I’ve always been a big believer that you can have more success in some keeper pools if you forgo the youth movement and instead focus on the older players.
After all, while other fantasy general managers will overpay for rookies and anyone under the age of 25, you can pick up guys in their 30s for usually much cheaper. Getting the same production for a cheaper price saves you trade bait for other trades further in the season.
Obviously, much of this success depends on league settings and the number of keepers, but I’ve won my points-only keeper pool three of the past seven years with this strategy and am only 10 points out of first this year.
Below are 10 players who are at least 33 years old (as of Feb. 1) that are still getting it done. Why the age of 33? To start, that is one of my favourite numbers, but it’s also a nice benchmark to assume that a player probably has another five more years in the league.
10. Pekka Rinne, 37 years old
The 37-year-old Rinne has been so underrated the last few years, and I believe a big chunk of it has been his age. If you own him, be thankful he’s been on your roster. In the three years heading into this season, Rinne and Sergei Bobrovsky are the only two netminders to have at least 100 wins, a save percentage higher than .920 and a GAA less than 2.40. Rinne’s 15 shutouts were also third highest. His season has fallen off the rails a little this year, but note that he does has been outperforming his 24-year-old counterpart, Juuse Saros. Since the Preds coaching change, Rinne has started four of six games, so that is something to keep an eye on going forward.
9. Marc-Andre Fleury, 35 years old
When Fleury left the Penguins to go to Vegas, who was the hotter commodity, Fleury or Murray? Obviously, it was Murray, but Fleury has been just as good an option the last few years, and like I mentioned before, would have been cheaper to acquire. He was having an okay season until he left the team at the start of December following the death of his father. Since returning a few games later, he’s struggled. Despite those struggles, he is still ranked as the 14th-best goalie in Yahoo pools, so there’s still plenty of value there.
8. Patrice Bergeron, 34 years old
You often hear that certain players get better with age, and Bergeron make be the best example of it. He didn’t come close to having his first point-per-game campaign until 2017-18 (his age-32 season), and didn’t get a point-per-game season until last year (it was also his first 70-point season). This year, he has 41 points in 42 games, and he’s shooting the puck much more in the last few seasons than when he was in his 20s.
Let’s not overlook his power-play accomplishments. His five highest power-play point seasons have been the past five years.
7. Brent Burns, 34 years old
Burns isn’t having the kind of season many of us were hoping for (he’s averaged 75 points the previous four years, but is on pace for 52 this year). He’s on pace for 15 goals, 241 shots, 93 hits and 120 blocked shots. We’d be thrilled with that kind of production from most other defensemen, but there is an opportunity to buy low here. If a 25-year-old defenseman was struggling, you’d probably have to pay a lot more. Don’t sleep on a big second half. In his last 16 games, he has 11 points, 57 shots, 20 hits and 32 blocked shots.
6. Ben Bishop, 33 years old
Bishop has been one of the most consistent netminders of the past seven years, but he doesn’t really get much credit. Part of that has to with his injury history (it’s hard to trust a goalie that frequently spends that much time on the IR), but look at his numbers. Only once since 2013-14 has he had a GAA above 2.50 and only once a save percentage below .916 (both were in 2016-17, when he had a GAA average of 2.54 and a .910 SV %). He’s having another excellent season this year, and is not showing any signs of slowing down.
5. Blake Wheeler, 33 years old
After a horrendous start (12 points in 23 games) at which point many fantasy general managers were wondering whether Father Time had caught up to him, Wheeler has been back to normal with 31 points in his last 28. Wheeler has notched 92 points in each of his last two seasons, and has averaged 84 points in his last four campaigns. The guy is an absolute beast, no matter how old he is.
4. Shea Weber, 34 years old
Only 10 players this season have at least 85 hits and 85 blocked shots. Of the 10, only Weber has reached double digits in goals, at least 25 points and at least 125 shots. Only Weber and Jacob Trouba have more than two power-play points (they each have eight), and only Charlie McAvoy, David Savard and Weber are at least a plus-seven. Weber is the most complete NHL defenseman when it comes to banger leagues.
3. Keith Yandle, 33 years old
When I put together a list of the top-10 underrated players of the decade, Yandle was an easy choice for the top spot. He’s been excellent the last few years, but this year may be his best yet. He’s on pace for a career high 65 points, and has already hit 20 power-play points. This, a year after he had 62 points and 39 man-advantage points. It also helps that he never misses a game.
2. Evgeni Malkin, 33 years old
I feel like, decades from now, Sidney Crosby and Malkin will both be talked about the same as Mario Lemieux is now. How good could they have been if they didn’t miss so much time due to injuries? Malkin already has 50 points on the season, despite missing 11 games due to a lower-body injury. His 1.34 points-per-game is sixth highest. Another bonus about Malkin’s production this year has been his shot rate. He’s averaging 3.41 shots per game, his highest since 2011-12.
1. Alexander Ovechkin, 34 years old
An absolute stud, but it may be tough to get him cheap during the season (the offseason could be another matter). Ovechkin is still in the conversation as the first overall pick in leagues that count hits and shots. In basic Yahoo pools, Ovechkin is the seventh-ranked player, but is the only player in the top 37 with at least 100 hits. He’s always going to score power-play goals and is a consistent threat for the Rocket Richard trophy. People have been talking for years how he is going to slow down as he gets older, but it feels like that might not happen for another decade or two.