Eastern Edge: Reviewing Draft Strategy

by Cam Metz on April 2, 2019

 

It seems like 90% of the fantasy hockey world has tied a bow on their leagues championships.  All of my leagues have come to a close and I’ve mentally taken a step back from the in depth focus of the last couple of weeks.  As we read on Monday that Calgary was going to be resting most of their big guns heading into the playoffs it serves as reminder to avoid having six months of hard work decided over resting players.  Over the last week I’ve been thinking about some of the articles I wrote this year and how they applied correctly/incorrectly to this season.  Sure, we’ll have plenty of time to dissect a lot of that material this summer, but I thought since everything was so fresh a couple key topics could be revisited.  

Personally the playoffs for me are a time to enjoy hockey at its fullest – especially the first round and all the games on each night; I tend to pay a little less attention to the fantasy aspect but still keep my ear to the ground.  The real playoffs have a lot of impact on the fantasy value of players next season.  A brilliant playoff run from Jake Guentzel two years ago required extra draft capital in order to secure him on your roster for the next season. 

My favorite article in the summer of last year is about how to rank defensemen.  I retooled my draft strategy to focus on assists, shots on goal, power play points, and PIMs (retooled as well).  Going into the season my top priority was gathering up players of this mold instead of blueliners that depend on goals.  The top 15 blueliners per this strategy shook out like this:

 

BRENT BURNS

ERIK KARLSSON

SHAYNE GOSTISBEHERE

KRIS LETANG

VICTOR HEDMAN

TOREY KRUG

JOHN CARLSON

SETH JONES

ROMAN JOSI

DUSTIN BYFUGLIEN

JOHN KLINGBERG

TYSON BARRIE

MORGAN RIELLY

DREW DOUGHTY

ALEX PIETRANGELO

DOUGIE HAMILTON

KEITH YANDLE

 

 

All in all aside from Mark Giordano not making this list – this is a pretty formidable list of the who’s-who of blueliners.  Grabbing three of these guys in just about every format would have been a homerun season. Obviously Doughty, Hamilton, Pieterangelo and Gostisbehere would have been mistakes.  So who did this list leave out?  You don’t see Shattenkirk, Gardiner, Klefbom, Ristolainen, Weber, Suter, Jones, or Werenski.  The biggest thing is that the guys listed above were all top 45 players given my league format.  So what it really did was put more emphasis on the top D and helped narrow in the focus on who was worthy of mid round draft capital.  Overall I am very pleased with this analysis – in a one year sample size it closed the championship on a 14-team league.  Interestingly enough my D corps was absolutely gutted with injuries come championship week.   Despite that I was still able to cobble together a winning week.  However if you asked me again how to truly dominate a league I wouldn’t suggest punting D given a one week sample size.  Having a formidable blueline allows you to stream hot hands on top units.

Shout out to reader Nathan for ten months ago saying I was off base on the decline Sean Couturier would have this year.  Couturier looked like a playoff performer that was going to see a boost in his stock give his spring run.  All he did this year was match his output from 2017-2018.  He had a rough start to the season but went absolutely crazy in the third quarter of this season with 29 points in 21 games.  His primary point rate was sustained this year after I had guessed that it would drop to the mid 60% – a sustainable rate for even the best players.  Interestingly Couturier saw even more time on ice this year at 22 min vs 21 min last year; surely this helped play into his totals.  Couturier even saw his dominance show up in a 4% increase in his faceoff wins.  I suppose I have a lot of egg on my face from this take – but it’s worth noting that even in review his 15% shooting percentage from this season seemed unlikely.  My comments on his production were really geared more towards his ADP and his expected output but nevertheless were quite far off on his point pace than expected.  So the question begs what do we expect from Couturier in ‘19-20?  We’ll have to dig deeper into that this summer – because as reader Nathan points out we’re looking at one of the most dynamic two way centers in the league, I should probably start adjusting my expectation accordingly.

I know not everyone is participating in PIM leagues at this point, clearly this is a deserved shift.  I did however participate in a PIMs league mainly because it adds another category to the scoreboard.  I talked about a different way of evaluating this stat here.  The big names on the list from last summer were Pierre-Luc Dubois, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Brad Marchand.  Interesting the sustainable penalty minutes that didn’t come from misconducts and fights stayed fairly consistent this season. Picking up a few penalty minutes each night from these guys definitely was a more reliable source of PIMs then relying on one guy on your roster to erupt for 20 PIMs in one night.

 

See you back next week – hopefully next Tuesday night will bring the start of the second season.