Briggins with some great draft prep advice for the poolies out there
The NHL Draft is just a little over a week away. The past few years, fantasy hockey wasn’t on my mind at this point. Sure, I’d be interested in seeing who went where on draft day and think things like “Grigorenko dropped in the real draft, maybe I can nab him late in my rookie draft”. Looking back on things, I shouldn’t have picked Matt Dumba as high as I did simply because he was a top 10 pick last season.
This season I’m taking a totally different approach to draft day. Here are a couple tips for fantasy hockey prep before the draft takes place.
1. Make a list before the draft
This is really important. Remember, players skill sets aren’t going to change between today and July 1, the day after the draft. Some players will land in more favourable situations making their perceived value go up. For example, if Tampa Bay drafts Drouin, MacKinnon or Barkov, fantasy owners will surely be over the moon with excitement thinking about one of these prospects lining up next to Stamkos. And if a forward ends up in Tampa Bay, they’ll probably be the first rookie selected in drafts.
Make a list of the players you like, in the order you like them, and note why you like them. After the draft, you can go back to this list and see if you need to bump players up or down a few spots. If you’re going to move a player, justify why you’re doing so. You’ll feel more prepared come draft time.
2. Use multiple sources
Before I started writing for Dobber Prospects four months ago, this website was my go to website for keeping tabs on drafted and undrafted prospects. Yes, you can probably follow 30 NHL teams and keep tabs on most of the players. But it is an impossible task for one person to follow the QMJHL, OHL, WHL, NCAA, European hockey and any other league players may come from.
Let the experts keep tabs on players in addition to your own observations. In addition to the Dobber Prospects guide, look at International Scouting Services (ISS) and NHL Central Scouting. Look for outliers and come to your own conclusions. For example, Valentin Zykov is the number seven ranked North American Skater by NHL Central Scouting. ISS has him ranked 19.
3. Fantasy value is different than real value
This may seem obvious, but just because a player is drafted high doesn’t mean he should be a high draft pick in your fantasy league. For example, Darnell Nurse will most likely be a top 10 pick in the NHL draft. However, he shouldn’t be selected in your top 20 this year under normal conditions. A player like Anthony Mantha could be drafted towards the end of the first round in the real draft. In fantasy drafts, a case could be made for the big forward to go in the top 10. He scored 50 goals for the Val-d’Or Foreurs and is 6-4 and 200 pounds.
Focus on the player and the skill set, not the draft position. A well-rounded player who plays on the third line, kills penalties and makes sound defensive plays are great for NHL managers, but fantasy owners need potential and high ceiling players to succeed.
4. Look at the numbers closely
This is another one tip that may seem obvious, but look beyond the final goals and assists totals. If you take a peak at Jason Dickinson’s stats. The 18 goals and 29 assists for 47 points in 66 games looks pretty good on paper, but if you look at his stats-per-game, you’ll notice he only scored six goals between December and March. Think Drouin and MacKinnon only put up good numbers because they played together all season? As you can see from a previous article I wrote, they both actually put up better stats when the other player wasn’t in the lineup. If a guy has really great numbers, check to see what scouts are saying about those numbers translating to the NHL. Nic Petan tore up the WHL for the Portland Winterhawks. But his 5-8 and 163 pound frame takes some of the shine off the 46 goals, 74 assists (120 points).
5. Have a plan
If you’re in full on rebuild mode, you’re going to pick differently than if your coming off a great season and are contending once again. A player such as Hunter Shinkaruk has more fantasy upside than a player such as Bo Harvat, but Harvat is more NHL ready.
If you’re contending, you’ll need to decide how much patience you’re willing to show with prospects. Nothing feels worse than drafting a prospect, losing patience and dropping that player only to see another manager scoop them up and develop a star. If you’re going to drop players by November, consider trading away those picks before your rookie draft (especially since many people over-value rookies in keeper and dynasty leagues around draft time). Make your plan for your team this season and three years down the road. Let it guide your rookie draft decisions.
6. Prepare to be wrong
No matter how much or how little work you put into studying rookies, you’re going to be wrong sometimes. Maybe you use a top five pick on Sean Monahan but he never improves his skating and never makes it to the NHL. It’s impossible to know how a 17 year-old player will develop physically and mentally. But that risk and reward is what makes a keeper/dynasty league so exciting in the first place.
Doing your homework before the draft can help you avoid (or at least minimize) the mistakes.
Previously from Briggins
- Scouting the Memorial Cup
- 2013 Draft: Won't Get Fooled (Again)
- The Next Ones: Zach Fucale
- The Next Ones: Sean Monohan