15 NHL Players That Will Be Huge Letdowns in the 2nd Half of the Season

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IJanuary 26, 2012

15 NHL Players That Will Be Huge Letdowns in the 2nd Half of the Season

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    If you play fantasy hockey, or you're just a fan who's enjoying a team's play so far this year, you've undoubtedly noticed a few odd stat lines around the league this year. A number of players are blowing up, and some are struggling to stay above water.

    As we approach the All-Star Game, the artificial mid-way point of the season, every fan or fantasy player is undoubtedly wondering if certain players can maintain their early-season production.

    Let's look at 15 guys that could be headed for a disappointing second half.

Jason Garrison

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    Garrison, 27, leads all NHL defensemen with 13 goals at the All-Star break. He's playing the heaviest minutes of his brief NHL career and has already eclipsed his career highs in everything. Expecting him to come back to earth would probably be appropriate as the season continues.

Evander Kane

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    Kane has emerged as one of the exciting young forwards in the league, and his 18 goals are already just one shy of his career high. He's a big, physical forward that plays through the whistle, which is why news that he is suffering from concussion symptoms just before the break is a major concern. Any time a young player that uses his body as much as Kane does hears the word concussion, it's scary.

Corey Crawford

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    Crawford got paid in Chicago last summer, but his recent play suggests he might not remain on top of the depth chart in Chicago for much longer. He's been mediocre at the United Center this year, and Ray Emery have given the Blackhawks a legitimate option to turn to if Crawford continues to struggle.

Ryan O'Reilly

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    O'Reilly has been one of the fantastic young players in the league this year, but he's already blown past all of his career highs and is skating a heavier load than ever.

    Add to that the return of Peter Mueller and the Avs might see his production slow down after the break.

Alexander Ovechkin

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    With only 39 points in 47 (of 48 possible) games for the Caps, Ovechkin's numbers have already been a disappointment.

    But a tight playoff race, his suspension (and subsequent response in bailing on the All-Star Game) and the potential that Alexander Semin is dealt out of DC could make this a trying second half of the season for "The (formerly) Great Eight."

Milan Michalek

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    Michalek set his career high with 26 goals as a member of the Sharks in 2006-07 and played in only 66 games in each of the last two years. Already at 23 goals, his history wouldn't suggest that he'll continue producing at the same rate that he was to begin the year.

Mike Smith

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    Smith is having a fantastic season for the Coyotes, posting a .922 save percentage and 2.44 goals-against average. But he's already played in 38 games, just four short of the most he's ever played in an NHL season.

    Expecting him to keep up his current production, especially if the owner-less Coyotes begin selling before the deadline, is a lot to ask from a guy who's entering uncharted territory.

Tim Gleason

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    Since Carolina's awful start, Gleason's name has floated around trade rumors, and he's quickly becoming the top target on the market; extensions to Francois Beauchemin in Anaheim and John-Michael Liles in Toronto likely cements his spot on top of the list of available defensemen.

    With the number of teams looking for a top-four defenseman, a bidding war could center on the 28-year-old free agent-to-be. But with only 14 points this year, there's a good chance Gleason won't be worth whatever a team pays for him.

Kris Versteeg

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    The top line in Florida's production has already slowed down, and Versteeg is already nearing the peak of his personal production at the NHL level. If the Panthers stay in the playoff hunt, and remain a one-line offense, it's going to get harder and harder for Versteeg to get the room he needs to create on the ice.

Ales Hemsky

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    Hemsky is another name on the list that probably won't be disappointing the same fans from now until April.

    A very popular name in trade rumors, Hemsky is going to be a free agent this summer, and there's a good chance a contender will give up a few players and/or picks to get the 28-year-old. But expecting him to magically turn it on and be the missing link to a Cup run might be too much to expect from Hemsky this year.

PK Subban

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    It appears the push to get paid is starting to take a toll on Subban, who will be a restricted free agent in July. His play has become erratic and he's taken a lot of bad penalties lately. After scoring 14 goals last year, he has only three to date and hasn't found his offensive game all year.

Joffrey Lupul

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    In only 49 games, Lupul is just one point away from his career high already. Part of the problem for Lupul, however, has been staying on the ice for an entire season; he's played in only 77 games in the previous two seasons combined.

    It would be silly to think his production will stop when the regular season begins again next week, but his career numbers would make it hard to think he'll be a 90-point player this year.

James Neal

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    One of the players that has been largely responsible for any playoff chances the Pens might have this season, Neal has already tied his career high with 27 goals and is only eight points away from his career high. He's receiving a great opportunity from the Pens this year, but it's hard to project him continuing at this scoring pace when he's never done it before.

Jimmy Howard

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    This is absolutely not a knock on Howard's play, but more a concern about his workload. After playing in 63 games in each of the last two years, he's already played in 42 of Detroit's first 50 games. Considering how Ty Conklin's playing, the Wings will either have to trade for a backup or Howard is going to blow by his career high in games.

Scott Hartnell

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    In 48 games, Hartnell has 25 goals...or the second-highest total of his career. In fact, Hartnell scored 30 in 2008-09 and has only reached 25 in one other season in his career. Expecting him to continue on a 40-goal pace might be unrealistic.

    Will his production slam on the breaks? I doubt it. But his career numbers indicate his scoring will probably slow down after the break.