Fantasy Hockey is back!!!
With every new season comes new expectations. Fans of every team that finished towards the bottom of the standings are looking at the new faces in the room with hope and admiration. They are expecting playoffs at the end of the season, rather than a good draft pick.
Meanwhile, fans of the teams that finished on top last year are telling themselves there’s no way their team will drop out of contention. In fact, they are likely Cup favourites this year, all it took was a new backup goalie and that hard nosed 4th liner!!
Us fantasy leaguers are doing exactly the same thing. With a couple of decent keepers in our back pocket heading into the draft, we expect to be on top of the standings in short order. Even the most seasoned player could use a little help sometimes though.
While it’s not hard to find an article or two about how great Subban will do in Nashville, how McDavid will score a bundle of points, or how Price will still be great if he’s healthy, there are fewer out there that concentrate on the true underdogs of the NHL. The value picks are what can win your league!!
So with the mid to late rounds in mind I attacked this topic with fervor. Feverishly pounding the computer keys, I was a man on a mission!! For hours I poured through stats, lineups, and coaching systems. I dug for training info and called players’ mothers to ask about dietary trends and medical records. I wanted anything that could help me predict how players would perform this year.
After many late nights, and nearly ruining my marriage because I’m apparently “here, but not really here” it was done…. complete….. and it was garbage!! 100%, hot, steaming, stinking GARBAGE!!!
One fact is undeniable, one thing that haunts my dreams and nearly rips my soul apart, that is the fact that I have never won a Hubalub crown. Who am I to write about fantasy hockey!?!? In order to properly write about fantasy hockey, you should have won a league title in the not too distant past.
So I reached out to those that are better than me for a little help. I begged and pleaded for their knowledge, to no avail. I tried to trick them into giving up their secrets, but they were too smart to be fooled. Finally, I told them my wife would bake them some cookies, and they spilled the beans!! So, without further ado, I bring you the value picks of the Hubalub Champs!! (and threw in my own amateur picks for good measure)
The first question I asked is one that most veteran fantasy leaguers can answer easily. Who is your under the radar, veteran, good value guy? Who do you like that always seems to slip down the draft board? Once you’ve played in a few leagues over a few years you tend to gravitate towards some of the same players. So, who are they?
Shane Doan – This guy, year after year, gets no respect from Yahoo. He is always ranked lower than he should be. Saying he’s long in the tooth may be an understatement, but if he’s healthy he produces. If your league counts hits he adds even more value.
Jussi Jokinen – For a guy that put up 161 points in his past 243 games he doesn’t seem to hold much value. Jokinen is always further down the board than he should be and it doesn’t make any sense. He produces consistently and most years he holds dual-position eligibility. This is the type of value pick that gets you out of the basement and into the playoffs.
Frans Nielsen – Nielsen is a lot like Jokinen. If you’re looking to boost your hit or PIM categories you’re probably better off looking elsewhere. However, if you’re looking to give your offensive stats a jump start you’ve come to the right place. With 153 points in his past 239 games played, he’s a guy that far too many people gloss over when drafting.
Question two was the opposite of question one in a way. Who is your value pick in terms of up and coming talent? Who is the young gun that you want on your team moving forward?
Robby Fabbri – With Backes now in Boston, Fabbri could get a little more responsibility thrust his way. With a solid rookie season last year, he has already shown the ability to produce solid numbers at the NHL level. All he has to do now is avoid a sophomore slump, get a little more trust from his coach, and take the next step.
Vincent Trocheck – The diminutive Trocheck has developed really well in the Sunshine State. Last season he finally took the final leap into a top 6 role in the NHL and produced over 50pts. It wouldn’t be a reach to say we can expect more of the same from him going forward.
Colton Parayko – I almost wanted to say Gostisbehere for this one, but he has a massive spotlight on him right now, so it’s a little too obvious and, again, we’re trying to avoid the obvious here. Parayko has pushed his way up through a very deep defensive group in St. Louis. It’s not easy to take minutes away from players such as Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk and Bouwmeester, but that’s exactly what he’s done. If your league counts stats other than points, there’s a solid chance he’ll contribute. With over 100 blocks, 100 hits, 100 shots and 30pts last season, the sky’s the limit for the young blueliner.
I shifted my focus to the crease while questioning The Champs this time around. Who is it these guys see as mid to late rounders that could help you in your goaltending categories?
Mike Smith – Injuries got the better of Mike last season but when he plays his numbers are good. Especially considering he is playing for a rebuilding team. If you’re looking for a keeper, this may not be the pick to make, but if you want depth, he’s your guy.
Jake Allen – We all know Jake can be part of a solid tandem, but how will he fare with the task of leading a team that is expected to compete for a cup on his own? This is a question that might make the more reserved fantasy GM think twice about drafting Allen. That frame of mind could be just what you need to nab Allen a round or two later than he should go.
Frederik Andersen – I’m almost ashamed of my fellow fans for not taking the obvious choice here. Andersen will be the starter on a terrible team this year. It will also be, arguably, his first real shot at being THE guy. There was always another goalie looking over his shoulder in Anaheim, even if their gaze came all the way from the AHL. We, as Leaf fans, may scoff at the idea that his value will be reduced by this. I mean, we have Matthews now, we’re heading to the playoffs right!?! Right!! The fact remains that this entire team is surrounded by questions, and potential, and the Buds #1 goalie is no different. This could be a great pick if you can manage to get him outside of the first few rounds.
Last but not least, I asked for the real nitty gritty pick. The last round of the draft, all the obvious names are gone, go big or go home!! The answers were great.
Josh Ho-Sang – The OC (Original Champ, Guru won the first Hubalub crown ever) tells us that Ho-Sang needs to learn to keep his head down and listen to his coach. I agree with that. The talent has always been there, he just needs to go about life as a pro and he could have a great career.
Radko Gudas – If you’re in a points league then Gudas isn’t going to help you much. If your league counts literally any other stat (+/- isn’t a real stat, sorry), then this is a great pick in the very late rounds. PIMs? Hits? Blocks? Shots? Check, check, check and check!! Radko does everything BUT rack up points.
Kevin Bieksa – “Well rounded” is how I would describe Bieksas stat line. Once upon a time that included his offensive contributions as well. Now, he compares more favourably to Radko Gudas though. He’s a guy that always seems to hover around 100 PIMs, 100+ hits, 100+ shots and 100+ blocks over a season. In deep leagues a player like that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Well there you have it. A few hints into how The Champs see the game. A small glimpse into their brilliance!! A look into their wiley ways!! Now that we all know how they win, they can be beat.
As always, I’d love to hear your own answers to the questions above. Who is your top up and comer? Undervalued vet? Overlooked goalie and most importantly, who is the guy you always look for in the last round, the guy everybody else wishes they had thought to take?