August 23 2015

Ian Gooding

2015-08-23

Frederik Andersen - USA Today Sports Images

Positional eligibilities, Frederik Andersen’s fluctuating value, and the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea…

This week the big three fantasy hockey websites opened for business for the 2015-16 season: Yahoo, CBS, and ESPN. There were a couple of interesting developments as far as positional eligibility goes.

First, if you follow Dobber on Twitter, you may have seen this:

Eventually the situation was resolved, thanks to this tweet. But imagine how much Dustin Byfuglien’s fantasy value would have plummeted had he been kept as a forward. And we all know that Byfuglien was a defenseman last season. I got politely critiqued in last weekend’s Ramblings for using ESPN positions, so lesson now learned. I started using the Dobber player links this week. I have to assume they are more accurate, but I also know that the quicker page load time makes jumping from one player to the next much easier.

Another interesting positional eligibility development: CBS is showing dual positional eligibility for forwards. This is something they haven’t done, at least in the last few seasons that I have used that site.  Here are a few forwards that I have noticed with two forward positions:

Tomas Hertl (C, LW)

Tommy Wingels (C, RW)

Matt Nieto (LW, RW)

Jakob Silfverberg (LW, RW)

Sam Bennett (C, LW)

Alexander Steen (C, LW)

David Backes (C, RW)

Valeri Nichushkin (RW, LW)

Charlie Coyle (C, RW)

Brock Nelson (C, LW)

Ryan Strome (C, RW)

Sam Reinhart (C, RW)

This is by no means a complete list. I looked through teams in my keeper league to find these players. For some reason the waiver wire list isn’t showing dual positions, so it’s possible that CBS simply changed the position and is allowing the player to stay at the old position. It will be interesting to see if that actually changes before the season, given CBS’s history of not allowing dual positional eligibility.

Notice the number of San Jose Sharks on that list. I think this goes to show the number of players on that team that have center eligibility. Hertl, Wingels, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Chris Tierney, Ben Smith, Melker Karlsson… someone’s going to have to move to the wing. And why are Hertl and Karlsson listed as centers on the NHL website when each took less than 100 faceoffs last season?

I wrote more about the San Jose center situation, namely Thornton, Pavelski, and Couture, in last weekend’s Ramblings.

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With fantasy hockey now available and rankings now appearing, there are a few players whose ranking seems to widely fluctuate. That is why I tend to look at more than one ranking system before I draft. Having compiled rankings before, I understand that ranking is not an easy job and there is lots of room for debate.

One such player is Frederik Andersen, who I’ve targeted in at least one league. The NHL.com top 200 has Andersen ranked at 180, even behind potentially AHL-bound John Gibson (177) and slightly ahead of new Ducks’ goalie Anton Khudobin (193). However, Yahoo has Andersen ranked much higher at 114. To boost Andersen’s ranking even further, the Dobber article for Puck Daddy lists Andersen as a first-tier goalie (seven goalies in the group), while the Dobber Fantasy Guide lists Andersen as having a 99 percent chance of being the full-time starter. So which is it?

Personally I think that Andersen is more of a second-tier goalie, given that he has only one full season of being an NHL starter and the minor possibility of Gibson or Anton Khudobin stealing the job. But I think he’ll be able to retain the job, while Gibson may only be a factor if there is an injury. Andersen took the Ducks within one game of the cup final, so he deserves a little more respect than what NHL.com and maybe even Yahoo is giving him. He should provide lots of wins along with decent ratios.

As you might be able to tell by my new Twitter picture, I am a big fan of goalie masks. And away from fantasy hockey, I’m also a big fan of LEGO. So naturally I’m a huge fan of Andersen’s new mask.

 

Are there any other players that you think are ranked too high/too low by any of the major sites?

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You may have heard by now that Alex Ovechkin says he plans to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea (Yahoo Sports). It’s still up in the air as to whether the NHL will participate there, which would be the first time NHL players would not attend since the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

There’s a number of factors involved, which are described in the Yahoo article. But I’m going to focus on one angle that Puck Daddy did not mention in this particular article: hockey interest in South Korea. I understand the NHL’s first Olympics was Japan in 1998, but does the NHL have any interest in growing the sport in fellow Asian nation South Korea? It’s ideal for the NHL to have players participate when the Olympics are in Vancouver or Salt Lake, but what about halfway around the world in a truly non-traditional market?

I’ve studied this topic to some degree because it is of interest to me. You see, my wife is Korean. She’s not much of a hockey fan, although she’s learned a few things about the game from being around me. This probably comes as no surprise to you, but hockey is not really on the map in Korea. The major sports there are baseball and soccer, while winter sports such as short-track speedskating and figure skating are gaining in popularity because of the nation’s recent success in those sports.

But South Korea is attempting to build a hockey program in time for the Olympics. Currently, South Korea is ranked 23rd in the IIHF Men’s World Ranking (IIHF). In spite of that ranking, South Korea will receive an automatic bid to compete in Olympic hockey as the host team (Sportsnet). Korean-Canadian Jim Paek, who you may remember as a blueliner on the Stanley Cup-winning Penguins of the early 1990s, will be the team’s coach. You may also remember that three Koreans attended NHL development camps this summer: two with the Red Wings and one with the Stars. So any NHL exposure is key.

There are many more factors involved when the NHL finally decides whether to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics. But I just wanted to touch on one that might play a role behind the scenes as this decision is made. Certainly the people of South Korea can help the cause of bringing the NHL’s best by trying or simply just following the world’s fastest game.

Question for you: Would you still watch Olympic hockey if NHLers didn’t participate? I'm thinking many of you would say yes, but the casual hockey fan might lose interest.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your Sunday.

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