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Avoid These Draft Day Busts

by chewy 20. September 2013 06:27
Everyone likes a big bust.  Until draft day.  On draft day, a big bust can ruin your day.  The guys in this list will get drafted far earlier than they should. Don't get caught up in the hype. Sit back and let the less-informed GM's waste a pick, while you go for value.

Offense

Chris Kunitz             PIT     
Last season was special for Kunitz.
It was fantastic. But it will never happen again. Kunitz finished 2nd overall in fantasy points and was a legitimate challenger for the Art Ross Trophy once it was clear that Crosby wouldn't return. But without Crosby, the production slowed down considerably. He should continue to provide piggy-back value from Crosby and/or Malkin, but a repeat of last year's magic is extremely unlikely.

Daniel Sedin             VAN     
It's been two straight down seasons for Daniel Sedin, following his monster effort in 2010-11. With the culture (and coaching) shift in Vancouver, it's not a warm-fuzzy feeling about the prospects for a Sedin revival. He, and brother Henrik, will probably be drafted too early based on name-recognition. Don't overreach here.

Martin St. Louis             TAM     
Sure it was somewhat cheapened by Crosby's absence, but a scoring title is a scoring title. At age 38, it was one of the great accomplishments in hockey in the last 25 years or more. Just don't bank on a repeat. He will absolutely be drafted too early based on last season's success. As long as he stays paired with Stamkos, you can count on another good season (many assists), but another scoring title has to be out of reach.


Defense

Francois Beauchemin             ANA     
Beauchemin had a surprise breakthrough / comeback season last year, even earning some consideration for the Norris at various points. At 33 years of age, it's hard to envision any amount of upside beyond a 35-point production. The positive buzz last season will likely carry over, causing some poor soul to reach too early. Wait on him as a depth option.

Drew Doughty             LOS     
Each season, expectations are out there that Doughty will be a fantasy beast, the way he was in 2009-10. After three straight mediocre seasons, the shine has started to fade. He's still a solid #1 option, but cannot be considered among the elite at this point (at least in fantasy circles).

Victor Hedman             TAM     
Hedman entered the NHL with enormous fantasy expectations, due mostly to his high draft status. While he has been serviceable for the Lightning in the real world, he has yet to become a significant factor in the fantasy world. His points per game did tick in the positive direction last season, but not enough to get overly excited. If you're satisfied with 8 goals and 32 points, he's your man.


Goalies

Carey Price             MON     
Montreal put together a surprising start, but were somewhat exposed towards the end of the season and into the playoffs. At the same time, Price was steady, but not spectacular. His stats were actually the worst he's posted since 2009. Your view on Price's value will largely be driven by your view on Montreal's direction. I see them moving in the opposite direction this season and missing the playoffs. Likewise, I don't see Price being much more than a mediocre #2 option for your fantasy squad.

Cam Ward             CAR     
With Ward, it's important to know your particular league's point system. If saves are heavily rewarded, he's your man. Ward faces more rubber each night than most, playing behind the pourous Carolina defense. However, if more traditional stats, such as GAA and Wins drive your point system, Ward may be a bit overrated. Through 8 seasons, he has gone below a 2.5 GAA just once. Last season, in limited action, he posted a 2.84. Not exactly "good" by today's NHL standards. His job in Carolina is never in doubt, so he will get his chances. Consider him a serviceable #2 goalie option.

Rebound Players for 2013-14

by chewy 16. September 2013 06:49

 Sometimes you have to just forgive and forget. Last season is in the past and let's move on. Here are some guys who should see a significant rebound in their production this season.

 

Offense

 

Jordan Eberle                     EDM         

Eberle's production slipped a bit in his 3rd NHL season, failing to build on his previous year's success. He was still a decent fantasy winger. Look for a major rebound in his numbers in 2013-14. He should deliver near point-per-game output and is a very good bet for 30 goals. If the stars align, he could join teammate Taylor Hall in the hunt for a scoring title this season.

 

Marian Gaborik                     COB         

Gaborik struggled through a rocky season in 2013 with the Rangers before being dealt to the Jackets at the deadline. He is now the showcase attraction in town once more. It remains to be seen what he will do in a full season with Columbus, but you should figure on a serous rebound from last year's disappointing numbers. Two straight healthy seasons have me willing to take a gamble on him.

 

Milan Lucic                     BOS         

Lucic completely disappeared as the season wore on, to the point where he was a healthy scratch going into the playoffs. That all got sorted out nicely in the postseason, as he returned to his beastly self. Look for a big rebound in 2013-14.

 

Corey Perry                     ANA         

After a dominating 50-goal, MVP season in 2010-11, Perry followed it up with 2 disappointing efforts. With Bobby Ryan out of town, and Selanne fading or retired, all eyes will be on Perry to provide the goal scoring for the Ducks. Expect a nice rebound this season. Even if the goals don't pile up, he contributes enough in every category (especially PIMs), to make him one of the most reliable fantasy wingers in the game.

 

Tyler Seguin                     DAL         

Is he mature enough to be the leader most projected him to be when drafted #2 overall? Who cares, as long as he rebounds from last season's poor fantasy showing. Which I say he will. The fresh start in Dallas should spur him on to fantasy stardom. I'm expecting big things from Seguin in Dallas this season.

 

Jeff Skinner                     CAR         

After winning the Calder Trophy in his rookie season, Skinner has slipped back, due to several bouts with concussions. Should he shake the headaches, Skinner certainly has the potential to reemerge as a fantasy star for the Canes. Look for a big rebound this season.

 

 

Defense

 

Tyler Myers                     BUF         

A dude this big and talented can't continue to plummet like this. Following an enormous fantasy season, his production has dipped steadily with each passing season. It's now or never for Myers to redeem some of that promise that earned him that Calder hardware in 2009-10.

 

Alex Pietrangelo                     STL         

Following two fantastic seasons to kick off his career with St. Louis, Pietrangelo was a slight disappointment last season. He ranked 35th in total fantasy points among defensemen.  Expect a significant rebound from Pietrangelo this season.

 

 

Goalies

 

Roberto Luongo                     VAN         T

he goalie trade finally materialized for the Canucks, but of course, it didn't go according to the plan. Luongo now finds himself as the surprise unchallenged starter for Vancouver. Assuming everyone can kiss and make up, this has the makings of a potentially strong comeback season for Luongo on the fantasy front. On the downside, if Coach Torts has his way, Luongo will see less shots than he has been accustomed to, meaning the saves column will take a hit. Still, the increased volume of play will make him a viable #1 option in net once more. The added incentive to play his way into the #1 job for Team Canada won't hurt much either.

 

Jonathan Quick                     LOS         

Simply put, Quick tanked last season. He showed no signs of the man who dominated the position for the prior two years. That changed in the playoffs, as he returned to form and carried the team for 2 rounds. That run brings hope to fantasy owners looking for a top notch goalie that may be underrated at this year's draft. He didn't even crack the top 20 in fantasy points by the end of last season. Look for a rapid return to the top 5 this year.

 

Pekka Rinne                     NAS         

Rinne, along with the entire Nashville team, took a big step backwards last season. Maybe they missed Suter that much. Despite the slip, Rinne remains the epitome of the word "workhorse". He will continue to own the pipes for 85% of the action in Nashville, which means wins should continue to pile up. Look for a bounce back in other categories, with a Preds team that just has to be better this season.

Breakout Fantasy Players for 2013-14

by chewy 10. September 2013 06:23

If you're in it to win, and not just have a good showing, you need to capitalize on a breakout player or two.  Finding these guys is a challenge.  Here are a few players that seem poised to post huge jumps in a numbers over their previous highs:

 

Offense

 

Jamie Benn                     DAL         

Benn has been on the cusp of breaking out as a fantasy star for several seasons. With the retooling in Dallas, this could finally be the year he wins you a championship. If all pans out and he meshes well with newcomers like Seguin, he should easily set some career highs.

 

Beau Bennett                     PIT         

Bennett should be the one name on everyone's list of potential breakout players in 2013-14. He showed flashes of offensive magic in limited action last season, but couldn't stick on the top 2 stacked lines in Pittsburgh. The Pens made a point of announcing that he will have a much larger role this time around, immediately following the embarrassing playoff sweep.

 

Jonathan Drouin                     TAM         

It's scary to think how productive this rookie could be, should he find his way onto a line with Stamkos and St. Louis. He's my pick for Rookie of the Year and one of the only rookies I would spend a draft pick on this year.

 

Alex Galchenyuk                     MON         

Galchenyuk had a fine rookie season and is poised for a potential breakout campaign in his second year with Montreal. Despite playing 3rd line minutes, he made a strong case for the Calder. He should move up the depth chart for the Habs this season and become a worthy fantasy factor.

 

Evander Kane                     WIN         

Kane had a bit of a breakout in 2011-12 with a 30 goal effort, but with a relatively paltry assist total, he finished with just 57 points. This should be the year that Kane breaks out into clear star status. Another 30 goals should be a given, but expect a better showing in the 2nd column.

 

Nail Yakupov                     EDM         

Yakupov was good enough in his rookie campaign to give fantasy owners something to be excited about this time around. As the season progressed, he started to earn much more ice time. He finished the year with 6 goals in the final 3 games. Take a chance on a monster breakout season.

 

 

Defense

 

Jonas Brodin                     MIN         

While he has yet to display much goal scoring acumen, the rookie performed quite well for the Wild last season. He logged huge minutes for a first year defenseman and moved the puck well. There is much offensive upside. As the Wild improve, so will Brodin's fantasy value. Look for a potential breakout season here.

 

Simon Despres                     PIT         

The Pens intentionally held Despres back last season, despite his enormous potential. Minutes after being bumped from the playoffs, the team made a point of saying that Despres will enjoy a much bigger role with the team in 2013-14. With the amount of goal scoring that goes on in Pittsburgh, that means plenty of potential. This will be the breakout season for Despres.

 

Oliver Ekman-Larsson                     PHO         

Ekman-Larsson continues to progress, heading into his fourth season in the NHL. He has been a bit overshadowed by Yandle in Phoenix, but that shouldn't stop you from snatching him up mid-draft. He should set a career high in points, and may make a go at 50.

 

Dougie Hamilton                     BOS         

Hamilton entered his rookie season with high expectations. At times, he met those, at other times, he faded from view. Ultimately, he had a respectable set of numbers by season's end. Look for the progression to continue this season. He could easily bust out with a big 40-50 point season.

 

Travis Hamonic                     NYI         

As an all-around fantasy contributor, Hamonic has the potential to break out this season. Despite his stature, he piles up the pentalty minutes. The playoffs last season showed what an enormous pest he can be. Too bad there's no fantasy stat for annoying. Sticking to the stats that are counted, his production continues to improve entering his fourth NHL campaign. Definite upside here.

 

Justin Schultz                     EDM         

An ugly number in the plus/minus column scarred an otherwise solid rookie season last year. Given a full slate of games and a more mature team around him, Schultz could become a household fantasy name in 2013-14. He'll be the go-to guy on the backend for an Oilers team prime to score a metric buttload of goals. Don't be surprised if he tops 15 goals himself.

 

Slava Voynov                     LOS         

Voynov has flown somewhat under the radar outside of the LA in his first two NHL seasons. During that time, he put together two very solid seasons, logging big minutes and putting up decent point totals for the Kings. He was rewarded this summer with a big six year deal, so the Kings believe he's their man on the blueline. His numbers in the playoffs were even better, as he contributed 2 goals in each of LA's 3 playoffs series. Look for a potential breakout season for Voynov as he starts to get the fantasy attention he has earned.

Top 10 Fantasy Goalie Rankings for 2013-14

by Chewbacca 4. September 2013 19:01

The goalie position continues to be the hardest by far to predict with certainty.   I can only recommend two names to be sure winners worthy of a first round pick.  After that, you have a collections of very good options that are almost interchangeable parts.  Because of that, if you miss out on Lundqvist or Rask, I recommend waiting until the goalie run is over and picking the 8th or 9th goalie off the board, as there shouldn't be much drop off from the 3rd best option.

 

 

TIER 1

 

1. Henrik Lundqvist

While he fell just shy of another Vezina nod last season, you simply cannot get more in terms of reliability than Hank. I suspect that the coaching change will have an overall positive effect on his fantasy numbers. He should see significantly more shots this season, which means more saves. And the shots that Torts dictated be blocked out front tended to be the easier saves for a goalie. Logically, you should see a higher save percentage, more saves, and overall total domination for Lundqvist as this year's top goalie pick.

 

2. Tuukka Rask

If anyone can challenge Lundqvist for the top spot on the goalie list, it's Rask. He had to wait patiently for his opportunity as Boston's #1, but has proven to be worth the wait. His dominance in the regular season even carried through the playoffs. With Boston promising to be one of the most dominant teams this season, he is assured of large helping of Wins. Expect 40, perhaps even 50. Can't go wrong with Rask.

 

 

 

TIER 2

 

3. Sergei Bobrovsky

After a revelation of a season, all eyes will be on Bobrovsky to see if he can repeat the magic. The Jackets are clearly on rise and will rely on Sergei to keep them moving that way. There is no reason to doubt he will be a solid contributor once again fantasy wise, but expecting another Vezina may be overshooting. He is certainly a safe #1 option in net.

 

4. Jimmy Howard

Howard has been a reliable fantasy option for four years now. He stepped it up a notch last season, arguably carrying them into the playoffs. The Wings have committing to him for the long haul, so he won't have contract issues on his mind. Detroit's young defensive crew is coming together nicely and ought to provide enough support for Howard to make it 5 straight seasons as a solid fantasy keeper.

 

5. Jonathan Quick

Simply put, Quick tanked last season. He showed no signs of the man who dominated the position for the prior two years. That changed in the playoffs, as he returned to form and carried the team for 2 rounds. That run brings hope to fantasy owners looking for a top notch goalie that may be underrated at this year's draft. He didn't even crack the top 20 in fantasy points by the end of last season. Look for a rapid return to the top 5 this year.

 

6. Corey Crawford

If it's wins that you crave, consider holding out for Crawford as your #1 in net. The Hawks will surely deliver plenty in the W column again in 2013-14, and this time, assuming he stays healthy, Crawford won't have to share the net with Emery. Khabibulin will fill in only when Crawford needs a breather. His numbers last year were among the best in the league. He just needs more starts to rank with the elite.

 

 

7. Antti Niemi

According to my charts, Antti Niemi provided more fantasy points than any other player in the league. (I'll pause while you absorb that thought). (thought you might need more time...) Much of this came in the first 3 weeks of the season when San Jose seemingly couldn't lose a game. He finished the season strong as well, piling up 24 wins in 43 games. While I don't expect the Sharks to be as good this time around, he is the undisputed #1 in net for San Jose. He will again get his fair share of wins and will remain a viable #1 option. Just don't expect a repeat as the top fantasy man.

 

 

8. Craig Anderson

Statistically, Anderson was the best goalie in the league last season, by far. His 1.69 GAA and .941 save percentage were silly good. He just needed to stay healthy a little longer. He didn't show a sign of weakness all season until the 2nd round of the playoffs, where the Pens made him look human. A full season in good health will show whether or not he is for real as a #1 option.

 


9. Pekka Rinne

Rinne, along with the entire Nashville team, took a big step backwards last season. Maybe they missed Suter that much. Despite the slip, Rinne remains the epitome of the word "workhorse". He will continue to own the pipes for 85% of the action in Nashville, which means wins should continue to pile up. Look for a bounce back in other categories, with a Preds team that just has to be better this season.

 

 

10. Marc-Andre Fleury

You'll need to focus hard, but try and forget what happened in last year's playoffs. And the playoffs the year before that. Focus. In the regular season (which is what we care about in fantasy town), Fleury has been a very good option. The Pens (for some unknown reason) insist on standing behind him as their #1, despite having a far more stable option in Vokoun at the ready. As long as that vote of confidence remains from the man behind the bench, Fleury will carry significant fantasy value. The Pens promise to rack up the wins again this year, and the Flower is the default option to gather those Ws. Because of his post-season struggles, you will probably see Fleury slide deep come draft time, making him a potential sleeper win.

 

 

 

To see the rest of my top 50 goalie rankings, visit:  http://www.landsharkhockey.com/LS/tools/DraftRankings.aspx.  You can also customize your own list there.

Yahoo Fantasy Hockey Draft Strategy

by chewy 18. January 2013 08:39

As a follow up to my previous article on CBS Fantasy Hockey Draft Strategy, I wanted to come back with a breakdown of how you should approach drafting in a standard head-to-head Yahoo league.  Many of the principals are the same as CBS (and any league for that matter), so if you missed it, check it out here:

 

http://www.landsharkhockey.com/post/2013/01/16/2013-CBS-NHL-Fantasy-Draft-Strategy.aspx

 

For now, I'll focus on the specific things you need to know for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey leagues in order to draft a winning team.

 

Roster Limits

The first thing to note about the standard Yahoo settings is that they choose to break down forwards by specific position (C, LW, RW), as opposed to grouping wingers, or all forwards together.  This has a noticeable impact on your strategy.  It used to be on Yahoo, that Left Wingers came at a premium; however, this year they dramatically opened up the number of players that qualify at multiple positions.  That designation is gold here.  The flexibility gives you far more options when it comes to setting your day to day lineup.  So, while I would otherwise favor Stamkos and Crosby over Malkin, he's the only one of the three to (arbitrarily) be granted C/LW status.  That makes the reigning MVP the best option on offense this year.  I can't over-emphasize the edge that this gives you to have that flexibility.

 

I/R Spot

Yahoo has a unique option that lets you carry one player on the IR that won't count against your other roster spots.  Take advantage of this throughout the season, and even during the draft.  I recommend drafting a player you know will start the season injured (e.g. Kesler).  At the start of the season, you can put him into the IR spot and you'll have a free pick to backfill it.  Always look to pick up hurt stars and keep the spot filled.

 

 

Point System

As opposed to CBS, which awards fantasy points based on stats, the standard head-to-head Yahoo leagues are scored on an old-school rotisserie fashion.  (Note: this is one major reason I rarely play on Yahoo.)  This setup affects your strategy in several major ways.

 

1. Pay attention to all categories. 

In a points based system, +/- can largely be ignored.  In a Yahoo league,  having the best +/- is just as important as goals.  This makes no logical sense, but that's the way it is, so plan your draft accordingly.  If a guy is notoriously bad in +/- or refuses to take a penalty to save his life, downgrade that player. 

 

2. Goons are welcome. 

Because penalty minutes are valued equal to goals, why not draft a goon to round out your wingers?  One player could single-handedly win that category for you, so even if Zenon Konopka  only nets you 2 goals again next season, his 15 Pims a week may be worth it.

 

3. Bring on the backup goalies. 

Total goals allowed and saves matter not here.  It's all about the averages (GAA / save %).  What that means is that a workhorse who may lead the league in saves won't necessarily be as valuable as a guy who plays every other game and puts up a low GAA in the process.  So don't necessarily shy away from backups or goalies in a split-crease scenario.  You have to meet a minimum games played each week, so the best strategy here it to grab a top-notch, # 1 goalie early in the draft, then wait it out for your 2nd goalie.  There will be plenty of solid backups out there into the 10th round and beyond.   Options like the split crease in St. Louis become viable, as they'll both see a game or two a week and should register decent numbers behind that solid Blues defense.  In a points-based league, these two would slide to late in the draft.  This approach may hold you back in wins and shutouts, but you'll benefit in the other categories.

 

4. Sadly, Defense is irrelevant

It breaks my heart to say this, but in this format, you can and should treat defense as an afterthought.  If you can grab one of the top 5 defensemen early, go for it, because the talent level drops off significantly after that.  Karlsson and Weber will score like a forward and so they are worthy of early selection.  However, since defense and offense are grouped together in Yahoo leagues for scoring, they have relatively little value.  Best plan is to grab 1 elite defenseman if you can early, get your second D around round 8-10, then fill up your other starting spots before rounding out this position.

 

 

Draft Room Rules

Unlike CBS, Yahoo leaves you the keys and lets you drive your car how you please.  There is no restriction on the number of players you can draft at any position.  If you want to fill your bench with 4 goalies, you're free to do so.  I only point this out, as it's a dramatic difference from the approach in CBS.  Here, you're free to take the best player available at all times.

 

 

Player Rankings

Finally, take a close look at those Yahoo player rankings and play off of them accordingly.  The average GM will tend to follow Yahoo's picks rather blindly.  Be informed and watch for these situations.

 

Undervalued

Here are some undervalued players that you can wait on and grab as a steal later than you would in other draft rooms:

Goalies: Halak!, Fleury, Lindback

Defense: Kronwall, Ekman-Larsson, Carlson

Centers: Nugent-Hopkins, Benn (despite the contract issues), Skinner

Left Wing: Lupul, Pacioretty, Clowe

Right Wing: Gaborik, Vrbata, Michalek

 

 

Overvalued

Here are some names that will fly off the board before their time, based on Yahoo overrating them:

Goalies: Lehtonen, Price, Howard

Defense: Timmonen, Seabrook, Bieksa

Centers: Datsyuk, Zetterberg (demise in Detroit is upon us), Backes

Left Wing: Heatley

Right Wing: Pominville, Alfredsson, Jagr

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