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Keys to a Successful Fantasy Hockey Draft
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Toronto Hockey - Sidney Crosby

Fantasy hockey drafts

are fast approaching. Are you ready? Most of you have probably already gone down to your local book store and grabbed a copy or two of your favorite

fantasy hockey guide

. Now you're are planning on going home studying your new

fantasy hockey

bible to prepare for the big day. Problem is most guys in your pool have access to the same info and are formulating a very similar strategy come draft day. For the real key to a successful

fantasy hockey draft

you'll need to dig deeper. If you're serious about winning you need to know what makes your league different.

Not all fantasy hockey leagues are created equal. In fact most are very different. Whether it be head to head, roto, or a simple point based system. Leagues have different requirements with the number of players you can have on your roster, number of keepers, and the number of IR spots etc. Some leagues even have very deep farm systems. So after you've digested your most recent fantasy hockey guide make sure you know how it applies to your league. The generic, written for everyone fantasy guide, won't offer you the finer points it takes to win your league. Fantasy hockey guides and magazines are geared towards as wide an audience as possible. For your fantasy league you'll need to develop a much more specific strategy. So for starters list whats important in your league. What fantasy scoring categories are included? What are the positional requirements etc.

Let's assume, for arguments sake, that your league is a keeper league. That alone increases the value of young players and decreases the relative value of players like Jagr and Lidstrom. Jagr's third overall ranking in your fantasy mag should probably be considered a little high and young players like Backstrom, Radulov, and Kopitar etc. should be ranked higher.

It's also very important to know what scoring categories are included in your league, which ones are weighted heavily, and which ones are not included. Some leagues award defenceman 2 points for a goal making them as valuable as some forwards. Other leagues value penalty minutes. While others discourage penalty minutes. Making players like Sean Avery valuable in some and useless in others.

Lets use an example, or simplicity sake our league only counts three categories - goals and assists will count as one point, and penalty minutes will count as .2 points. No other offensive stats count. For goalies only wins, losses, and shutouts count. Let's say two points for a win, one for a tie, overtime loss, or shootout loss, three points for a shutout, and minus one point for a loss.

After quick examination of these categories a few things should stand out. While penalty minutes won't change the entire complexion of this league, it will make players like Sean Avery valuable. It will also place a premium on players that not only frequent the top of the scoring list but also make frequent trips to the penalty box. The goaltender ranking will also change a great deal without the need for save percentage, and goals against average. Goalies will be very team dependent. Goalies on good teams will be more valuable then goalies on inferior teams. Even though a goalie like Marc Andre Fleury does not have a great GAA his win totals should be very high and make him one of the top tenders in the league. While others on weaker teams, like Rick Dipietro, will see their ranking drop with minus one point for a loss.

Be sure to make a note of how many players you are able to protect. The less players you are able to protect, the more valuable the top players in your league become. Let's say you can keep 6 regular NHL'ers and 2 prospects that have not yet played a game. These are lower numbers then many dynasty leagues use and will make top players very valuable. While only keeping 2 prospects that haven't played an NHL game will mean you can probably find one in the later rounds. This format will make the 3 for 1 deal very attractive. You'll want to make your top six players as good as possible.

After you load up on your top six age will become less of a factor, knowing that you can't protect more than six players a season. Drafting a player like Hasek in the 8th round then becomes a very wise move since you presumably will already have your six keepers. Your focus would then shift to players that can maximize your chances of winning now.

In short, a keeper pool makes younger players more valuable. The number of protections will determine the value of top players in the league. Few keepers make guys like Crosvy and Ovechkin gold. Rewarding penalty minutes heavily makes players like Avery just as valuable as some other top wingers. After your protections are solidified age should matter less and you should only be thinking about this year. Goalie stats that bass points on wins only make goalies that play on strong teams more valuable.

Basically every fantasy hockey league is different. Consider your leagues rules before drafting and you'll get the jump on most. If you have any questions about your Fanatsy League you can contact us here at THN.

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