By Corey Abbott, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
It's still early and most fantasy hockey drafts probably haven't occurred, but we can still learn a great deal from average draft positions. There are plenty of players who are being overrated by fantasy managers according to their average draft position. Avoiding taking players too early and tempering expectations will save you some headaches once the season starts. It will also allow for much better roster construction.
Chris Kreider - LW/RW - Rangers
Kreider registered a career-high 52 goals last campaign and finished with a personal best of 77 points through 81 games. He also averaged over three shots per game (3.19) for the first time in his career and registered a shooting percentage of 20.2. That is well above his career average of 14.9 but it's worth noting that it isn't far away from the 19.6 percent he registered in 2020-21 when he scored 20 goals in 50 games. It's not a common occurrence to see a 31-year-old forward nearly double his previous best total for goals in a season, which makes Kreider a candidate for regression.
He didn't even have a 30-goal performance to his credit going into the last campaign. Kreider nearly equaled his previous best of 28 markers on the power play alone in 2021-22. He led the league with 26 goals with the man advantage and topped all players with 11 game-winners. What happens if the Rangers go cold on the power play or don't get enough opportunities this season? He's a prime regression candidate.
Max Pacioretty – LW - Hurricanes
Pacioretty underwent surgery in early August to repair a torn Achilles, and his expected recovery time is set for six months. He'll likely miss at least half of the regular season, and he could be sidelined for longer after he was limited to just 39 appearances last year due to a variety of ailments. Pacioretty managed to rack up 19 goals and 18 assists during that span, which is undoubtedly impressive. Still, it's very surprising that he has an ADP of 53.7, which has him going ahead of several healthy options who could post similar or better scoring rates.
It also comes as a shock that Boston's Brad Marchand, who is also slated to start 2022-23 on the injured list, has an ADP of 117 when he might only be out for the first month or two of the campaign following surgery on both hips. Why hasn't Pacioretty's draft stock suffered nearly as much? He may prove to be a good stash option for fantasy managers who have roster flexibility, but his average draft position needs a major correction.
Quinn Hughes – D - Canucks
Hughes registered 60 assists, including 31 on the power play, and had 68 points in 76 games during the 2021-22 season. All those totals were new career highs for the soon-to-be 23-year-old defender. Hughes has compiled 146 of his 165 career points via assists since he transitioned to the NHL. He will continue to rack up points, but fantasy managers looking for help in other categories will be found wanting. Hughes has never been much of a shot generator, and he doesn't block many shots or register many hits. His career shooting percentage of 5.0 percent hasn't yielded many goals, either.
Hughes is great at earning assists and soaking up minutes, but if fantasy managers are taking him on average with the 50.6 pick, then a little more bang for the buck should be expected. Only seven blueliners are currently going ahead of Hughes and others going behind him have just as much or more offensive upside with the added benefit of help in other areas.
Claude Giroux - C/RW - Senators
Giroux's fantasy stock had been trending downward during his final seasons with Philadelphia. He got a boost last season after he was traded to Florida thanks to a spot alongside Jonathan Huberdeau as well as a position on the Panthers' top power-play unit. Giroux earned 20 assists and 23 points in 18 regular-season appearances with Florida. He provided 11 points with the man advantage during that stretch. Florida ranked fifth on the power play last year, while Ottawa was 20th.
It's also unclear if Giroux will have a spot on the top power-play unit, as it could be comprised of Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris, Drake Batherson, Alex DeBrincat and Thomas Chabot. It's hard to justify taking Giroux, who turns 35 years of age in mid-January, where he's currently going with an average pick rate of 55.6.
Nazem Kadri – C - Flames
Kadri accumulated a career-high 87 points in 71 games last season with Colorado. He also set new personal bests with 59 assists and 29 power-play points. Kadri cashed in during the offseason with a seven-year, $49 million contract to join Calgary. He provides the Flames with some much-needed scoring depth down the middle, but Calgary isn't as deep as the Avalanche were a year ago, so Kadri's offensive production may decline. He would need to have fellow newcomer Jonathan Huberdeau as a linemate to even come close to the production he enjoyed in 2021-22. There are plenty of center options who have a higher ceiling than Kadri, and they're going past the average pick position of 66.8 that currently belongs to the former Avs forward.
Spencer Knight – G - Panthers
Knight was overvalued last season — in some drafts, he went ahead of Sergei Bobrovsky. The 21-year-old was a big disappointment in the first half of the 2021-22 campaign, but he was much better down the stretch, and he possesses plenty of upside. Still, Knight shouldn't be going ahead of established starters, especially those with proven track records. He has future value, but the Bobrovsky roadblock is still in place at the moment.
Sam Bennett – C - Panthers
Bennett entered the 2021-22 campaign with plenty of sleeper appeal, and he responded with a career year. He supplied 28 goals, 49 points, 241 shots on net and 119 hits in 71 appearances. Unfortunately, he'll go into this campaign with reduced expectations following the departure of Jonathan Huberdeau. He could also face competition from Anton Lundell for the second-line center role. Bennett currently sits with an average pick of 142, which ranks him ahead of some pivots with much better upside. Losing his LW eligibility works against him as well because of how deep the center pool is in fantasy leagues.
Owen Power - D - Sabres
Power got a taste of NHL action in 2021-22 when he skated in eight games with the Sabres. He found the back of the net twice, added an assist, had 10 shots on goal and was credited with nine hits. Fantasy managers clearly expect big things from the first-overall pick from the 2021 NHL Draft because his average pick rate currently sits at 111.8. That puts him ahead of several much more established options at defenseman. He certainly has the upside of a multi-category threat akin to what was showcased by Detroit’s Moritz Seider last year. However, the big difference is that the Red Wings didn’t have someone like Rasmus Dahlin on the roster. Power could make for an interesting gamble in the later rounds, but this feels like a reach for managers in redraft leagues.