Positional Awareness: Forwards vs. C/LW/RW

Glen Hoos



Henrik Zetterberg


In the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Team Canada established themselves as the greatest team on earth when they took home gold. They did it with a forward lineup that featured seven natural centremen among its 13 skaters, and another two who've been known to play the middle from time to time. Elite NHL pivots like Eric Staal, Mike Richards and Jonathan Toews found themselves stationed on the wing more often than not.



If it’s good enough for the best team in the world, shouldn’t it be good enough for your fantasy league?


In previous columns, I’ve made a big deal about how I always aim for realism in my league settings. But I’m not too proud to stand before you today and admit that when it comes to positional designations among forwards, I’m a big fat hypocrite.


Unlike many of you (I suspect), I prefer to designate attackers as simply forwards, rather than dividing them into centres, left and right wingers. Yes, this flies in the face of my fixation on realism – and yes, I fully expect some of you to tell me I’m wrong (I welcome any and all attempts to convince me). But here’s why you’ll find my leagues flush with F’s, with nary a C, LW or RW to be found.


1. Everybody Gets a Better Team

It’s well established that the pool of fantasy-worthy centremen is significantly deeper than the selection of wingers. It follows, then, that in a typical 12-team league where teams are required to dress equal numbers of C/LW/RW, some higher quality centres are left undrafted in favour of lower-producing wingers, which are needed to ice a full lineup. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather see the best available players get picked, with all teams getting strengthened as a result.


This factor can be mitigated by designating some flex forward spots (for example, lineups could consist of 2C, 2LW, 2RW and 3 forwards of any position). But if you’re doing that, you’re already compromising the centre/winger designations, so why not just do away with them completely?


2. The Injury Factor

Another drawback that I’ve found when forwards are broken down by position is that the impact of injuries is amplified. Let’s suppose your lineup consists of three of each forward position, and you’ve got one of each on your bench. It only takes two injuries at any given position to potentially cripple