Fantasy Hockey Site Review: Officepools
Note: This is the fifth in a series of reviews of the most popular online fantasy hockey league websites. All the sites have their strengths. The intention of these reviews is not to favour one site over another, but to provide a resource for league commissioners to determine which site will best meet the needs of their league. All sites are evaluated on the same criteria to provide for easy comparison, with a letter grade assigned to each factor. The opinions of the reviewer do not necessarily reflect those of Dobber Hockey.
Officepools Site Review By: Les Gallagher (2Evils)
It’s fairly simple for anyone with some internet experience to get a sizeable pool fired up; obviously, it will take a little longer to input very deep leagues with large rosters if done manually. Individual teams are assigned a private login, and can be populated by the commissioner to start, by online draft, or with a new feature allowing GM's to be invited by email to fill in their own teams. (I haven't personally tested out this feature yet.)
There are several options available with regards to trades and line changes, depending on the settings chosen by the league administrator (or another designate with the admin password privilege). Teams may be assigned auto-approval for roster changes, so that larger pools with daily moves are not bombarding a commish with lineup change requests. A more micro-managed approach is also possible, requiring admin authority for all changes - more likely used for leagues with weekly or greater periods between allowed roster alterations. Trading between teams and add/drops tend to be set for commissioner approval for obvious reasons, but there is the same freedom available in the settings here.
Simpler "box/choice" pools are also easy to set up for quick league action, if needed for workplace or novice leagues.
Scoring and Stats: B
Head-to-head is not a native option, although it could be managed by the commissioner with custom settings. Officepools offers a very decent selection of scoring categories. Different point values can be assigned to any category, for instance making defenceman goals worth 2 pts, as compared to 1 pt for forwards.
The Draft: C
There is no support for mock drafts, unless every GM wants to participate in real time. Team info can be input by the commish, or by team managers, once invited to do so via email. The new online draft feature looks like a winner, but I have yet to experience it.
The trash talk area is always an option for live drafting; at least would avoid those last minute delays of, "Hey, my MSN messenger account isn't working... etc. "
Keeper League Compatibility: A
There is full portability of the previous season’s rosters and pool settings. Draft picks now appear manageable with the new "live online draft" feature.
Admittedly, this site shines on keeper leagues. Once these guys get your $20 pool fee, they seem to want to make sure you're coming back next season.
Farm Teams: D
As long as the commish sets it up to allow for farm to roster moves, you can freely draft and play as big a farm as you desire. The major annoyance is that their database doesn't love undrafted players, or even some of those drafted but playing in other leagues.
It's a bit of a hassle having to remember that blank spot #9 on my farm team is Mikael Granlund! Perhaps there is a manual way to input these, but I can't say I've looked very hard - I shouldn't have to go that route.
Salary Cap Leagues: B
Salary and cap hit info is available for every player. There is no automatic enforcement of team salary limits, however it does appear that at least the hectic draft period can be policed with their new online draft feature.
In my experience, many Officepools commissioners institute a severe penalty for anyone breaching salary limits.
Playoff Pools: A
Playoff pools are available, and easy to set up.
Officepools is a great site to use for customizing scoring, positions, and hosting a virtually unlimited roster size.
Criticism has already been directed at farm team issues with their recognized players, and no direct enforcement of salary cap, so only a knockdown to 'B' status on this one.
Fun Features: C+
Open trash talk and private team messaging are part of the regular interface. They run free contests during the regular season and playoffs, with cash prizes (eg. pick weekend winners, winning team eliminations, etc ). These can actually be pretty fun, for a small time investment.
Officepools has no articles, or even links to resources. However, they do earn a 'B' rating for having very up-to-date info on injuries, and their ability to allow a GM to generate detailed reports on: owned and unowned pool players' current NHL stats, and their reflected stats based on the league scoring formula. The "reports" search engine is very easy to use.
The site also has scrolling NHL news, and live scoring updates across the top of the browser. Player info is individually clickable, with bio, stats, injury history and status... plus live coverage of any twitter account (should you want to read Claude Giroux talking smack to his hometown buddies!).
‘A’ is the only fair way to answer here. I once had a query on a player’s point total from the previous evening. An Officepools customer rep replied to my email within the hour, to say that they were aware of the discrepancy and it was being corrected. Moreso, I was pleased to note that they posted it in their public scrolling messages as a correction, even though only a small minority of GM's would have even noticed the issue.
Initial pool registration and setup is free – just to give you a taste. Once the pool has continued past the first month of the regular NHL season, somebody is on the hook for $20.
Fortunately, that's it - a truly gigantic pool can be hosted for that one fee. How much do you think is fair for good hosting ? I'm happy with this.
Overall Rating (one-year leagues) : B+
Most leagues can be easily accommodated at Officepools, but those with head-to-head pools may get better service from another host. Weighing the cost relative to the resources, functionality and entertainment, Officepools delivers a pretty decent package. It is noteworthy to mention that they seem to also be in a constant state of enhancing their services; it’s kind of refreshing to experience that in a paid service these days.
Overall Rating (keeper leagues) : C+
It does the job for points-only formats, as you can re-post last year's teams.