Rambling about my other draft, Gaborik's injury, Shaw's in hot water already, preseason stats and more …
Last Fantasy Guide update was Sunday. I also updated the Draft List. At this point, updates are daily, so just re-download the Guide and/or Draft List as needed. Lots happening right now and if you want to stay up to the minute before your draft, login and grab the Guide for the latest. Today’s update will be later this afternoon. I know I missed the Monday update, but I had made a couple of tiny changes/notes in the Guide and decided not to waste your time having you download that. Not worth it! But now with the Gaborik news (see below) there is something with a little more meat.
Cuts! They’re back! I didn’t know I missed looking for them until they started happening. Still no surprises getting cut, of course, but now at least the odd name on my long-long-range radar is getting sent down. Of note:
Edmonton: Caleb Jones (Seth’s brother) and Ethan Bear were sent down. Jones is ranked 102 on my Top Prospect Defensemen list and Bear is ranked 45.
For now, teams are mostly just trimming obese rosters down to a manageable level. But that’s going to change in an awful hurry by the end of the week.
As expected, Team Canada took down Team Europe in Game 1. I was asked to comment on these games, but I’m not sure what fantasy observations I can make that haven’t been said already. Halak was pretty good. Again. Marchand looks fantastic on that top line. Again. And I’ll reiterate that I’m having second thoughts about a Marchand decline this year. That line combined for six points.
I know it’s still semi-slow for hockey news, but media outlets are making a bigger deal about his Marian Gaborik injury than need be. Gaborik has lost the magic. He’s not a star anymore. He’s not even average. Like Thomas Vanek, he’s ‘tolerable’ if he plays with talented linemates who can carry him. It looks like he’ll be out for eight weeks. I’d like to say that opens up a spot but it really doesn’t. Sure, it makes it easier for guys like Michael Mersch to sneak onto the team…but real meaningful fantasy prospects such as Adrian Kempe is still AHL bound. He needs to conquer that league before taking a shot at this one.
On Monday I recapped my Saturday draft, and today I’ll recap my Sunday draft. Completely different rules. In fact, my rules – Keeper League 1 – is from this league, though we’ve since added another team and increased the active roster to 12 forwards, 4 defensemen, 2 goaltenders and the bench up to 15 players that can grow to 19 (maximum) or shrink to 11 (minimum).
I had nine draft picks (five rounds) and four roster spaces. I was also planning to drop Jordan Weal, Alex Stalock, Jiri Tlusty and Tyler Bertuzzi. With my last pick I would decide whether or not to either ‘pass’ or use it and drop Rocco Grimaldi. So he was on the bubble. My team finished third last season (14 teams, 15 now with expansion), and fourth in the playoffs. Here was my team (excluding the drops):
FWD: Crosby, Tavares, Wheeler, Zuccarello, Brassard, Marchand, Lee, Kreider, Kesler, K. Hayes, D. Perron. B. Nelson, Grimaldi
D: Yandle, Letang, Gostisbehere, Larsson, Vlasic, Stralman, D. Pouliot, Orlov
G: Talbot, Anderson, Pickard
So I’m thin at G and strong at D. There aren’t very many goalies available, even of the prospect variety. For the most part, if I want a goalie I need to look three years ahead. And when you look that far ahead, one is as good as another pretty much. I had one late first round pick. Then between 32nd and 57th I had seven picks. This is a FULL KEEPER. So each team had different needs. Most teams were just trying to improve, but some teams were trying to go for it, rebuild, or build for a playoff win (read the rules re: playoffs here). The goal going in was to take seven or eight forwards, one or two goalies and maybe one defenseman if one I liked was still available late.
Strategy – With the 12th overall pick I was hoping to get Tyler Motte, who I had ranked 11th. This is a draft with very slim pickings when it comes to players who could help immediately, so getting a player who could make the team (I like Motte over Schmaltz) would be big.
Round 1: Matthews, Laine, Puljujarvi, Dubois, Matheson, Parayko, Keller, Aho, Tkachuk, Vesey, Boeser, White, Nylander, Sergachev, Juolevi.
Comments – I could have taken Motte and I think I should have, in hindsight. I wanted to, but had White ranked higher (just marginally). I’m in a position to win, I’d rather roll the dice on a player who could help this year (or not). But White is for sure not playing – he’s still in college!
Strategy – After giving it some thought and holding up the draft, I decided that maybe Motte would slip through to me at 32. It seemed as though, from talks at the draft party the night prior, that the gang mostly favored the 2016 draftees. So Motte had a shot of sneaking through. Maybe.
Round 2: Jost, Motte, Domingue, L. Brown, Athanasiou, Kunin, Max Jones, Lindell, Samsonov, M. McLeod, Bean, C. Miller, C. Carrick, Pageau, Ullmark.
Mistake #1 – Improperly evaluating the competition. Stupid me, I knew that owner is high on playoff players. He gives barely a consideration for a player, no matter how good, if he’s not in the playoffs. This guy has won most of his career money from playoff winnings. I was stupid to think that a top Chicago rookie would get by him. The lesson – I will now always consider the player I want to slip through, and the competition that he has to slip past. This GM is like clockwork. Very predictable
Comments – Welp…at least I was out of my misery early? On the other hand, I should be happy. In Colin White I have the better player and more of a sure thing. I’ll only kick myself if Motte actually makes the team and does well.
Strategy – With seven of the next 22 picks and four between 32 and 42, I have my eye on Artturi Lehkonen. I moved him up my list when the Martin Reway problems came to light. But my real need is a couple more forwards who are actually on the team! And I have Conor Sheary and Erik Haula ranked ahead of Lehkonen on my list. I also notice that Laurent Brossoit is still available and since I have Cam Talbot he would make a great insurance policy. So for this round I put them in the order I think others would take them. Two picks after my first one is a Habs fan. And Pick 40 is by a GM who needs goaltending. So who would go first between Sheary and Haula? Well, Sheary impressed in the playoffs whereas Haula’s impressive points are kind of hidden in his full-season totals. So I think I should take Sheary before Haula.
Round 3: Sanheim, Lehkonen, Zaitsev, Chychrun, Sheary, Montour, Chabot, Brossoit, McNabb, Ho-Sang, Fabbro, DeBrincat, C. Hutton, Bellows, J. Gauthier.
Comments – It went off without a hitch. In fact, the goalie GM offered me a second rounder next year for that pick where I took Brossoit. I told him it was too important. I’m 99.9% sure that Talbot will thrive. But what if he gets hurt? Great to have this insurance policy. Had I taken the pick, I would have been able to keep Grimaldi, so technically I turned down Grimaldi and a 2nd for a 3rd. Oh, and I called an audible for that last pick there in DeBrincat.
Strategy – As it came close and DeBrincat was still available, I decided I wanted him this late in the game. But would he slide to the fourth round? Would Haula? I decided Haula had a better chance of sliding. DeBrincat is only 5-7, but his talent is arguably more elite at that age than Johnny Gaudreau’s was. But can Chicago fit Kane, Panarin, Motte and DeBrincat on the same team in, say, 2019? Too many Smurfs. But we shall see how it works out.
In the third round, a GM dropped Patrick Maroon. And I want him. That’s just what I need – a proven roster guy. I also still want Haula, and I’ve been pretty keen on Danton Heinen (Boston) and Jake Walman (St. Louis). So I put them in the order that they’ll slide: Haula, Walman, Heinen, Maroon. Because it’s not often that a dropped player is picked up, and he’s 28 years old, Maroon will slide. And Heinen is a prospect nobody has really heard of, so he’ll slide too.
Round 4: Sorokin, Reway, Kempe, Kamenev, Haula, Gillies, Eriksson-Ek, Walman, Korpisalo, Rubtsov, Rieder, Heinen, McCarron, Vatrano, F. Perron
Comments – Boom. Just the way it was written up. Walman is another player I’ll need to sit on, but I think he’s every bit as valuable a prospect (sure thing, upside) as White. Haula will depend on linemates – he needs to play with good ones to thrive. And Heinen is no more than a year away, but I’m hoping he sneaks on the roster this year.
Strategy – Now to hope for the clean sweep and get Maroon with my last pick.
Round 5: McAvoy, Sobotka, Fisher, PASS, Maroon (D’oh!), Bigras, Soderstrom, Soshnikov, PASS, Zboril, Caggiula, Guentzel, Fasching, Berube, C. Brown.
Comments – What really sucked about losing Maroon there is that it was a stupid pick by that particular GM (and also my closest friend – that doesn’t help either). You see, he’s rebuilding, but doing a bad job of it – at least on Sunday. He has a great core of six players and he drafted Matheson and Parayko to change his weak group of defenseman into actually a pretty decent one. But to do a proper rebuild you need to do two things:
1. Draft the best prospects you can
2. Draft a player who will have the trade value to bring you great prospects or picks later in the year.
The last thing you want are players in that 30- to 50-point range in a points-carry-over pool (i.e. in trades, the points come with the player). Because those players are “throw-ins” in a trade. They don’t drive the trade. Unless Pageau (another player he drafted) or Maroon get 60 points, they’re not going to get him better than a third-round draft pick. Because a winning team in this pool likely has a 45-point player as his 12th forward. So what more would he give up in a trade to gain five points? If Pageau and Maroon get 45 points this year, he’ll either have to dump them for practically nothing (a throw-in on a bigger deal that won’t happen because his core six players should be untouchable), or he’ll have 90 points sitting on his pro roster pushing his draft spot down a notch or two next summer. Bad, bad strategy!
So I had to consult my list again and determine if anyone left interested me more than Grimaldi, who I’d be dropping. I had three names – Igor Shesterkin, Calle Jarnkrok and Jake Guentzel. I love Shesterkin as a prospect goalie. Three years from now he’ll be a must own. But I already drafted Brossoit and I need forwards. I decided against Jarnkrok because he was 24 and in our league we’re allowed to sign one free agent 24 and over before the trade deadline. It was nearing the end of the draft and I thought I could get him if he starts the season hot. So Guentzel it is!
Mistake #2 – If I want a known player, I need to better evaluate his odds of slipping through versus the players I’m taking. Danton Heinen would have slipped right by everybody. So I should have taken Maroon in the fourth, and then grabbed Heinen in the fifth. And as for Jarnkrok – the expansion team filled out his roster after the draft and that included Jarnkrok. So again, I failed to properly evaluate whether or not a player will slip through.
All in all it was a great draft. There are no saviors, other than the top three picks. So after that it’s just a crapshoot with odds that can be bent slightly in my favor with enough research (which I did). In a deep league with smart, competitive owners, I guess that’s the best I can ask for. I hope I helped you with some strategy, or at the very least some thoughts on a few players. I do have another draft on Saturday, the 27th draft of that pool. But it’s a pretty basic league: points-only, 20-man rosters, top 12 count. Simple. But 27 years ago it was a revelation!
Good news – the Preseason stats are now live over at Frozen Pool. You can get them here. To look at a player (his profile) or a report, you have to manually select “exhibition 2016-17” because the default is still last season.
Here are the top players for shots on goal in the preseason so far. My guy Artturi Lehkonen leads the way (but has zero points to show for it, unfortunately). What’s good is that eight of those shots came within 30 feet, unlike most of the players on that leaderboard – no cheap distant ones.
Andrew Shaw may face a suspension for this hit from behind at the start of this clip (precedes the fight):
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