Ramblings: Skills Competition, Fantasy Lessons Learned From the Peter Chiarelli Era (Jan 26)

by Ian Gooding on January 26, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Skills Competition, Fantasy Lessons Learned From the Peter Chiarelli Era (Jan 26)


If you missed the NHL skills competition, the highlight of the event was US women’s hockey player Kendall Coyne Schofield becoming the first woman to compete in the skills competition. She did not disappoint at all in the Fastest Skater competition, clocking a time of 14.346 seconds. That is an incredibly fast speed.
 


Not surprisingly, Connor McDavid won this event for the third year in a row with a time of 13.378 seconds.

Channelling his inner Al Iafrate, John Carlson won the Hardest Shot competition.
 


I was especially impressed with the skills shown in the Premier Passer event, which was won by Leon Draisaitl. Trying to shoot over those barriers and into those tiny little nets? Goodness gracious. I think this would take me all night!
 


David Pastrnak was your Accuracy Shooting winner, looking like Brock Boeser at last season’s event (the flow isn’t bad, either).
 


And here’s Auston Matthews making friends with the fans in San Jose with his jersey tribute to Patrick Marleau.
 


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The other big news of the day was the NHL's deployment of Puck and Player Tracking starting next season. You can weigh in on the topic and answer the poll question of whether you are excited about it over at the Forum. One of my initial thoughts: If you are in the stands and you catch a puck with the sensor inside, do you still get to keep it? 

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At the time, the Peter Chiarelli hiring seemed like the right move for the Oilers. Bringing in a general manager with no previous ties to the organization – particularly one with a proven track record – was long overdue for an Oilers’ team that had been in a rebuild for nearly a decade.

Four years later, it appears that the Oilers have actually fallen backwards. Now they are left looking for a new GM when it became plain to see for even their top management that Chiarelli could no longer be trusted. You’re probably aware by now of the overall damage done to the Oilers’ organization during that time. If you haven’t or you need a refresher, here’s a complete list of the 10 best and the 10 worst moves. In the spirit of balanced journalism, yes, there were positives.

Cam has written an amazing, humorous, dramatic, sensitive, and descriptive piece breaking down the fantasy impact on the Chiarelli firing. So rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll focus on the lessons learned from the Chiarelli era for fantasy owners. I’m writing this in the spirit of the old Contrarian article that Demetri Fragopoulos used to write here. In other words, some of my lessons might sound like counterintuitive takes. Then again, some of Chiarelli’s moves might have seemed like a good idea at the time (at least to some).
 

Don’t trade purely to fill a positional need
 


So your fantasy team is stacked at forward but thin on defense. In the hopes of achieving a balanced roster, you are able to find a willing trade partner who in understanding your desire to acquire that blueliner, is able to snag a forward with far superior value from you. You immediately experience buyer’s remorse. That’s similar to what the Oilers must be feeling in shipping away eventual Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall just to acquire Adam Larsson.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a trade with another owner though. The waiver wire is always a willing participant in a deal (more on that in a bit), but even it can’t stop you from exchanging a forward on pace for 75 points for a defenseman on pace for 25 points. Yes, you have other categories to fill, which could be any of plus/minus, penalty minutes, hits, or blocked shots. So maybe a trade is a better option here. But that’s something that can’t be rushed; otherwise, you’ll run into the same problem mentioned in the earlier paragraph.

This will all depend on scoring and settings, but your team might be collecting enough points every week even with a clear deficiency at a particular position or two. Trust me, I’ve read articles and listened to podcasts from fantasy experts in other sports that swear by not worrying much about balancing your team position-wise. Don’t overthink things. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Just pick up the damn points. Which leads me to my next lesson…
 

More frequent trading may not improve your team
 


If you haven’t read the story about the guy who started with a paperclip and made various trades to land a house, here it is. Essentially Chiarelli did the opposite of that when he traded Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome, then Strome for Ryan Spooner, then placed Spooner on waivers (Spooner is now in Bakersfield of the AHL). Chiarelli took a bad trade, and instead of just eating it, he made things even worse.

I’ve seen this firsthand in fantasy hockey leagues. Several years ago, I had someone join one of my fantasy hockey leagues, and he was very ambitious to win right away (as many new participants are). Once he was handed the keys to his keeper team, he made trade after trade after trade in an effort to keep improving his team, which he never seemed to be satisfied with. The other owners must have sensed that he was unfamiliar with the unique scoring system in this league because of all the trades they agreed to. His result for all his work? He finished dead last that season. Not only that, but in one of his trades he parted with his first-round pick. That pick would have landed him Auston Matthews.

Full disclosure: I generally don’t make many trades, and I very seldom make blockbuster trades (the huge ones literally make my head hurt). Maybe I don't trade much because I'm already confident in the team I've drafted. This season I’ve made two trades in one of my leagues, and none in my other two leagues. In one of those two leagues, which is a league of various fantasy hockey writers, there hasn’t been a trade made in a few seasons. I believe that waiver-wire transactions are a better way to improve your team. I’ll explain why.

Let’s say you have your eye on Player X. You offer your Player Y to another owner, who rejects the offer and requests Player Z (who has higher value than Player Y) in return for Player X. Since you desire Player X so much, you agree to trade Player Z in return. You finally own Player X, but you had to give up Player Z in return. Maybe it's a decent trade for you, but you also may have given up too much. 

Now switch that to the waiver wire. We might be talking about lesser players here, but the waiver wire doesn’t pick and choose which player you need to part with. You decide that. You get to pick what you believe is the best player (or one that fits your specific need) for what you believe is your worst player. No counteroffers, no back and forth. Sure, there’s higher potential reward with a trade, but multiply that transaction by the number of add/drops you make in a season and the net gain should be higher.


Let the other owner win the bidding war
 


$6 million per season sure doesn’t buy what it used to, does it?

Call this losing the battle to win the war. This section refers mainly to auction leagues, although you could also apply it to at what round you draft a player in a non-auction draft. Now I’m fortunate that I’m in a league where I have 72 hours to decide whether to bid on a player. Other real-time auction league drafts give something like 10 or 15 seconds for a bid to stand, which isn’t a lot of time to formulate a decision as to whether that player is worth a higher bid.

Teams that lost out in the Milan Lucic derby have to be thanking their lucky stars that they were unsuccessful in signing him, provided that they didn’t sign their own white elephant contracts that summer (Loui Eriksson, Troy Brouwer, David Backes, and Andrew Ladd all come to mind, and there could certainly be others). This is where auction drafts can be tricky, because you’ll end up paying too much for at least one player and end up trying to stretch your dollar on the rest.

It’s important that with any player, you set a maximum price that you’re willing to spend. Don’t exceed that price. If someone else is willing to go higher, let them pay that price. They’ll have to patch up the resulting holes in their roster afterward. In a salary cap world, value wins the day.  

If you have your own lessons that you believe should apply to the Oilers’ current state, feel free to share below.

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Enjoy the All-Star Game.
 


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For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.