The Goods: Fantasy Hockey Mailbag

02/16/2011 11:47 AM -  Ian Gooding

Who do you believe was the best late-round pick in fantasy drafts? I answer that question below. Feel free to weigh in with your opinion as well.

Hey Ian, 

I was invited to join his hockey fantasy league by a pal of mine and now I’m actually 3rd out of 12 even though I’ve picked horrible players totally out of position during the live fantasy draft we did (Dennis Wideman, Scott Gomez, Milan Lucic, Simon Gagne and Jeff Skinner are among my first 10 draft picks).

Somewhen around the 15th game, I picked up Dustin Byfuglien because I was looking for a multi-purpose player. Am I correct in assuming Byfuglien has been the best late pick at the beginning of the season? I believe he was owned in 12 percent of leagues at the time, and now he is up to 94 percent ownership while started in 85 percent of these leagues.

Best regards

Ben in Germany, currently playing in the “Ice Maniacs” fantasy hockey league.

Hi Ben. Excellent question.

Virtually no one saw Byfuglien’s big season coming, especially when he was traded to Atlanta and moved to defense. But he has paid big-time dividends to his owners this season, leading all blueliners in goals (17), power-play goals (7), and shots on goal (242).

Is he the best late-round pickup this season? On December 31, I would have said yes. However, the splits suggest that it has been a tale of two seasons for Big Buff. Lost in all the glee over his success may be the fact that he has a mere goal and an assist over his last 16 games. The return of Tobias Enstrom from injury may suggest a turnaround is in the cards for Buff, but he has dropped to fifth among defensemen in points during his slump. In the rankings, Buff has been passed by both Nicklas Lidstrom and fellow late-round pick Kris Letang. In fact, a valid argument could be made that Letang is the best late-round pick in fantasy drafts this season, but my choice is neither of these defensemen.

This season, the best late-round pick in fantasy drafts has to be Tim Thomas, who leads the NHL with a 2.02 GAA, a .938 SV%, is tied for first with 7 shutouts and is tied for fourth with 26 wins. Remember that Tuukka Rask swiped Thomas’ starting job away last season, making Thomas the subject of trade rumors and an afterthought in fantasy drafts. However, Thomas has clearly been the NHL’s top goalie this season, although he has seen a minor dropoff in his numbers in February (6 GP, 3.40 GAA, .884 SV%). But my answer to your question is still Thomas, considering that goalies like Rask, Ryan Miller, and Martin Brodeur were drafted much higher but have struggled a lot more.

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