NHL Fantasy: 3 players who will be major gambles in 2017-18

by
Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

Dice rolls in the later rounds of your draft can pay off handsomely - if you've bet on the right players.

And while the smart gambles can prove their worth, it's also important to avoid those players who are not worth the risk.

Here are three players who will be major gambles at the draft table:

Claude Giroux

An off year is one thing. And even two poor seasons can be explained. But five full seasons in decline? Place your bets elsewhere.

The Philadelphia Flyers captain has seen his point totals plummet in the past half-decade, from a high of 93 points in 2011-12, to just 58 points last season. Worse yet is that time away can't be an excuse for Giroux. He's been extremely healthy since his career year, missing just 10 games over the past six seasons.

A rebound season from Giroux's likely linemate, Jakub Voracek, would help trigger a bounce-back year. After posting a career-high 81 points in 2014-15, Voracek skidded to 55 and 61 points over the past two campaigns, respectively. Better seasons are needed from two players looked upon to carry much of the Flyers' scoring.

Ales Hemsky

The Montreal Canadiens are banking on Hemsky having something left in the tank.

In search of affordable scoring, the Canadiens inked Hemsky to a one-year deal, hoping he can rediscover his days as an offensive force with the Edmonton Oilers. But to do so, he'll first need to tackle the injury bug. The Czech winger missed almost all of last season, playing just 15 games in his third season with the Dallas Stars.

Whether Hemsky can produce is secondary to whether he can stay on the ice. The 34-year-old has missed 97 games over the past five seasons, and during his 14-year career, he's appeared in 75 or more games just four times. The good news for the Canadiens is Hemsky came cheap - signing for $1 million. Still, there are better draft bargains to be found elsewhere.

Patrick Sharp

The Chicago Blackhawks got the band back together this summer, re-acquiring Brandon Saad from the Columbus Blue Jackets and later adding Sharp as a free agent. The two were part of Chicago's Cup-winning teams in 2013 and 2015. Sharp also won with the Blackhawks in 2010.

While the additions could help Chicago rekindle its glory days, expecting an aging Sharp to find his old magic could be too high of a bar for the veteran winger. The 35-year-old was a mixed bag through two seasons in Dallas, finishing his first year with 55 points but falling to 18 last season as concussion issues and then hip surgery limited him to 48 contests.

The Blackhawks are counting on a declining and injury-prone Sharp to return to form, but it doesn't mean your fantasy team should take the same gamble.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)