Depth and Drafting

Dobber Sports





If you own Tim Connolly, Alexander Semin, Sami Salo and Pascal Leclaire all on the same roster, you should think of trying something else. One can potentially weasel their way out of such sticky situations with deft late-round drafting or perspicacious waiver wire picking. Yea, I may use, so what?  What's bad is running with a roster of the aforementioned players without the appropriate bandages, er… depth to fill in when they are down and out.  Acquiring this depth is most easily done through your draft and a strategical focus and plan can help.


I think we can all agree that depth is important in any league that allows injury replacements.  Losing a player of Zach Parise's status, like so many teams did last year, is cause enough to shut your roster down for the season, unless you have a suitable replacement.  More often than not, you aren't going to have a Marion Hossa or a David Backes sitting on your bench.  They're bound to already be on your active roster, leaving you scrambling for a suitable replacement.  Citing my own salary-cap keeper league, having the right player can be enough of a bandage to not only stop the bleeding, but induce healing; in our terms, winning your pool.  I refuse to mention his name as he frequents these forums, but last year's winner had Mike Ribeiro to fill on for Sidney Crosby when he went down with his concussion, and it helped lead him to, as Johnny Drama would say it, VICTORY!


The ultimate fill-in for an injured player would be with another who plays a similar game.  Assuming you are happy with the balance of your team and there is not one glaring categorical need, a Ribero type is a perfect replacement for Crosby.  Assist heavy with a penchant for powerplay production (say that with vigour – it's fun), Ribeiro will fall short of Crosby's elite production but his consistency and accountability can mend the tear in your team's fibre.  Additionally, his $5 million cap hit easily fits with Crosby out and would generally be cheaper than another starting roster superstar who may get hurt.  Drafting a guy like Ribeiro over a top young prospect like Vladimir Tarasenko is a tough decision, but is actually a likely situation in a keeper league draft and one that can define the path you're taking.  Tarasenko is sexy, but his NHL chastity belt remains tight while Ribeiro's been popped like a security guard at a bank robbery.  Picking the one who puts out, leads to bragging rights and sometimes cash – depth is necessary, and also comes in different forms.


It isn't easy making that "now" pick over a potential all-star like Tarasenko, and doing so isn't necessarily wrong. It does, however, affect how you need to approach the type of depth your team needs. Passing on the do-it-all Ribeiro's of the league leaves you with more of the one-dimensional players who aren't going to contribute across the board, unless very minimally.  Focus now turns to the "won't hurt you too much" players, ones who aren't going to be a minus-20 with four points and 60 shots at seasons end, and can be extremely productive in one or two categories.  Theo Peckham is a good example, as he can post huge PIM combined with a respectable 10-20 points.   As an added bonus, these players make up the bottom echelon of players in the salary department, and are a seamless fit into any roster.


Losing the production from your "superstar" hurts, but gaining 40-50 penalty minutes in a two week period that you weren't going to get from your original player, can be a blessing in disguise.  If the PIM category was close in your pool, with four or five team