The fantasy hockey world imitates the real one if you’re enough of a diehard.
The best GMs in NHL history have often been known for moving on to their next mission moments after a season ends. See Lamoriello, Lou. And the same mentality makes for a great fantasy GM. Maybe you won your league this year. Maybe you came close. Maybe you floundered. Regardless, a good way to succeed is to cram for next season early. There’s a lot of relevant information to find with the Stanley Cup playoffs and World Championship still happening and the draft a month away. May as well absorb what you can before the hockey world takes its August siesta after the free-agent boom.
So let’s tackle some reader questions about keeper leagues, which force some difficult roster decisions at this time of year. If I don’t answer you below, I’ll try to hit you on Twitter instead.
That twisted, charred pile of skate blades, black tape and fiberglass used to be your fantasy hockey team. Alas, you WASTED your first picks on bums like Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Sergei Bobrovsky and Ryan Getzlaf. You’re in last place a week and a half into your season. You’re finished. FINISHED I say!
…or maybe not. Maybe the season is half a dozen games old for most NHL teams. Maybe you have the best team in the league, and it just had an off week, the kind that would go completely unnoticed in the dog days of February.
You shouldn’t panic. Or should you? That’s the theme of 2015-16’s first fantasy mailbag. Let’s calm a few panicked poolies – and stoke the fires of a few who may be onto something. Thanks to all who tweeted me which players are making them sweat the most. I compiled a list of the most frequent names that popped up.
A thought that occurred to me while we finished up our Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide, which hits newsstands in the next few weeks: we’ve entered a golden age of fantasy hockey. Traditional, pen-and-paper office pools still exist, but we also have massive online league engines and keeper formats that let us track salaries and trade draft picks. The latest revolution, daily fantasy sports, has players changing their lineups seven times a week based on matchups. We’ve never had so many options.
All the different modes of play complicate roster decisions and led to many questions submitted from readers over the past several weeks. They were supposed to run in the magazine, but our 2015-16 Pool Guide is so packed with content that there wasn’t room. I’ll answer them online instead. Here goes…
May and June allow most fantasy hockey poolies to put their feet up. Their regular seasons are over, and most of them are eliminated from their playoff pools by this stage, too.
For the diehard keeper league players, though, there’s never really a break. They must decide which players to retain for next season before a deadline. They must assess how the post-season and the NHL draft affect player values and the overall talent pool.
Today, I take questions from that demographic. The fun part about keeper league inquiries is that they are essentially hockey questions about the long-term value of player A versus player B or C. The answers can spark debate among fantasy players and general hockey fans alike. Let’s get started!
Seeking advice in your fantasy hockey pool right now? You must be:
(a) Seeking upgrades or smart last-minute roster adds for your post-season push
(b) Scraping the roadkill that is your team off the pavement, and assessing keeper players
Today’s mailbag tackles questions from both perspectives.
Jeremy Aubin (@JAubs19) asks…
Strictly a points league, better player to draft next year: Nathan MacKinnon or Jonathan Drouin?
Answer: Who knew this would be such a good question? It boils the blood of any MacKinnon owner, especially after he was shut down with a broken foot last week, adding injury to the insult of his sophomore slump. MacKinnon made poolie mouths water as an 18-year-old rookie in 2013-14, churning out 63 points, spurred by a great second half, and dominating in the post-season.
This year? A measly 12 goals and 38 points in 64 games. Yikes. And just when he showed signs of life with five goals and nine points in his past 10 games, his season ended. So it’s understandable to wonder if Tampa Bay left winger Jonathan Drouin, Mackinnon’s former Halifax Mooseheads teammate and the young man picked two spots after him in 2013, is a better keeper-league option.
Raise your virtual hand if you’ve been in this situation before: you have a sore throat and that wonky knee of yours is bothering you, too. You head to your family doctor and spot a sign taped to the wall: “Please limit your visit to one issue.” What does that mean? Are you seriously supposed to make two appointments?
I’m out to right that wrong in this week’s fantasy mailbag. Many readers crammed multiple questions into their “one” question. But I’ll answer them all if it’s the last thing I do.
John Daniels (@Daniels1984J) asks…
Is it time to bail on Nathan MacKinnon (i.e. take anything in a trade)? I feel like I’ve been holding out for too long.
So you’re mired in the basement of your hockey pool standings. Your dad, your boss and your friggin’ 10-year-old niece ridicule you endlessly. Don’t take your ball and go home. Fight back.
I’m here to (hopefully) help. I’ve collected your excellent Twitter questions over the last few days, and I’ll answer as many as I can below. You’re welcome for the good advice / Sorry for the bad advice.
The Steven Stamkos injury destroyed the chances of more than a few fantasy owners. But the good news is Claude Giroux seems to be back. Let’s get to some letters!
Should I trade Antti Niemi and Henrik Lundqvist for Tuukka Rask and Carey Price?
In a one-year format, I would say no. In a keeper format, that changes things. I would still say no if I have designs on winning this year. But if I’m throwing in the towel for this season and looking ahead to the future, I would prefer the Price/Rask side. Read more