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"Pucks On Pucks"
Norfolk • 24 Years Old • Male
Five days. FIVE DAYS. That is all the separates us die-hards from the start of the NHL regular season. It’s hard to believe that this time last year we were wondering if there would even be a hockey season for the 2012-13 campaign. However, it is quite a different story this year. Thank God. With the regular season starting soon many Fantasy Hockey League drafts will be happening this week, and it is important to attack a draft with the right strategies in mind.rnrn So, what are the right strategies? That really depends on the league you’re in and the type of draft you have. I always prefer a snake-style draft as opposed to an auction-based draft or linear draft. Snake seems to be the most fair, most common, and easiest to understand, so we’ll stick with that style for the rest of this blog. If you don’t know what the different draft types are here is a brief description of each:rnrn• Snake: By far the most common of the draft styles. The draft order for the first round is reversed for the second round, and then reversed again for every round for the remainder of the draft. Essentially, if you have the first overall pick of the draft that means you won’t pick again until the last pick of the second round. Your third round pick will then be the first pick of said round, etc.rn• Auction: The draft starts with the highest rated player and each team owner bids. You are only given a certain amount of money to spend throughout the entire draft, so it is quite difficult to determine how much a player is worth, especially if this is your first go-around.rn• Linear: The draft order of the first round is the draft order maintained for the rest of the draft. If you have a pick anywhere from 1-5 you’re set. If not, forget it. A lot of keeper leagues will use this style of draft for the first 2 or 3 rounds of the draft depending on your league, and will then switch to a snake draft.rnrnSince a snake draft is the most common we’ll stick with that style to determine our strategy. After determining our draft style we have to figure out how our league determines points. The most common scoring categories are Goals, Assists, Penalty Minutes (PIMs), Hits, and Plus/Minus (+/-), with an added bonus for Power Play Points (PPP) and Short-Handed Points (SHP). Goalie categories normally include Wins, Saves, Goals Against, and Shutouts. rnrnOf course, the league manager can always create a custom scoring system. For example, my league (in which I am the league manager) counts the following categories for skaters: Goals, +/-, Assists, PIM, Hits, and Blocked Shots, with an added bonus for Short-Handed Goals and Assists, Power Play Points, and scoring a Hat Trick. Goalie scoring categories include Wins, Saves, Goals Against, and Overtime Losses, with an added bonus for a Shutout. So, now that we have determined our type of draft and league scoring categories it’s time to start thinking about who to draft.rnrnThe most effective thing I’ve found when it comes to devising a draft strategy is to create a spreadsheet that includes the round number, your overall draft selection number for that round, and 3-5 players who fall within the area of that overall selection. My first choice is usually a player who I hope will slide, or someone who I want to make sure I get before anyone else. For example, I drafted Vinny Lecavalier about a round and a half earlier than he was projected to go. We’ll get into why I did this shortly.rnrnThere are two main strategies when it comes to drafting players for a Fantasy Hockey League, and one that makes you feel good, but usually results in a disaster. The first is drafting the best player available. This means exactly what you think it means. Whoever the best available player is when it comes time for your pick, you take him. If you decide to use this strategy keep in mind that you’ll need to do it based on position. There will be points when the best player available is a forward, but you need a defenseman or a goalie, and vice-versa. I’ve used this strategy in a few drafts, but usually wound up falling short. It can be effective if you have a good draft position, but anymore I generally stay away from it. rnrnThe second strategy is to draft linemates from high-scoring teams. I used this strategy for the first time last season and absolutely dominated my league. I went 9-1 and demolished my opponents when it came time for the playoffs. The reason this strategy is so effective is because if one player scores, their linemate usually gets a point as well. For example, last season I drafted both Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, and while he was healthy I had Scott Hartnell. Does anyone remember when Voracek was the hottest player in the NHL during February? He had 21 points in 15 games. That was great for my team on an individual basis, but the best part was that I had Giroux, who more often than not was feeding him the puck and racking up assists. Another combination I had that worked very well was Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. This year I’m going even heavier with line combinations, and will post my team at the end of the blog.rnrnThe third strategy is homer drafting. Basically, you take the best player available from your home team and hope all works out. This can be a great strategy if your home team is the Penguins, or Red Wings, or a high-scoring team. However, this strategy can plummet you to the bottom of your league if your team hits a cold streak, so be careful with how many players you draft from your home team. Try not to let emotions get in the way. I’m fairly lucky to have my home team as the Flyers who seem to score a ton of goals no matter what. You can use a combination of the second and third strategies for the core of your team, which is basically what I’ve done this year. Just make sure to decide beforehand what teams you’re going to target, and what teams you’re absolutely going to stay away from.rnrnAnd last but not least, goalies. Probably the most difficult position to draft because they’re so unpredictable outside of the top 2-3 in the league. You know what you’re getting in Lundqvist and Quick. Aside from that it can be a crapshoot. In my league last year Sergei Bobrovsky went undrafted. I noticed him get on a hot streak so I decided to pick him up to go along with King Henrik and Ilya Bryzgalov (in my opinion having 3 goalies is a good idea). That pickup was one of the best pickups I made all season, as he went on to win the Vezina trophy. This year I picked up Bobs again and am hopeful he will stay at that form. I also have Corey Crawford and Ray Emery. Basically, the best strategy I can come up with for drafting goalies is to get either Quick or Lundqvist, and if you can’t try to pick up a goalie on a very good team. Guys like Pekka Rinne are great and put up great numbers, but their teams just don’t win enough to warrant picking them up early in the draft. If you can’t get Quick, Henrik, or Bobs, go for a later round pick on someone from a winning team.rnrnAnd now I bring you the Albuquerque Heisenburgers:rnrnForwards:rnClaude GirouxrnHenrik ZetterbergrnPavel DatsyukrnJakub VoracekrnJohan FranzenrnGabriel LandeskogrnWayne SimmondsrnJustin WilliamsrnNail YakupovrnVinny LecavalierrnScott HartnellrnJeff CarterrnBrayden SchennrnrnDefenseman:rnShea WeberrnNiklas KronwallrnMark StreitrnKeith YandlernJames WisniewskirnJay BouwmeesterrnrnGoalies:rnSergei BobrovskyrnCorey Crawford rnRay EmeryrnrnAs you can see I went heavy on Flyers and Red Wings forwards. The line combinations I drafted are as follows: rnHartnell – Giroux – VoracekrnSchenn – Lecavalier – SimmondsrnZetterberg – DatsyukrnrnI’m hoping at some point Jeff Carter and Justin Williams get on the same line, as well as Franzen moves up to the first line with Dats and Z. There are a few players still available through Free Agency that I am considering picking up, but for now I am happy with the team I have. Stephen Weiss and Teemu Selanne tempt me, but I want the season to get underway before I make any moves.rnrn My next few blogs will dive more in-depth into drafting strategies at each position. We’ll break down why some players are good for some leagues and worse for others, and why sometimes drafting defenseman any higher than your final five picks can be a waste of a pick. Stay tuned!rn
September 27, 2013 9:10 PM ET | Delete
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