The Journey: Drafting With A Plan 101

Brayden Olafson


In preparing for the annual ritual of fantasy league drafts, I’m faced with an important question at every juncture of creating my lists – when should I swing for the fence, and when should I make a safe pick? For the first time in my fantasy hockey career, I find myself sitting in three unique positions in each of my three Fantrax-based leagues – second place of twelve, sixth place of twelve, and eleventh place of fourteen. Take that information however you like, but having those three unique perspectives heading into draft day has given me an opportunity to consider the differences in how I’ll approach each draft. 

My personal circumstances aside, I’ll be breaking today’s article up into three sections, each focusing on the challenging nuances of where your fantasy team lies in terms of league standings. Factors that impact multicategory leagues will be touched on, however, the focus of each section will be the player’s points ceiling.

Winners first…

The Champion 

Congratulations, you’ve won your fantasy league (or at least come close)! You’re probably thinking, “Why am I even reading this, I’m a gosh darn champion, I can win on my own.” And maybe you’re right… but maybe you’re wrong, and if you’re a true champion you know that there are always ways to improve – so you’re here, taking information from the guy who finished in 11th place in the DPFHL. 

Have faith though, loyal reader – do as I say, not as I do… and pray to God that you don’t run into injury trouble, because unfortunately, I don’t have a solution for that. 

Now regardless of what your team’s current depth looks like, if you’re on top of the world, you want to stay there. The best way, in my opinion, to do is to draft for the now, so hopefully you’ve got some picks left to play with. If you’re shy on picks though, fear not, outside of Kappo Kakko and Jack Hughes your players of interest should fall deeper in the draft. 

When I say that you want to draft for the now, that doesn’t necessarily mean the NHL now, but now in the sense that you want your players to make an impression quickly. That means, for the most part, focusing on North American Junior leagues, and to some extent European Pro leagues… the AHL is, for the most part, a no-no. The reason for this is to capitalize on the crest of your prospect’s impression on fellow owners, after all, the sooner ample valuation is realized sooner you can capitalize on it. It’s important to note that this methodology also requires buy-in to the fact that these players’ value will be realized in the form of a trading chip rather than, in most cases, an actual roster asset. That being said, I am, by no means, advising anyone to consider moving an asset who shows early promise at the NHL level, rather, simply to find a player’s short-term crest and capitalize. So without further banter on the topic, here are some players to consider with your picks:

Picks 3-15: Dylan Cozens

While I would honestly have loved to put Peyton Krebs in this spot, I simply can’t get over the fact that his eventual rise to CHL greatness will not begin until several months into the regular season (due