Friday, December 28, 2007

The Puck Stops Here: The Midway Point

We are about half way through the NHL season, and as I alluded to in the Holiday Edition last week, this is a great time to evaluate everything and prepare for the second half. With that in mind, here are a few things I have learned so far this season.

The Red Wings and the Senators are fantasy gold mines. In just about every major fantasy category you will find Senators and Red Wings near the top of the list. The most telling number is that the top 6 plus-minus ratings in the league belong to them, including 8 of the top 10. This is a sign of things to come, take extra notice of Senators and Red Wings in the future, especially if you need plus-minus help.

Meet the new “it” team, the Chicago Blackhawks. Last year it was the Pittsburgh Penguins; this year Chicago is taking the league by storm. The Blackhawks don’t have the biggest names in the league, but the entire team is playing well. A young team that has great chemistry can perform as well as any of the big names out there. Don’t be shy about taking a risk on some Blackhawks if any of them spark your interest. (Also like this year, watch for Blackhawk players to be overvalued next season like much of the Penguins this season.)

Stick with the grizzled veterans. As of now, there are only 4 rookies that I would recommend owning; and if it was not for the upside of Nicklas Backstrom, I would not include him on this list. Just like any sport, rookies always sound enticing, however it is best to let somebody else wrestle with their inconsistency and yet to be fulfilled potential. While you don’t necessarily want to ignore young players, just remember inconsistency will abound.

You can learn a lot by reading real NHL coverage. Everyone can read a fantasy article; a dedicated fantasy owner looks at everything involving the sport. Keep an eye on roster rumors, roster and line changes, the standings and team stats. Team stats can give great information underlying a player’s performance and can be a great predictor of future performance. Roster rumors can be especially useful this time of the year as teams begin to fold their cards and others go all in. These moves can have a profound impact on performance.

Goals are tougher to come by this year. As a whole NHL scoring is down compared to last season. Last season, 11 teams ended averaging over 3 goals per game, and currently there are only 7. Furthermore, there are 3 teams averaging less goals per game this season than the lowest team last season. This all means don’t be frustrated with underachieving performances. Generally, everyone is underachieving compared to last year. On the other end of the spectrum, covet those players scoring in bunches; they are having a bigger impact than you think.

Until next week, I hope everyone has a great start to 2008.

Related Posts by Subject