James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Reaping with the Enemy

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Before we get into this, do note the biggest story of Monday: Evgeni Malkin returned surprisingly soon from a concussion and looked great. More on that later on in Tuesday’s Dose ...

Take a second, step back and think of a time that might be long ago or really not that far away: your first-ever fantasy hockey draft.

For the vast majority of you, I’d wager that it was a purer time - some might say a naive time - for you as a hockey fan.* Back then, you were FAR more likely to pick a guy you admired or rooted for. Now, you should really look at your team as a band of mercenaries who are hopefully more competent than the color-coded bunch in “Reservoir Dogs.”

(Personally, I like to picture my fantasy hockey team to be full of intimidating creeps like the biker from “Raising Arizona.” Including when I draft Lady Byng starter kits like Loui Eriksson.)

As you might guess, my advice is that you should take the mercenary approach. Ideally, you should look at the waiver wire and draft board like a Terminator robot might.

In all honesty, I almost prefer to load my roster with “enigmas” who are generally loathed by other hockey writers and fans. Perhaps it’s my inner B-movie villain or wrestling heel, but really, you’re better served to align yourself with producers whom you’re reluctantly (or not-so-reluctantly) adding because they’re just that good instead of siding with your heart over your brain.

Just look at some of the best values and league leaders; those lists are littered with some of the most loathed guys around. (Note: I actually think most, if not all of those loathed types are a lot of fun.)

Sidney Crosby - Don’t furrow your brow. Merely take a stroll around Twitter/message boards and you’ll see how many people have a serious distaste for “The Golden Boy.” While the vitriol has cooled off more recently (maybe because of his concussion troubles), it’s always there, barely below the surface.

Ultimately, he’s like Lebron James in many ways. They both are brilliant enough to dazzle casual and hardcore observers alike. They both draw a lot of strange, misplaced rage from fans. Most importantly, though, they both absolutely live up to the mountainous hype they arrived with.

Patrick Kane - As someone who’s been waving the Patrick Kane pom poms for a while now, it’s really satisfying to see the supposedly “troubled” star rise from a really good player to a no-doubt-about-it elite player.

Mike Ribeiro - His antics can be a bit much, and while he’s likely to slow down at least a bit, most savvy owners recognized him as a great assist man. He won’t win any popularity contest, but that just means he’ll be easier to land later than he should go.

Ryan Getzlaf - Deep down, I’ve always believed that Getzlaf was even more talented than Corey Perry. He’s not Russian and he’s not Jeff Carter, so no one calls him “mercurial” or “enigmatic” even though his production can be wildly unpredictable. Luckily, he’s in a contract year and was probably a bargain in your draft, so cackle your way to the fantasy hockey bank with this one.

Alexander Semin - It makes perfect sense that a change of scenery has benefited the fragile, hysterically over-hated winger. Scoring 20 points in 21 games won’t change many minds, but his +15 should shut at least a few people up. The only valid criticism hides in the bushes like a horror movie killer, though: can he stay healthy?

Jeff Carter - Now we get to the guy who inspired this topic. Carter had a natural hat trick against the Nashville Predators on Monday, continuing his hot play of late. Naturally, we got a reminder of how the old guard views the misunderstood sniper, as Barry Trotz largely dismissed Carter’s successes after the game. This wasn’t too shocking since he made similarly flippant comments about Carter’s other hat trick against the Predators. If it happens again, Trotz is clearly being meta.

It’s easy to laugh at Carter’s almost unthinkable goal-to-assist ratio (14G vs. 2A), but you know what? Assists are like quarters in fantasy to the goal’s dollar; they’re great but goals simply command a higher premium. Carter’s solid shooting rate, typically cheap draft position and talent make him a middle finger in draft form.

Personally, I’d rather flee the scene with The Joker than frown in the batcave with Batman, and I don’t think I’m alone.

Jump for Geno’s reunion and more.

* - Hopefully you also at least enjoyed a draft party or two in your early days. It’s already kind of wrong to put together a team over a hot computer instead of in a bar with your sloppy friends/acquaintances/co-workers now that you’re the more imaginary battle-hardened type. But that’s another conversation for another day.

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James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien

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