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Hockey Daily Dose

16 Thoughts for 2015-16

by James O'Brien
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Remember how I teased many of you about how the Internet loves lists on Thursday?


Well, consider this a BONUS TEASE, as I will now throw out 16 random thoughts about the upcoming 2015-16 season. Your mileage will vary with certain points, I know.


Don't forget, for everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's up to the minute coverage on Player News, as well as follow@Rotoworld_HK and @cyclelikesedins on Twitter.


1. There are a ton of really good forwards with mediocre rankings in Yahoo


If you want more in-depth rankings talk, check out Corey’s breakdown.


To me, it’s also valuable to consider draft trends, and sometimes forwards break down into tiers. As of this writing, you can really load up on some quality scorers after the 100 ranking mark.


Actually, maybe call it the 90-mark, as Evander Kane, Wayne Simmonds, Kyle Okposo and Brandon Saad are gems from 94-97.


Beyond them, I really like the potential of both Jaden Schwartz (105) and Ondrej Palat (106). Even if you like Nikita Kucherov more than Palat, is he necessarily 66 spots better?


2. Target rarity


Actually, that dovetails into another point and a philosophical view: when there isn’t THAT much distinguishing two forwards who are actually ranked quite far apart, maybe get a “gadget” guy?


At rank 38, Dustin Byfuglien simply brings a greater variety of things to the table - especially PIM and hits, but he can be a SOG monster too - and can fill a D spot over someone like Kucherov, only two spots lower at 40.


People wisely pick up Byfuglien fairly early, mind you, and I'm not really trying to pick on Kucherov ... he's awesome (and entering a contract year).


I'm just trying to say: get someone like Brent Burns or Byfuglien during that lull in the draft where you see a dip from "elite" to "just great" skaters.


3. 3-on-3 OT is gonna be wild


At first, I cringed over the inorganic nature of the 3-on-3 OT. To some extent, that’s accurate.


Here’s the thing, though: NHL regular season games are far too boring far too often, and 3-on-3 OT provides the luxurious space skill players almost never enjoy. It’s the equivalent to being massed between two NFL linemen in coach and then getting a row to yourself in first class.


Granted, coaches are wizards at killing creativity and fun, so 3-on-3 may only be truly fun in the early goings. Beggars can’t be choosers though, right?


4. Contract years remain a nice tie-breaker


Simply put, teams don’t often let stars get too close to free agency. It’s probably not wise to choose Steve Stamkos just because he’s in a contract year.


Still, when you get a little deeper into the draft, I think it’s a decent upgrade over flipping a coin. It’s human nature to be more motivated when your earning potential is on the line, especially with athletes who could see their careers go away thanks to a total fluke of an injury.


5. The Kings’ big line is awfully intriguing


Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Milan Lucic all have their fantasy flaws, at least when you’re mulling over using good-to-premium picks on them.


Kopitar sort of has that Pavel Datsyuk/Jonathan Toews thing going: his real-life skills don’t translate to fantasy the same way that, say, Alex Ovechkin’s skills are reflected.


We all know Gaborik is basically made of paper mache, while Lucic is the classic power forward: you don’t feel quite the same comfort in penciling in numbers for him as you would a finesse player who is less goal-and-snarl-dependent.


All that aside, I think this line could have a monster year, and it pivots back to point 3. Kopitar and Lucic are both entering contract years, and I’d wager that, at minimum, Lucic will play most or all of his 2015-16 without an extension. That combination of motivation, size and skill could be pretty exciting, especially since those picks would come late (especially with Lucic, who’s at a low-risk rank of 137).


6. Ponder the “how much worse can this prime-age player have gotten after one season?” game


There are contract years, and then there are disappointing seasons that seem to bury mid-tier players.


I’ve noticed that Matt Niskanen has been my absolute last pick in a couple drafts, and while I thought he was grossly overrated and overpaid coming into Washington, now I wonder: “If he brought that much excitement before, he can probably at least be my depth defenseman, right?”


(He should get more PP reps with Mike Green gone, for one thing …)


We can agree to disagree on Niskanen - as my last pick, it’s not like I’m the leader of his fan club - but the point remains: others will overreact to an off year, so take advantage. Lucic is a good candidate. Zdeno Chara’s skills also don’t translate in extravagant ways to fantasy, but his likely strong combination of plus/minus, 40-ish points and strong PIM at least make him worthy enough that a 200-area ranking is probably inaccurate.


7. Defense wins more championships lately


There will be a full post on defensemen, but long story short, I’ve gone from lightly investing in that position to making sure I get at least 2 guys who I think are true difference-makers.


Frankly, that’s what happens when the gap between most team’s top scoring forwards and top scoring defensemen keeps narrowing. Sheesh, what a pitiful team for offense.

 

8. I’m big on Martin Jones


On one hand, I think that the San Jose Sharks paid too much for Jones, at least considering his resume. Granted, it fell in line with Cam Talbot getting the backup-to-starter raise, but that doesn’t mean I agree with either point.


Nonetheless, I think the Sharks will rebound to playoff status or at least be a bubble team. With that, Jones stands as a should-be full-time starter among platoon guys and netminders on terrible teams, so I’ve drafted him more than once, and maybe reached a bit.


9. Respect the Penguins


It’s funny how arbitrarily people hand out the benefit of the doubt in hockey.


Barry Trotz has never won a division title and has never smelled a conference finals despite being a head coach for ages, yet he’s essentially bulletproof to most.


Alternately, the Penguins have been RAVAGED by significant injuries seemingly every season, yet people never give them any leeway. I can’t remember many, if any, times in which the team’s core players haven’t either been playing badly hurt in the playoffs, if they’ve played at all.


The Penguins could storm the gates merely by getting better health luck and the boost that comes with Phil Kessel’s awesomeness.


10. I have no idea where to rank Kessel


Seriously.

 

11. Actually, I’m glad I don’t have to put together rankings


People love to rip apart various services’ rankings, but have you ever sat down and tried to put together your own top 100? Now imagine if that already strenuous endeavor drew the ire and scrutiny of weird people with way too much time on their hands.


Yeah, I’m glad other people have to deal with that.


/Knock on Sherwood


12. Make some picks that excite you


More on that in this post, but grab Jack Eichel in the 100’s even if you think he’ll get mashed out of the gate. Maybe reach a bit for one of those anomalies who are C/LW/RW eligible, like Ryan O’Reilly or Marcus Johansson. Pick at least a player from your favorite team.


13. Wear the black hat


That said, sometimes it’s also fun to nab a downright villain. For whatever reason, I wasn’t a fan of Todd Bertuzzi even before the Steve Moore incident, yet I’d draft him for his points, PIM and for the hijinks of it all.


Some might enjoy such shenanigans, as you can yell at them even more loudly if they fail your team/get sick joy if they help you.


14. Give Daily Fantasy a shot, cheaply


I can vouch for FanDuel personally, and not just because they butter our bread around here.


The site you use isn’t really as important as giving DFS a try, though. I think that having a different fantasy team every day (or once a week, however you want to do it) can give you a different perspective on the activity.


You might notice a hot streak you would have otherwise missed. Maybe you’ll realize a linemate carries your guy, or that linemate is on the verge of a breakthrough and on the waiver wire.

Also: you can make some money if you’re lucky and good.

 

15. Trust your instincts


Rankings are guidelines, not gospel.


16. Read Rotoworld


Come on, you knew this one was coming ...

James O'Brien
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.