On the heels of last week’s scope at this year’s dynamic rookie class so far, it’s only right to ground the expectations a bit too. While many players have outstanding first seasons, a lot of them tend to hit a bit of wall in season number two.
With exception to the likes of Connor McDavid (freak), Artemi Panarin (old), Nikolaj Ehlers (hot fire) and Jack Eichel (injured) among some others, plenty of last year’s top rookie performers have started off very slow out of the gates this season.
Generally, a sophomore slump or jinx refers to an instance in which a second effort fails to live up to the standards of the first effort.
Many don’t want to believe in it but the following information may suggest otherwise. Is a sophomore jinx really a thing in the NHL world?
Shayne Gostisbehere – D – Philadelphia Flyers
2015/2016 – 64 GP: 17 goals, 29 assists, 46 points, +8, 5 GWG, 0.72 Points per Game
This year – 18 GP: 3 goals, 7 assists, 10 points, -5, 1 GWG, 0.56 Points per Game
On the day he won the award for Philadelphia’s top athlete of the year, Gostisbehere was a healthy scratch for the Flyers. The WWE can’t even script stuff that good. In reality, he’s played decently but there’s no question that NHL teams are definitely zoning in on him. And Rightfully so. Gostisbehere is being tasked with higher responsibility this year and unquestionably, it has affected his plus-minus. While I do see a dip in production ala Dallas’ John Klingberg this campaign, Gostisbehere will still finish this season with strong and consistent numbers.
Anthony Duclair – LW, RW – Arizona Coyotes
2015/2016 – 81 GP: 20 goals, 24 assists, 44 points, +12, 0.54 Points per Game
This year – 17 GP: 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, EVEN, 0.18 Points per Game
Suffice to say, it has not been a good offensive start for Anthony Duclair and his 21% ownership in Yahoo! Leagues suggests that too. He’s off to a putrid start and it won’t help that rumours surfaced this past weekend that Arizona has made it known that he could be had for the right price. While he’s definitely a player to monitor especially in keeper leagues, you can’t own him right now. He’s not producing and that’s that. It’s the definition of a SOPHMORE SLUMP if I’ve ever seen it.
Dylan Larkin – C, RW – Detroit Red Wings
2015/2016 – 80 GP: 23 goals, 22 assists, 45 points, +11, 5 GWG, 0.56 Points per Game
This year – 19 GP: 5 goals, 1 assists, 6 points, -7, 1 GWG, 0.32 Points per Game
Similar to Duclair, Larkin is off to a very rough offensive start. That being said, he is generating chances – it’s just not going in for him right now. Eventually the luck will change but you can’t not look at the numbers if you know what I’m saying. In reality, I look at Larkin and compare him to Jonathan Toews. The all-round game is fantastic but the fantasy numbers won’t always be there. With the aging Wings, there’s no telling what the future holds. I’m sure he’ll be wearing the ‘C’ soon enough.
Max Domi – LW – Arizona Coyotes
2015/2016 – 81 GP: 18 goals, 34 assists, 52 points, +3, 0.64 Points per Game
This year – 17 GP: 2 goals, 11 assists, 13 points, -3, 0.76 Points per Game
It’s been a challenging start to the season for the youthful Arizona Coyotes. After a slow start, Domi has showed signs of waking up over the past couple of weeks. Like any young player, there’ll definitely be some growing pains. The good thing about playing in Arizona right now – they’ve made a commitment to their kids which should open up copious amounts of looks for Domi. In completely unrelated news, he showed he can drop the gloves just like his dad did back in the day when he one punched Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler in a scrap recently. It appears that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Colton Parayko – D – St. Louis Blues
2015/2016 – 79 GP: 9 goals, 24 assists, 33 points, +28
This year – 19 GP: 0 goals, 7 assists, 7 points, -4
This file is not as shocking as some of the above. Similar to Gostisbehere, opposing squads have honed in on Parayko and understandably so. No question- he had a very productive first year in the NHL. With that in mind, I think he’s lost some of the minutes he gained last year over UFA-to-be Kevin Shattenkirk. Once Shattenkirk is out of the fold (if he does go), Parayko’s numbers will elevate once again. It’s certainly something to keep an eye on.
Sam Reinhart – C, RW – Buffalo Sabres
2015/2016 – 79 GP: 23 goals, 19 assists, 42 points, -8, 3 GWG, 0.53 Points per Game
This year – 18 GP: 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, -3, 1 GWG, 0.39 Points per Game
First off – let’s acknowledge it right off the bat. The Buffalo Sabres have been so banged up this year that no one knows what this team truly is. With all the injuries, Reinhart has been bumped up to a top line role. It’s difficult – on a nighty basis, you’re playing against the opposition’s best. With that mind, the numbers have been down for Reinhart so far but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt because of all the injuries. If Buffalo ever gets healthy, Reinhart may see another jump in production.
Robby Fabbri – C, LW – St. Louis Blues
2015/2016 – 72 GP: 18 goals, 19 assists, 37 points, -2
This year – 18 GP: 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points, -4
After finding his way into Ken Hitchcock’s doghouse earlier this season, Fabbri has rebounded nicely from his November 10th benching against Nashville. Since returning to the Blues lineup, he’s potted three goals and two assists in four games so maybe the wakeup call is exactly what he needed. Then again – it always helps when you play with Vladimir Tarasenko and that’s where Fabbri sits right now. St. Louis’ offensive ineptitudes have been highly documented in the early going. Perhaps the early season struggles are a thing of the past? One can hope.
Sam Bennett – C – Calgary Flames
2015/2016 – 77 GP: 18 goals, 18 assists, 36 points, -11
This year – 20 GP: 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points, -1
Very few predicted another slow start for Glen Gulutzan’s Calgary Flames. On top of that, they lost Johnny Gaudreau this past week too. With that in mind, they’ve been playing much better lately as disgruntled fantasy owners watch on in disgusted – Brian Elliott has been stapled to the bench. Chad Johnson has been solid. The loss of Gaudreau has opened the door for Sam Bennett fantasy owners. The sophomore forward was catapulted to Calgary’s top line with Sean Monahan and Troy Brouwer. Only time will tell if that sticks. I’m never positive.
Joonas Donskoi – LW, RW – San Jose Sharks
2015/2016 – 76 GP: 11 goals, 25 assists, 36 points, +4
This year – 18 GP: 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points, -2
Donskoi is a tricky file to gauge. He’s very streaky and showed signs of positive in last year’s postseason run for the Sharks. He’s off to a mediocre start by my standards but then again, so is San Jose as a team. The Tomas Hertl injury might mean more on the plate for Donskoi. So, beware of that.
Sophomores to WATCH: PIT Conor Sheary, NSH Viktor Arvidsson, DAL Radek Faksa, CAR Noah Hanifin
Patrick Eaves – RW – Dallas Stars
Vladislav Namestnikov – C, LW – Tampa Bay Lightning
Anthony DeAngelo – D – Arizona Coyotes
Mikko Rantanen – RW – Colorado Avalanche
Nic Petan – C, LW – Winnipeg Jets
Brandon Sutter – C – Vancouver Canucks
NHL Network Radio’s very own Tyler Madarasz was my guest on
Episode Six of the Fantasy Fix Podcast. We touched on NHL injury implications, some of the slumping sophomores and much more. Tune in!
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