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Posted - 11/07/2013 :  17:46:36  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Which players have so woefully underperformed that their contracts have now become a burden?

While some players deliver excellent production relative to their cost, there are others who could be severely hurting your squad with their bloated contracts and lack of production early in this new season. Using Cap Geek's Bargain Hunter feature we will look at some of the least valuable performers relative to their cap hit. This will only include fantasy-relevant players in points-only leagues who have played 10 or more games this year.

David Desharnais (Montreal) - $3,500,000
The undersized David Desharnais has been in such a bad slump that he was a healthy scratch last game. While he is expected back next game on a line with Max Pacioretty and Rene Bourque, there are factors with Desharnais himself and with the team's depth chart that muddy the waters regarding his fantasy-hockey future.

Desharnais' background is important to note here. As a small forward he had to take the long road to the NHL. He was never drafted and had to overachieve at every level to earn his spot at the next level. The high point of his NHL career came when he was centering the Canadiens' top line between Pacioretty and Erik Cole. Desharnais scored 60 points that year.

During the lockout-shortened season he signed a lucrative contract extension and for the first time his status in the NHL was safe. Ever since then his level of play has dropped. As the campaign wore on he lost some of the extra effort that earned him his NHL job in the first place.

Things became much worse this year. Through 15 games he has yet to score a goal. Meanwhile, younger players like Lars Eller, Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk and Michael Bournival have occupied important roles and have performed admirably. This puts Desharnais in a tough spot as he may be stuck on the third line for the time being. He will probably still see some time on the power play but in a lesser role he may struggle to regain his usual scoring clip. And if he does get back on track, will it be enough to push anyone out of the top-six?

In fantasy leagues it may be a good idea to look for an alternative solution. Desharnais is pricey and even if his production improves it will probably not put him anywhere near his career-best total. He may be no better than a 40-point forward this year. There are cheaper alternatives available. Use the extra cap space to improve your roster elsewhere.

Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia) - $4,750,000
While Flyers captain, Claude Giroux, has taken most of the flak for a disastrous start in Philadelphia, winger Scott Hartnell has been absolutely terrible. In fact, he only has 12 points in 42 contests since the lockout ended. Fantasy poolies have to be frustrated with his sudden inability to produce at the offensive end.

To make matters worse, Hartnell has also disappeared as a multi-category star. Aside from a respectable 17 hits and 23 shots on goal he has a meager two PIM and just one blocked shot. His lack of scoring also kills his potential to get power-play points and game-winning goals.

Even though Hartnell should be putting up more points, most fantasy GMs probably overrate his offensive ability. Aside from his 60 points in 2008-09 and 67 points in 2011-12, he has never scored more than 48 points in a season. Even when he eventually gets out of his slump and back on track, do not expect more than three points every five games moving forward.

In one-year points-only leagues Hartnell should probably be dropped. His slump has spanned over two seasons and his career numbers suggest he will probably disappoint even when his production corrects itself. In rotisserie leagues this could be a good time to buy low if you have the cap space. Even with a mediocre amount of points he should be a decent all-around asset once he gets around to taking a bunch of penalties.

Sergei Gonchar (Dallas) - $5,000,000
Sergei Gonchar is a player that you hopefully avoided in cap league drafts. While he has an excellent history of putting up points in the NHL, his top-level performances are long gone. Ever since he left Pittsburgh in the summer of 2010 he has not scored more than 37 points in a season although he may have eclipsed the 40-point mark last year if not for the lockout.

In a league with no finances it would have been reasonable to draft Gonchar hoping for 30-40 points. But in a cap league his $5-million cap hit is simply too much to justify production that is nowhere near the elite. A far better option is to look into some of the league's underpaid emerging blue-liners as alternatives while putting the cap savings to use elsewhere on the roster.

Using the Bargain Hunter feature Jake Muzzin ($1,000,000), Andre Benoit ($900,000), Rafael Diaz ($1,225,000), Torey Krug ($1,704,167) and Jason Demers ($1,500,000) are examples of cheap defensemen who could easily fall into the 30-40-point range when all is said and done.

Kimmo Timonen (Philadelphia) - $6,000,000
Kimmo Timonen has been a very valuable defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers and was rewarded with a gigantic $6-million contract for this year. His offensive production has remained consistent over the years including a 43-point campaign as recently as 2011-12.

Unfortunately, Timonen's effective play at both ends of the ice factored into his inflated cap hit. It is very common for two-way blueliners to earn an inflated contract so it is important to make sure that you are not paying for skills that do not apply to your league. In Timonen's case, his lack of elite offensive numbers make him a cap liability in points-only leagues even before his stats plummeted this season.

In rotisserie leagues Timonen's value prior to this year was much more respectable because of his ability to get the puck on net, to produce power-play points and to block shots. With Philadelphia in such a mess right now and with the mad scientist Paul Holmgren likely to shake things up, Timonen's rotisserie-league value moving forward is a real wild card. At such a high cost he is much more risky to own so it may be wise to look elsewhere for help.

Written by Eric Daoust of

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