Archive for the ‘CLS official fantasy hockey guide (09-10)’ Category

Struggling to figure out whom to start?

October 10, 2009

Will it be Hiller or Giguere? That nightly question might be easier to answer (again) …

In my Fantasy Hockey Guide, I mentioned how much I adored Goaliepost.com for their insanely accurate starting goalie updates … but understandably they are asking for monetary return for (what one assumes) is a great deal of work. And you know what? You cannot blame them and I wish them the best.

However, if you’re feeling like a cheapskate (like me), then you might want to look at other options.
Kent of Five Hole Fanatics pointed out the Daily Faceoff’s Between the Pipes as a potential heir and one of his readers suggested Leftwing Lock. Are there any other reliable sources of starting goalie info out there? Feel free to leave recommendations in the comments.
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CLS Fantasy Guide Part 5: Questions to ask yourself, the universe

September 16, 2009

I came here in peace, seeking gold and slaves. But you have treated me like an intruder. Maybe it is not me who is the intruder but you.

Now that most of the “heavy lifting” is done, let’s finish the main posts (I’ll probably put together an all-in-one post to make it easier to navigate the information) with a more philosophical, open-ended piece. The Things You Should Ask Yourself

1. Which positions are emphasized and deemphasized in this draft?

The answer to this question is not always the same.
But there are some general rules.
For instance, Centers are the “Joe Montanas” of hockey. They’re the blond haired, blue eyed poster children whom everyone wishes they could be. As such, the pivot spot is pretty much constantly overloaded with top-notch talent.

In leagues where all forwards are classified as simply “F” (instead of positions like C, LW, RW) that won’t matter. But in the Yahoo! leagues and many others, it pays off to draft equally talented wingers early in drafts because those ranks tend to dry up mighty quickly.

It gets really interesting when you throw in D and goalies, however…
2. Goalies: overrated or a precious resource?
Ideally, you can end up with an elite goalie without having to expend a highly valuable top 2-3 round pick.
But if you’re not so lucky, you have to ask yourself: “Settle for rapidly declining goaltenders just to get someone or live dangerously?” My general rule with biting the bullet on goalies: if there isn’t a great forward or D around and there’s a goalie you really want is available then go ahead.*

3. How important are defensemen?
When you consider that a hockey team dresses 6 defensemen to two goalies, it’s surprising that there might be even less elite defensive players from a fantays perspective.

Mike Green? The Drew Brees of fantasy hockey in that he could, conceivably, be a first round pick. Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Gonchar, Andrei Markov, Zdeno Chara, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Dan Boyle, Dion Phaneuf and a handful of others can make a difference.

So it’s all about how many D spots there are in your league. **
Ultimately, though, it’s more important to make strong forward and goalie decisions.
4. Was that guy a fluke? Wasn’t that guy a star just last year?
Obviously a full season cannot necessarily be a complete mirage, but when you’re making crucial picks it’s better to stick with guys who can keep producing big numbers. Am I saying that Steve Mason, Pekka Rinne and a host of other splashy young players will be busts next season? Not necessarily.
But it’s probably wise to go with stable, un-sexy picks instead. Evgeni Nabokov is more likely to be worth a high pick, even if he’s not going to blow you away or make you look brilliant for choosing him.

It’s also important to remember how injuries can affect numbers. Brenden Morrow and Paul Stastny should have much better seasons, but you probably already knew that. However, what you might forget is that with their renewed playing time, another player has to suffer.

So don’t be surprised if Loui Ericcson and James Neal fail to break through further than last season. It’s because their captain is back.
5. Injuries matter
Marian Hossa could miss up to 30 games. Marian Gaborik is made of paper mache. Kari Lehtonen is affectionately known as “Splodey-Groin” (or took up the torch from Peter Forsberg).
In general, it doesn’t pay to make big injury risks.
6. Finally, go with your gut
This is still your team and don’t forget that even the best experts (and idiots like me) are human beings and have our own prejudices. If a ranking doesn’t add up or you think Guy #30 could have a much bigger year than Guy #10, then so be it.
All this hogwash is just for fun. Might as well put your own stamp on it.
* Really though, keep in mind the fact that there really are only so many special goalies. As a general rule, always go for a guy who has a track record of success, a good team in front of him and – if possible -a crummy backup.

** For instance, I felt pressured to draft more D in the ESPN league because there were 5 D spots (to 9 forward and 2 goalies) and PPG, PIM and Average Time on Ice were categories that made a good offensive D more valuable.

Roll your eyes: It’s my fantasy team(s)!

September 14, 2009

No one cares about other people’s fantasy hockey teams, but since I’m writing up these fantasy hockey guides I figure it makes sense to air my dirty drafting laundry.


For the record, I plan on having three fantasy hockey teams. To some that is excessive, but drafting is fun. So we’ll see if I can limit myself to three. (Sad, I know.)

Team 1: ESPN league
Skater Categories: G, A, PPG, +/-, SOG, PIM, Average Time on Ice
Goalie Categories: W, SV% and GAA

Goalie importance: 30% of stat categories, so not excessive
Defense importance: 5 D spots, ATOI make defense slightly more important than usual
Winger vs. C importance: Not that much since it uses “F” instead of C,LW,RW … unfortunately I didn’t realize that was the case (d’oh!)

Scattered Thoughts: Being used to Yahoo!, the ESPN draft format felt a little clunky to me. I think it’s easier to navigate Yahoo’s system and set real-time lists of people you can keep an eye on (making it simpler to keep track of your sleepers). It also kind of bugged me that ESPN’s stat categories seemed less flexible. (no FW, no extra points category, PPG instead of PPP? Hmph.)
That’s not to say ESPN’s format is terrible, I simply prefer Yahoo at this point.
ANYWAY, here’s my team. I picked #6 in a 10-team draft, so that means I was in basically the same general middle area each round.
1. Zach Parise
2. Dany Heatley
3. Mike Richards (panic pick … was devestated that Ilya Kovalchuk almost made it back to me in the third. Fuck!)
4. Henrik Lundqvist
5. Alex Semin
6. Mark Streit
7. Duncan “Yo Yo” Keith
8. Daniel Alfredsson
9. Teemu Selanne
10. Shane Doan
11. Niklas Kronwall
12. Daniel Briere
13. Marty Turco
14. Ales Hemsky
15. Brian Rolston
16. Steve Ott
17. Alex Frolov
18. J-S Giguere
19. Shane O’Brien
20. Brad Richards
21. Ilya Bryzgalov
22. M.E. Vlasic

Feelings about my team: For some reason, I always pick poorly in the first round. Maybe it’s a panic situation or maybe I’m better at finding value later in a draft.
I don’t think Parise’s the fourth best player in the league, but he just seems to do a lot well. He takes a shit load of shots (3rd in the NHL last year), scores a lot of goals and should maintain a nice plus/minus. The real jewel, I’d say, is Dany Heatley. Although it was a toss-up between Heater and Kovalchuk and I wonder if the combination of negative public sentiment and low ESPN ranking might have allowed me to grab Heatley in the third round if I instead would have nabbed Kovie.
Meh, either way, I was pondering Heatley in the first round so it’s still a nice move.
Vlasic was a great last pick in my opinion, since he might get some of the PP time vacating San Jose since Ehr-head is gone. There are certain situational picks (Briere, Frolov, Hemsky, Brad RICHards, Kronwall and Doan) where it almost appeared as if I had no choice but to select them.
Pretty happy with my goaltending overall, because Lundqvist is steady and I expect Marty Turco to have a respectable bounce back year. Giguere is the wild card both in fantasy hockey and … the other fantasy hockey league so my hope is that Sleek’s impressions are just of a guy having a bad day a few weeks before any of this matters, not clarification that there is a fork sticking out of Giggy’s back.
While I was unable to get champion PIM man/general knucklehead Daniel Carcillo, it’s my hope that Steve Ott and Shane “No Relation” O’Brien can make my fake team competitive in affecting their real-life teams negatively.*
* – I kind of like PIM as a fantasy hockey stat, but it IS fucked up to root for a guy to make a dumb mistake. Then again, someone has to root for Todd Bertuzzi, right?
Anyway, I feel like my team will win by quantity over quality. By goals, PPG, +/- perhaps, SOG and being reasonably competitive in the other categories from week-to-week.
Thoughts? Think I’m a fraud? (Don’t worry, this won’t be on the front page very long …)


CLS Fantasy Guide Part 4: Contract Years

September 14, 2009

Kovalchuk will be able to afford even better kilts once he gets another contract

Although it is not the #1 factor in selecting a player, my general rule is: when in doubt, draft a guy who will go into the season with the undeniable motivation of filthy, sweaty gobs of money. With that in mind, here is a list of THE MOST NOTABLE players whose contracts will expire after this season.

(For a full list go to CapGeek.com, click on free agents and the click on “Expiry Year: 2010” and “Free Agent Type: ALL”.)

2010-11 UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS of note
Ilya Kovalchuk
Marc Savard
Nicklas Lidstrom
Evgeni Nabokov
Sergei Gonchar
Patrick Marleau
Marty Turco
Alex Frolov
Alex Tanguay
Paul Kariya
Vyacheslav Kozlov
Ray Whitney
Olli Jokinen
(and more)

2010-11 RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS of note

Nicklas Backstrom (Forward)
Patrick Kane
Jonathan Toews
Alex Semin
Bobby Ryan
Cam Ward
Carey Price
Ryan Kesler
Peter Mueller
Erik Johnson
Duncan Keith
Braydon Coburn
Devin Setoguchi
Kris Letang
Matt Niskanen
James Neal
Blake Wheeler
(and more)

CLS Fantasy Guide, Part 3: Category Kings

September 9, 2009

I get the feeling one of Burrows’ or Backes’ seasons was too good to be true.
Many leagues have specific, largely predictable categories that tend to be dominated by the same general group of players. In fact, some players are only useful IF those categories are included. The following list is meant to give you a quick guide to guys who can help you win certain categories.


Power Forwards (Great PIM with very good points) Note: Guys like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are elite power forwards. This is for the slightly less obvious set. [Slightly]
Brenden Morrow: almost too good for this list, but don’t forget him.
David Backes
Alex Burrows
Scott Hartnell
Milan Lucic: Just don’t get too sucked in by the Looch buzz. He’s good but not Cam Neely just yet.
Steve Ott
Sean Avery
Chris Kunitz (a little lower on the PIM scale but Crosby potentially could give a really nice points boost)
Bill Guerin
Todd Bertuzzi: Not a fan of the guy, but he does tend to put up nice PIM and the occasional assist. Worth a look until they start charting defensive acumen.
Tuomo Ruutu

PIM only

Daniel Carcillo: Kind of a dope, but now is the PIM leader two years in a row.
Shane O’Brien
David Clarkson
Chris Neil
Jared Boll
Beasts in the faceoff circle (based on total wins, percentages, likeliness of continued success)
Rod Brind’Amour
Shawn Horcoff
Mikko Koivu
Manny Malholtra: would get even more if he took more faceoffs
Henrik Zetterberg: the thing that makes Henrik Z especially interesting is that you can get FW from a winger spot with him
Antoine Vermette
Joe Thornton

Hank Zetterberg gets points, SOG, FW, a good plus/minus AND typically is a LW/C. Awesome!

Guys who could be highly ranked next year with just a slight improvement in FO%

Jonathan Toews
Sidney Crosby
Jeff Carter
Mike Richards
Eric Staal
Jason Spezza
Highly probable SOG leaders
Alex Ovechkin (528 last season, 150 more than Eric Staal!!!): If SOG are a category in your league, Ovie’s a no-brainer for No. 1 … but that’s another topic entirely.
Eric Staal (372 in 08-09; 310 in 07-08)
Zach Parise (364 in 08-09): experienced nearly 100 more SOG in the last year, could shoot even more next year.
Henrik Zetterberg: a perennial SOG source
[consult last year’s top lists for some of the more obvious choices]

Unexpected SOG

Jason Blake: borderline useless with SOG
Dion Phaneuf: more than 250 SOG for the past two seasons
Patrick O’Sullivan: perhaps his meaty SOG totals might actually turn into points next year.
Mike Green: his offensive output is unmatched and he missed 14 GP.
Olli Jokinen: high SOG totals and he will play a full contract year with Jarome Iginla. Not bad.
Brian Rolston: Nearly 300 SOG in 2007-08. Could be poised for an improvement, even if it is only really in the SOG category.

The CLS Fantasy Hockey Guide Part 2: Goalies

September 7, 2009


Please note: These are based on general categories and aren’t by any means scientific. They’re also subject to change

Fantasy Goalies
Quick note: The value of a goalie will depend largely on how many goalie categories there are. If goalie categories are close to half of your league stats, it’s almost impossible to reach. At the same time, there isn’t much that differentiates good goalies from mediocre goalies once you get past the elites.

Elites

1. Roberto Luongo
Arguably the most talented goalie in the league, Luongo is in his prime. He doesn’t face ANY threat from his backup, so if he stays healthy (which is a slight worry) he could see 65-70 GP.
2. Martin Brodeur
His injury plagued 2009-10 season sincerely worries me. That being said, it’s rare to find a goalie as consistent who can bring you quantity in starts as well as quantity in stats.
3. Henrik Lundqvist
King Hank is a rock in net, but I don’t like the changes the Rangers have made to their team. He’s still one of those guys who’s worth an early pick, for sure.
4. Tim Thomas
It looks like Tim Thomas will finally get his due as an elite goaltender this year. After a dominant Vezina season, Thomas is truly entrenched in Boston.
5. Miikka Kiprusoff
Kipper’s gotten some heat over the years and with good reason: he might bring quantity but the quality hasn’t always been there. However, with his workload (and therefore, win opportunities) and a defense that now includes Jay Bouwmeester, Kipper could be good enough to be the #1 fantasy goalie this season.
6. Evgeni Nabokov
While I think Nabby is an overrated goalie in reality, he still plays for one of the best teams in the league and should see a ton of GP. Don’t forget that he’s in a contract year, either.
7. Niklas Backstrom
With a $6 million cap hit, Backstrom has to be the guy in Minnesota. For years I’ve hesitated to draft a Minnesota goalie because they haven’t had a clear starter. Even though Josh Harding is a damn good goalie, Backstrom should see big GP and should still play behind a good D even with Jacques Lemaire in NJ.

Solid workhorse guys

8. Ryan Miller
The jury seems to be out on Miller, but I think he’s a true franchise goalie. As Miller goes, so does Buffalo. He’s a talented goalie in a bad division. That’s a solid recipe for success.
9. Cam Ward
Ward’s career is on a steady climb. He tends to put up some nice numbers. I’m not crazy about their defense, though.
10. Steve Mason
It won’t be a simple “sophomore slump” if Mason declines because his numbers are fudged a bit by an unrealistically quick start. I would feel pretty good about selecting a guy who’s a clear No. 1 in Ken Hitchock’s excellent defensive system.
11. Marc-Andre Fleury
He’s had major injuries two years in a row. Some of the goals he allows are just maddening. Yet, if he plays a full season he could threaten the 40 win mark. And he has Gary Busey teeth. Not bad.

Risky but interesting

12. Marty Turco
Turco is, admittedly, a pretty big risk considering how awful his 2008-09 season was. That being said, he’s playing behind a Stars team with stunning forward depth and even with an improved backup (Alex Auld) he has every opportunity to have a stellar contract year.
13. Cristobal Huet
I don’t like Huet, personally, but he’s in a great situation in Chicago. The team has great offensive and defensive depth and talent, which could very well improve substantially next season. If Huet sucks next year, he cannot blame anyone but himself.
14. Jonas Hiller
Hiller wowed the hockey world last year by usurping Giguere and leading the Ducks to a shocking opening series win over the San Jose Sharks, but there are some worries too. He’s only done it for one season. He’s losing vaunted goalie coach Francois Allaire. Giguere could get the starting job back. The Ducks sacrificed a two-headed defensive monster by trading Pronger and are now a team that should be far more offensive minded.
Yet, all that being said, it’s hard not to like Jonas Hiller.
15. Ray Emery
Few players will see the wild range in rankings as much as Ray Emery. The crazy bug eater was booted out of goalie-poor Ottawa for reasons we may never fully understand and no NHL team was willing to gamble on him that summer. That being said, Emery has shown flashes of brilliance and will play on a loaded Flyers team which features (in my opinion) the best trio of defensemen in the Eastern Conference. Not bad for a guy who had to play in Russia last season.
16. Chris Osgood
As Osgood loves to remind everyone in his smarmy way, he often hits the Snooze Button during the regular season. Without a decent backup since Ty Conklin left for St. Louis, perhaps Osgood can take advantage of his ridiculously loaded team and with 30-plus by default.
17. Pekka Rinne
While Steve Mason received all the Calder trophy hype, Rinne generated a nearly identical campaign in Nashville. The problem is that Rinne is on a weak team in a division that keeps getting tougher (and let’s not forget the seemingly annual tradition of a Predators backup usurping the starter).
The Granny Panties Division
aka not-so-sexy goalies
18. Tomas Vokoun
Mired in Nashville/Florida obscurity, Vokoun has quietly been a top-1o goalie for years now. Yet aside from sheer saves and save percentage, Vokoun isn’t placed in a great situation to put up good numbers this year. That doesn’t mean he’s an all-around bad choice, though, especially as a second goalie. If only he could play on a decent team for once …
19. Chris Mason
Steady but unspectacular, Mason helped the Blues make the playoffs before they seemed ready last season. You have to worry if he’s a true starter with Ty Conklin in town, but he’s an OK pick as long as you don’t reach for him.

Blah

20. Jon Quick
The Kings play a nice defensive system and Quick seems to have a semi-strong hold on the starting job. Still, meh.
21. Ilya Bryzgalov
Solid goalie in a terrible nightmare of a situation. Stay away from any Phoenix Coyotes not named Shane Doan.
22. Kari Lehtonen
We’re officially getting into the “do you really want this guy?” area of the goalie ranks. While Lehtonen is a genuine talent, he is a legitimate injury concern and plays on a consistently inferior Thrashers team. Meh.
23. Nikolai Khabibulin
It’s pretty clear to me that the Bulin Wall is only built in contract years. Of course, at his age, it’s understandable if the bricks start to fall.
The “Check Back Laters”
unranked for a reason
Mike Smith
Is he healthy?
Simeon Varlamov (and, I guess, Jose Theodore)
Is it wrong to wonder if Varlamov is ready for a full-time goalie job? Is it wrong to wonder if Theodore had a two-year deal with the devil when he won the Hart trophy?
Carey Price/Jaroslav Halak
Price could be a semi-decent pick, but many believe that Halak is the better goalie. Or at least deserves a near-even split. I wouldn’t want to invest in that mess in Montreal, either way.
Vesa Toskala/Jonas “The Monster” Gustavson
This actually could be a slightly underrated pairing. The Leafs loaded up on defense this off-season and also acquired goaltending guru Francois Allaire. Don’t be surprised if the Toronto starter ends up being a solid mid-season pickup.
Dwayne Roloson/Martin Biron
These guys are not much better than 1Bs in the league and they’re playing on a team that is probably satisfied with watching John Tavares (and, later, some lottery balls) this season. Stay away.
Craig Anderson/Peter Budaj
Anderson’s a solid goalie, but the Avalanche suffer from a severe lack of talent. Don’t do it.
Pascal Leclaire/Brian Elliot
Is it even worth having one of these guys as your third goalie? My instinct is to say “no,” unless Ottawa finds a way to translate the awkward Heatley energy into wins.

Clear Backups worth a gander (or FA pickup later on)

Ty Conklin
Will probably go too quickly to be a sleeper pick.
Scott Clemmensen
Not sold on him overall, but he could get some starts.
Josh Harding
One of the best backups in the NHL
Alex Auld
Probably not worth drafting, but keep an eye on him if Turco falters.
Dan Ellis
Another decent backup, though his fantasy value is questionable.
Brent Johnson
Could be worth a pickup in free agency since MAF’s injury is a perennial occurrence.
Brian Boucher
If Emery’s bug eating tendencies cause problems, Boucher could play behind the Pronger-Timonen-Coburn trio.
Manny Fernandez
If a team signs him, Fernandez could still have a little juice left.
Manny Legace
There are worse goalies out there.

The CLS Fantasy Hockey Guide Part 1: links to live by

September 7, 2009

Expect this bad boy to be updated regularly with tips, tricks and suggestions throughout the next few weeks. Feel free to suggest Web sites via comments or e-mail (cyclelikesedins@gmail.com).


My Favorites
Chris Nichols (Sportsnet.ca’s fantasy hockey expert): Nichols does two things that sets him apart from run-of-the-mill fantasy hockey experts. He does daily updates on every regular season game played so you can follow up-to-the minute line situations (just don’t be TOO reactionary) and he also answers ultra specific team questions if you e-mail him at the appropriate times. He’s my number one source for fantasy hockey.
[It doesn’t hurt that he was courteous enough to answer my inane questions last year.]
Dobber Hockey: this site is new to me, but damn if it isn’t awesome. While I find their daily columns hit-or-miss, it’s the knick knacks of the site itself that blow me away. You can compare 7 players side-by-side with their “Compare Player” feature, rank up to 250 players in a wide variety of custom stats and use the site in a dizzying array of different ways.
Perhaps the #1 way to waste your time overpreparing for fantasy hockey this year.
Goalie Post: Once the season starts, Goalie Post is arguably the second most important site to visit (behind the host of your fantasy hockey league). It was astoundingly accurate during the 2008-09 season, so here’s to hoping they are as dead-on this year.
The key source to clarify which goalies are starting.
Tristan Cockroft’s Fantasy Forecaster: This link will obviously need to be updated once the regular season starts, but Cockroft’s weekly fantasy forecasts were a late season goldmine. They include teams that are facing weak schedules that week, how many games each team plays and other valuable advice.
Especially recommended for rotiserrie leagues, but either way it’s a great source of information.
Top Player Lists of varying quality
ESPN’s 2009-10 Projections
Yahoo! Big Board (50 players)
Dobber Hockey’s top 300
NHL.com’s positional rankings:
Goalies
Forwards
Defense
Diamonds in the Rough (good stuff: European transfers, guys who aren’t under contract, coaching changes, etc. Sometimes a little TOO comprehensive though because a lot of those “Impact” Rookies don’t look like they’ll be pros.)
Crash the Crease‘s nifty Forecaster
Last update: Labor Day