who missed the entirety of last season due to a lingering knee issue. Although he’s been skating, the 34-year-old’s status for the upcoming season is still very much up in the air. That’s probably why the Stars, who already had veteran Anton Khudobin and youngster Jake Oettinger, signed Braden Holtby in the off-season as well. At the very least, given Bishop’s track record with injuries, Dallas will be extra cautious with the recovery process. The only play here would be an injury stash. Don’t expect much value, however.

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