Well, it’s that time of year again. Last week was the sixth annual Yahoo Experts League draft (third year with keepers) and the beginning of Fantasyhockey.com’s first ever championship defence. That’s right; we won the league last year, going nearly wire-to-wire before a strong last-month effort from the Rotoworld squad forced us to pull off a last second victory, thanks to a Jordan Leopold (who we spot-started) overtime goal on the final day of the regular season.
Here is the link to last season’s standings:
Deciding on our four keepers was especially tough this year for this extremely deep 12-team roto league. We had six players with keeper potential in Jonathan Toews, Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Gaborik, Johan Franzen, Duncan Keith and Martin Brodeur. Of these six, Brodeur was my only sure thing. Goaltending is extremely important in this league as it is nearly impossible to depend on any type of waiver pick-up or trade if you falter during the season. After a solid month of wavering I decided to round out my keepers with Toews, Datsyuk, and Keith. I was reluctant considering I actually think Franzen and Gaborik could possibly have the most potential of any of those forwards this year, but I just can’t see letting Toews or Datsyuk go at this point. Plus, the injury-risk associated with Gaborik and Franzen tilted the scales out of their favour. Keith may be the least valuable of the six players in question, but building a strong d-core is also extremely important in this league, and tough to do outside of the draft.
As draft time rolled around, I wasn’t surprised to see we had drawn the ninth spot considering I haven’t drafted higher than eighth in any draft in the past three years. In turns out it didn’t matter though as I was able to snatch up my targeted player, Taylor Hall, whom I hope to see as a mainstay on the fantasyhockey.com roster for the next 10 to 15 years. The first round went as so:
|1.||Ilya Bryzgalov (Pho – G)||Fanball-Flowers|
|2.||Jaroslav Halak (StL – G)||FantasyMagReview|
|3.||Marian Gaborik (NYR – RW)||Rotoworld-Levine|
|4.||Patrick Marleau (SJ – C,LW)||Y! Romig|
|5.||Jason Spezza (Ott – C)||NHL.com-Cubeta|
|6.||Tuukka Rask (Bos – G)||McKeensKats|
|7.||Tomas Vokoun (Fla – G)||TSN.ca Cullen|
|8.||Marc-Andre Fleury (Pit – G)||Rotoworld|
|9.||Taylor Hall (Edm – LW)||Fantasyhockey.com-Ev|
|10.||Paul Stastny (Col – C)||Rotowire-Topper|
|11.||Jonathan Quick (LA – G)||DobberHockey-Angus|
|12.||Semyon Varlamov (Was – G)||TheSportsForcaster|
It wasn’t surprising at all to see seven goalies to go in the first non-keeper round. I was hoping to re-obtain Franzen with my second pick but the quickly-shrinking goalie situation forced me to go with Kari Lehtonen as I watched Franzen disappear two spots later to Scott Cullen at TSN. Here is how the rest of the draft went for us
As you can see, I used six of my next eight picks to shore up my defence and goaltending. One of my strengths has always been recognizing breakout forwards on waivers and I hate struggling with defence and goaltending problems so this was a key to our draft strategy. Our d-core of Keith, Lidstrom, E. Johnson, P.K. Subban, and hopefully Souray at some point, should be the class of the league, with huge potential for upside. I also love our goaltending potential. With Brodeur and Lehtonen backed by Ellis and Bernier, two goalies who will battle hard for starts on good teams, we shouldn’t have trouble maxing out on our goalie starts with quality games played.
Our weakness here is obviously on the wings where I used only two of our first 14 draft picks. Of course, the day after the draft it was announced that my top sleeper-candidate, Okposo, will be out until December following shoulder surgery. I never expected for a second that I would be grabbing guys like Kostitsyn and Ponikarovsky but it was slim-pickens by that point. With Okposo moved to the IR, I grabbed Kyle Turris off waivers. I also dropped Kyle Beach, who was grabbed for his “points-with-PIMs” potential but never made the team in Chicago, and added B. J. Crombeen. I like Turris’ potential to end up centering the top-line in Phoenix this year with a plethora of talented wingers to help him out. I’m not huge on Crombeen, but I need some PIMs, and I don’t see him having a lot of downside with the scoring depth in St. Louis.
Our team is highly dependant on rookies this year with Hall, Eberle, Subban, Skinner and Ekman-Larsson all filling out the roster. Their play will be key to where this team ends up in the standings by the end of the year. One thing is for sure, though, this should be one exciting team to cheer for!
Do you have a question about your fantasy hockey team? Email Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he’ll add it to the Fantasy Mailbag. Or follow fantasyhockey.com on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates, general hockey discussion, and any fantasy hockey questions that you have. You can also become a fan on Facebook.