I’ve had a fairly busy offseason in my head-to-head keeper league. I shipped out Justin Williams for Steve Ott last month, and last weekend I pulled the trigger in a bigger trade, moving out Martin Brodeur, John-Michael Liles, and a draft pick in our dispersal draft in September for Loui Eriksson and a lower pick in the same draft.
* We keep 17, and eight farm players.
* Farm limits are 200 NHL GP (meaning Ville Leino can hang out on my farm and doesn't take up a keeper spot)
12 team head-to-head league
Start: 3 C, 3 LW, 3 RW, 6 D, 2 G
Forwards/Defensemen Stat Categories:
Goals (G), Assists (A), Plus/Minus (+/-), Penalty Minutes (PIM), Powerplay Points (PPP), Shorthanded Points (SHP), Game-Winning Goals (GWG), Shots on Goal (SOG), Faceoffs Won (FW), Hits (HIT)
Goaltenders Stat Categories:
Games Started (GS), Wins (W), Losses (L), Goals Against Average (GAA), Shots Against (SA), Saves (SV), Save Percentage (SV%), Shutouts (SHO)
1) Fill scoring categories first.
I always try to fill goals, assists, power play points, and so on with my star players. With the inclusion of PIM and hits, Eriksson’s value is less in this league than in many other league formats. However, I find it much, much easier to fill the peripheral statistical categories with waiver wire pickups and late round draft picks.
2) Fill weaknesses with strengths.
My defense is a strength, as Liles was probably the sixth defenseman on my depth chart (with Ekman-Larsson and Brendan Smith not very far off). He was the 51st best defenseman in our league (12 teams starting six defensemen, so he has very good value), and he should see an increase as he goes to Toronto (and a coach that doesn’t dislike him). My right wing has always been a weak spot on my team – Gaborik and Franzen, my likely keepers, are both injury prone. I used to own David Clarkson, but he wasn’t producing enough of anything to justify holding on to.
3) Goaltending strategy switch.
Our league has a lot of goaltending categories, but there is a case of diminishing returns if you try to fill all of them (or at least that is what I have encountered). I don’t see a huge bounce back from Brodeur, as New Jersey hasn’t done all that much to upgrade their defense. Father time factors in, as well. I own both Vancouver goalies, and Roloson in Tampa Bay. I may try to secure both goalies on another team (perhaps drafting Mathieu Garon, or trying to go elsewhere with my picks).
Even being a huge Jamie Benn fan, I am a bit worried about a falloff for Eriksson without Richards. Eriksson did post his career-best in goals while playing with Mike Ribeiro, showing he can produce without Richards. Right now, I see the Dallas second line being Benn between Eriksson and Ott (leaving Michael Ryder to skate on the top unit). I own two of three, and used to own Jamie Benn as well. Alex Goligoski will have a very positive impact on the offense over the course of a full season.
Analyzing my keepers, I had a comfortable enough balance of forwards, but a blatant lack of defense and goaltending, while still having an abundance of RW. My RW (or RW eligible) consisted of Okposo, Eriksson, Voracek, Backes, Niederreiter, and Caron. If I could have moved one RW to address a solid need at one of my weaknesses, I wanted to do so.
Eriksson, who I love, was the most likely candidate to move because he provided the least amount of multi-scoring depth (no PIMs, no hits) and he was going to play without Brad Richards. I am still confident he'll be good without Richards, but I had to make a move.
Brodeur likely has only one year left, but if he returns to form like Thomas did, he'll be a steal. If he doesn't he'll at least get me plenty of starts, which I am desperate for after watching Brian Elliott sign a two-way contract. My goaltending pre-trade consisted of Halak, Giguere, Elliott, Emery, DiPietro. I'll likely be letting DiPietro and Elliott (and Emery) go. If Brodeur plays well enough, I may actually attempt to flip him during the season to a contender. Without him, I have only one genuine starter and I would potentially be forfeiting a lot of matchups (min 3 games started each week).
I'm not a huge fan of Liles, but historically I've stayed away from investing in defense. The last two years it kept me out of the playoffs, so it was time for a change. Between my farm callups and my pro keepers, I'll have Pronger, Visnovsky, Liles, Del Zotto, Bogosian, and Blum next year.
When you can only start 3 RW, I was finding myself handcuffed with Okposo, Voracek, Backes, Eriksson, and Pavelski already on my roster, and having 2 more RW in the farm meant that I needed to make space for them. Making this trade meant that I had to give up on Elliott, but he's likely 2-3 years away from ever becoming a starter (and that's if he even can). Quite frankly, if I could move one player from a position of strength to address two weaknesses, I felt I was on the right track. The fact that I moved up in the draft really helped solidify the deal for me, though I did want an earlier pick.