Whether you enjoy fantasy hockey for the money, the glory of being at the top of your league, or both; there are still key components to strategizing your best lineups. Some of these components that we will cover today are; DOING YOUR HOMEWORK, SELECTING A TOP CENTER, DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS, and GOALIES. Before we cover all of these though I want you to think of something first, when you select players, are you one of those who draft players based on team, or based on skill. Do you have what it takes to draft the proper players, not just because they are good or on a specific team, but because they play a solid 60-80 games throughout the course of the season. These are critical factors to take into consideration, especially because injury can factor a HUGE part of how your team performs overall in the standings. If you are a fan of the Red Wings and only draft players from this team you will be surely disappointed, and yes I am personally a fan of the team but because their defense is not built well, the goals/against average continues to deeply affect the team every night. But let’s look further into those key components I mentioned earlier.
DOING YOUR HOMEWORK
No, I am not talking about your damn homework that your teachers have assigned you this week so you can dedicate your time for more fantasy hockey. Sure that’s important (to an extent because school is boring anyways), the school of hockey is much more thrilling to look into. Now there are a few simple thing you can look at to prepare your draft, whether you’re doing an auto-draft because you are not able to be present during your leagues live draft there are strategies that you can set up for yourself to make sure you don’t screw yourself over. For example, you don’t want to auto-draft yourself to pick all forwards at first and by the time the 8th or 9th round comes all your forward positions are filled but you will not be able to draft any top 10 defensemen that will pair well at all. So a simple solution around this is to look at the list of ranking across the league that you can set your auto draft to help you make the best picks each round. Here is an example of a list for you to look at and as you can see there is a specified column that shows 2017 projected stats, this can give you a feel of what to look for in the first couple rounds.
SELECTING A TOP CENTER
A critical position to always look at, a centerman is going to be an effective player that you want on your team that plays well. Not only as a goal scorer, but time on the ice, and assists will really want you to select a top 5 centermen. Now, from the chart I have displayed in the previous section and even some players that are not displayed, here are some top centermen that you should be on the lookout for; Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, Joe Pavelski, John Tavares, and Artemi Panarin. We know that Crosby can produce as a goal scorer, with plenty of ice time this well known (loved and hated) skater can really make plays happen and the good thing is that he is not known to have suffered much injury based off of last season. To counter that, Connor McDavid who was pronounced to be the best player in the league, and after coming back from a long term injury last season he actually still came close to winning the Calder Cup. We are all excited to see McDavid continue to blossom in the league hopefully with a full season, especially with his outstanding performance so far in the World Cup of Hockey with Team North America. Pavelski and Tavares both have played really well in the league, and with Thorton being able to have a shot in the playoffs in the last seasons run from the Stanley Cup he continues to have big games as well. Tavares playing with the NY Islanders we know with his teammates such as Ryan-Nugent Hopkins that the Islanders can give the opponent a run for their money. We also so when Canada embarrassed Team USA that Tavares has quite the dangles as well, I can see him doing really well passing the puck, and being the guy that sets up goals for other skaters like Ryan-Nugent. But as far as fantasy goes, you want to be sure that you are pairing your centers to play with wingers from other teams that can play well in their own position. As far as Panarin goes, the whole Chicago squad is full of goal scoring machines; Kane, Toes, and Panarin is going to keep feeding off of their skill to rack up his own points during the season. Panarin is projected to have a 30+ goal season this year so we’ll see as he continues to play with these dynamic players how his stats will actually play out.
An interesting topic to think about but still important to observe. You do not want to pick defensemen just cannot keep up in the league and get burned out or injured badly in the season. For example, I would stick away from picking even Kronwall, a veteran defensemen but because of a knee issue, may or may not be ready for the start of the season. You want fast skating and goal scorers in your D positions such as Chara, Letang, Karlsson, Burns. I would say in the 2nd or 3rd round to give yourself a top 5 D man to make sure you are covered, and wait a few rounds to give a good pair but I wouldn’t wait too long to pair your D together or you may get stuck picking defensemen that are decent but not what you wanted to see remaining. Obviously you can pick up better D throughout the season but the first month and a half will really set the tone for your team.
This final topic is honestly my first pick in the draft, not even kidding but this is critical to having a successful fantasy year. You want a goalie that is top of the line who just plays over their head like Carey Price, and yes last season was a tragedy for him, but I believe that he will win the Vezina Trophy this upcoming season IF he stays healthy. Outside of Price there are a few more that you have to chose from but you have to get them before they get snatched, and if you are at the top of your draft list in your league you may get lucky and get a top 10 goalie in the second round if you just want to solidify that position. But, you also have Quick, Schneider, Lundqvist, Holtby, Bishop, Murray, Crawford, and Rinne to pick from. But the goalie spot is not a position you want to wait and pick from because then you are to chose from the bottom tier goalies and that’s assuming that they are the starting goalies. You will really be in a bind if you are forced to pick a backup like Enroth on the LA Kings that plays maybe a quarter of the season over Quick the starting netminder for the Kings.
Of course these are just ideas that I would like you to take into consideration as you are getting ready for draft for your fantasy hockey team, and of course if you play daily leagues such as DraftKings or FanDuel, you will need to look on a daily basis of how players and goalies are consistently playing but most importantly keeping up with the starting lineups of each team, everyday. Have a great season everyone!