Ryan Dadoun

Fantasy Nuggets

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Fantasy Nuggets Week 26

Thursday, April 6, 2017


With the playoffs less than a week away, those that plan to participate in playoff fantasy hockey leagues will naturally be having their drafts soon.  They're a much different beast than regular season drafts because of course what team a player arguably matters more than the skill of the player.

 

The top 10 scoring leaders in the 2016 playoffs were all from the Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, and Tampa Bay Lightning.  You'd have to go down to Jamie Benn, who tied for 12th place, to find the highest ranked player on a team that didn't at least reach the Conference Final and he's the only example of that in the top 19.

 

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So when drafting in a playoff league, a big part of your strategy has to be based on which teams you believe will go far.  That's obviously a tough thing to gauge and it's made more difficult by the reality that some of the top teams have tougher roads to the Stanley Cup Final.  For example, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals are two of the best teams in the NHL and feature many of the most desirable players, but because of the divisional-tilted nature of the playoff format, we know that only one of those teams can make it to the Eastern Conference Final.

 

By the same token, the New York Rangers are an interesting dark horse candidate to reach the Eastern Conference Final because they'll be matched up with the much less intimidating Atlantic Division teams.  In fact, you could even make the argument that it's better to go into the draft planning to load up on Rangers players rather than Penguins or Capitals, especially seeing as you're more likely to be able to secure the Rangers best players than Pittsburgh or Washington's given the number of opposing owners that are likely to take players from those two squads earlier.

 

That's the other consideration you have to make.  Typically I like to restrict myself to only a few teams for most of the draft.  It puts me in a vulnerable position if one or more of the teams I picked are eliminated early, but by contrast if I correctly picked the teams that go far, then I'll likely run away with the pool.  In that way, I'll likely finish at the top of the rankings or towards the bottom, but if I don't win then I'll typically not care by how much I lost by.

 

Looking at the Western Conference, I'm very interested in the Edmonton Oilers.  Taking them is a major gamble given the team's relatively lack of experience, but the Pacific Division seems wide open to me and if Edmonton does go far then players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will naturally be major contributors.  To that end, you might find them available for a discounted price if the other owners in your draft think Edmonton will be eliminated in the first or second round.

 

I'm also really interested to see what Minnesota does.  The Wild have been kind of meandering about lately and Chicago is going to be viewed as the heavy favorite to get out from the Central Division, but because of that the Blackhawks players are also likely to be scooped up relatively quickly.  The Wild also doesn't have any players that stick out as major fantasy assets beyond goaltender Devan Dubnyk, but because of that if you wanted to go after the Wild's top players, you might be able to run the table with them while still prioritizing some bigger offensive stars from other teams.

 

Ultimately you'll have to be willing to adjust on the fly.  For the first round or two you're best off just taking what you believe to be the best players available.  Ideally you'll want a great goaltender from a top-tier team earlier on too.  As the draft unfolds though, the intentions and biases of the other owners will start to become clear and you'll need to adjust accordingly.  Going after players on the Rangers, Oilers, or Wild seems like a pretty light order going into the draft, but if someone else has the same idea then it's likely not worth fighting over it.  For example, if someone else takes McDavid earlier in the draft while you were focusing elsewhere in the hopes that he would slip down a bit, then it's not really worth it to go after Edmonton players at all, except maybe towards the end of the draft if someone noteworthy has fallen further than you think is reasonable.

 

By the same token, if you have the first overall pick and decide to take Sidney Crosby first, then you might want to rate Penguins players as being more valuable going forward in the hopes that they'll get past the Blue Jackets and Capitals.

 

Best of luck in your draft.  A playoff pool has a lot of luck involved in it because it's so hard to pick which teams will go far, especially in the salary cap era, but that extra element of unpredictability also makes them a lot of fun to participate in.



Ryan Dadoun is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or check out his blog.
Email :Ryan Dadoun



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