HTR Fantasy Hockey Tips v1.0

The Fantasy Hockey Leagues are soon on their way…or let’s just add more excitement. Let the games begin! I’ve had my prizes won in fantasy leagues. I’ve played fantasy leagues like Yahoo’s, CBSSportsline’s, Smallworld (TSN.com), and the CDM of THN. The most intriguing fantasy hockey leagues are Head-to-Head leagues with live draft, trades, and waiver pick-ups. It’s more challenging since you face a different team and try to steal a player who you think will be better than one of your players. I wouldn’t call myself an “expert”, but more like an advisor. These are the key players you should draft in the first round; no matter what position you stand.

GOALIES

-Patrick Roy: Goalies are extremely important in fantasy leagues. Find the goalie that plays 65-70 games, and win at least 30. Patrick Roy is that goalie. He will provide more than 30 wins, low goals against, and at least 5 shutouts. If your three top scorers are already taken, go for Roy.

-Curtis Joseph: He is on the Wings, he will play about 65 games, and he will definitely win 30-35 games. He might allow more goals than Roy, but the shot totals against him will give you the extra points. Let’s say Roy loses 3-1 and Joseph loses 3-1. Most likely, Joseph will end up with more points than Roy that night because he faced more shots.

-Martin Brodeur: He will play 70 games, he will have a great GAA, but he might just about get 30 wins. The problem with Brodeur and the Devils will be the shots total. Brodeur might win the game 3-2, but it could be 2 goals on 18 shots. If he loses 3-2, it still could be three goals on 18 shots. So, I wouldn’t go for Brodeur over Roy and Joseph.

-Roman Cechmanek: Almost the same situation as Brodeur, but maybe it would be better to get Cechmanek than Brodeur. With Hitchcock, the Cechmanek’s numbers would be superb. He could lead the league in shutouts this season. He faces a fair number of shots and has a winning team.

DEFENSEMEN

-Sergei Gonchar will give you a surplus of points. So many that you will feel relaxed. With all done for Jagr’s smile (firing Ron Wilson, signing Robert Lang, changing system), Gonchar will score a lot of PP points and should aim for 80 points. Yes, THAT many. If the live draft is attended by 12 teams, and you’re number 10,11, or 12, you might be lucky to have Gonchar still available. If the top 3 goalies of your list are taken, go for a goaltender later. Since you pick, let’s say, 11th then you pick whatever best forward you can get. Once you picked him, team 12 will pick twice in a row, and then you pick again. Gonchar could still be available, as people would be thinking of forwards and goalies before defensemen. Pick the available top forward from your list, then pick Gonchar.

-Brian Leetch should have a similar season as the one he had two seasons ago, scoring 79 points. His +/- ratings should be positive because of the offense and the pairing with Vladimir Malakhov. Also, Leetch is playing on his last year of his contract; should be playing his best to receive the be$t. Most likely, teams ahead of you will pick Gonchar before Leetch, unless there is a Rangers fan. So, Leetch is still very similar to Gonchar.

-Rob Blake will be in the top three scoring. He should provide a lot of PP points, which count more for a defenseman (usually). Blake is a real safe bet, but he rarely plays a full season. If PIM’s count as plus points, then Blake is a great pick.

-Sandis Ozolinsh could have a 50-60 point season, though his +/- could cause damage to your fantasy points. Ozolinsh scored 10 goals with the Panthers in 37 games, and 13 points on the PP. You need points; you can acquire Ozolinsh probably in the 3rd round, if lucky. He is not a big name player, so opponents may skip him or underrate him. But, there is always one who does his/her homework and figures that Ozolinsh has a strong point production.

-Brian McCabe is also a good choice. He scored 17 goals last season, and could net 15 to 20 goals this upcoming season. Many of them could come from the PP minutes, therefore he could be a 5th round pick, and a steal.

FORWARDS

Now, I hope your league doesn’t go by LW’ers, C’ers, and RW’ers, because it is much more complex. I know Yahoo is more flexible since any player who plays a different position in a game, will be added that position. Like Fedorov, last season he played as a defenseman and therefore Yahoo placed him as a defenseman and center. So, it’s up to you to plan that.

-Jaromir Jagr will probably lead the whole league in scoring, if he plays at least 75 games. He should surpass the 100-point mark and his plus minus would remain positive. If an opponent team picked him and he has a player or two that you would like to have, try to land Robert Lang as he would center Jagr and he could also score 80 points or so. The opponent would want to acquire Lang from you, and you can acquire two players in return that could score 80-95 points together. You win because you acquire two players that give you more games per week. Lang is player A, and you acquire player B and player C. Player A plays 3 games in a week. Players B and C play a total of 5 or 6 games in a week. Two starters for one, it’s a pretty good deal. Obviously, you’d have to want these two players, valuable players.

-Naslund/Bertuzzi will both reach similar numbers. Try to grab one of these two, they should at least score 80 points, and it should be guaranteed. Don’t choose Iginla over Naslund or Bertuzzi. Why? Just don’t. That’s my new Nike slogan.

-Pavel Bure could lead the NHL in goals this season. Eric or no Eric, Bure should net 40-60 pucks. A lot of those could come on the PP as well. Bure is a safe investment for your team, so try to grab him as soon as possible. On your turn, if you can choose either Roy or Bure, start thinking. It is up to you to go for the best available player in the first round. Both are safe picks, but I would go for the Russian Rocket.

-Jerome Iginla could score another 50-goal season, but most likely his point production could go down. Don’t be upset if a team grabs him before you do. He does guarantee you the very least of 35 goals and 75 points. Jagr, Iginla, and Bure are the top three RW’ers in the league this season. You should draft one of those top scorers of the league. You could also use Iginla as a top trade bait and get a lot of quality offers. If you’re in need of a goalie, and you know that Modano could be your next pick, don’t choose Iginla over the goalie you need. Pick the goalie, and go for Moano as the next pick.

-Mike Modano should have an 85-point season. Tippet will bring an offensive type system that will give Modano more time to work offensively and score many points. Also, his PP points should top the league leaders as well. He is perfect for the 2nd round of your draft.

-Billy Guerin has his big check, his new team, coach, and a cool state to live in where the food is just great. What does that have to do with anything? I have no idea. But, most important thing is that he has a chance to post career highs this time on a team with Mike Modano and an offensive system that should satisfy Texans, no more boring Hitchcock.

So, this just gave you a simple advice that some of you might not even need to read. HTR will have Fantasy Hockey Tips as a weekly post (sometimes more than a week) with me as the contributor. Stay tuned for the next HTR Fantasy Hockey Tips for possible key waiver pick-ups, otherwise known as the “left-outs”.