It’s Fantasy Hockey season! With the NHL regular season getting underway on Wednesday and many drafts taking place Monday and Tuesday, it’s a good time for some tips to help you win your league.

Tip #1 – Teams with fewer Saturday Games
Ah Hockey Night in Canada. The best night of the week to watch hockey and the night that most fantasy hockey weeks are won or lost. Unfortunately, it’s also the night that you have 4 or 5 guys on your bench that are all playing but your starting lineup is full. Isn’t it nice when you have a handful of players who don’t play on Saturday but play on Friday or Sunday or both instead? Wouldn’t it be nice if someone went and counted which teams had that happen the most? Yes, yes it would. Here ya go. You’re welcome:
saturday-games
12 times during the year Anaheim plays on Friday, Sunday or both instead of Saturday compared to just twice for the Leafs and Habs. So give a slight down-tick to players who play for teams in the right column and a slight uptick to players on teams in the left column. In particular, it’s nice to fill your bench spots with some players from Anaheim (Silfverberg for example), Calgary (Sam Bennett perhaps), Chicago (Anisimov maybe), Edmonton (Draisaitl) and the Rangers (Stepan and Zibanejad are always under-rated).

Tip #2 – Focus on Wingers
Yahoo cleaned up the position eligibility of players in fantasy hockey going into this year and it is going to have a huge impact. No longer are there players like Pavelski with (C, LW, RW) eligibility or tons of players like Giroux (C, RW) or Malkin (C, RW) with two. Now more than ever, you need to pay attention to a players position and you should wait on C’s as it’s the deepest position by far. Here is the look at the the number of points scored by the top 50 players at each position last year.
points-by-position
The 34th best C would be a top 20 winger and the 15th best C would be a top 8 winger in terms of points. Overall, centres tend to outscore wingers by 5-10 points and D by about 20 points. So when it comes to draft day, if you are considering two players and you think a centre might put up 70 points and a winger might put up 65, take the winger.

If you wait on centres, there are some very good ones available in the late rounds. Tyler Johnson, Henrik Sedin and Derick Brassard will all be available around round 10 and all 3 should easily eclipse 50 points this year.

Tip #3 – Look at the 2014 NHL Draft
Last year there were a number of players from the 2013 NHL draft that had breakout seasons, including Barkov, Ristolainen and Domi. Drouin finally did something positive, Seth Jones and Elias Lindholm had productive seasons and MacKinnon and Monahan were already good.

Now it’s the 2014 draft’s turn. Aaron Ekblad (1st overall pick) and Dylan Larkin (15th) have already made names for themselves and Sam Reinhart (2nd), Lean Draisatil (3rd), Sam Bennett (4th), Nikolaj Ehlers (9th) and Robby Fabbri (21st) showed glimpses of stardom last year. I would want literally all 7 of those listed above on my fantasy teams to start the year and many others may make for good waiver pickups at some point if they find themselves in top 6 roles for their teams. (Full draft list here)

Bonus Tip  – Take McDavid 1st overall. Yes Kane, Crosby, Benn and Ovechkin are all great options but McDavid is the most likely to put up 120 points this year.

Good luck with your Fantasy Hockey Leagues! I welcome questions and comments.
-Petrie

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