The Puck Pastor revisits his Pro League Draft strategy. How did he do?



One of the nice perks of being a feature writer at DobberHockey is you receive a coveted spot in the invite only Dobber Pro Wales Division Fantasy Hockey League on Yahoo (DPWDFHLOY). Yup, what some of you have toiled for years in the minor leagues to achieve, I had handed to me on a silver platter. There was nothing I had achieved as a fantasy hockey player which should have me in the "Pro" league - I had played the Yahoo format before but was hardly proficient at it. In fact, I haven't won a pool for six years - this will come as no real surprise to those of you who have read my attempts at analysis and forecasting over the last month or so. But nevertheless, here we are. Me desperately camouflaging my lack of statistical and predictive abilities with a smokescreen of attempted humour and spiritual jargon. You reading it and sending me tweets asking for fantasy advice and emails to my church asking spiritual questions. Quite a pair you and I, codependent and loving it. I digress.

Like I said, I hadn't exactly knocked it out of the park in my previous drafts and they were relatively shallow drafts compared to the DPWDFHLOY behemoth where nearly 400 players are chosen over 25 rounds. So you can imagine I was nervous to suddenly be able to play with the big boys. And big boys they were, I could tell as soon as I logged on. They all had cool names, slogans, and avatars. I had to retrieve my password from last year because I forgot it. But I figured with some study and prep I could be ready to more than hold my own, once I figured out the log in issues.

The night of the draft was scheduled for mid-way through a church board meeting of which I am the chair. I emailed the board members and tried my best to make it sound like a fantasy hockey draft was an integral part of my job description. That somehow through the online ministries of the PuckPastor the goals and vision of our church are being powerfully realized. At the time it was a bit of a stretch, although since then I have received an email request from someone in North Carolina to see if they could be a part of our House Churches, so I have some evidence for next year's DPWDFHLOY draft. I hustled home after the meeting to get ready. First I ate some carbs then I set up the coffee table in my living room with two laptops (yeah, that's how I roll), my tablet, Dobber Fantasy guide, and a beautifully pulled espresso shot. Then, I belted out "O Canada" and "Star Spangled Banner" which woke up my 8 year old. Which was alright because I put him in net and took a few shots on him to warm up. Then the puck dropped. I was to pick 10th. I didn't know enough to know if this was a good spot or a bad spot all I knew is that when the time came I would be ready. Because I had a three-fold strategy.

First, try to secure goalies and defensemen first. With 15 guys needing 2 starting goalies each week the top tier was probably going to go fast. Plus, my previous Yahoo experience I had crummy goalies. More or less the same rationale with the defensemen - but less urgency because there are more of them.

Second, resist playing the "hunch" too early. I was confident I had some good later picks but I needed them to be later picks. I like Cam Atkinson, but only in the right round. I tried to come into the draft with no real attachments ahead of time to cloud my thinking.

Third I tried to have two to three choices in each round I would be happy with and then to make the decision in my allotted draft time; or in most cases have the decision made for me since often only one of the three was left by my 10th choice. I think this was a good move. Even in the DPWDFHLOY I saw guys say "AHHH you just took who I was going to take" and then take the whole three minutes to think and then end up with a panic choice.

Hindsight is 20/20, probably less so after only three weeks, but here are some early season reflections on my draft.  Basically what I am doing here is asking for your fantasy advice - which of course is what happens in the forums. So it looks pretty lazy of me unless you realize I am using the Socratic Method of teaching and aiming for a dialectic. Just trust that I am actually not abusing my role as article writer but am simply using advanced pedagogical strategies to benefit your fantasy team.


Here are my reflections:

1. I'm burning through my Free Agent Budget.

This is the first time I have had a Free Agent Budget and I'm spending it like a giddy heir who has waited for his inheritance. I've swapped 5 guys and spent $14 bucks. Many of those it turns out I could have had for free. I think I am sitting OK now. Is it normal to spend so much in the first few weeks? I'm about $7 bucks deeper than the next guy.


2. I'm happy with getting the Defending Art Ross Winner (DARW)


I took Marty St. Louis with the 40th overall pick (18 goalies, 12 players). I had him personally in my top 7. Maybe the other managers were needing to focus on goalies, maybe St. Louis peripheral stats scared them away, or maybe they just thought he was getting old. But they didn't see this picture. Looks like plenty of gas left in those puppies and Stamkos isn't going away either.


3. Sid, Gino, and Ovie's sidekicks.

I knew with 10th pick I'd not have a shot at either Malkin or Crosby. But I thought I could still ride their coattails to glory. The first skater I took was Neal (on IR right now and so I'm maybe out of luck there for awhile). Round 7 I had Pietrangelo, Kesler, and Dupuis, in that order, and the first two went so I took Dupuis. I didn't care about lack of PP time because I needed his plus/minus , shots, and hits. Round 14 I took Jussi Jokinen, rolling the dice he'd play alongside Malkin. Took him a round after someone took Beau Bennett, hoping for the same thing. It looks to me like Jokinen has the spot sewn up and some PP time as well. I also chose Marcus Johansson in later rounds.

I like how this strategy seems to be working so far. All three are scoring OK.


4. Pierre-Marc Bouchard

My pick in round 18 felt like a steal at the time so sure was I he would be logging big time minutes alongside Tavares. I imagined him on my starting roster. He quickly found his way to my bench and last week I dropped him on waivers. Couturier is now warming my bench in his place. On my radar at that time were Devon Setoguchi or David Jones. Both of whom I'd not have had on my bench or IR now anyway. Of course, knowing what I know now, I'd have been better off to take Hudler. I've also noticed he is getting more ice. This could be one I regret?


5. Shots / Hits / Goals

Either worst or second worst in all those categories. Turns out when left to my own devices I draft teams in my own image, playmaking finesse types who are devastatingly attractive and sexy (pardon me, my wife got a hold of the keyboard there). I picked up Bolland on waivers to try to add some grit, and once Neal returns shots and goals should improve. My leading shot getter is 10th round steal Brad Richards (27) and my leading hitter is Brandon Dubinsky (16), I think Dubinsky is 48th in the league. I have a handful of guys with only one goal and still have some waiting for their first (Krejci, Johansson, Green, Yandle, Enstrom, Leddy, and of course, Neal) But even as I type this I am realizing with the exception of Neal, these are all set up men.

This had me so desperate I offered M. Johansson for Cal Clutterbuck. The owner declined, and I am kind of relieved. But it strikes me as the kind of trade which can make or break your fantasy team. I have a bid in for Higgins. Anyone else worth paying attention to?

Thanks for reading. I'm off to a quiet cabin without internet access for a couple of days of R and R before returning to the relative civilization of the MTS Centre to watch the JETS/CAPS on Tuesday night. If you manage to catch the game listen for me. I'll be the voice screaming for Johansson to "SHOOT THE PUCK" and "PLAY THE BODY" so I can lay off my Free Agent Budget.


Till next week.


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