Welcome back for another year of Shots On Goal, fantasy hockey coverage with a stats edge behind it.
As there isn't too much to analyze for Week 1hopefully, you used VUKOTA projections as one tool in your kit during your draftI thought it might be fun ("educational", as they say) to look over the draft of the TUFNEL Hockey league that I play in. You might also recognize the names of Hockey Prospectus' Ryan Wagman and Baseball Prospectus' Joe Hamrahi, who also participate in the league
as does a Draft Robot by the name of "Ryan P". No comment.
It's a 10-team league, with seven categories for skaters (goals, assists, plus-minus, power play points, shorthanded points, penalty minutesyes, meaning penalties are "good"and hits), and four categories for goalies (wins, GAA, save percentage, and shutouts). Daily lineup changes, no keepers. Active lineup: 4 centers, 7 wings, 4 defensemen, 2 goalies. The six bench slots, which are rotated in throughout the week, might typically be used on 1 center, 2 wings, 2 defensemen, 1 goalie.
The format's borrowed from the Hockey Writers' Challenge, which I had the pleasure of participating in for the past two years (thanks, Mike Colligan). Last season, I was the top-seeded team heading into the playoffs (thanks, Tim Thomas), but ended up getting edged out in the finals (thanks, Zach Parise).
Here's how the first couple of rounds shaped up in this season's TUFNEL Hockey draft (with my commentary):
1. Rob: W Alex Ovechkin, Capitals
It's got to be Ovechkin or Stamkos for the first overall pick, right? VUKOTA's got Ovie at 98 points, but would you be surprised by a 109-110 point effort, like two and three years ago? No.
2. Dave #1: G Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers
Dave was late arriving to the draft. He ended up with Lundqvist, VUKOTA's top ranked goaltender. Last year, King Henrik was a mid-second round pick for me.
3. The Draft Robot: W Daniel Sedin, Canucks
Well, Mr. Robot, that pick should have been Stamkos, don't you think? Don't be shocked if Daniel splits the difference between VUKOTA's 86 points and last season's 104 points, given coach Vigneault's high percentage of offensive zone starts for the Sedins, compared to a couple of years ago. VUKOTA doesn't know that.
4. Dave #2: C Steven Stamkos
While VUKOTA's got Stamkos tied in production with Ovechkin at 98 points, I ding him just a little bit for his lower scoring rate from the second half of 2010-11.
5. Ryan: C Sidney Crosby, Penguins
Heck of a ballsy pick here. It's either boom or bust. Or maybe both. If Ryan can survive the first part of the season without Crosby, it could end up a very good choice. If Crosby's himself. I figured Sid might have gone in the second round, all things considered.
6. Matthew: W Corey Perry, Ducks
To be nitpicky, Perry might be ever-so-slightly overvalued in fantasy and even by VUKOTA, but he's a good performer in every category.
7. Joe: C Henrik Sedin, Canucks
A round higher than I would have gone with Henrik. Assists are generally easier to come by than goals.
8. Fred: W Bobby Ryan, Ducks
Perry gets a bit more favorable usage than Ryan (e.g. first unit power play), otherwise their fantasy value might be equal.
9. Timo: C Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks
Quandary here, and I'm not 100% satisfied with my choice. If there had been a run of goalies, I would have considered an elite netminder. As it was, there was no need. So it ended up being a coin flip between Toews and Kane. Ideally, I would have preferred picking a wing over the deeper center position. Overall, I like the Blackhawks this season, so I'm looking for improved PPP and plus-minus from all of them.
10. Jon: W Patrick Kane, Blackhawks
Kane's going to be behind Toews in plus-minus, but otherwise they're very similar fantasy players. You look for a rebound, both personally and as far as the Blackhawks, so he was a viable pick here.
11. Jon: G Carey Price, Canadiens
VUKOTA's second-ranked netminder. Hey, was someone paying attention?
12. Timo: W Claude Giroux, Flyers
Another quandary, and another unsatisfying choice for me. Ryan liked my pick, but I'm not so sure. Then again, I picked Zach Parise fifth overall last season, so how much worse can these two picks work out? At least I picked up a wing here.
13. Fred: C Evgeni Malkin, Penguins
A bit earlier than I would have taken the Art Ross Trophy winner from three seasons ago, but in an ideal world, he could be worth it. Combination of center, more assists than goals, injury concerns would keep me away. Frankly, I might even take a Brad Richards ahead of Malkin. Fred (a Stars fan) doesn't want to hear that.
14. Joe: W Martin St. Louis, Lightning
Color me skeptical that St. Louis is going to keep adding points as he ages, his trend over the past few seasons. Overall, look for an off-year from the Bolts' Cinderella ride in general. I avoided Tampa players.
15. Matthew: C Eric Staal, Hurricanes
In this league, with shorthanded points counted, Staal's a nice pickup.
16. Ryan: C Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings
I'm not sure if I believe in the overall narrative of the Red Wings' decline (I'll believe it when I see it), but I might have looked elsewhere with this pick.
17. Dave #2: D Mike Green, Capitals
First real clunker for me. Dave's a Caps fan, and Green certainly can be elite. I believe in picking lots of Capitals, but a defenseman needs to be out of this world to take this early. I got Lidstrom in the fifth round last season. Now that's value.
18. Robot: G Antti Niemi, Sharks
Seriously, folks. The rankings of a certain website out there had Niemi ranked this high among netminders. Seriously. The Robot punts.
19. Dave #1: G Pekka Rinne, Predators
Fourth goaltender overall by VUKOTA, but I would have been eyeing the last two
Vezina winners in Tim Thomas and Ryan Miller here instead.
20. Rob: C Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings
I've never owned Zetterberg in fantasy. Always seems to be a better choice. Probably some kind of fantasy blind spot for me.
21. Rob: C Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes
Awesome pick here. I'm on board with VUKOTA's bullishness on the sophomore who scored over 30 goals and over 60 points in his rookie season. Sounds like he'll play with Eric Staal as well.
22. Dave #1: W Jarome Iginla, Flames
He's old, and he was hot and cold. I tend towards picking pre-peak vs. post-peak players.
23. Robot: G Roberto Luongo, Canucks
The Robot's hoarding goalies here, this one's pretty solid.
24. Dave #2: G Ryan Miller, Sabres
Dang, I was hoping he might fall to 29. Combo of Vezina potential and a strong Buffalo squad make Miller very attractive.
25. Ryan: D Shea Weber, Predators
He scores, he hits, and the Preds play pretty well at even strength. He's a defenseman, though. Too early for my liking, especially with tons of similar value blueliners on the board.
26. Matthew: D Dustin Byfuglien, Jets
He scores and
well, I'll save the fresh comments to myself. Too early for my liking, although my own run of defensemen ended up starting a hair late, conversely.
27. Joe: G Tim Thomas, Bruins
I understand that Rask may get plenty of starts, but I'll split the difference between VUKOTA's projection (colored by Thomas nagging injuries in 2009-10) and last season's Vezina campaign. I'm a believer.
28. Fred: D Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings
Lidstrom used to be a legit first round pick as a defenseman. Years ago. Still too early for this run, in my opinion.
29. Timo: G Tomas Vokoun, Capitals
Ideally, I would have wanted Miller and/or Thomas. This could work out just as well. We're big believers in Vokoun at Hockey Prospectus, and he's just been put on the top-ranked team. The only negative is probably only starting two-thirds of the games.
30. Jon: C Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals
Backstrom was a first or second round pick the last couple of years, and if he returns to form, this ends up a great value pick.
Here's my overall team:
Centers Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks; Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks; John Tavares, Islanders; Derek Stepan, Rangers; Frans Nielsen, Islanders.
Wings Claude Giroux, Flyers; Brandon Dubinsky, Rangers; Milan Lucic, Bruins; Simon Gagne, Kings; Teemu Selanne, Ducks; Ville Leino, Sabres; Chris Neil, Senators; Dan Carcillo, Blackhawks; Kyle Okposo, Islanders; David Booth, Panthers (free agent pickup for IR player).
Defensemen Matt Carle, Flyers; Alexander Edler, Canucks; Travis Hamonic, Islanders; Cam Fowler, Ducks; Erik Johnson, Avalanche (free agent pickup for injured player). Marc Staal, Rangers and Andrei Markov, Canadiens on IR.
Goaltenders Tomas Vokoun, Capitals; Cam Ward, Hurricanes; Jaroslav Halak, Blues.
What do you think?
Timo Seppa is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
You can contact Timo by clicking here or click here to see Timo's other articles.