The Contrarian: Last Minute Squeakers

by Demetri Fragopoulos on October 9, 2016

The NHL season is starting soon, but that won't stop NHL teams or fantasy owners from changing their plan.

There are only a handful of days remain before the season officially begins. Your fantasy draft is likely to occur during this period. It is instinctual that most people want certainty before starting their league drafts. Pre-season games end on Sunday, so much can still happen.

Players could have been cut and assigned to their respective AHL or junior teams. Guys on professional tryout contracts may have been signed or released. Free agents could have decided to finally sign with an NHL club, remain waiting, or sign in another league.

Then there are the suspensions, injuries, and even trades that will cause you to rethink about your draft order.

A good example of that is the latest moves from the Edmonton Oilers, signing Kris Russell and trading Nail Yakupov to the St. Louis Blues. It is not the only thing that has happened, but it illustrates how something can make you re-evaluate your thoughts.

Our fellow Dobber writer, Steve Laidlaw, evaluates the impact of the two transactions, and clearly there is a domino effect. Immediately he identifies six players that are impacted in one way or another.

Readers chime in on whether the Oilers got enough, if it is indeed a good move for both clubs, and if Yakupov will be any better off on a Ken Hitchcock system. The other half of the story is where Russell will slot into, and will the Edmonton defense be sufficient enough to allow Connor McDavid and company to play to their potential.

All this just from two moves.

So why do you insist on buying an off-the-shelf printed guide from another source that has been out of date right from the very first day it was put on display?

You have to figure that there was at least 60 days’ worth of transactions which are not accounted for. The count is probably closer to 90 days.

I understand that you could manually adjust their predictions on your own, but then you would have to scrape and glean information from multiple sources. It is very unlikely that the same person would give you their updates and evaluations.

So in essence you have got a Frankenstein draft guide. A bolt here, some duct tape on page three, paperclips binding picks 43 to 65, etc. You get the picture. I do not know about you, but when I think of Frankenstein, I envision a big, clunky, dim, slow-footed monster.

In this digital age, you want to be concise, trim, agile, and quick. Why would you even consider purchasing a static list?

Your best option, and it is not too late, is Dobber’s 2016-17 Fantasy Hockey Guide.

“Updated at least 50 times between August 1 and October 12. Sometimes several times in a day! Updates are FREE – simply re-download the pdf and you'll have the latest one,” and “This is the only fantasy guide that has updated line combinations, projections, injuries and training camp cuts – sometimes 10 minutes after they're announced! Don't go into your draft with a guide that has news and projections from late July. Dobber's guide will have you set based on up-to-the-hour news!” right from Dobber himself.

But what should I do with my hard copy guide, you ask.

Let your opponents view it, especially the ones that have not done any preparation. Give them every opportunity to make an ill choice based on obsolete information. The worse case scenario is that they have to figure out the impact of all the changes in only a few minutes and still come up with a good pick, but they had to stress over it. Do you think they could do that repeatedly over a long draft? It is highly unlikely.

What is also great about a digital version is that you can view it on multiple platforms (save a tree – do not print it out), apply filters and search for information much easier than eyeballing data on paper.

There is not one year where you do not hear the lament, “Awww, I wanted that guy but forgot about him,” of an owner at the draft table. Without a doubt they were so committed into finding a piece of data on one player that they lost sight on a bunch of others.

Build the foundation of your team with the right materials and tools.

Back to Yakupov. I have a few items from TSN.

The first is a clip from Bob McKenzie before the trade was made and it was in regard to what the Oilers want in return.

He explains to the radio host that “Peter Chiarelli’s been adamant, adamant, adamant, not giving him away. He’s a first round pick. We know things have not gone as he would have liked,” and “He’s still a credible NHL player who is probably going to go on and play pretty well somewhere. So we’re not going to be in a position where we give, get a seventh round pick and he goes somewhere and he becomes a perennial 20 to 25 goal guy in the National Hockey League.”

Is a conditional second-round pick and an ECHL prospect worth Yakupov? The answer is no.

The Oilers got here because, as Scott Cullen states, “It would be nice to get more in return, but once the world knows that a team is desperate to unload a player, there's not much incentive to offer value.”

There was a chance to showcase Yakupov last season when he was playing with Connor McDavid before both were injured. However, once both players were mended, Yakupov was already on the outs with the organization. Who is at fault here? The Oilers, because they devalued their own commodity.

Ryan Rishaug re-tells us Yakupov’s thoughts on what he was dong to improve this season. His answer was, “I just got to do the same things.” To which Rishaug emphatically states that that you do not do the same things when they have not worked the previous times.

Normally I would agree, but by this point Yakupov clearly knows that he is no longer going to be with the club and is doing an interview with canned responses.

The more telling set of comments comes in this TSN clip, where Yakupov answers, “This is the first time I’m gonna play on a really good team,” and “It’s all about winning and I think its awesome because I don’t know what winning is.”

One other TSN columnist, Frank Seravalli notes, “It hasn’t exactly worked out for the Oilers, either. A supposed core of the future in 2013 – consisting of Taylor Hall, Yakupov, Sam Gagner, Justin Schultz, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Jeff Petry, Magnus Paajarvi and Devan Dubnyk – has been deconstructed brick by brick. Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins are all that remain.”

What did I say earlier about building a strong foundation? Maybe they were picking from someone else’s, perhaps Tampa Bay’s, draft guide?

The Oilers got screwed multiple times, from the selection and rushed development to the undervalued return for Nail’s.

The Blues might need to straighten him out a bit, but I believe that they will succeed. Their foundation has largely settled into place.

They just needed some finishing Nails.

PS – Happy Thanksgiving to our Canadian readers!