This section is dedicated to my Dear Father! Who casually asked me a simple but tough question over lunch the other day (Hi Dad!). Who would you take with third pick? Nikita Kucherov and Connor McDavid are the consensus 1 & 2 picks. Then we roll down to third pick. I am in several pools with different rules. One of my main pools is with a small beloved group of friends, and is based entirely on points – 5 forwards, 2 defencemen and a goalie. Goalies are awarded points at 1 for a win, and 5 for a shutout. My Father’s big $ pool is 5 forwards and 2 D, pure points, no goalies. Most of my other pools are a highly complicated mishmash of stats (Head to head Multi Category pool, or massive aggregate points for everything from goals to blocked shots with big bonuses for things like shorthanded goals, hat tricks and overtime winners).
So pool valuations in the first round are a huge deal, as in multi category pools there are huge bonuses for players I call category killers. Tom Wilson is out there winning pools left and right for people with dedicated head to head categories for hits and PIMs. He’s useless in a regular pool. So let’s look at an example
Alex Ovechkin VS. Patrick Kane Vs. Sidney Crosby
Alex Ovechkin Points 89 ESPN Points 3937 Position Rank #2 RW #1 LW
Patrick Kane Points 110 ESPN Points 3788 Position Rank #3 RW # 1 C
Sidney Crosby Point 105 ESPN Points 3617 Position Rank #4 C
All three of these guys are Stanley Cup Champs and former scoring Champs to boot which makes them great comparable from an intangibles point of view. Ovechkin is obviously the best pick in a multi category pool, as he posted the fattest all around totals due to his ancillary stats like hits, shots, PIM and PP goals. Kane was the best pure scorer and ironically the best centre in the whole NHL. Does anyone remember watching Kane play centre? I don’t. Positional versatility is a huge deal, and it brings Crosby down by a considerable margin, particularly in pools with few members and rules about who qualifies for what position. Elias Pettersson and Niklas Backstrom are great hockey players, but in many draft you’ll want to let them slide in favour of scarce wingers and Goalies.
Goalies in particular are a nightmare for people in new pools. Last year I finished first in one pool of seasoned informed poolies on the backs of Andrei Vasilevskiy and Sergei Bobrovsky. Conversely, in the one pool where I could win a significant sum of $ I finished dead last. The winner of that pool’s goalies? Andrei Vasilevskiy and Sergei Bobrovsky. If you find yourself in a head to head multi category pool don’t be afraid to throw out an early pick on a goaltender…you’ll need it. Vasilevskiy in particular seems to be going in the top ten…gets a little fuzzy after him for me. Study the rules of your pools and see if your first rounder is worth burning on a goalie, especially if you can grab a guy with a legit chance at the scoring title that’s fallen down a tier with your snake pick. Getting Vasilevskiy at 8 and someone like Patrick Kane, Tyler Seguin, Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares or Auston Matthews could be a recipe for success.
OK Then….here’s my unadulterated commentary free straight up points recommendation
- Nikita Kucherov
- Connor McDavid
- Sidney Crosby
- Patrick Kane
- Alex Ovechkin
- Nathan MacKinnon
- Brad Marchand
- Steven Stamkos
- Leon Draisatl
- David Pastrnak
- John Tavares
- Auston Matthews
- Johnny Gaudreau
- Tyler Seguin
- Mitch Marner
- Aleksander Barkov
- Claude Giroux
- Sebastian Aho
- Artemi Panarin
- Evgeni Malkin
The skips! People who I’ve gone out of my way to disrespect – that is to say, they should be in the top 20 either by virtue of other people’s ranking or last year’s point totals. This is my high end buyer beware list, so either take them at your peril, or take them as a steal if they drop a lot and you can get them at a discount. That said, in a simple points pool with no trades, picking a great player in the hopes that they’ll triumphantly return means months of staring at yourself in the bottom half of the standings and praying for the best.
Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine – there’s been a terrible offseason implosion in Winnipeg. They’ve lost 4 of their 6 starting defensemen from last year, Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor haven’t shown up for camp because of contract beef, and Wheeler gave a big speech saying how he’s going to be more interested in being a good Dad than a good Hockey player. Cute, I respect that, but it’s not encouraging to a fantasy owner. Laine’s signed now, but he underperformed last year and gave a big speech this offseason calling his linemates plugs. Scheifele will just drop based on the fallout.
Brayden Point – Point held out until a few days ago, and is going to miss the start of the year with hip surgery. Also, hip surgery is weird and often unpredictable.
Mikko Rantanen – Rantanen is another player missing training camp due to his Restricted Free Agent demands. Also, Colorado traded their top puck moving defenceman in Tyson Barrie so there’s some trouble on the back end. I ranked Nathan MacKinnon a little lower than most projections for the same reasons, and because of Rantanen’s absence. (after I wrote this, Rantanen signed a big deal. Still, he missed camp. That said, don’t let him drop too far because of it. After a long holdout William Nylander seemed to forget which end of the stick to hold).