With playoff pool drafts taking place over the next seven days, it’s time to put together your strategy and draft lists. As always, you should limit the amount of teams you load up on (three for smaller pools, five for the bigger ones) and then hope for a couple of bounces.
Ideally, you’ll have eight or nine teams you’ll focus on with that first pick and then take the best player available. Once you have your core two or three guys, you build your roster around the teams that they play on. In the later rounds, you start seeking out the dark horses. These are the players who could give you fifth-round value in the 10th round. Here are some names to keep in mind.
Bryan Bickell, Chicago Blackhawks
No real reason to draft Bickell, other than the fact he plays for the Cup champs and was an absolute stud last year. Bickell had 17 points in the post-season (23 games). He doesn’t even have those numbers in the 2013-14 regular season! The Hawks will look to use his size on the power play and on Patrick Kane’s line. Maybe it won’t have the same kind of magic. It certainly didn’t when they tried it back in October. But then again, maybe it will.
Derick Brassard, New York Rangers
Two reasons to like Brassard. One, he had 12 points in 12 playoff contests a year ago. And two, he has 37 points in his past 59 games. So although he has 44 points, his pace after the slow start indicates a number closer to 51. His low point total will keep him off many draft lists, but if you already have a couple of Rangers on your team, definitely target this guy. Read more
Every year, in all sports, when you scan through the end-of-season statistics you raise an eyebrow more than once. Some players have no business getting that kind of number in that particular category and there’s no way it will happen again.
Here are the biggest “one-offs” that jump out at me in the NHL this year.
10. Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings
19.6 shooting percentage
Nyquist has been a man on a mission since January, actually leading the NHL in goals. Nyquist will be a star in the NHL sooner rather than later, but his forte is setting up goals more than scoring them. His high shot percentage reflects that.
9. Valtteri Filppula, Tampa Bay Lightning
19.1 shooting percentage
Filppula’s career high heading into this year was 23 goals. He has 25 on just 131 shots. On a high-scoring team such as the Lightning, he could flirt with 60 points again, but don’t look for such production in the goals department. Overall, expect a decline in his numbers in 2014-15 as some of the talented Tampa prospects take on bigger roles.
Many coined Henrik Lundqvist, Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick as the “Big 3” when it comes to goaltending last summer. After all, in fantasy hockey the goaltender is the most difficult position to project, so it’s good to know there are at least three you can rely on every year to post good numbers. Do everything you can to acquire one of those three, because then you won’t have to worry about that roster spot.
Or so the theory goes.
That theory sure went out the window quickly. Rinne and Quick missed almost the entire first half, while Lundqvist probably wishes he did. This is one season in recent memory where depth goaltenders and quick thinking on the waiver wire with backup netminders saved the season for many poolies.
Let’s take a look at the biggest questions fantasy owners have about that area between the pipes for 2014-15.
This season has had its share of up-and-down moments and the implications in fantasy hockey are no different. Teams some figured to be “locks” for a top three spot in a given fantasy league are in last place, while some absolute dogs in September are battling for a title in March. Welcome to my crazy, topsy-turvy world.
Here are the 10 events that I’ve identified as the most impactful of the 2013-14 fantasy season.
10. Tomas Hertl’s four-goal performance
Hertl exploded onto the rookie scene with three points in his first two games and then a hat trick in his third contest. Later in that game, Hertl topped it off with this beauty, his fourth:
This had the entire hockey world buzzing. Suddenly, this guy was a Calder Trophy favorite over the likes of Nathan MacKinnon. The then-19-year-old Shark would cool off and eventually suffer a serious knee injury that put him on the shelf until the fall. Hertl’s season ended with 25 points in 35 games. But what a ride! Read more
Gustav Nyquist is a 24-year-old sophomore who is tearing it up in Detroit. But just how high can this Red Wing fly?
The talk of fantasy hockey right now is a player who started the campaign in the American League, toiling for Grand Rapids. This wasn’t due to lack of skill or readiness; in fact, Nyquist was at times the best player on the ice for Detroit in last year’s playoffs. It was due to the head-scratching off-season decision by Wings management to sign too many veterans, such as Daniel Cleary.
Though Nyquist played just 22 NHL games last season and 18 in 2011-12, it’s enough to deem ineligible for the Calder Trophy. The Halmstad, Sweden native is currently sporting a five-game goal-scoring streak and has 40 points in 46 games. But his numbers get even more impressive than that.
Any time a rookie bursts onto the scene with 12 points in his first 12 NHL games, the fantasy world takes notice.
Players returned from Sochi in late February and when the puck dropped again for the Islanders on Feb. 27, there was no John Tavares in the lineup. The victim of a knee injury that wiped out the rest of his season as he was on pace to finish top five in league scoring.
The Islanders turned to their promising pipeline and called up Anders Lee, a 23-year-old who was drafted in the sixth round in 2009 (152nd overall). Lee turned pro in March after his junior campaign for Notre Dame (CCHA). It was a productive college career that saw him tally 116 points in 125 games. But lots of solid prospects finish with near point-per-game numbers in college, only to become depth players in the NHL or even in the American League. Read more
So much happened around the NHL last week that to effectively analyze the impact on fantasy-relevant players, I’m breaking it into three columns (read Parts 1 & 2 HERE). This is the final piece, focusing on the prospects…
Chris Brown, Washington Capitals
The Caps gave up Martin Erat to acquire this budding power forward. Brown is close to making the jump and has played 12 NHL games already. The former college star at Michigan was drafted in the second round (36th overall) in 2009. Look for him to get a long look in camp in the fall and perhaps play the second half of next season in Washington. His fantasy value won’t arrive for several years, though. Brown was the fourth ranked prospect on the Coyotes according to the recently released THN Future Watch edition. Read more on him at dobbersports.com.
Sebastian Collberg, New York Islanders
Acquired in the Tomas Vanek deal, Collberg has scoring-line upside, but it will take some time for him to get there. I’d look for him in an Isles uniform in 2015-16 and on fantasy squads in 2017-18. He didn’t take the step forward in Sweden this season that we were hoping to see, which probably factored into him being traded. But he’s still one of the better prospects out there. He was drafted 33rd overall in 2012 and was ranked sixth among Habs prospects in Future Watch. Read more on him at dobbersports.com.
So much happened around the NHL last week that to effectively analyze the impact on fantasy-relevant players, I’m breaking it into three columns.
In Part 1, I looked at Ryan Callahan, Jaroslav Halak, Ales Hemsky, Matt Moulson, Martin St. Louis, Lee Stempniak, Tim Thomas and Tomas Vanek.
In Part 3 Thursday, I’ll run through the key prospects who changed organizations: Hudson Fasching, Sebastian Collberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Brayden McNabb, Chris Brown and David Rundblad.