Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Puck Stop Here: Practice What You Preach

Welcome back to another edition of The Puck Stops Here. Before I get to the main subject of my post, I want to address the Crosby situation in Pittsburgh. As everyone should know Crosby is expected to be out 6-8 weeks. Since I’m a gambling man, I’m betting he is back closer to 6 weeks rather than 8. The big winner from the injury will most likely be Petr Sykora. He already has an assist in each game since the Crosby injury and is now playing on Malkin’s wing and the top power play unit. If Sykora is available in your league, most likely he is, I would pick him up.

Now, I want to give you a glimpse into my fantasy hockey team (Yes, only one this year, I was very busy with school and work during draft time). If you are taking advice from me it is worthwhile for you to see my own performance. Let me first take you through my draft, I will name the players in the order of their draft position. Alexander Ovechkin, Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Sedin, Marty Turco, Henrik Sedin, Ryan Smyth, Brad Richards, Kari Lehtonen, Patrice Bergeron, Brian Rafalski, Anze Kopitar, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Petr Sykora, Johan Holmqvist, Tom Poti, Andrej Meszaros, Ales Hemsky, and last but not least Michel Ouellet.

My first 5 picks provided the solid foundation that has led me to a first place team. The middle rounds provided me with a few home run picks, a few solid picks and a few busts. I could have done without both Bergerons and Lehtonen, but Rafalski and Kopitar have been studs. Ales Hemsky in the 17th round has also paid off very well. One thing worth noting is, I did not draft a defenseman until the 10th round. I felt people were reaching on defensemen and I refused to reach, I took what I believed was the best value, as it turns out that strategy provided me with only 2 mistakes in the first 10 picks and a top 5 defenseman in the 10th round. Just like closers in baseball or tight ends in football, don’t reach because everyone else does, take the value pick and mold your team as you need through the waiver wire. This strategy is what I have used and I have had a pretty dominant season so far.

My team today looks like this: Brad Richards, Anze Kopitar, Andy McDonald, Henrik Zetterberg, Dustin Brown, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Alexander Ovechkin, Brian Rafalski, Tobias Enstrom, Pavel Kubina, Niklas Kronwall, Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky, Andrei Kostitsyn and Ryan Smyth is on my IR. In goal I have Marty Turco, Pascal Leclaire and Ilya Bryzgalov. I built a first place team off the waiver wire. I would not consider my draft anything special, but my team is in very good condition today. Only half of my drafted roster remains on my team and I have 4 players on my team that I have recommended to you. I believe in what I am telling you and you should too. If you watch trends, keep an eye on the daily box scores, and keep reading this column, you will have a better team.

Although I am in first place, I am still looking to improve my team. I have an abundance of points, but I struggle with PIM and plus-minus. To remedy this I am attempting to move Rafalski and Richards. Richards' plus-minus is -23 and this isn’t changing anytime soon with the last place Lightning. Rafalski is one of the top scoring defensemen, but he does little for my PIM, and I do not like having 3 players from one team. I am hoping to move Rafalski and Richards for a two-way defenseman who can contribute both points and PIM. My targets are Chara and Phanuef, they both have some scoring ability and can rack up the PIM. Just like any other fantasy sport, trade from your strengths to help your weaknesses. Hopefully, if I continue to improve my team, come season end I will add another championship trophy to my fantasy resume.

I hope this look into my fantasy team gives you a better idea of who is giving you advice and how you can take even a mediocre draft and turn it into a winner. Until next week, enjoy the All-Star game.

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Marc said...


Great column! Something you have never touched on is where to draft a goalie. Recently, someone mentioned to me a strategy in fantasy hockey of "punting the goalie" the same way in baseball teams "punt saves." Any thoughts?

Joe said...


This is a strategy that can be used and can have some success in certain situations. However, in hockey its difficult to do with success. Unlike many baseball leagues, most hockey leagues have minimum starts for goalies per week. Therefore, most people will forfeit 4 out of the usual 10 statistical categories. Therefore, the most points you can get in a given week will be 12 assuming you can dominate the skater position categories.

In baseball, forfeiting saves will only lose you one category. In hockey, you will probably lose 4. The best results you can hope for are a play off finish and a chance to win the championship at that point. This is more difficult in the play offs because you will be playing a team with better forward and defensive talent. While it is possible to pull off this strategy, I don't recommend it.

Looking to baseball, I am a strong proponent of punting saves. I do not pay premium prices for closers. If I cannot get enough save help from the waiver wire or late round picks, I forfeit saves for help elsewhere.