Often NHL teams struggling and fantasy sports go hand in hand. If one is struggling, a star's fantasy numbers normally fall far short of where you hope they would be. Let's look at some teams struggling at the midway point of the NHL season, and see if there is any hope for a turnaround, as well as if there are any bright spots on these rosters for fantasy hockey teams to rely on. So here is a look at some of the bigger disappointments of the first half of the fantasy hockey season.
A fire sale at the Pond; will Corey Perry's numbers improve?
Columbus Blue Jackets: 11-25-5, Last, Western Conference
Fantasy hockey wise, the story with the Blue Jackets always starts with Rick Nash. His 14 goals and 29 points are far below expectations as opposed to where he was taken in most fantasy hockey drafts.
Center Jeff Carter has struggled with his new team, with 10 goals and just 17 points.
Columbus is going through a transition right now with Scott Arniel being relieved of his head coaching duties. It will be fascinating to see how the Blue Jackets respond under interim head coach Todd Richards, but it is tough to believe we will see any significant change in the Blue Jackets moving forward into the second half of the season. As a result, you need to continue to temper your expectations with the likes of Nash, Carter and the rest of the team's players.
New York Islanders: 14-19-6, Last, Eastern Conference
The Islanders looked like they were about to turn the corner last week when they won three straight games behind the stellar goaltending of Evgeni Nabokov, before dropping two straight over the weekend to Anaheim and Phoenix.
One player in particular who has struggled this year has been Michael Grabner. After a 34 goal breakout year last season, Grabner has only collected 10 goals and 17 points this season through 38 games. For the Islanders to turn it around, Grabner is going to have to pick up his scoring a bit moving forward.
Looking ahead to the Islanders upcoming games, it is tough to forecast a turnaround. Grabner, of course, cannot be released; if you have other players on a hot streak it wouldn't be out of the question to sit Grabner down while you ride the hot hand elsewhere. Also continue to monitor the goaltending saga; if Nabokov can gain some consistency and the team can play better in front of him, he can be a cheap source for some quality production. We've seen him take over games many times of the years; we just haven't seen consistency out of him this season.
Anaheim Ducks: 12-22-6, 14th, Western Conference
The Ducks have gone through a transition of late, including a coaching change, and now a huge for sale sign has been placed on the front lawn of the Pond. Anytime there is talk of potentially trading star players this far out from the March trade deadline, a player's production usually takes a hit. In this case, two players in particular have been giving fantasy owners headaches: Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.
Perry, who won the Art Ross trophy last year, is well off his 50-goal pace of a year ago. Getzlaf has yet to even hit double digits in goals at the midway point and is checking in with an astounding minus-17. Both of these players need to pick it up for not only their team, but for fantasy hockey owners who invested highly in them in their drafts.
Perry and Getzlaf are both too talented to continue as poorly as they've played this year, and a move for both could pay off handsomely. Take a wait-and-see approach with both, but neither should be released at this time.
Tampa Bay Lightning: 17-20-3, 13th, Eastern Conference
The Lightning have struggled in all three areas of the game this year, with the goaltending, defense and forwards all having issues at different times. The power play has been atrocious, especially on the road. From a fantasy hockey perspective, the players that have disappointed the most in the early going are Steve Downie (six goals and 10 assists) and Dominic Moore (three goals and 14 points). That pace would put Moore well short of the 18 goals he scored last season.
For any type of turnaround for the Lightning, they need to get the power play going, which is something that has been frustrating to this point for owners of Lightning players. At this rate, it wouldn't be a bad idea to look a different direction if someone is standing out on your league's waiver wire.
Injury News and Notes
Patrick Sharp owners got bad news this week when the Chicago Blackhawks forward went down with an upper body injury that is expected to keep him out at least a month. Store him away on IR if you can though, as he will still have plenty of value when he returns.
Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo, the victim of a Brad Marchand cheap shot, suffered an apparent concussion. Salo has had a good year offensively for a defenseman, so keep him on your roster as long as you can and hope for a short recovery time.
About Mike Corcoran
Mike Corcoran joined KFFL in 2011 as their senior fantasy hockey writer. The Tarrytown, New York, native hosts a hockey radio show on ESPN Radio in Tampa, and covers the Tampa Bay Lightning professionally.
You can follow Mike on Twitter @MikeCorcoranNHL