There are numerous strategies that you can employ to win your hockey pool. One of them is to load up on a specific team. This strategy works better in rotisserie or points-only leagues, as having multiple players from the same team may hurt you during weeks with only a game or two in head-to-head leagues .
A few years ago, Pittsburgh was the hottest thing going in fantasy hockey. Three years ago, it was Buffalo. Over the past few years, Washington and Chicago have risen to the top. There are a number of factors that weigh in to the equation with regards to figuring out which teams to target – management and coaching philosophy, team style of play, quality of start players, quality of scoring depth, quality of NHL-ready prospects, and player age (of course, using my standard three-year window to win).
I am going to break down the top five teams to focus your drafting on in terms of a one-year window (the five best teams right now), and I will also list five more teams to keep an eye on for the longer term (three years from now). I will rate each team using the criteria mentioned above. The higher the number, the better the team scores in that particular area.
1. Washington Capitals
Coaching/management philosophy: 10/10
Bruce Boudreau loves offense, and ever since taking over as head coach in Washington, his teams have delivered. The defensemen are encouraged to join the rush, and the forwards are encouraged to take chances with the puck.
Quality of stars: 10/10
Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Green are three of the best players to own in all pool formats.
Quality of scoring depth: 9/10
Washington also has a solid supporting cast – Semin, Fehr, Fleischmann, Laich, and Knuble are all steady offensive players. On defense, there isn't much after Green, though.
NHL ready prospects: 8/10
John Carlson is one of the best young defensemen in the world. Karl Alzner is a great prospect too, but his offensive upside isn't high enough to give him much fantasy relevance. Up front, the Captials have some intriguing prospects, led by Marcus Johansson. Keep an eye on defenseman Dmitri Orlov – he will be coming over in 2011-12 and could make the team out of camp.
Player age: 10/10
Washington's core is very young. They won't be losing steam any time soon.
If you want to win your pool this coming season, draft as many Capitals as you can. Fehr is a good sleeper option – he'll score 25-30 if he gets a regular PP shift. His value will skyrock