My strategy in fantasy hockey is similar across leagues of most formats: I tend to target elite contributors at scarce positions early (such as D and RW this year) and then I fill out the other more plentiful positions later in the draft.
For positions such as center where the drop off between who you would get in mid rounds and who you would get in late rounds isn’t all that huge, I wait for the later rounds and fill out my roster with some serviceable players. Today I will profile one of those players – Olli Jokinen.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not necessarily a huge Jokinen fan. I don’t think he is a world beater and I don’t mean to compare him with some of the elite centers that are out there. Furthermore, I don’t avoid ALL centers early, if I can get a Stamkos/Crosby then I obvious will. The types of centers I tend to shy away from though are those mid round guys with big names but not much value (I’m talking about the Brad Richards, Mike Richards and Joe Thorntons of the world).
All three of these other centers are being drafted in the 5th and 6th rounds in Yahoo! pools. For me, I would rather bank a Pietrangelo at this position and wait until the later rounds for a guy like Jokinen to fill my center spot. Jokinen’s Average Draft Position (ADP) in Yahoo! pools is 156th – a full 7 rounds later than the other Cs that I mentioned. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers when I run it through Fantasy Hockey Geek:
(2011-12 stats for a Yahoo! standard 12 team H2H league G,A,+/-,PPP,PIM,SOG, W, Sv%, GAA, SO)
Looking at the numbers from last season, Olli Jokinen had almost the exact same value as Brad Richards. Their GPs, goals, assists, shots and PPP are almost identical. Brad fared better in the +/- department, while Olli was able to get a few more PIMs. Now compare those results with their ADP: Jokinen is being selected 110 picks later than Richards. Think about how much of an advantage the GM who took Jokinen in the 16th round had last year over the GM who selected Richards in the 3rd or 4th!
Now take a look at Mike Richards, who is being selected just slightly later than Brad. He played 8 less games so it isn’t quite apples to apples, but Mike Richards’ value wasn’t even close to Brad or Jokinen’s. He was close on goals and better in PIMs +, but his SOG, As and PPPs were all significantly too low to justify the draft position. Anybody who drafted somebody named Richards in the top 4 rounds last year likely regretted it.
There is an obvious counterpoint to my argument that I am not ignoring. Mike and Brad Richards both had a down year last season, while Jokinen had about as good of a year as any GM could have hoped. Surely, the gap will be wider in the coming season. I do agree that both Richards should bounce back to some degree next year but I don’t think it will be by enough to justify picking them 100 spots ahead of Jokinen.
My point here isn’t that Jokinen is as good as either Mike or Brad, my point is that at an ADP of 161 there is tremendous value with Jokinen. Brad Richards probably will improve next year and might be the 40th or 50th most valuable player in this league. I would still say that Jokinen at 161 provides better value.
Imagine this scenario in a league from last year: I passed on Richards in the 5th and took Weber instead, while another GM went ahead and took Richards in the 5th. Now fast forward to the 14th round, I take Jokinen to fill my C slot and the best D available for the other GM is Jay Bouwmeester. Jokinen and Richards ended up providing very similar value in the above league last year, but I won HUGE when comparing my Weber to his J-Bo. That’s the key here I’m getting at here: winning the trade-offs. My drop from Richards to Jokinen was negligible but his drop form Weber to J-Bo is enormous. Jokinen is not better than Richards, but the value that Jokinen + Weber provided last year far exceeded the value that Richards + Bouwmeester provided.
With Jokinen moving to Winnipeg next year, there is going to be some variability. I don’t think that he will necessarily repeat his 61 point pace, but I do think he is good for about 55 and he has a ton of other great attributes to offer as a 14th round pick:
Durability: In the past 12 seasons, Jokinen has average 80.7 games played and age isn’t slowing him down. He has missed a mere 3 games total over the past 3 seasons.
Power play performance: Jokinen has always been a great power play contributor. 35% of his career points have come on the power play. Guys who perform well on the power play are especially critical in almost all pool formats not only because PPP tends to be a scarce category to fill, but also because obviously more PP time tends to result in more G/A/SOG output. With this in mind, the one thing to be wary of when selecting Jokinen, is that if his move to Winnipeg results in less time on the PP then his value will be hurt significantly.
Other Peripherals: Jokinen has never been a great +/- performer. I have written before how I don’t like this unreliable stat but Jokinen has only been a plus player 3 times in his career and I don’t think that moving to the Peg will help in that regard. In terms of hits and PIMs though, Jokinen is a solid contributor. He has averaged 55 hits and 58 PIMs over the past 3 years which aren’t exactly stellar numbers but much more of a contribution than you would expect from Brad Richards.
In many ways, Olli Jokinen is just a guy on your fantasy roster. He isn’t great at much, he isn’t terrible at much, but he is “just a guy” who can be had a great value late in drafts. The drop off between some of the top names in the league and Jokinen is not big, so save your high picks to solidify another position and get Jokinen later down your draft board. Deploying this strategy and finding hidden value like Jokinen will allow your team to have great strength at the scarce positions, while not killing your team at a position like center.
To find other guys like Jokinen who may fly under the radar but provide solid value in your fantasy hockey league, sign up for Fantasy Hockey Geek today!
Previous Columns from Terry:
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