Fantasy Hockey Impact: NHL Announces Return To Play Plan

Ian Gooding


NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has declared that the 2019-20 NHL regular season is now complete. The NHL will return on an undisclosed future date with 24 teams competing for the Stanley Cup, starting with a 16-team play-in round. For more, see

Deciding a winner (if any) in your fantasy league

When the NHL season was paused in March, Dobber provided his take on the possible scenarios. Refer to his Situation 3, where the season is cancelled and playoffs do happen. Situation 3 referenced Situation 1 (season ends now), from which I will post his DobberHockey stance:

70 games in? No debate. The season happened. The NHL considers it to have happened for their records – hand out your prizes for first, second, third, etc. as agreed upon. (He has clarified to me that he is referring strictly to points-only leagues here).

If you are in a roto-league or H2H league playoffs, the DobberHockey stance is that all participants still remaining in your playoffs have the prizes divided up equally. If it is a league in which all teams participate in the playoffs – I recommend (but don’t insist) that you nix the playoffs and award prizes based on regular season standings.

If your league involves the NHL postseason (as two of mine do), then this money should be refunded to the owners (or similar arrangements made, per a vote).

In the event that your league has games played limitations and different teams applied different strategies (used up their GP allotment early, or saved them up). If there is a way for you to divide the points by total games played and re-jig the standings that way, then I recommend doing this. If this is impossible, as in many roto leagues, then again I point you to the above: standings should be as is, and yes some teams get screwed, but that is the randomness of fantasy sports.

I can get behind Dobber's stance on the points-only leagues. There's enough of a sample size to determine a winner. It would be interesting to find out the probability that a fantasy team will win if it is in first place with 85 percent of the season completed. It's probably very high. The only pushback might be from the second-place team (or third-place, or below in a tight race) who moved heaven and earth to make a run for a championship. However, mortgaging the future doesn't guarantee a championship under normal circumstances.

Roto leagues could also declare a winner at this point if it is clear who that winner will be. However, keep in mind that some leagues have limits on games played. Some teams use them up before the season ends, while others pace themselves for the entire season to maximize the contributions of their top players. Dobber's recommendation of points per games played is ideal, although it may involve having to do a bit of math.  

Declaring H2H winners is less black and white. Because you have playoff matchups that are incomplete, dividing up the money based on 50/50 odds per remaining matchup might be the best solution. So if there were four teams left in your league, each of the four teams receives 25% of the winnings. Eight teams remaining, give 12.5%