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!
Conference Final Impressions
I don’t know if these conference finals were all that fans expected them to be, but they have sure paved the way for what promises to be a terrific championchip series.
I suppose I’m glad to say that I had this series mostly right. I thought the Pens would be too much up front, and they were. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were a 2-man army that completely dismantled what was left of the Hurricanes. I thought Carolina would have had a little more juice left, but Eric Staal had hit empty after his 7 game marathon with Zdeno Chara. And needless to say, if Staal is not bringing his A game every night, the Canes just don’t have the depth to compete, no matter how much magic they may have, or how much the hockey gods were smiling on them. The only hope they had was for Cam Ward to be utterly spectacular, but he was shelled in games 2 and 3 and may have lost all confidence. It even looked as though his teammates knew that their run was over. Let’s remember that they were an overachieving team that went through 2 grueling 7-game series with the Devils and Bruins, neither of which they were expected to win. A tip of the hat to the Hurricanes for a good run this season, but they were soundly beaten by a team that looks possessed right now, especially Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin . Suddenly the Habs fan in me doesn’t feel so bad. A team was swept in more dominating fashion than the Canadiens were.
What can be said about the Red Wings? in my lifetime I don’t think I’ve seen such a complete and competent team. They simply do everything right, even with Pavel Datsyuk, Nik Lidstrom and Draper out of the lineup. Marian Hossa stepped up in games 4 and 5 to lead the offensive charge in the absence of Datsyuk. Chris Osgood is proving that he can indeed be a clutch goalie, with a huge performance in game 5. From top to bottom, the Red Wings get it. They know their roles well, they know how to win and they are smarter than any team out there. I salute the young Blackhawks for their tremendous season. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg and Martin Havlat will be a formidable core for a long, long time. And they’re supported with tons of other great young talent on the blue line that will ensure Chicago’s restablishment on the hockey map. Next season the Red Wings may not be so lucky, but then again, when have the Wings ever depended on luck for their success?
Stanley Cup Final Predictions