Special to Yahoo Sports
As promised, the last column of 2019 will consist of players to fade in 2020 AND waiver picks. (How's that for a holiday treat?) As we're about to return from the league's three-day break, let's get you set with suggestions for Friday — and beyond.
To begin, here are a few overachievers who will take a hit in the New Year (to clarify, they are NOT waiver recommendations). Maybe not a complete collapse, but they’ll go through some sort of slowdown compared to the first three months. And make sure you keep reading, as the next section dives into the wide world of waivers.
Players to Fade
Anthony Duclair, F, OTT — It's nice to see Duclair excelling after moving to four locations in four years. He's getting a lot of good looks and is tied for sixth in the league with 21 goals. Despite the offensive explosion, don't expect Duclair to reach 50 goals — let alone 40.
Victor Olofsson, F, BUF — I hate to include Olofsson, as I roster him in the RotoWire Staff Keeper Hockey League and have enjoyed his 34 points in 38 games. But let's be serious: He's not going to hit 70 points. It's the Swede's first full NHL season and there will be bumps ahead. And even though Olofsson remains on Buffalo's first line, he's recently been switched off the top power play.
Tomas Tatar, F, MON — Like Olofsson, Tatar checks in at an almost-point-per-game clip. He's also on pace to eclipse career highs in goals (29) and points (58). But like the last entry, the veteran won't be able to continue at this pace.
Neal Pionk, D, WPG — The ex-Ranger is loving the 'Peg with 22 points, including 12 on the power play. However, fellow blueliner — and former top PP quarterback — Josh Morrissey has been ramping up the assists. And if Dustin Byfuglien returns at some point, Pionk will fall down Winnipeg's D pecking order.
Sami Vatanen, D, NJ — Vatanen is up to five goals and 11 assists while contributing to both hits and blocks. His minutes have dipped in December, but the stats keep flowing. With P.K. Subban finally figuring it out in Jersey and Will Butcher improving, Vatanen will ultimately lose scoring opportunities.
Joonas Korpisalo, G, CLS — Korpisalo has won five consecutive and is already up to a career-high 17, but hasn't posted anything under a 2.88 GAA or .905 save percentage since his rookie campaign. Based on the Blue Jackets' inconsistency, expect some regression from the career backup.
And now back to our regularly scheduled material ...
(Yahoo ownership rates as of Dec. 26.)
Ryan Johansen, Nashville Predators (39 percent rostered)
For someone who's averaged 62 points the last six seasons, one would think Johansen would earn more respect from Yahoo participants. Let's assume more people were in on him after he notched seven points in the first five games. But Johansen has not endured any extended slump while delivering four goals, four assists and 17 PIM across 10 recent appearances. There's no way a first-line, plays-in-all-situations kind of center on a solid Nashville attack should only be rostered in less than 40 percent of leagues.
Nino Niederreiter, Carolina Hurricanes (21 percent)
Niederreiter impressed after moving from Minnesota by racking up 34 points in 51 contests. Unfortunately, he struggled to start this campaign with only 10 in 29. But the 2010 fifth overall pick has recovered with eight — including a whopping four on the power play — through the last eight. The ice time may be a bit low, but Niederreiter is well positioned within the Canes' offense to continue doing damage.
Nick Suzuki, Montreal Canadiens (6%)
Suzuki went from starring in the OHL to the Habs' roster out of training camp. Vegas' second of three 2017 first-round selections didn't take long to adjust to the pro setup by immediately earning a man-advantage role and tallying three goals over a five-game October stretch. And since Nov. 15, he's gone off for 12 points — with five of those PPPs. Overall, Suzuki has averaged almost two shots per game and receives significant minutes as Montreal's third center.
Valeri Nichushkin, Colorado Avalanche (6%)
After debuting at 18 with Dallas in 2013, Nichushkin eventually fell out of favor and went to the KHL for two seasons. He came back to Big D for 2018-19 but never got anything going and was subsequently bought out in the summer. It wasn't until mid-August when the Avs inked the Russian winger on the cheap. The first 16 games only yielded one assist, but Nichushkin has repaid the club's faith in him with 12 points in the last 17.
Sam Steel, Anaheim Ducks (2%)
Steel split his first pro campaign between the Ducks and their AHL affiliate and recorded a combined 52 points. Not a lot has gone right for the 2017 CHL scoring leader this year with only 11 points. But thanks to a bunch of injuries up front, Steel finds himself as Anaheim's lead center. Ryan Getzlaf should return for the next encounter and assume the No. 1 position, but the kid carries enough offensive upside to warrant a pickup in deeper formats.
Dmitry Orlov, Washington Capitals (8%)
If John Carlson represents Washington's lead fantasy blueliner, then Orlov easily ranks second in command. The 28-year-old has proved consistent by registering between 29 and 33 points in each of the last four seasons. He has 17 this season, including nine from the last 12 games. Orlov has also chipped in with three PPPs as a member of the Caps' second unit while accumulating a respectable 58 hits and 42 blocks.
Damon Severson, New Jersey Devils (2%)
We already mentioned the resurgence of P.K. Subban and Will Butcher, but Severson also deserves attention for his recent efforts. On Monday, he was active across the stat sheet with a goal, two assists, two shots on goal, a hit, two blocks, and a plus-4 rating. Severson's nowhere near the 39 points from last year, but six from the most recent 10 outings to go with 13 hits and 23 blocks sound like someone who can work well in the bottom half of your lineup.
Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild (50%)
Dubnyk struggled the first six weeks and then missed the next month to tend to family affairs. While he was gone, Alex Stalock filled in admirably with a 6-2-2 record, 2.78 GAA and .910 save percentage while Kaapo Kahkonen posted a 3-1-1/2.96/.913 line. Dubnyk gave up five goals in his return, but still earned the W. After a brief appearance following Stalock getting shelled by Winnipeg, the veteran stopped all 22 shots during a home victory against the Flames. The Wild have turned around their season, and it appears Dubnyk is doing the same.
If you've read this far, then we'd like to wish you a Happy New Year! And don't forget to watch the WJC!
Players to consider from past columns: Brock Nelson, Bo Horvat, Clayton Keller, Sam Reinhart, Nazem Kadri, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Zach Parise, Andre Burakovsky, Anthony Duclair, Ondrej Palat, Phillip Danault, Carl Soderberg, Alex Killorn, David Krejci, Ryan Strome, Bryan Rust, Jordan Eberle, Gustav Nyquist, Nikita Gusev, Christian Dvorak, Martin Necas, Oscar Klefbom, Hampus Lindholm, John Marino, Erik Gustafsson, Alex Goligoski, Anthony DeAngelo, Samuel Girard, Ryan Graves, Mikko Koskinen, Tristan Jarry, Pavel Francouz, Jonathan Quick, Jaroslav Halak, Anders Nilsson, Linus Ullmark.