Fantasy hockey league season is almost upon us once again and it is time to scour the rosters of each team in search of that elusive perfect fantasy hockey combination.
There are many different ways to score fantasy leagues and just as many, if not more, strategies to utilize when selecting players for your fantasy hockey team this season.
Now, before you go blindly into your draft selecting Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Lidstrom, and Brodeur, be sure to fully understand how your draft is scored and how many players from each position that you are required or allowed to choose.
Understand The Scoring System
During the 2004-2005 season I participated in one fantasy league where 1 point was awarded for each goal or assist. There were no restrictions on the number of players from each position and players could be selected by more than one person in the draft. Each draft entrant was required to select any 20 players in the NHL for their team.
The key in the scoring of this draft was that goaltenders received 5 points for a win and 10 points for a shutout. So, guess what one enterprising guy did? You got it… He selected 20 goalies! He was well within the rules set out by the draft and was all but guaranteed to get at least 5 points per night. There were a few nights when he racked up 40-50 points and needless to say, he won the draft hands down.
Of course, each league is scored differently but it is always important to understand the rules. It is especially important in a situation where each NHL player can only be selected by one team in the fantasy league.
Don’t Forget The Goalie!
In this scenario, it is almost always the case where the top scoring forwards will be selected first. However, it has been my experience that when points are given for goaltender performance, it is always necessary to select the best goaltender available within the first two picks of the draft.
There are years where a forward of defenseman may surprise everyone and rack up a tone of points. However, it is very rare that a goaltender comes out of nowhere and wins substantially more games than in previous years, unless the goalie has switched teams in the off season.
Yes, Martin Brodeur is a great goaltender, but his team in New Jersey has definitely helped him achieve an extraordinary amount of wins and shutouts over the past decade. The same holds true for any of the Detroit goaltenders. These are skilled goaltenders, but fantasy players earn points, in the majority of leagues, for wins and shutouts.
In rare cases, there may be points awarded for save percentage. In this case you may want to select someone like Niklas Backstrom, who typically faces a lot of shots. In any event, picking a goaltender early in the draft that has a strong defense in front of him, is traditionally a good move.
What About The Goons?
When points are awarded for penalty minutes in a fantasy league, it is highly unlikely that this is the only category that points are awarded for. Therefore, taking Daniel Carcillo just to own the penalty minute category probably isn’t a good idea; unless you can pick him up in the last round.
As we know, points are typically awarded in fantasy leagues for goals and assists, so one must take that into consideration when selecting players when attempting to earn a few penalty minute points. So who should you choose?
According to last season’s statistics, good choices for a player who spends some time in the sin bin, but also contributes offensively are David Backes and Scott Hartnell. I have surprised many other fantasy players over the years by selecting this type of a player in the early rounds of a fantasy draft. More often than not, this strategy has paid off in the end.
This is especially rewarding when your “penalty minute pick” has an especially good offensive year. Milan Lucic is a player in this category that I believe has the potential for more offensive upside. This might make Lucic worthy of an early-mid round selection, while still padding that penalty minute category.
You are now prepared to go out and draft an unbeatable fantasy hockey team!
Don’t forget to drop us a note during the season to tell us how you are doing in your fantasy league!