South River Fantasy Hockey: Welcome Back!

South River Champ: Twice, Derek Felix has won the prestigious South River Trophy.

South River Champ: Twice, Derek Felix has won the prestigious South River Trophy.

When you’re not only drafting and keeping track of everyone’s pick, it can get a bit hectic. For myself, I also had to help Buffalo resident Brian Sanborn draft because he was at work. Imagine updating each pick and then giving your best friend the rundown for each round. Talk about mass confusion. I managed to select a decent roster. Though some of my late picks were more out of necessity.

The South River Fantasy League has been a Jersey tradition. Introduced to a great bunch of guys by Brian when we still attended St. John’s in the late 90’s, it’s nice to see some familiar faces. I really have enjoyed the camaraderie. Seeing old friends reminds me of what’s great. Fantasy leagues are fun and competitive. As usual, I got plenty of ribbing from the boys. We got some originals left in Brian, Harry, Matt and myself. With defending champ Marc unveiling his ghost partner Calvin, it’s no wonder he won it in his rookie year. We didn’t have a league last year. So, it’s been a while. Patrick, Jim and AJ have become staples always doing a solid job. They snaked me quite a bit. And what to make of the triumphant returns of Tim, Jeff and Coppa? It’s sure to be a wild ride.

Matt hosted the draft at his house in Keyport. Kudos to Mrs. Mokarry for putting out food. We had chips along with grilled dogs and burgers plus beer. What would a hockey draft be without a cold one? I can’t say enough about the excellent job they did.

With it being a brand new year, we decided to go for a new league. So, it was a fresh draft. Meaning 25 rounds. That’s right! By a close vote of 6-4, we elected to go with a keeper format. Each roster will decide on five keepers after the season. By league rules, you can retain a player for three years. Same as before. In the glory days, we didn’t do keepers. That’s become a trend not just in hockey but all sports. I’m in a basketball league run off Sportsline. If there is one change, we opted to move to Yahoo. It’s a bit easier to determine who qualifies for two positions. For example, two of Brian’s picks can play wing and D. That would be Brent Burns and Dustin Byfuglien. Most players who qualify are listed as centers and wings. I boast a couple in Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau. If only Jim/AJ didn’t snake me on my boy Jamie Benn.

Like most leagues, you get to designate your starters. Since its inception, South River breaks down this way:

4 Centers

8 Wings

6 Defensemen

2 Goalies

Note that it doesn’t matter if they’re left or right wings. As long as they play the wing, that’s what counts. We also get five bench players. Self explanatory. Normally, I go with 3 goalies. As of right now, I only have 2. Expect that to change soon as I went with one too many forwards. I have versatile guys. Let’s clarify the Siberia Express roster. Since high school when I took Russian, I’ve had a fascination with Siberia. It became a running joke when I got into leagues. I usually choose between that and Centercessssed. 😉


C Nicklas Backstrom

C Matt Duchene

C Patrick Marleau

C Nathan MacKinnon

W Alex Ovechkin

W Logan Couture

W Marian Hossa

W Marian Gaborik

W Ryan Callahan

W Troy Brouwer

W Radim Vrbata

W T.J. Oshie

D Mike Green

D Oliver Ekman-Larsson

D Alex Edler

D Slava Voynov

D Francois Beauchemin

D Jacob Trouba

G Antti Niemi

G Jimmy Howard


C Derick Brassard

W Beau Bennett

W Brendan Gallagher

W Matt Martin

D Jonas Brodin
One of the factors when drafting is the categories. What I like about our league is we put an emphasis on offense, goaltending and defense. It used to be just the first two until Patrick suggested including some of the grittier categories such as hits and blocked shots. It definitely presents more of a challenge. One area I came away disappointed in was the lack of physicality. I got some guys in Callahan, Brouwer, Oshie and Martin who should help the first two. Don’t forget penalty minutes. I will need to improve that facet. A Matt specialty along with Marc. Most blocked shots come from your D. Dan Girardi is probably the best. I was able to take Brodin. A solid second-year blueliner on the Wild who thus far, has added offense. That could be a boost. Beauchemin and Edler should also help. Depending on my offense, I could be adding another defenseman.

Key offensive categories include goals, assists, plus/minus, power play points (replaces PPG), shots on goal, shorthanded goals and game-winners. About what you’d expect. Goalie categories are just your basics. Wins, GAA, save percentage and shutouts. Goalies who pick up assists or score goals a la Martin Brodeur count towards your offense. An added bonus if you have a great stickhandling netminder.

Our league has always gone rotisserie. Many leagues have head to head. As is the South River tradition, we go with the highest totals. On those busy Saturdays, make your lineups count. You can’t play everyone. That’s where match ups come in and how hot or cold a player is. You really have to stay on top of it to compete. The top 3 in our league finish in the money. This year, we’ve increased the fee from 85 dollars to an even 100. If you’re in the hunt, roster moves and trades factor in. With it being a keeper league, draft picks can be traded after December. It all depends if you’re buying or selling.

One of the other aspects I love is league get togethers. We always have a couple scheduled along with some other surprises that keep it interesting. In the day of laptops and IPhones, it’s even easier. You’re in constant communication with your rivals. And the best part is it’s all in fun. Sure. There’s money at stake. But you can still have a good time and build your roster. A new draft makes it tougher. This one took longer than usual. But now comes the cool part. Each team gets 20 free agent moves. As someone who once vowed not to make a move the entire year in my second season, a word to the wise. Use them gingerly. Boy did my big mouth get me in trouble. 😆

There definitely are some classic stories. Who knows? Maybe Brian or I will share. Since I’m keeping this more interactive, it should make it an even better experience.

Before I wrap it up, I want to make one final observation. For years, hockey legends Marty Brodeur and Jaromir Jagr have been fantasy staples. With the exception of Number 68 playing for Omsk Avangard in Russia, the two future Hall Of Famers have always been an integral part of our league. Twenty five rounds went by and neither was drafted. It leaves me feeling a little sad because of how much both have meant. Even if I root for a rival, I can admire Marty. He helped me win my first title in ’99-00. That team also boasted Pavel Bure. I never had Jagr in his prime. But I’ve never stopped being a fan even rooting for him on the enemy. Does that make me a bad fan? I love the guy. I have to believe both will find their way on rosters. If it is the end, it’s been awesome.

Here’s to another Fantasy Year. We’ve survived two lockouts and are still going strong.

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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