Fantasy Squad Review

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In-depth review and analysis of a reader’s fantasy hockey team

I always try to preface any fantasy advice with this – none of us are able to one hundred percent guarantee any fantasy outcome (other than Lupul spending time on the IR, of course). Ultimately any advice or opinion is based on reasonable judgment and estimation, but it is never fact.

In reviewing a followers squad we aren’t looking to provide answers to all the questions, because frankly there isn't necessarily right answers out there. What we aim to do is provide another option, a second set of eyes, that might help you look at your players in a different way and consider a new strategy.

Of course we’d love to take a close look at all teams but there are only 24 hours in a day (and I gotta sleep!). 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…

League Settings

Teams: 12

Player Categories: Goals, Assists, Plus/Minus, Penalty Minutes, Power Play Goals, Power Play Assists, Shorthanded Goals, Shorthanded Assists, Game Winning Goals, Shots on Goal

Goalie Categories: Wins, Loss, Goals Against, Saves, Shutouts

Duration: Keeper league, each team is permitted to retain one player for every 5 draft rounds

Forwards

Bryan Little

Taylor Hall

Gustav Nyquist

Tyler Toffoli

Max Pacioretty

Ryan O’Reilly

Alex Ovechkin

Nathan Mackinnon

Nikita Kucherov

Martin St.Louis

Brandon Dubinsky

The first thing that jumped off the page to me was that this team features both Hall and Ovechkin. In a 12 team league that should be nearly impossible. I can only guess that Hall dropped inexplicably to the late second round and was grabbed there in an absolute steal.

My top 6 forwards, in no particular order, are Crosby, Stamkos, Ovechkin, Malkin, Tavares and Hall. There are numerous arguments for who should go where on that list, influenced by league settings and the particular categories. However, to me at least, there is little debate that these are in fact the top grouping.

Having two superstars opens up some intriguing strategies in a league with these settings. Remember, each team can only keep one player for every 5 rounds. My first instinct was to keep Ovechkin, since he is certainly the most valuable asset. The presence of Hall opens up the opportunity to potentially dangle Ovechkin later in the season as trade bait (if you are rebuilding and looking for draft choices) or during the offseason.

The drop off from Ovechkin to Hall is significant, but I’m willing to bet another team would trade its 1st, 2nd, and maybe even 3rd round picks to acquire Ovechkin going into next season. This is an important call out to other managers – think carefully about your league settings. Depending on what format you play in there could be uncommon ways to capitalize on assets.

The supporting cast here is also strong – St.Louis is still a point per game player (over 90 in 3 of the past 4 seasons – per 82 games) and has increased value in a league that counts both power play goals and power play assists. Pacioretty has seen his value plummet a bit in some circles, but I still believe he’ll finish with a pro-rated 70 points and close to 300 shots.

The one area of concern with this group is the number of unproven young players present. Nyquist, Toffoli, Mackinnon, and Kucherov are all nice pieces but come with a lot of risk. In a keeper league where each team is allowed to retain 8 to 10 players year over year these guys would carry a lot more weight. In this format, their age becomes negligible for the most part, meaning they might be a bit overvalued.

Defencemen

Mike Green

Erik Karlsson

Kimmo Timonen

Zdeno Chara

I’m still scratching my head as to how Rask, Karlsson, Ovechkin, and Hall managed to end up on the same team. That is most certainly the best core in the pool.

Having Green and Chara as the number 2 and 3 defensemen should create a distinct advantage each week, the problem is both players have been inconsistent. The issues with Chara began last year, when his point and shot totals took a significant nosedive (19 points and 119 shots). I often look at shots as a leading indicator for a looming decline. Generally shot totals will decrease when a player’s skills start to diminish and they are incapable of getting into the shooting areas of the ice as consistently. At 36, it is possible Chara is slowing down. He is still valuable in all pools, we just have to adjust our expectations to that of a low end number 2 and high end 3.

Mike green is still arguably the biggest boom or bust pick in fantasy. When he is on his game there are few defensemen with his combination of points, plus minus and shots on goal. Of course lately the points have all but disappeared (12 assists, 0 goals) and he isn’t shooting as frequently. My advice is to stay the course for now, but to explore any trade opportunities if the numbers don’t trend upwards.

Goalies

Tuukka Rask

Kari Lehtonen

Kevin Poulin

Cam Talbot

12 team leagues can be worrisome for owners when it comes to goaltending. When you divide 30 NHL teams by 12 fantasy rosters it’s obvious that at least a couple managers aren’t going to have 2 solid starters. That’s what is impressive with this squad – the tandem of Rask and Lehtonen is undoubtedly in the top 5 for the league and potentially higher.

Poulin is probably a below average number 3, but it’s unlikely he plays on Saturday nights and there is the opportunity to sit him whenever Kari and Tuukka are in net (on a side note, who else always forgets that Tuukka has two "u"s in his name? Gets me every time).

Recommendations

Now that we’ve dissected the team the question is what could be done to improve it? I have 3 suggestions below….

1.Look to flip one or two prospects for a struggling veteran

There are a number of veteran players who have gotten off to a slow start and are good buy low candidates. Ray Whitney comes to mind for me – yes, he’s 41, but he’ll challenge 60 points and over 160 shots if he can stay healthy. Another guy that has slowed a bit of late is Tomas Plekanec; although he is normally a reliable 50 point, 200 plus shot contributor. I would approach the manager with one of Kucherov or Toffoli and try to land one of Ray or Tomas. There is significant media attention to both of your prospects - this might be the perfect time to get a deal done.

2.Look to upgrade on Kevin Poulin

This may be easier said than done. Goalies in 12 team leagues carry more value than your 1989 Joe Sakic rookie card on the school playground. I would again look to take advantage of your plentiful prospects. Nyquist is now playing on the top line in Detroit - perhaps you can package him with Poulin and target a slightly more reliable third goalie. Names that come to mind include Backstrom, Thomas, or Anderson (depending on how concerned the owner is about Lehner).

3.Consider Pacioretty or St.Louis as your second keeper

That may seem counter intuitive given that you have Mackinnon on the roster. The issue is that Nathan is probably another year or so away from being a productive fantasy asset. During that time both St.Louis and Pacioretty will be top 45-50 players and potentially even higher than that. If your league allows you to retain players for 5 or 10 seasons then Mackinnon is a prudent choice and will be part of your core for years to come. If not, and you only hold onto players for a year or two, then one of the two veterans will provide significantly better production from the second slot.

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