With the opening of Yahoo fantasy hockey within the past couple of weeks, many general managers have taken to the web site to get a head start on their fantasy season.
Mock drafts are a great way to get a sense of what people are doing and different strategies. I was in one on Saturday when one general manager took three defensemen (Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman) with his first three picks.
However, you can’t look at just the rankings that Yahoo provides for you. Sometimes, you have to dig through the lists to find players that have great values that are ranked too low.
Keep in mind that the players on this list is for the average Yahoo league, with the categories of goals, assists, plus/minus, power-play points, shots and hits for skaters, and wins, goals against average, save percentage and shutouts for goalies. The number to the right of their names is their average draft position as of Sunday night.
10. Mark Stone, 162.9
One thing I’ve noticed is that many of the Senators have much lower average draft positions that they should, but Stone is the worst of the bunch as he is being drafted in the 14th round in 12-team leagues. While he won’t contribute in the shots and hits, he should still be a point-per-game player when healthy and he should definitely be taken ahead of players such as Sam Reinhart, Alexander Steen, Andrei Svechnikov and Kasperi Kapanen.
9. Jeff Petry, 173.8
Petry will be the “surprise” defenseman of the first half of the season as Shea Weber is out until Christmas. Last season, Petry has 42 points, 23 power-play points, 178 shots and 167 hits, much of that coming when Weber was injured. That’s value in almost every category. His minus-30 was a pain, but that should improve this year with Carey Price back for hopefully a full season.
8. Shea Theodore, 157.5
I admit that I am completely perplexed by Vegas and how they handle their defensemen. That makes it tough for me to project what Theodore is going to do. He could be the quarterback on the top power-play, but that might only last for 20 games. I do know that he is a much better option than many of the other defensemen taken ahead of him, such as Mike Green, Jack Johnson and Olli. The only thing that holds him from being a top-notch fantasy option is that he doesn’t contribute in the hits category.
7. Dylan Larkin, 145.7
Larkin showed a huge improvement last year, and could be in for an extra boost this season. Detroit runs with two power-play lines pretty evenly, but that may have to change with word that Henrik Zetterberg may not be playing at all this year. Maybe the Wings run with one main unit, and allow someone like Larkin to get even more power-play time than the 2:10 he averaged last year. A boost in power-play time would go a long way to getting him to the 70-point mark.
6. Corey Crawford, 118.6
Crawford is easily a top-10 goalie, but is the 21st goalie drafted on average. The issue is his health. Crawford hasn’t played since Dec. 23 as he’s dealing with concussion-like symptoms. That could be scaring some people off. However, the Hawks general manager and coach have both been saying all summer that Crawford will be ready to go by the start of the season. Crawford himself has said he’s not 100 per cent yet, but is feeling good and it is possible that he’ll be back in time for training camp.
5. Sean Couturier, 130.6
Sure, the centre position is the deepest in fantasy hockey, but there are a bunch of players being drafted before Couturier is taken near the end of the 11th round. This could be related to his recent knee issues, but he is expected to be back with the team for training camp. Couturier had a breakout season last year and great chemistry with Claude Giroux. The Flyers won’t be messing with that this year, so I’d be banking on Couturier.
4. Oscar Klefbom, 178.6
Somehow, Klefbom is the 74th defenseman taken off the board in Yahoo drafts, way down in the 15th round. He has a huge advantage over many of the defensemen taken ahead of him: He contributes in every category except for hits, gets to feed the puck to Connor McDavid every game, is the number one power-play quarterback and has no competition for that role. He had surgery to get his shoulder fixed, so I expect a rebound from him. At least enough that he would be taken ahead of Thomas Chabot.
3. Pierre-Luc Dubois, 150.5
Dubois had a bit of an underrated rookie season last year. He spent 20 games getting used to the NHL, but after that, he put up 44 points in 62 games while centering the top line. In those 62 games, he also had 15 power-play points and 140 shots. He’s also good for at least a hit per game, providing a little bit of extra boost.
2. Max Pacioretty, 117
It’s amazing how much a player’s value can drop based on one poor season. Despite being a consistent 30-goal, 60-point, 268-shot player who will occasionally throw 100 hits in a season, Pacioretty is somehow being drafted in the 10th round of Yahoo pools. Last year was an awful year for the Habs captain, but still managed 212 shots and 118 hits in 64 games. He’s Montreal best offensive weapon, and you should count on a comeback.
1. Antti Raanta, 135.9
Despite not picking up many wins last year, Raanta was excellent in the peripheral categories, finishing the season with a 2.24 GAA and .930 SV %. He also had a higher quality-start percentage than any goalie except for Carter Hutton (minimum 10 starts). His 21 wins should rise significantly, and he should also start an extra 10 games over last year.
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