Tuesday, March 24, 2009

So your out of the playoffs. What's next?

OK, so your season did not quite go the way that you planned it, and by now the disappointment is surely starting to set in, another season by the wayside. Well don't wallow in your sorrows too long, because now is the time to start preparing for next season. Its very important to learn where things went wrong this season, and to do that you must start from the beginning, and by this i speak of the draft. The draft is often where seasons are won and lost, and i am not just speaking about the choices we make in the first 5 rounds either. Its easy to pick a Malkin, Ovechkin, Crosby, etc.... its who we pick in rounds 10 and beyond that often shape and determine how far we go as the season progresses and ultimately whether or not we win the big prize at the end of the season. Drafts are a funny animal, and if you are in a league with all the same people over many years you can use previous history to determine who is going to take who in which round, and what position each GM likes to shore up as each draft round progresses. Below is a list of common mistakes GM's make during the draft and things that can be done to help us learn from our mistakes.

Drafting the wrong goaltender

This is a common mistake, and one that i see quite frequently in public leagues. Many GM's see a goaltender such as Carey Price this season, or Ray Emery the previous season, and think that they will only grow stronger from the past years experience, only to be played for a fool. Players like Price or an Emery are easy to spot, and if we look we can see that these are players that, even though they had great success their first year, began to fade down the stretch. GM's should not be disappointed when these goalies repeat the same performance the next year, and should take this mistake as a lesson for the coming year that when in doubt, try to take a perennial work horse, like Nabokov, Kipprusoff, or a Brodeur to be their go to guy, and leave the Carey Price's of the world to be 2nd string at best. Furthermore, there are always goalies who are just plain injury prone, and the top of this list of fragile tenders should be Marc-Andre Fleury. I personally made the mistake last season of Drafting Fleury to be my top guy figuring he would take me to the top with a strong offense and a great back line to support him. Well when he was shelved for 4 months during the season because of an ankle injury only swift action on the waiver wire saved my season. It should be known however that Fleury did play a big part in helping me win a championship down the stretch with his phenomenal finish last year. However, fragile guys need to be treated as such and should not be counted on to be the go to guy on any roster. This list also includes Jose ThreeOrMore(Theodore), Marty Biron, and Rick DiPietro. Buyer beware friends...... buyer beware.

Big Name, New Team

Sometimes, a change of address isn't exactly what the doctor ordered. This year just before and during the UFA signing period many players changed teams, and some of the changes made fantasy players take notice and get excited about players that they may not have shown up on their drafting radar before. The best examples of these types of players can be found with 3 specific names; Ryan Malone, Miroslav Satan, and Brian Rolston. All of these players jumped ship, it seemed for greener pastures and for better line mates. In the case of Ryan Malone, it seemed the moon and the stars aligned for him, he signed in Tampa Bay, and was poised to play on a line with Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. WHAT COULD BE BETTER? Surely his numbers would soar playing with such superior talent. Well if you took Mr. Malone in your draft, consider your pick wasted, because not only did he under-perform when paired with the big 2 of Lecavalier and St. Louis, but he was demoted as low as the 3rd line this season to play with such studs as Matt Pettinger and Evgeny Artyukhin. Malone, in his defense does have 24 goals and 41 points to his credit, and has turned it up at the end of the season now that the pressure is off, but lets really look at reality here. Malone was most likely taken in the first 10 rounds in most leagues because most owners saw the potential for a 70 point plus season playing with the likes of Lecavalier. If Malone was drafted in the top ten, well having 41 points with 3 weeks left in the season, would have to be called an enormous disappointment. Next is the case of Miroslav Satan. Owners were drooling and tripping over themselves to get there hands on Satan this season because he was with the Penguins, and was going to skate with Sidney Crosby. All whining jokes aside, i think i could probably put up 40 points skating on a wing with Crosby... yeah he is that good. Well its any one's guess what happened to him this season, but Satan might be the second biggest bust in all of fantasy this season. Satan has dropped so low he is playing in the AHL right now... THE AHL. This was a consensus pick among many in the know, and really who could blame them? The potential was there with his new team, and with his new line mates, and he failed miserably. Satan will probably not have a job in the NHL next season so it will be easy for GM's to resist... but this kind of pick is a good spot to start for many GM's to see where they went wrong. The last case is Brian Rolston. Rolston was the poster boy for consistency and was a guy that put up points across all formats especially those ever elusive short-handed points(should your league score for them). Well it started out looking like a marriage made in heaven, after all Rollie was playing between Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta in a puck possession system, and on top of that was penciled in as the point man for the power play. Well 8 games in tragedy struck and Rolston went feet first into the boards in Atlanta, and suffered a high-ankle sprain. Subsequently Rolston missed the next 7 weeks. Not too bad though, as he was still back in December so there was still plenty of time to pile on the points down the stretch, which can only be a good thing as who wouldn't want to get a guy like Rolston back for the second half of their fantasy season. Well, those who stashed Rolston on the IR were rewarded with him returning to the team to play with David Clarkson and Bobby Holik. What a bummer doesn't quite express how many owners felt, but i am sure there are many four letter words that would. Rolston has continued to depress owners since, totalling a measly 27 points in 54 games this season and only 14 points on the power play. This has to be the epitome of fantasy busts this season, as many owners(myself included) expected him to crack 60 points, with at least half of those points coming on special teams. Rolston has risen on the depth chart of late, rising back to his original line with Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta and has become a more reliable fantasy option in the last 2 weeks, but for a player who is usually picked in the first ten rounds, this guy has been nothing short of a complete disaster for fantasy owners.

Heart(and groin, and knee, and shoulder, and back, and ankle) Of Glass

Some players are just plain fragile. Like a politician lying to you, you can almost guarantee certain guys are going to get hurt during the year and usually for decent stretches. Unfortunately sometimes these guys are just too talented to stay away from, and despite the danger get drafted anyway often times higher than they should. No player fits this mantle better than Marian Gaborik. Talk about potential, this guy can score from all angles, and does it almost at will it seems. Yet every year he misses big stretches of time because of one injury or another, leaving his owners to debate whether to stash him on the IR or just cut their losses and try to pick up some production off the waiver wire. Gaborik isn't the only one though, as the list of fragile freddies is long and storied and contains some of the best talent in the game. Names to watch for in terms of being injury prone; Marian Gaborik, Sidney Crosby, Rick DiPietro, Martin Havlat(i am shocked he played as many games this season as he has already), Jason Arnott, Alexander Semin, etc. If you haven't noticed this list contains some of the premier talent in the NHL, and unfortunately injuries are a very real part of the game of hockey so they must be accounted for in the fantasy game as well. The best way to combat the loss of your season because of these guys isn't just to avoid taking them, because given the opportunity why would you NOT take a Crosby or a Semin, but to pad your roster with steady performers who are not as injury prone to help pick up the inevitable slack. Players like Marc Savard(who often flies under the radar), Jerome Iginla, and the Sedin twins are often players who are good at avoiding the injury bug and can put up solid numbers and keep your team in the hunt until your fragile star returns.

I hope you enjoyed this first post, and I welcome you to check back weekly for more from me and hopefully we can conquer your fantasy leagues together!


  1. Thanks brother! i will keep posting them, and if your in the middle of a fantasy playoff hunt good luck to you! BRING HOME THE GOLD!

  2. thanx.....im in the semi's right now tied 6-6. i guess im not looking like a fool anymore for drafting mike green in the 3rd round

  3. to be honest sykias, i had a GM in the league i commish draft Mike Green in the 4th round, and i rolled my eyes, simply because in that league i score for ALL goalie catagories, and he hadn't taken one yet. That decision blew up in his face because his top Goaltender all season was Vokoun, and his second was Bryzgalov. Obviously when your that shallow at goal, you should have your eyes on the waiver wire to make the best of whoever becomes the new hot thing this year(Steve Mason, Pekka Rinne) and in stead this GM decided that he would rather pick up Brendan Shannahan... OVER and OVER and OVER again each time it was rumored he signed. So needless to say he did not make the playoffs. And interestingly enough, when Shanny did return, he did not get him :)

    Obviously you knew well enough to take a goalie in one of the first 2 rounds, or like me, you are in a league(i am in multiple) all the other GM's around you undervalued Goalies and you are swimming with talent! Good luck to you this week!

    In the league i commish i am currently down 5-7 but If Brodeur had kept the Flyers to 3 goals or less i would be up 8-3... so its really close right now. and in all my other leagues i am up pretty big right now... it pays to go down to 2 defenesmen if necessary to get those extra points each week!

  4. actually...as far as goalies go...i only kept 2 on my roster all year (backstrom from min, and kiprusoff from cal.) i set my goalie settings in my league to wins-losses-save %-gaa average-and shutouts. it paied off b/c i ended up finishing first overall and got a first round bye. i took kipper early in the draft (maybe 4th round) and backstrom in the 9th and concentrated the rest of the draft on offense and offensive d-men. i got alot of heat for drafting elias in the first round( i am a big patty fan) and alfredsson in the 2nd(who started getting hot at the right time for me) my theory on drafting is if you can get steals by gambling and win your offensive catagories (pp points and sh points are huge)you shouldnt have any problems getting at least into the playoffs...even with mediocre goalies. Do you do playoff fantasy too??? If so maybe you can let me know and i will get in it with you.

  5. and taking a risk on injury prone guys paied off for me in my draft as well...simone gagne was still available late and i grabbed him. alexander semin was also available in the mid teen rounds and i decided to take a gamble on him as well. if semin didnt have that mysterious upper-body injury in the early part of the year i think he would be pushing crosby, malkin, and ovechkin in the points race.

  6. WOW panz.... honestly in the league i commish, Kipper is either a first or a second round pick, and Backstrom usually goes in round 4-6.....i am shocked they lasted that long, but i score Wins, GA, GAA, SV, SV%, and SO. With 10 GM's taking guys over 23 rounds, the goalies tend to go VERY fast in our league so you have to be prepared to take them early. Guys like Brodeur, Nabokov, Luongo, Kipprusoff, and Lundquvist are the guys that go in the first 2 rounds. I personally have always drafted from the position that if i can't get one of the top 5 players in terms of forwards, and by top 5 i mean guys that are probably going to to hit 90 points plus, then i have no problem taking Nabokov or any of the above mentioned guys in the first or second round. The way that I see it i really only draft for goals, and try to supplement my assist catagories off the wire, because that is ALWAYS something that can be found there.

    Panz, i was considering doing a playoff league... might not be a bad idea, i am sure we could get a bunch of guys off TG's blog to get in on it