Well, I suppose it was bound to happen. Up to my eyeballs in kids, work and a million other distractions, I thought I could survive at least a short-term lockout without having to seek out an alternative fantasy hockey outlet. But after hosting my annual keeper league draft a couple weeks ago, it became undeniable… I need my fix.
As ambitious commissioners everywhere scramble to put together AHL, CHL and KHL fantasy leagues, I was clear on what I wanted in a lockout league. I wanted to develop a pool that my keeper league GM’s would be willing and able to participate in with minimal effort. Most of them are too busy to exhaustively research the minor leagues and conduct a new draft for a pool that, frankly, they will probably lose interest in if/when the big boys return.
Our keeper league includes an extensive farm system. Most teams have between 9-15 prospects (defined as any skater with less than 165 NHL games played, or goalies with under 100 games played). So, our teams are already in place. It was just a matter of finding a format that would work, given the fact that our prospects span more than half a dozen leagues, including AHL, CHL, KHL, NCAA, SEL and more. How could we account for the differences between these leagues and come up with a scoring system that would create something resembling a level playing field for all teams, regardless of where their players are skating?
Fortunately, we live in the age of advanced stats. I’m not a big advanced stats guy, to be honest. Not that I don’t see the value; I just don’t have the time required to really dig into it and consider the implications for my fantasy squad. But in this case, I’ve found a use for it.
People much smarter than I have come up with NHL equivalency ratings for various leagues - AHL, CHL, KHL, NCAA, etc. These numbers can be used to compare players across leagues. Basically, equivalency ratings enable you to determine that an 80-point season in the AHL is equivalent to x points in the NHL, for example. Running these calculations for various leagues, using each league’s unique equivalency number, allows you to compare players across leagues.
So, I’m running a grand experiment this season: an NHL equivalency pool using my keeper league farm teams. Each team in my league will select seven of its prospects to dress for the season. Each team must dress a minimum of two defencemen, and we are not using goalies. Players must play in one of these eligible leagues: AHL, WHL, OHL, QMJHL, NCAA or KHL (I could’ve included others, but I had to draw the line somewhere). Any player defined as a prospect under our rules is eligible, including established stars like Jeff Skinner and Jordan Eberle who will play out the lockout in the AHL.
Scoring is based on points only. Totals for each player will be determined as follows: PTS/Games Played*League Equivalency*82. For the math challenged, we're taking the player's points per game, multiplying it by the league equivalency rating, and multiplying that by 82 to estimate how many points they would score in an 82 game NHL season.
League Equivalency Ratings are as follows (developed by Gabriel Desjardins of BehindTheNet.ca):
Basing our scoring on points per game instead of straight points smooths out the significant differences in games played among various leagues. It also means that when the NHL starts up and players get called up, it won't affect the validity of this pool. It's not a perfect system by any means, but hopefully it will be fun and give my GMs the chance to track their prospects more closely this year. It will also give us a qualitative measure of how our farm teams stack up against each other, which we’ve never had before. I’m also planning to come up with some end of season player and team awards, just as we have in our regular league.
Stats will be tracked by spreadsheet. It will be somewhat labour intensive, as I’ll have to pull stats from six different leagues. As a result, it will be updated irregularly over the course of the season - probably about once a month. Since we won’t be making lineup changes, frequent updates aren’t crucial.
Having never done anything like this, I don’t know exactly what to expect. Hopefully the system will work reasonably well, and if so, I could see us continuing with this in future years as a sidebar to our league. I’ll report back to Dobber Nation later in the season on the success or failure of the league.
So, what do you think? Will this actually work? Do you have suggestions for improving it? How are you getting your fantasy hockey fix during Lockout 2012?