Admit it, that’s most likely the exact thought that went through your mind as you read the title of this post. Truth be told, yes, nabbing Ovechkin in the first round of your fantasy draft will allow to flat out smack kids in the face. But then what? What about the second round? Supporting player? Goaltender? Enforcer because your league awards points for penalty minutes? The possibilities are endless. This will be my attempt to write a guide about what strategies you can adopt going into your fantasy draft while using the Capitals as an example for selections. So, without further ado, let’s get this rolling.
Since numerous factors can influence who you will select for every round (players remaining, early/late draft position etc.), I’m going to enumerate 5 key elements every draft team needs in order to be successful and which round they should be drafted in.
#1: The heavy artillery(round 1 or 2): This will be the man you will be counting on to rack up points for you day in and day out. If your goaltender let you down by allowing 5 goals on 17 shots, you should be able to rely on this man to keep the damage count to a minimum thanks to his nasty ability to fill up the net on offense. Make sure he’s on the power-play (most leagues offer bonus points for points earned on the man-advantage) and had at least 50 points last season. I wouldn’t suggest going after shaky players such as Gaborik (injuries) or some of the Detroit veterans (age factor) due tot he fact that they might keel over at any time during the season. Pick someone who’s decently young, full of offensive talent and doesn’t have a track record full of injuries. Ovechkin would obviously be prime real-estate when it comes to this category.
#2: The Wall:(round 1 or 2) Fact: Defense wins championships. Second fact: A hot goaltender almost guarantees wins for any hockey team. Case and point: Halak in the playoffs last year. He single handedly carried the Habs to the Eastern Conference Finals. You need a good goaltender on your team otherwise you’re going to get smacked no matter how good your offense is. Pick a goalie that plays almost every night (misses no more than 20 games a year) and had a win percentage over .500 last year. Also, think of the team the goaltender has in front of him when selecting one. For example, Varlamov might not have the best personal stats but he does play for the Washington Capitals. This means he can allow 3 goals a game and still have a chance at the W because he plays for one of the most offensively threatening teams in the NHL.
#3: The right hand man( round 3 or 4): Ever notice how every time players like Ovechkin and Crosby are on the ice the puck somehow seems to always make its way to their tape? That’s because every superstar out there has his right hand man that always plays with him whether it be at full strength or on the power play. In Ovie’s case, the man in question is obviously Backstrom. These two players have incredible chemistry. Whenever either one of these gets a point, you can almost guarantee that the other had the assist. And to make things all that much sweeter, Backstrom also *usually* has Semin on his right wing. As far as the position of center goes, he’s probably got the coolest gig in the league.
The backstops: This is easily my most hated category when it comes to drafting a fantasy team; the defensemen. The thing is, no matter how hard you try this will most likely be the category that will cost you the most points. Even if you manage to pick a top defenseman who plays on the powerplay and scores a bunch of goals, chances are he’s the top penalty killer. Penalty kill= many opportunities for that+/- rating to go down and most leagues dock you points for negative ratios during the season. Keeping that in mind, the best strategy that I have found is to focus on the +/- ration of the player in the past season. If you’ve got the choice between a high scorer with a lower +/- ration an average scoring defenseman with a stellar +/- ration, go for the last option. You don’t count on these guys for offensive production, you just need them to keep everything under control in your own end. When it comes to this category, Mike Green is every fantasy player’s wet dream. Not only did he almost crack the top 20 points leaders in the league as a defenseman, he also had a +/- ratio of 39.
The Gongshow: This is, in my opinion, the biggest waste of time in terms of stat tracking for a fantasy league but hey,pretty much every rotisserie or head-to-head league has a PIM category so I might as well cover it. Believe it or not, in most leagues this category actually is important due to the huge amount of points you can earn every time your man goes to the sinbin. There really isn’t too much strategy to this one, just pick a man who throws down often and likes to play dirty. No, not Sean Avery dirty, I’m talking George Parros dirty. There really isn’t this type of player on the Caps but with the recent singing of D.J King, this could change. Only time will tell.
So there you have it, if you can manage to lock down some top players in each one of these categories you’re going to be off to a good start. Keep an eye on trending players and try and make some good pick-ups after the first quarter of the season. Pray to the fantasy gods that your star player doesn’t pull off a Markov and be a huge let down. Good luck with your teams
About the Author
Written by Philippe Lemire