Ian Gooding is one of the best fantasy hockey guys out there that I know. Just go to fantasyhockey.com and be amazed at what is there. Besides host of the Weekly Slapshot on BTR’s Fantasy Sports Channel, Ian runs the site and backs up his predictions with top notch fantasy information.
This roundtable is from Ian’s mind and consists of 11 questions. Some of the fantasy pundits from his mock draft have weighed in already….it would be great if everyone could toss a few in themselves. Here goes something…..
2010-11 fantasyhockey.com Draft Guide
1. What was the one thing that you learned playing fantasy hockey last season? (Ian Gooding)
I learned that if there are a higher percentage of defensemen on a particular team, then I should not wait as long to draft them. Seems like pretty simple math if you think about it, but I got burned in a couple leagues last season because of this. As well, the top regular-season team in the fantasyhockey.com league was stacked on defense (Dan Boyle, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith). If your league has no extra forward or utility slots, or if it has more than four D slots, then move defensemen up in your cheatsheets. In the Yahoo Experts league, I drafted Andrei Markov with an early-round pick, then waited awhile before drafting anymore defensemen. Of course, Markov was injured during the first game of the season, and I was left with scrubs on the blueline.
The biggest thing I learned is that beginners can quite possibly be the most dangerous people you will ever face in a playoff. You have no clue what their tendencies are and quite frankly by the time you do figure them out, it may be too late. The most important thing is to play within your own style and go out guns firing in the playoffs. There is no tomorrow and there is no retreat or surrender. Always remember that.
2. Taylor or Tyler: who will be better in 2010-11? (Ian Gooding)
Taylor Hall has accomplished everything he can in Canadian major junior (two Memorial Cup MVPs, a World Junior appearance), so he should join an Oilers team that will be looking for a clean slate after a disastrous 2009-10 season. Meanwhile, Tyler Seguin could very well crack the Bruins’ roster, but he will be down the depth chart quite a ways at the center position (Marc Savard, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron). Hall could post decent numbers alongside young rookies like Jordan Eberle, although playing for a rebuilding team could make his plus/minus a liability for fantasy teams. Seguin could post better plus/minus, but he could end up with a similar role to Joe Thornton in his rookie season, which means limited icetime. Hall appears to be the more NHL-ready of the two prospects, so he should be ranked higher on fantasy draft cheatsheets. (Ian)
I think Taylor Hall and Eberle are going to cause quite a stir in Edmonton similiar to what Kane and Teows did in Chicago their rookie seasons. For Seguin, I agree that the depth in Boston could slow him down, but the Bruins roster is loaded with injury-prone forwards. He should emerge quickly and should compete for the team scoring title…and he has a much better chance than Hall of getting some playoff experience this year. So I’d say more points for Hall, but more success for Seguin. (Evan Reynar)
Taylor Hall will be better than Tyler Seguin in 10-11 simply because he will be a top line player in Edmonton. I disagree that Hall and Eberle will match Kane and Toews this year, or ever. Hall’s talent is less than Kane’s and Eberle’s is less than Toews’. But that is not to say that Hall and Eberle will not be a fantastic tandem for years to come. (Steve Ives)
I wouldn’t guarantee that Hall OR Seguin play anything resembling top line minutes. Just because Hall is (apparently) ready for the NHL doesn’t mean that they’re going to throw him in there and play him 20 minutes a game. Edmonton has absolutely no reason to rush Hall along, because despite the young talent that’s beginning to stack up in their system, they’re still 2-3 years away from being a playoff team. As with 90% of rookies, you should never draft them too high – look at how badly Tavares dropped off in the second half last year. Buyer Beware on both Hall and Seguin this year. (BIGG)
3. Who deserves to be the first overall pick in fantasy drafts this season? (Ian Gooding)
Just like last season, that honor belongs to Alex Ovechkin. Sure, Henrik Sedin outscored him last season (112 points to 109 points). However, we know that Ovechkin would have outscored Sedin had he not missed ten games due to injury and suspension. But will Ovechkin’s all-out style of play be a concern for his games played total going forward? It may be, but no one brings more to the table fantasy-wise than the Great 8. Ovechkin should be the odds-on favorite to lead the league in goals and shots on goal, and he should be a top-5 player in points, power-play goals, and plus/minus. The fact that he is a left wing and not a center, the deepest position in fantasy hockey, only adds to his value. (Ian Gooding)
Ovechkin is the #1 pick to me, but Crosby is a very close #2. Either way you win, so debate here is marginalizing two generational players. (Steve Ives)
I don’t think there’s any dispute – Ovechkin is the top pick in any format. That’s not liable to change any time soon, either. (BIGG)
4. Is Martin Brodeur still the top goalie in fantasy hockey? (Ian Gooding)
Those that argue yes will point to the fact that Brodeur led the league with 45 wins and finished third with a 2.24 GAA. As well, they will argue that Brodeur has won at least 40 games in four of the last five seasons, and he has recorded a goals-against average of 2.25 or less in three of the last four seasons. They will also argue that Ryan Miller and Ilya Bryzgalov do not have as proven a track record as Brodeur, and the likes of Roberto Luongo, Miikka Kiprusoff, and Henrik Lundqvist experienced their struggles last season. Those who argue against Brodeur will no doubt bring up his age (38), and the fact that he has not been able to lead either the Devils or Team Canada to the promised land in recent seasons. Until I see Brodeur’s overall numbers slump in a long regular season, I’m not prepared to pick any other goalie ahead of him. (Ian)
Nobody seems to speak of this, but the #1 statistic one should seek in a goaltender is games played. Goalies that start 70 games per year usually number 4-5. Brodeur and Luongo are both in this category annually, they are both spectacular goalies, and they both play for elite franchises. Ryan Miller is creeping into their elite territory, and any one of these three netminders is worthy of a 1st round pick in fantasy hockey. Bryzgalov is a great goaltender, but expect the Phoenix Coyotes to experience a steep decline this year. Lundqvist and Kiprusoff are both also on teams which could struggle, affecting their wins and goals against. One might be better off waiting until a later round to select Jimmy Howard (Detroit) or Antti Nittymaki (San Jose) than to spend a second round pick on Bryzgalov, Kiprusoff or Lundqvist. (Steve Ives)
One thing is for sure – with so many teams splitting time between their goalies, the landscape of fantasy goaltending is changing. There are very few quality goalies available, so unless you get a proven starter, you’re going to be relying on a bit of luck. That being said, there is value in the mid-to-lower ranks. How many people drafted Thomas or Huet last year and watched Rask and Niemi steal most of the playing time? Furthermore, how high were Bryzgalov or Anderson drafted? Goaltending has become chock full of sleepers in recent years… expect more of the same. (BIGG)
Simply this discussion begins and ends with Martin Brodeur. Sorry but Roberto Luongo burned too many people last year but remains an extremely close #2 overall in goalies with Miller, Rask, Bryzgalov, and maybe even Craig Anderson or Tomas Vokoun not too far behind.
5. Is Ilya Kovalchuk still a 40-50 goal scorer with the New Jersey Devils? (Ian Gooding)
Before we attempt to answer that question, let’s summarize Kovalchuk’s accomplishments: six consecutive seasons of 40+ goals, five seasons of 80+ points, six consecutive seasons of double-digit power-play goals, but seven consecutive seasons of a minus ranking before last season. Moving to the Devils will help Kovy’s plus/minus, as his new team has many double-digit plus players. However, are the Devils ready to change the style of play that has made them successful for so many years? I’m betting the under on Kovalchuk reaching 40 goals this season, but not by a wide margin. (Ian)
Kovy is a 40 goal scorer on a line with Margaret Thatcher and my mother. If he doesn’t go by the early second round, your fantasy league is filled with monkeys on crystal meth. (Steve Ives)
Kovy will score 45-50 in New Jersey and he will have his contract soon enough. (Chris Wassel)
The question isn’t even how many he will score… He’s one of only a handful of bluechip LWs. Pass on Kovalchuk at your own risk – you’ll have nobody else to blame when it comes time to fill out your roster and the best LWs left are Steve Sullivan and Jason Blake. (BIGG)
6. Did the Montreal Canadiens make the right move in trading Jaroslav Halak? (Ian Gooding)
There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground with Carey Price: either he is the future Patrick Roy, or he’s the biggest bust since Ishtar. As much as people are doubting Price, the Habs could not afford to trade Price and watch him ascend to stardom in a market that doesn’t care about hockey nearly as much as Montreal. Halak looked unstoppable in the playoffs, but perhaps his value will never be this high (and on the flipside, Price’s value may never be this low). Price is just 22 years of age, so it’s way too early to be passing judgment on his career. Fantasy leaguers might be waiting awhile to draft him this season, but he has the potential to be much better. Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I believe that the Habs had to make this move. (Ian)
There are many problems with Montreal’s trade of Halak. #1 on this list is they did not receive enough in return for him. This does not mean Price will not succeed. I think both goalies are future stars. That being said, I have Halak rated higher than Price (slightly) in my fantasy rankings for 2010-11. (Steve Ives)
I can see the arguments for both keeping and trading Halak… either way, I can’t help but feel that Montreal’s playoff success was an anomaly. I wouldn’t take Halak OR Price very high in any league. (BIGG)
7. Who would you rather own: Nicklas Backstrom or Evgeni Malkin?
Backstrom, by a hair. Last season he proved he was an elite player even with Ovechkin out of the lineup. (Steve Ives)
You really can’t go wrong with either. However, due to the great scoring depth of the Capitals, I would give a slight edge to Backstrom. That Caps team is lethal offensively. They just need to buy a defense. (Dan Offerdahl)
8. Who would you rather own: Patrick Kane or Dany Heatley?
This one is very tough. Kane is rather inconsistent, but puts up big numbers. Heatley too puts up big numbers, and has one of the best passers in recent NHL history playing with him. I would say, if either qualifies at LW, which always seems to be weak in fantasy, that’s the guy you want. If Neither do, pick either, you’ll be happy with the end result. (Dan Offerdahl)
Kane. He has improved every year, and I predict a 100 pt season for him in 2010-11. Heatley is not getting any better than he was last year. Also, Kane will have a superior +/- and plays with Jonathan Toews, a far better center than Joe Thornton. (Steve Ives)
I’m not real high on either of them, but I’ll take Heatley… Joe Thornton is a better passer than Toews, and Heatley will also get a lot of time with Marleau and Boyle, two of the better PP men in the league. (BIGG)
9. Who would you rather own: Alexander Semin or Ilya Kovalchuk?
Kovalchuk. Kovy has enjoyed far more consistency and is far more resilient to injury than Semin, but most importantly he is simply a superior hockey player. The only more dynamic offensive forces in the game to Kovy are Ovechkin and Crosby. (Steve Ives)
Semin. Just like with the Backstrom/Geno question, the great scoring depth of the Caps gives Semin the advantage. No matter who he’s with, he will giving chance after chance to score. Plus, being on the Caps, his +/- will be considerably better then Kovalchuk’s. (Dan Offerdahl)
10. Who would you rather own: Henrik Lundqvist or Ryan Miller?
Miller. He is on a far superior team and is the superior netminder. (Steve Ives)
Ryan Miller…enough said. (Chris Wassel)
11. Is it a good strategy to draft a defenseman in the first three rounds?
If your league has 5 or 6 defensive slots, you better take a d-man in the first three rounds. It becomes absolutely essential that you do because someone will fire off a salvo in the mid or late second round and take Mike Green. Then the panic sets in and it gets ugly. So basically it is a must not strategy to draft a d-man in the first 3 rounds in a defensive centric league.