Ramblings: Why You Should Draft Defensemen Early (September 24)

steve laidlaw


Draft Strategy: Why drafting defensemen early is in your best interests.

Hey gang! It’s been a while. I am happy to announce that I’ll be back for another year of rambling. Stick tap to Mike and Neil for holding down the fort. I’ll be easing in with the next few Saturday ramblings before taking over full time once the regular season begins. Buckle up because as always, I've got a lot to say!


I have been getting after some mock drafts lately – enough so that I feel ready for all of my drafts, which are coming up quickly. My first draft goes on Sunday evening and then I’ll have two more done by the end of next weekend. All of my leagues will be some variation of standard head-to-head formats so that’s how I have designed my rankings and my draft strategizing.

Important note: I built my rankings around not giving a chicken cluck about plus/minus. I realize it accounts for 10 per cent of the scoring in standard leagues but it’s not a stat I find much consistency in and it is ultimately not something I care much about when considering player talent. I care more about scoring potential, power play time and shot production. If I stumble into a dominant squad in plus/minus it will be a happy mistake as I’ll gladly punt plus/minus for dominance elsewhere.

That brings up another important note: I don’t care much about injury history when building my rankings. In H2H formats, you need to have the strongest team come playoff time on a per-game basis. If a guy misses the whole month of December, it won’t matter as long as he’s healthy and productive come fantasy hockey playoffs. Injuries only cost you if they come during those fantasy playoffs or if they pile up enough to cost you a playoff spot.

If you are in a box pool, or a simple points league then injuries can be devastating and evading Band-Aid Boys becomes a high priority. In rotisserie leagues with games-played limits you may want to steer clear of Band-Aid Boys as well because it’s about maximizing your production across the full stretch of games allowed. You may find it tougher to do so with an elite player for 55 games and a waiver wire replacement filling in the remainder of the games allowed.

One last note: if you are unfamiliar, Yahoo! standard settings score goals, assists, plus/minus, power-play points, shots on goal, penalty in-minutes, wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts. The standard roster is two centermen, two left wingers, two right wingers, four defensemen, two goalies and four bench spots. The mock drafts they offer give you the option of drafting for 8-, 10-, 12-, or 14-team leagues. I mostly opted to draft in 12-team leagues as that’s the largest size of league I’ll be drafting in over the next week.

Many leagues are either getting deeper with teams or are