Know What Stats Are Most Important in Your Pool
In the many hockey pools a players value is only based on their point totals. But some fantasy hockey leagues use every stat in the book: goalie numbers, plus-minus, penalty minutes, ice time, even player salaries. Your league might change rosters every week or even daily.
Understand what's important in your hockey pool. For example Yahoo! hockey pools tend to use 4 out of 11 categories strictly for goalies. In this type of pool having the best goaltending can win the pool. Other pools might reward penalty minutes heavily, making pugilists more valuable.
Beware the Band-Aid Boy
One year, Martin Havlat or Marian Gaborik might be the best pick you will ever make. A season later, due to various injuries, they might be useless. There's nothing you can do about a mid-season injury, but you need to know who is healthy and who isn't going into your draft. Don't ignore the big names - half a season of Havlat will still outpoint 82 games from most third-liners - but check up on players with a history of problems. Remember also that last season's wounded will post much better numbers if they are back to full health.
Signed Sealed and Delivered
When it's your turn to pick, and you are surprised to see a top player still available, it might be because they are all still not signed? Early season holdouts by elite players are becoming more and more rare, however, they still happen. Players can't help you if they aren't signed and playing. Most holdouts do not extend beyond the first few weeks of the season, but the late start almost always leads to a sub par year.
Know Players History
Kristian Huselius had a career year last season. He had never come close to those numbers in previous seasons, and he might not come close again. Sometimes a jump in production represents a genuine breakthrough for a younger player. But over the long haul, most veterans return to their level. Huselius has the talent but a drop back down to previous levels is still not out of the question.
Players usually reach their peak performance level in their late twenties. Elite players can be the exception. But the vast majority find their peak long before there 30th birthday. If a player is 27-28 years old and everyone is still waiting for him to break out, chances are it ain't gonna happen. It's more likely he has already reached his peak.
Beware the Breakout Player
Every year, many players are due for a breakout season. These seasons do happen, especially to exceptional talent. But it doesn't happen as often as fantasy GM's would like. Unless they're available cheap, let someone else take a chance on the young hotshot who is ready to breakout.
Trust the Numbers
The best player isnít always the best pick. In the real world, an NHL players bring more to the rink than fantasy numbers. Defense, toughness, experience - any number of qualities figure into his value. But in most fantasy hockey leagues none of that stuff matters. We want points. The toughest, meanest defenseman in hockey is a prime catch for any NHL team. But a fantasy player is better off picking a small, one-dimensional guy who gets lots of time on the power play.
Beware the September Sensations
While reading a training camp report on your favorite team, you discover that Elmer Windsock, an obscure minor-leaguer, is practicing on the top line! If he keeps the job he could put up 50 points this year! Relax. Almost every team uses training camp and the early days of the season to experiment and check out minor leaguers and rookies. By all means, keep track of training camp happenings, but don't put too much stock in what you read. Elmer will likely be back in the minors by Halloween.
Know Your Risk Tolerance
Given the choice between the high-risk/high-reward concussion case and the guy who quietly puts up 45 points a year, the smart fantasy player will go with Mr. Reliable every time. Maybe you don't agree, and prefer to take more chances. The point is, try to determine how adventurous you're willing to be and stick with it.
You've been working on your picks all day, fatigue is setting in and all those 25-point guys are starting to look the same. Wake up! This is where a fantasy hockey league can be won or lost! At this stage, try to pick a player in his late-20s or early-30s, playing for the same team and same coach as last season. Veterans who have settled into well-defined roles are a good bet for reliable production year after year.
This is a crapshoot, not a science. And if you werenít such a big hockey fan, the whole fantasy obsession would look kind of nerdy. Do the homework, then relax and enjoy. Open a beer. Take a couple of guys you enjoy watching. Use your last pick on your favorite goon. Chances are you're going to lose anyway, no matter how well prepared you are. So enjoy yourself.