Fantasy Banter: Let the Show Begin

            Hello, and as Cam introduced me my name is Rob and I'll be joining the team at FHS here on a weekly basis. I've been playing fantasy hockey for years, but only have begun to take it somewhat seriously in the past two to three. I put my time into three leagues; two one-year Yahoo leagues but more importantly a custom, dynasty-like league that tries to mirror the NHL as much as possible. It is run by a couple of great guys for free, and I took over an empty team almost a year ago to the day. My best fantasy decision to date is keeping and re-signing Carey Price in the dynasty league for a decent price to a long year-deal. I still believe Halak won't have as good of a career as Carey, and I feel even more confident after this article came out in October.

 

            What I hope to bring to the site is some insight regarding prospects, trades, and any overall fantasy trends I see going forward. While I miss some Ranger games due to certain reasons, I never miss my fantasy news. I'm a fan of advanced NHL statistics, which SB Nation is lucky enough to have one of the best sites on board regarding those in Behindthenethockey.com. These numbers have serious fantasy value because they dive more into the play of a certain player rather than relying on just the production numbers of a player that are affected by his teammates around him. I use these numbers a lot to analyze the New York Ranger's play over at Blueshirt Banter, as you can see here with this piece on Chris Drury.

            To start here, I better prove I'm not all talk. Follow me after the jump for my two must-know advanced stat theories, a word on prospects/World Juniors, and one of my favorite players in the NHL that isn't a New York Ranger.

Advanced, yet Simple, Statistics

            There's no right or wrong way to explain these, so here goes. First off we have League Translations; which is a tool to help project the number of points a player in another league could score in the NHL. Here's the chart, courtesy of behindthenet.ca:

League

Difficulty

N

NHL

1.00

WHA Final Year (1978-79)

0.89

59

Russian Elite League

0.83

101

Swedish Elite League

0.78

77

Czech Republic League

0.74

53

Finland SM-Liiga

0.54

76

Deutsche Eishockey League

0.52

74

WHA First Year (1972-73)

0.46

39

AHL

0.44

384

IHL

0.43

113

Switzerland National League

0.44

30

NCAA

0.41

295

Canadian Major Junior

0.29*

410

 

            Now, while I follow all other numbers, the Canadian Major Junior number is lower than expected due to the especially young age of players (16-20). Because of this, my personal figure for the CMJ part of this chart changes to 0.43, or right below the AHL (seeing that Juniors is widely considered a bit better than NCAA DI). Essentially, how it all works, is if a player scores 60 points in 60 games in the OHL (or 1.0 Points-Per-Game), that will translate to 0.43 PPG, or 35 points over 82 NHL games. If we take the PPG average of a player's career in the juniors, then we can estimate the PPG average of the players' future NHL career. Through my experience with this theory these numbers are in the ballpark most of the time.

            The second must-know theory is PPG Peak due to Age in the NHL. I'll let the chart speak for itself (courtesy of behindthenethockey.com):

Ppgvage_medium_medium

via http://www.behindthenethockey.com/2010/1/21/1261318/nhl-points-per-game-peak-age

            So essentially, an NHL players peak season is when he is 25/26. When you look up players, this seems to be the case. I have two personal theories regarding this, though. The first is if a player starts his pro career late, then his peak tends to become a little bit later. A good example of this is Craig Conroy; whose career is nearly over. After playing four years at Clarkson, he started his pro career at 23 years old (later than the typical junior or European player, which is usually by 20). His best season in the pro's was with Calgary in 2001/02 at age 30, seven years after he started; but it still holds mostly true with the five/six year projection. Finally, the second theory I have involves players at age 30 or over. Typically, for some reason, there is always one year where a player older than 30 will have a revival of sorts. Conroy, Chris Drury, and even Mark Messier all went through it for some examples. Just something to keep in mind.

            How does this all help with Fantasy Hockey, though? Well, for two reasons. First of all, if you are a part of a keeper league or a league that involves prospects, this can help project their career to an extent. Secondly, if you're in a simple one-year league, you can still use the translations and PPG Age estimation to see the type a year a player may have (below, average, or above).

            Two good examples this season are Clarke MacArthur and Corey Perry, both on my team for the dynasty league. I was lucky enough to inherit MacArthur from his previous owner, and I knew he was going to have a good year when he was signed by Toronto and basically guaranteed top 6 minutes. MacArthur turns 26 in April and started his pro career when he was 20, putting him in that perfect peak zone. After three years in the WHL, his career PPG was 1.18, meaning his average NHL season should be around 0.5 PPG (0.47 as of 12/10/10). His best year in the WHL with Medicine Hat was his last, where he scored 1.28 PPG; meaning his best season in the NHL should be somewhere around 0.55 PPG, or about 45 points. Right now he's on a 0.79 PPG pace (64 points), so he will probably slow down; but the funny part to me is how some didn't see this coming. Corey Perry, while much more known for his offensive abilities, is also a textbook example of this theory as well.

World Junior Hype

            With the World Juniors coming up in Buffalo, some exciting hockey is about to be played by a future generation of NHL'ers. While this is more prospect oriented, it does serve a fantasy purpose to at least keep your eye on World Junior news for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there are NHL-ready players participating, and if they do well their stock will sky-rocket. While it's good for the owners of the player, it means any trade options will become much more difficult. The World Juniors is fun to watch but no one should bank on a player's success in the tournament being the end-all indicator of said players' future (too small of a sample size). That being said, the tourney is good for possibly picking up a player who was off the radar in the beginning.

For example, I signed Jerry D'Amigo after last year's impressive World Junior performance for the US. I shopped him around after the tourney, but didn't get quite the offer I wanted (should have still dealt him). I plan on doing the same after this year's edition, especially if he does well again, because he's struggling a bit in the AHL at the moment. In the end, the World Junior's are fun to watch because of the quality of hockey and the fact that we will all be watching tomorrows NHL stars; but don't be a sucker to the hype surrounding a good tournament player.

Jamie Who?

            Know the name, even if you don't want him right now: Jamie Benn. I said it before earlier in the season on this site, because he's such a bargain deal. Drafted originally by the Stars in the fifth round in 2007, Benn's career PPG in the WHL was 1.37 and his best year (of 2) was 1.46. He's a consistent player with a big shot, and he put up just a quiet little rookie-year point total of 41 (22 goals) while playing all 82 games. Sophomore slump? I don't think so, as he's got 15 points (6 goals) through 24 games and is on pace for 50 points. Right now, he's a middle-six Center/Winger playing on a stacked Dallas offensive unit who are currently sit 2nd in the West (Took a flier on Lehtonen too!). He typically plays on the second line with Morrow and Ribeiro, and gets first-line PP duties with Brad Richards and James Neal. In deep one-year leagues or keeper leagues, look him up and consider grabbing him.

            So that's all for now. Going forward, I urge you to send (either in comments or click on my profile and email me if you want to stay anonymous) any questions in about potential deals, thoughts on prospects/players, or questions on advanced stats (such as Corsi, GVT, or adjusted +/- ratings) and how they can help in fantasy hockey (I'll do my best with this one as there are more qualified individuals when it comes to those). If there are no questions, then you'll have to listen to me ramble again like this, and that's not as much fun for me or you.

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