Last lockout directly impacted the selection of Sidney Crosby in fantasy leagues. (Getty Images)
What should our league do, now that there is a lockout? That's the most frequent question I'm asked from poolies these days. Not just for keeper leagues, but in one-year leagues as well. In a nutshell, the answer is simple: the show must go on.
ATTENDANCE IS KEY
It is important that you get full attendance to the draft. Using the "auto-draft" taints the entire process and should be used only as a last resort. When a new collective bargaining agreement is reached this year (yes, I'm saying it with certainty) the NHL and NHLPA will start the season quickly. They won't give you a heads-up and schedule the first game of the season only after you are able to scramble everyone together for a draft. No, everything will happen within three weeks. Training camps will open three or four days after the agreement is voted on and the regular season will open two weeks after that. Depending on which day the CBA is reached, you may only have two weekends to get in the draft.
What are the odds that everyone in your league will be free, with short notice, on one of the two weekends? Pretty slim. This is the reason why the draft must occur on the same day that you have it every year. The gang already has the day clear, so attendance should be as good as it can be. Besides - drafts are a blast. It's nice to sit down and pick players, even if you don`t get to see them play an NHL game for a few weeks.
What do you do if the season is cancelled? In one-year leagues, there is no harm done. You enjoyed your draft, whether it was in person, with a group of friends, or online in a draft room.
When it comes to keeper leagues, it's a little different. A contingency plan should have already been in place since it's good policy to vote on the rules in advance. If your commissioner was not on the ball, however, it's not too late. During the 2004-05 lockout, one of my leagues voted in a simple rule prior to when the season-that-never-was should have begun. We agreed to keep the same draft order for next year. This ended up giving a GM Alex Ovechkin in 2004 and Sidney Crosby in 2005. But he had a terrible team, so nobody considered it unfair.
If your league isn't with a tight-knit group of friends, you may want to do what my other league did. We held the 2004 draft in 2005 and then we held the 2005 draft in January of the 2005-06 season using a draft order based on the reverse order of the standings on Dec. 31. Yes, this means that we cancelled the draft in 2004, but had a CBA been reached during that season, attendance for a scrambled together draft would have been terrible.
A third option for your league to consider is a draft lottery that is weighted based on last season's final standings. It gives preference to the weaker teams, but at the same time everyone has a shot at the first overall pick (which looks to be phenom Nathan MacKinnon). The danger in that is you give the defending champ, who obviously has a strong team, a shot at landing one of the best forwards to hit the draft since Crosby.
Whatever route your league chooses to go, get it settled now. You don't want to deal with the arguments of making this decision next year if the season is cancelled.
A FUN THING TO TRY
One of my writers on DobberHockey came up with a nice idea for his league. Every team selects seven prospects (to be defined by league vote). Then, using a League Equivalency Rating (LER) from behindthenet.ca, they get their scoring system. So:
[Points/(Games Played)]*LER*82 using the LER:
Good luck at the draft!
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.
Want more fantasy insider information or to contact The Dobber? Check out dobberhockey.com or follow him on Twitter at @DobberHockey.