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NHL Fantasy Advice: Cutting Ties With Unproductive Vets

Four players who hold nothing more than name value at this point.

Holding onto unproductive veterans is one of the biggest mistakes you can make with your fantasy hockey team. Whether you believe they will come around or produce as per their history of production, holding onto players simply because of their name value is a big no no. You have to be able to separate your desire to win from your sentimental relationship with any given player. After all, you likely aren’t hurting said players feelings by cutting him loose, either. With that in mind let’s take a look at some unproductive veterans you can go ahead and cut bait with in our latest NHL Fantasy Advice.

David Backes (BOS)

15 GP, 4G, 3A, 19 PIM, -2

We can cut Backes some slack here as he had a portion of his colon removed earlier this season. That said, at the age of 33 Backes’ best offensive seasons are almost certainly behind him. It was somewhat of a head scratcher when the Bruins signed Backes to a 5-year $30M contract last offseason coming off his lowest goal total in a non-lockout season since the 09’/10’ campaign. Last year’s 38 points were his lowest total since the 07’/08’ season. If you are in a deep league that counts hits and/or shots on goal, perhaps Backes is still serviceable compared to waiver wire replacements. While he still produces in those categories, do not expect a whole lot of offense from the former Blues captain moving forward.

Patrick Sharp (CHI)

33 GP, 3 G, 6 A, 6 PIM, -6

Odds are, Sharp is already sitting on your waiver wire, especially in shallower leagues. However, if you are rostering the veteran for the love of god let go. It was only two seasons ago that Sharp scored 20 goals in his first season in Dallas, but he’s scored just 11 goals over his last 81 games since. Sharp even got some reps on the Blackhawks’ top line and top power play unit earlier in the season, but now he is struggling to stay in the lineup. He still shoots the puck lots with 72 shots in 33 games, and his current 4.2% shooting percentage is a career low. However, it’s extremely safe to say that Sharp won’t return to being the scoring threat he once was.

Jason Spezza (DAL)

35 GP, 5 G, 8 A, 6 PIM, -3

Two seasons ago Spezza scored 33 goals and last season he racked up 50 points in just 68 games. However, this season he has been almost invisible on a talented Stars’ offense. He’s suffering from a 7.7% shooting percentage, which would be a career low for the 34-year-old. That said, Spezza gives you nothing in the plus/minus, shots, hits and PIMs categories, which means his entire value relies on goals and assists. If he can’t do either of these, there isn’t much use for a guy that will turn 35 this summer. One positive is his 56.6% CF% is a career high and his 97.8 PDO suggests more scoring moving forward. That said, I would use his name value to grab a young sleeper before I would hope for an immediate and aggressive change of fortune.

Radim Vrbata (FLA)

28 GP, 4 G, 8 A, 10 PIM, -4

If you own Vrbata and want to keep him, you’re likely holding onto the fact he could be traded at the deadline to a contender, possibly increasing his production. Otherwise, you’d be better off giving your roster spot to a sleeper via the waiver wire. He is just one season removed from a 20-goal, 55-point showing with the Coyotes, but he’s not doing anything with the Panthers. He’s seeing just 13:21 of average ice time per game which is the lowest mark in over a decade. His 62 shots over 28 games are solid, and like others on this list his 6.5% shooting percentage isn’t helping. That said, his 42.9% CF% and 100.2 PDO suggest he doesn’t deserve any more offense than he’s produced. It is time to move on from the 36-year-old winger.

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