The summer has seemingly disappeared behind us as we enter the final weekend in August. For those putting off getting your fantasy hockey preparation underway, now would be a good time to start. Head to the Dobber Shop and grab your copy of the 2018-19 Dobber fantasy hockey guide now! It includes projected production, projected lines, a bevy of articles, and a whole lot more. It is also updated as new information is available.
A few days ago, I was fortunate to take part in a fantasy hockey mock draft with a lot of smart people from around the hockey industry. These people were as follows:
- Chris Meaney – Various spots, NHL at Fantrax
- Chris Wassel – Dobber Hockey and Sporting News
- Drew Livingstone – Sportsnet
- Esten McLaren – theScore
- George Kurtz – Roto Experts
- Jamie Zadow – Dobber Prospects and Winging It In Motown
- Mike Omelan – Freelance Reporter
- Neil Parker – Fantrax
- Scott Levy – NHL Breakdown
- Eric Young – WWE Superstar and Fantasy Enthusiast
- Andrew Reid – FNTSY Network
Eric Young is on WWE’s Smackdown program, which was running concurrently with our mock draft. He can be forgiven for a few auto-picks here.
A few notes about the mock draft format:
- 12 teams with 25-man rosters, 300 players drafted
- Roster construction is as follows: three centres, three left wingers, three right wingers, four defencemen, three utility skaters, two goaltenders, seven bench slots.
- Scoring for skaters: goals, assists, special-teams points (PP+PK), shots on goal, hits, blocked shots, takeaways
- Scoring for goalies: Wins, GAA, save percentage, shutouts
Scoring like this lends itself to different picks in a different order than you’ll see in some other drafts. In this particular format, in 2017-18, Connor McDavid ranked lower than Jamie Benn, Vincent Trocheck was the #2 skater behind Taylor Hall, and Seth Jones was more valuable than Sidney Crosby. Before getting angry in the comments, just understand that this will be unique compared to, say, Yahoo standard formats.
Anyway, to the draft!
The entire draft board can be viewed here. This was my final roster, in order they were drafted:
The thought process on some of my picks.
First, I hate drafting in the middle of a round. It’s good in the sense that you don’t get caught out on runs, but quite often you find yourself taking a player maybe a round or two earlier than you wanted. For example, when we got to the 10th round, we were getting into the range where I wanted to grab Kyle Palmieri. On the other hand, there were other right wingers, and many skaters, still left on the board that ranked ahead of him. But did I want to take the chance of letting him slide another round and go for someone else? I had Clayton Keller queued up behind him and was basically going to choose one or the other. Had I chosen Keller instead, would I have gotten Palmieri in round 11 with 10 picks between? Maybe, maybe not. I didn’t get Keller, landed Palmieri, and had to walk away with it. Were I on the turn, or near to it, it would have been an easier decision.
Top Three Picks
Victor Hedman – Some people might say it’s too early, but he was the #3 defenceman in this format last year (#2 was Carlson, whom Hedman should probably surpass this year) and I wanted to try Laidlaw’s strategy of grabbing a stud defenceman early.
Vincent Trocheck – In this type of format, Trocheck is a monster. It’ll be another season with loads of minutes featuring top-end wingers and top power-play minutes. Sign me up.
John Gibson – This is another instance where picking in the middle of a round both helped and hurt. The goalie run started in round 2 with Vasilevskiy, Andersen, Rinne, and Hellebuyck going off the board, and Bobrovsky and Quick in round 3 before this pick. Had I not taken Gibson, I’m likely going with Tuukka Rask or Antti Raanta as my top goalie, which might be fine but I didn’t want to take too big a gamble. Then again, I was forced to take Gibson earlier than I wanted, so again, it’s that double-edged sword of being in the middle of a round.
Rickard Rakell and Jonathan Marchessault – Both scoring wingers who should be featured on the top line of their respective teams and can chip in with a lot of hits and shots. That helps provide a safety net for those with concerns about regression.
Mika Zibanejad – It’s not talked about often, but Zibanejad is usually good for triple-digit hits in full seasons (he had 92 in 72 games last year). He should play a lot of minutes on a good top line with top PP minutes. Getting him outside the first 10 rounds was a gift.
James Neal – Neal’s biggest problem the last couple seasons are his assists. If he skates on the top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, as well as the top PP unit, that’s a problem that should correct itself. If he’s on the second line, maybe not. I though it worth the gamble in the 14th round.
Milan Lucic – I know we make fun of him a lot because of his contract, but his shooting percentage was less than half his three-year average. He had his highest expected goals number (via Corsica) since the lockout season, it just so happened to be in a season with a five-on-five shooting percentage under six percent. With his monster hit totals, just 20 goals and 20 assists would be fine. Another gamble worth taking just inside the 200th pick.
Jesse Puljujarvi – I’ve said before that he’s the team’s best right winger and I stand by it (though I’ll admit Kailer Yamamoto could prove me wrong this year). In a just world, he’ll be in the top-6 by November and hopefully top PP minutes with it. At pick 222, it’s worth finding out if I’m right.
Tomas Tatar – He had a bad year last year which is why his ADP was depressed. He still has four consecutive seasons of at least 20 goals, two shots per game, and 65 hits, which includes his brutal 2017-18. He’ll likely line up with Paul Stastny, which is a fine centre to get him the puck. Even a modest rebound this year should pay dividends.
Ryan Pulock and Nick Leddy – I grabbed Pulock earlier because I think his peripheral contributions will be much stronger and he can do it while being a 35-point defenceman. When Leddy was still there at the end of the draft, I figured why not get myself their PP quarterback.
Those are my thoughts on some of my picks. If you want thoughts on the others, just hit up the comments.
Now, let’s look at the rest of the draft.
Brayden Schenn – I’m a big fan of this pick in this format at the Round2/3 turn. With a healthy Vladimir Tarasenko and a (hopefully) improved top PP unit, Schenn could be the Vincent Trocheck of 2018-19. He has legitimate top-5 upside.
Auston Matthews – Here’s the long and short of it: If the Leafs split PP units again, we cannot hope for more than 20 power-play points from Matthews. In formats that count hits, it’s a huge knock to his value (Matthews has 37 career hits). In formats that don’t include hits, he’s probably a top-10 pick, but that, along with the PP uncertainty, is why he slid so far. If all breaks right, though, there clearly is upside to grabbing him early in the third round.
Vladimir Tarasenko – I was rattled he got snagged; I took Joe Pavelski three picks later and had hoped for Tarasenko. Tarasenko had what would be called a down year and he still managed both 30 goals and 30 assists with over 300 shots and a hit per game. Like Schenn, if that power play turns around for the Blues, and Tarasenko is healthy, there’s upside even as a mid-fourth round pick.
I’m sure some people are a bit confounded on Parayko, the guy not on the top PP unit, going ahead of Pietrangelo, the guy on the top PP unit.
Here’s the thing: Parayko had 80 more hits and the same number of takeaways in 2017-18 as Pietrangelo. Yes, Pietrangelo has the production edge, but Parayko has the peripheral edge. Also, if Parayko’s shooting percentage were to ever improve (he’s shot under 3 percent in back-to-back seasons), he’s a 40+ point defenceman with 200+ shots and triple-digit hits/blocked shots. That’s valuable.
Little-known fact: Hischier was just the fourth teenager since the 2012 lockout to finish a season with at least 20 goals, 30 assists, and 180 shots. The others are Nathan MacKinnon, Jack Eichel, and Clayton Keller. Hischier accomplished this with just six power-play points. Assuming he moves to the top unit, there is a lot of production upside here. Not to mention he chipped in 56 hits, which isn’t mind-blowing, but won’t hurt a fantasy roster, either. If he’s attached at the hip with Taylor Hall all season, at all strengths, there could be a big year in store.
Rasmus Dahlin and Rasmus Ristolainen
The Buffalo Rasmuses (Rasmusi? RasmusiI? Rasmii?) had a massive gap in ADP, with Ristolainen going 69th overall and Dahlin in the 12th round. I have written recently that I think Dahlin will be over-drafted but this draft slotting is a lot more palatable. Were he to be drafted where he’s been picked in some mock drafts and in other rankings, he would have been in the same range as Ristolainen, Tyson Barrie, John Klingberg, Mark Giordano, and Colton Parayko. To put him in that company right away is a mighty lofty expectation.
There is a reasonable chance that Eberle lines up on Mat Barzal’s right wing both at even strength and on the power play. They need to replace Tavares on the power play, and just moving Barzal into Tavares’s role and Eberle into Barzal’s role seems to make a lot of sense. Eberle isn’t a stat-stuffer, which is why he was taken just inside the top-200, but we could see 30 goals and 60 points from him this year.