War Room

Draft Preperation

The single biggest factor in determining your chance of winning it all comes down to the time and effort you put into preparing a draft list. If you do it right, you should have very few decisions to make during the draft. You should be able to hand your draft list over to a trained monkey, and your roster will come out shining.

Ground Rules

There are a few ground rules to understand before getting into the strategy of preparing a draft list.

1. Study the Point System - Every league is different. If you're in 3 different leagues, with three different point systems, you should have 3 different draft lists. Landshark Hockey has fine-tuned a point system to perfection, but the world hasn't caught up to it yet. So make sure and craft your list according to your league's points.

2. Don't Wing It - Come prepared with a full list at every position. Do the math, chump. If your league drafts 5 defensemen and you have ten teams, you had better prepare a list with at least 50 defensemen on it. Some guys come prepared with their top 10 at each position and they're left in the cold after 3 rounds. Don't be that guy. That guy is dumb.

3. Read your History - History did not begin last season. Don't base your draft list on last year's stats alone. The top 50 scorers vary considerably from season to season. Guys get injured, then come back strong. Guys have a bad year, then storm back again (Marleau). Go back at least 3 seasons in your considerations.

Tier Strategy

The first key to dominating draft day is to divide your draft list into tiers by position. Start with goaltending. As you make your list of your top 30 goalies, draw lines between the tiers as the talent level drops a notch. For example...

Tiers

For the most part, when it's time to draft a specific position, your choice is easy. Take the next guy on your list. The only decision needs to be which position to pull from. Having your list broken down into tiers simplifies your decision. Say you're in the fourth round, and you already have 1 goalie, 1 forward, and 1 defenseman. All the goalies in your top 2 tiers have been taken. All the forwards in your top 2 tiers are gone, too. But Mike Green is still sitting out there and he's a tier 1 D. You take the player from the highest tier. Over the course of the draft, you need balance, but choosing the best player from the highest tier available is money.

Summer Reading Assignments

Before you start putting any names on paper, do some background research. Read a magazine or two and pay special attention to the following:

1. Injuries / Surgeries - off-season surgeries typically lead to slow starts or down-right lousy seasons. (see Brind'amour in '08, watch for Lecavalier in '09). Play the percentages and avoid this guys.

2. Hold outs - It doesn't happen as often as it used to, but if a player is holding out, knock him down at least 3 tiers in your list.

3. Relocation - Take a look at players in new places and try to gauge whether it's a good move or a bad move for that player's performance. For example, Petr Sykora wakes up and finds himself playing in Pittsburgh beside Malkin = good thing. Ryan Malone leaves the comfort of Malkin's side and lands in the worst run franchise in the league = bad thing.

4. Comebacks - Opposite of #1. When you're looking at stats, make a special note of players who came back or who were injured the previous season and only played a few games. No doubt, these guys will be forgotten by half the managers in your league. Watch for Zubov and Gonchar in '09. Zubov will be the forgotten man.

Preparing the List

It's finally time to assemble the list. We highly recommend using the Draft Guru tools found here at Landshark Hockey. However, if you're old-school and prefer to cuddle up on the couch with a pencil and paper, here's the general approach:

1. First Draft - Obviously, you want a seperate list for each position. Start with goaltending. Write up your list, marking down tiers, as described above.

2. Expert Input - Once your list is compiled, take a look at other "expert" opinions. Look for players you may have over or under rated and adjust your list accordingly. Don't put complete faith in others' opinions. Trust your gut. A couple years back I was looking at a magazine that had Michael Handzus listed in the top 10. I put it back on the shelf without reading any further. Then again, if you typically finish last in your league, maybe you shouldn't trust your gut. Trust me instead.

3. Sleeper Notes - This part takes some insight into your competition. Go through your list and try to determine how high the other GMs will rank the player. Look for players on your list that you think will slide and mark them. When it comes down to that player at draft time, you may be willing to wait another round if you think others will pass on him.