Fantasy Hockey: A Primer

A How-to for the Slacker, A Refresher for the Pro


You didn’t go fly-fishing with Crosby. You didn’t write love letters to Patrick Kane and dot your i’s with bubbly, lopsided hearts. Tim Thomas didn’t send you a pair of woolen socks and matching hat from on your birthday. You didn’t have a picnic with David Booth. You can’t fake it any longer. Your buddies are starting to catch on. The honest truth is that fantasy hockey was about the farthest thing from your mind this past summer and you couldn’t name one of the rookies drafted if your life depended on it.

SBuy: Tomas Fleischmann, knocked out 22 games into the 2010-2011 season by a pulmonary embolism, now looking to do some great things with the Panthers.Buy: Tomas Fleischmann, knocked out 22 games into the 2010-2011 season by a pulmonary embolism, now looking to do some great things with the Panthers.till, there’s hope, says Michael Finewax, a hockey editor at Rotoworld, a website devoted to Fantasy Sports. To start, put yourself in good company.

“Try to find people who want to spend the same amount of time as you for your pool because if guys are devoting a lot of time, they’re going to get upset at you for not devoting as much time and vice versa” he says. “Try to find a group of friends who want to spend equal amounts of time as you do. And that’ll make for the most fun pool. Cause all it’s supposed to be is fun.”

During the season, it just boils down to the simple economic principle of buying low and selling high.

“If you have a player who you thought was okay at the end of the draft, who’s on a hot streak, try to trade him to somebody who tends to take guys when they’re on hot streaks, and they’ll give you another guy who’s gold, but they’re just fed up with.”

And if you’ve got any desire to do well: Live hockey. Breathe hockey.

“You gotta pay attention, says Finewax. “You’ve gotta watch all the time.”

And just in case you’re desperate for a bit more information — and if you’ve already made it this far, that’s probably the case — Finewax agreed to let us run a column he did earlier this year on Fantasy Hockey, for all of y’all who could use that extra edge:



Michael Finewax

Pre Draft

There is no better day in the year than draft day. It’s an adult version of Christmas. It’s tough falling asleep the night before and you look forward to the day for weeks. Each player you pick is like a present, some turn out to be a ten-speed bike you ride with joy for a decade, while others are like the ugly sweater you get from your aunt on Christmas.

There are two basic ways to draft in fantasy hockey. There is the snake/serpentine draft where participants select players in order by round. The even rounds are the reverse order of the odd, meaning that if you pick first overall, you select last in round two and then first again in round three. That order continues back and forth as the draft “snakes” down the draft board.

There is also the auction-style draft. In this method each team gets an amount of money (let’s say $260) and must purchase all their players in one dollar increments until they fill out their roster. You cannot spend more than the limit so at a certain stage in the draft, you need to have at least the same amount of dollars remaining as players needed. Therefore, if you needed eight players to fill out the rest of your roster, you must still have at least eight dollars remaining. This is a fun way to play as it is possible to get any player(s) you desire as all you have to do is outbid everyone for him.

A big decision will be on what categories that your pool will use. If this is your first time playing fantasy hockey don’t use too many categories as it will become complicated, first trying to draft and then actually playing.

Here are some of the categories you can use.

Players                            Goaltending
Goals                               Wins
Assists                             Goals Against Average
Power play goals               Shutouts
Power play points              Save percentage
Plus/minus                       Shots on goal
Penalty minutes
Short handed points

Some players even go so far as to use faceoffs, hits and blocked shots.

Those are the two methods of drafting, but there are different ways of playing the game.

The first way is a roto-style pool in which you play different categories and get points according to where you are ranked in each category.

One league that I’m in plays eight categories which include: forward goals, defense goals, assists, power play goals, plus/minus and penalty minutes for the skaters and wins and goals against average for goaltenders. We use 13 forwards, six defensemen and three goaltenders on our active roster and an eight man bench. There are 12 teams and we are ranked accordingly in each category, with the team leading the category getting 12 points, the team in second place getting 11 and on and on down to the last place team getting a solitary point. All the points in every category are added up and the overall standings are posted. It doesn’t matter if you lead a category by one or 100 you still get 12 points.
Another way to play fantasy hockey is head-to-head. This is the method used regularly in Yahoo leagues. Every week you play a different team. You are allocated points for goals, assists, etc. and the team that accumulates the most points each week is the winner. Teams with the best records at the

end of the season play off and there is an eventual winner.


The Draft

Okay. So now you’ve decided how you’re going to play. It’s draft day. You’re either sitting in

front of the computer, looking over your Rotoworld Hockey Guide mulling over who to draft, or you’re sitting in a room with the rest of your pool, waiting for the first pick.

In regular drafts where each person makes a pick, I like to take two goalies and two defensemen early if possible because of the lack of depth in those positions. Goaltenders tend to go really early in drafts, much like running backs in football pools and you’re really scrambling if you wait. Of course, if everyone has the same idea, a lot of excellent forwards are available much later than they should be. I got Evgeni Malkin in an experts pool four years ago in the second round, the 29th player selected overall as 15 goaltenders had already been taken and he ended up with over 100 points.

The center position is usually very deep and you can always get good players late in the draft by waiting to take that position. Fill out your other slots earlier and you will have a good team.

Be aware of what the players around you need and have already taken. If you’re drafting in the second or second last position, the person next to you will get two picks in a row. If he has already filled out his goaltending slots and you need a goaltender, you can pick another position first and still get the With offseason hip surgery and a weakened line, Ryan Kesler may not be putting up the same numbers we’ve seen out of him in the past.With offseason hip surgery and a weakened line, Ryan Kesler may not be putting up the same numbers we’ve seen out of him in the past.goaltender without a worry on the way back. If you do it the other way around, he or she may take the player that you wanted.

When you are in an in-person draft, look for other participants tendencies. While this won’t necessarily be apparent for first-timers in a pool, after a couple of years you realize who likes to spend money, who will hang around and look for bargains late etc. Also keep in mind who is in the bidding for your players as it will be easier to make a trade with them later in the season. You know that they already like the player.


The Season

The draft is now over and the season has started. Not all of your players are doing as well as you originally thought so you look at Rotoworld’s Waiver Wired and In The Crease articles and pick up players who can help you immediately. You can see how many games each of your players will play by reading The Week Ahead. There are plenty of times in the season where a team will only play once or twice weekly while other teams will have four games that week. Rotoworld will have two chats per week this season, with one exclusively for Season Pass holders. Season Pass holders will also be able to chat with Brian Rosenbaum and Michael Finewax in the pre-season once a week for pre-draft advice. Take advantage.

The most important thing is to have fun. Enjoy.

Reprinted with permission by


I think that there may have

I think that there may have been some people who were thinking about Fantasy Hockey over the summer. There are always those die-hard fans out there will never stop thinking about hockey.

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