I know we are all preparing for the NFL season and our Fantasy drafts but we also can’t forget that the NHL season is just six weeks away. What does that mean? Well, Fantasy Hockey drafts will start to take place within the next month. Living on Long Island, I always feel bittersweet about October and the start of hockey. It’s a great time of year for sports. Hockey is about to start, the playoffs have begun in baseball, and football is getting into the swing of things, but it also means the weather is turning. It’s getting colder, windier, no more shorts, the leaves are falling, and sooner or later the white stuff will come down as well.
As far as hockey is concerned, those looking for content can look forward to a column each Friday in September. These columns will consist of news and notes to help during draft season, as well as my rankings for the upcoming season.
The NHL hasn’t been immune to offseason problems for their players and none can be bigger for Fantasy purposes than the Hawks’ Patrick Kane. He is under investigation in upstate New York for an alleged rape. How this plays out in the legal system is anyone’s guess, but it can’t be comforting for Fantasy owners that this case is unlikely to be resolved before drafts start to take place. Kane is a borderline first round pick in most leagues. This is a winger who plays on the top line with Jonathan Toews for the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks. A winger who has the ability to score 30 goals along with 10 power play goals. That’s extremely valuable, but will you want to take the chance that his mind may be on other things this season? I’ve said it many times when it comes to drafting in Fantasy Baseball or Football. I’m very conservative when it comes to my early picks in drafts. I like to know what I’m going to get from my top players, and right now, I have no idea what Kane might do. When in doubt, I’ll find someone else with an early pick. There are just too many good players to take any unnecessary chances.
I’m a big believer that unless you draft terribly, a draft won’t win or lose you a Fantasy league. It’s staying healthy and the moves you make during the season that win and lose you leagues. In other words, grabbing the hot player off the waiver wire and not getting fleeced in a trade. As for injuries, that is really just the luck of the draw. Sometimes the injury gods are with you, sometimes they are not.
When it comes to drafts, the player I might be most curious about is this year’s number one overall draft pick, Connor McDavid. Where will his average draft position end up in standard leagues? Sure, in Keeper or Dynasty leagues his value will be much higher, as you can bank on his future. But how many owners will take the plunge on the rookie paying off this season, and spend an early pick? I won’t. As I mentioned earlier, I’m too conservative to take a chance but it’s not because I think he won’t begin the season in Edmonton. What if they start him slow and play him on the third line with limited power play time? It’s not like this team is short on scoring forwards. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, and Nail Yakupov are other first round picks that are on the team. This team is under new management and will do what is best for McDavid long-term, not to appease those people who want to see him play now. Just keep your expectations realistic when it comes to McDavid this year.
Don’t forget that the Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom (hip) and the Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk
(ankle) are both unlikely to be healthy enough to start the season with their respective teams. Backstrom could return in early to mid-October with Datsyuk returning about a month later. I’d still draft either player, but I also doubt this is the last time their names and an injury are put together this season. Don’t draft them for what they did in the past. If the price is too high, move on.
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