Whenever you’re on the verge of making a trade there is always a part of you that says "crap, am I about to get ripped off?"
It is that unnerving feeling that the opposing manager knows something you don’t - maybe he went to school with Zach Parise’s third cousin’s sister’s aunt and has inside information that he’s contemplating retiring from the NHL and moving to Switzerland. Or maybe your buddy has recently adopted advanced statistics and is trading you a guy with the league’s highest PDO, doomed to see his production regress in the coming months.
Whatever the situation, all of us are always looking for a second opinion. The issue is that if you’re in a fantasy pool the majority of your close friends who take part in hockey pools are probably in the same league. This limits their ability to be objective in providing trade advice and forces you look elsewhere to talk things through.
That’s where we are hoping to help out. Periodically we’ll work with one of our Twitter followers to examine their team top to bottom. Looking at the various strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities and ultimately providing a few suggestions on how to improve.
Of course we’d love to take a close look at all teams but there just isn’t enough hours in the day. If you would like to discuss a trade idea, waiver pickup, or just want to talk fantasy hockey you can follow me @FantasyHockeyDK and the FHS team @TheScouts.
Onto today’s team…
Player Categories: Goals (1pt), Assists (1pt)
Goalie Categories: Wins (2pt), Shutout (2pt), OTL (1pt)
Roster: 7 Forwards, 3 Defencemen, 3 Bench, 1 goalie
Duration: Keeper league (keep 3 players year-over-year)
Rick Nash (IR)
Assembling a group of forwards like this in a 10 team league is impressive. There are arguably 8 players on this squad that would be considered top 30 options (Kane, Couture, Ovechkin, Parise, Toews, Spezza, Staal, Nash). The average team would have only 3 or 4 layers in that group – a significant advantage each week.
The format of this league puts an interesting spin on the value of Ovechkin. In multi-category leagues I have him as the most valuable skater available. His combination of goals, hits, and shots on goal makes him capable of winning entire weeks by himself. The issue is that without hits and shots included his value is muted a bit. I would still take him in the top three but there is at least an argument for Crosby or Stamkos to be taken ahead. At 28 years old there is no reason to think he’ll show signs of slowing for another 4 to 5 seasons.
While the format may lower some values, it also has the reverse effect on point producers like Patrick Kane and Jason Spezza. In his last full season Spezza finished 4th in league scoring with 34 goals and 50 assists. He has bounced around the lineup this season but is still hovering near a point per game with 16 in 17 games. I would resist the urge the deal Spezza this season; he is still the best offensive option in Ottawa.
Kane has been held back in certain formats on account of his good but not great shots on goal totals (250ish) and below average penalty minutes (40). However, in points only leagues such as this he is once again a top 10 choice. His career high is 88 back in 2010, although he was on pace for 96 in last year’s lockout shortened season.
I’ve received a lot of questions regarding Eric Staal the past couple of weeks - the general theme being "is it time to trade him?" I may be the outlier here, but I firmly believe he’ll turn around his production soon. We just have too much data on Staal to begin doubting him at this point. He is 29 years old and has surpassed 70 points in 8 consecutive seasons – long term he should be fine.
Ekman-Larsson has turned into a fantastic pick this season, skating major minutes both at even strength and on the man advantage. With 16 points in 20 games there is an argument for him as a top 10 defenceman. Though he has been moving up the rankings I’m not ready to have him in the upper tier with players like Subban, Karlsson and Letang.
The issue with grouping is that neither Doughty nor Fowler have proven to be consist point producers in recent seasons. Doughty possesses all of the talent you could ask for, but is being stifled in a more defensive system that is preventing him from getting involved in the offence. His career high 59 point year is now a distant memory as he has settled into the 40 point range.
Cam Fowler is a former 12th overall pick and regular readers know that I absolutely love a player with a strong draft pedigree. He’ll be a decent option in the future, although right now he is a 21 year old who is still developing.
If I had to identify the biggest need on this team overall it would be acquiring a proven defencemen, to support OEL. This would allow Doughty or Fowler to shift comfortably into the number three spot and create a more balance defensive group.
Marc-Andrew Fleury comes under fire in a lot of hockey circles for his shaky playoff record in recent years and rightly so. The good news is that only rare fantasy formats take into account the post season, so it is of little consequence to us. Fleury finished tied for 4th in wins last season with 23 and was second in 2011-12 with 42 wins. Pittsburgh will continue to be a cup contender this year which means that he should be seen as a top ten option in this format.
The Red Wings may not be a President’s Trophy candidate, but they remain a strong team that will pile up wins. Additionally, they play an elusive puck possession game that can help produce shutouts. Last year Howard tied for the league lead with 5, following up a productive 2011-12 when he posted 6. He’s a nice supporting option in this format and I would presume that this is one of the better goalie tandems in the pool.
Now that we’ve dissected the team the question is what could be done to improve it? I have 3 suggestions below….
1.Try to sell high on Brian Little
He has a 31 goal season on his resume, so this level of production is not completely unexpected. That said, this is a player that has broken 50 points only once and is currently on pace for 45 goals and 74 points. If you can sell him at the value of a 70 point player for a more proven commodity such as Patrick Sharp, Joe Pavelski, or Jarome Iginla I would make the swap.
2.Don’t overvalue youth
Youth is a funny thing in fantasy hockey and can result in managers overvaluing young players with the hope that they will develop even further in the future. In a 10 team league where only 30 total players are kept the age of anyone ranked outside the top 40 to 45 is essentially irrelevant. There is very little chance that Landeskog will ever be a top 30 player in a points only league, with his value coming in a number of different categories. I would look to move him next time he has a big game, selling the dream of him skating alongside Nathan MacKinnon the next decade. From your perspective there is no chance he would unseed Ovechkin, Kane or Nash for a keeper slot.
3.Leverage the outstanding forward depth to land a defencemen
Kris Letang only has 4 points in 9 games; as a result he is being a bit undervalued at the moment. Surprisingly, few are mentioning that he was over a point per game from the blue line in 2012-13 (38 points in 35 games). I would suggest dangling one of Parise or Couture and looking for Letang plus a draft pick. If the other manager is getting frustrated you’ll likely nab Kris for a discount.