Fantasy Hockey: Draft Strategy

Dac Vee Daniyah Ilya!

Dac Vee Daniyah Ilya!

Every fantasy player has their own approach to drafting. In a keeper format like my league, I must decide which players I’m protecting. I have some good options. The candidates include Jamie Benn, Logan Couture, Henrik Sedin, Eric Staal, Jason Spezza, Duncan KeithOliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Pietrangelo, Keith Yandle, Jimmy Howard and Cory Schneider. I’ll definitely keep a goalie. Howard is a lock and Schneider could make it two. If I go that route, then I must narrow it down. Up front, Couture has the most upside along with Benn. Sedin, Spezza and Staal are established stars. Choosing a defenseman is wise. Do I go for the most experienced in Keith or opt for a higher ceiling in OEL or Pietrangelo? Yandle is strong but his teammate might have more value.

Considering that we didn’t have a league last year, maybe we should start fresh. However, it would penalize the team who won. It’s worth noting that I lost Ilya Kovalchuk. That kind of production isn’t easily replaced. There aren’t many proven scorers who can give you 40 goals, 40 assists, double digit power play (PPG, PPA) and a good chunk of game-winners. Thanks a lot Russia. 😛

If you’re in a conventional league, then everyone is available. That’s as good as it gets. Being able to create your own roster and then watch it perform. You can go BAP (Best Available Player) or draft for need. Either way, make sure you build properly. For example, our league has four centers, eight wings, six defensemen and two goalies who start plus six on the bench. I always try to go for versatility. Depending on what site you use, some players might qualify for two positions. If I can have someone who can play both center and wing, it’s an advantage. Unless it’s a special case like Dustin Byfuglien, who switched from forward to D, most should be locked in. It’s never a bad idea to take an extra goalie. If you draft Jonas Hiller, you almost have to get Viktor Fasth. The same applies for St. Louis (Elliott, Halak, Allen).

One thing I’ve learned is not to wait too long if guys start slow. You must stay on top of things. Unless it’s someone you know will come around, don’t stay married to your players. You’re in it to win it. The waiver wire is like a highway. It’s hit or miss. The quicker you pull the trigger, the more likely you get the guy you want. It’s all about instinct. Some pick ups are short term that can help you in a head to head format. Others could stick around especially if it’s rotisserie. As long as they produce, milk it for all its worth.

Most importantly, have fun. Any league should be. Whether it’s league get togethers or just tracking your players or trading, we get to watch the most exciting game with a double meaning. There will be that occasional moment when you find yourself saying, ‘At least so and so had a big night,’ if it comes at the expense of the team you root for.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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