Ed. Note: This is the first installment in a series in which we'll look at different aspects of the NHL game and how to value them appropriately in your fantasy league scoring, with the objective of creating scoring systems that reflect real life value as closely as possible.
I've always been a sucker for power forwards. My favourite players are those rare stars who bring a little bit of everything to the table, with a bit of a mean streak complementing a deft scoring touch. Give me a 70-point guy with grit over an 80-point princess any day!
In the 20 years I've been running fantasy leagues, I've always tried to build scoring systems that reward this type of player. In my early days as a commissioner, before the word "roto" had entered the lexicon and when I still used a spreadsheet to laboriously crunch league stats every Tuesday, my scoring formula for skaters was Points + (0.5xPIM).
This had the desired effect of elevating my favorite players to the top of the fantasy league. It helped turn the likes of Gary Roberts (193.5 points in '91-92), Eric Lindros (196.5 points in '95-96), Rick Tocchet (235 points in '92-93) and Kevin Stevens (an astounding 250 points in '91-92) into absolute legends.
Unfortunately, it also had the unintended side effect of turning Gino Odjick into a top 10 fantasy player (202 points in '92-93). Perhaps I had taken things a bit too far. A great deal of tweaking ensued.
Some years later, roto leagues took the fantasy world by storm, and online pool managers like Yahoo! made things much simpler. Penalty minutes could be added as a category alongside goals, assists, powerplay points and plus/minus; giving toughness some value, but not enough to turn Mike Peluso into one of the league's most sought after players (as he was for us in the early 90's, racking up over 400 PIM one season).
Still though, things were far from perfect. Counting PIM rewards more than just toughness; it also rewards stupidity. It gives Shane O'Brien extra value for leading the league in hooking minors. It places more value on the 15 PIM for a careless high sticking infraction, or the 10-minute misconduct for chirping, than on the 5 PIM earned for an honest fight. I've lost (and won) head-to-head games thanks to a last minute delay-of-game penalty, and it leaves a sour taste.
Most of us have been willing to live with these drawbacks as a necessary evil, in order to bring the element of toughness into the game. But recent changes have given us other options.
In the past few years, a slew of new stats have been made available to poolies through many of the most popular online pool managers. The first and most notable addition was the hits category, which suddenly gave Cal Clutterbuck real fantasy value. Hits are now available on almost all major platforms and have brought an exciting new dimension to many fantasy leagues.