Fantasy Hockey Draft Picks

By Kacey Kroh, Abshier House, Abshier House

There are two different ways you can run a fantasy hockey draft. One option, the most traditional, includes letting league members each take a turn to pick out all players for their team. The other more streamlined option is to have the league commissioner create teams that are evenly matched, and the league members would then bid in an auction for the team they want.

The proceeds from the auction then are added to the entry fees, and this lump of cash is given away as a prize to the winner of the league that season.

Some leagues offer prizes to not only first place but also to second and third place winners, or to individual categories or league members who have certain individual NHL players. When first joining a league, either public or private, you will be informed of the prize(s) being given out at the end of the season.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/gilaxia]

Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/gilaxia

When preparing to start a draft, you need to have a few things gathered to outmaneuver you opponents. Cheat sheets, knowledge of up-and-coming minor league players, as well as a good list of keepers will come in handy.

Finding or creating NHL cheat sheets from online information

If you are in the market for a good cheat sheet, several reputable websites offer free and paid cheat sheets. The paid ones obviously include more in-depth information. Most cheat sheets you find online will be comprised of the players’ average stats through their whole major league career. These averages are used to make the current season’s projections, and this information is offered online in the form of tables, charts, or long tedious lists.

If you are playing in a custom league that uses fewer players, then a homemade cheat sheet may be for you. You can create your own cheat sheets from player depth charts available on most fantasy hockey websites. The most accurate depth charts can be found on NHL.com as well as ESPN.com.

To find a current depth chart type the year followed by the words NHL Player Depth Charts in the search field within the fantasy sports website, and a list of all players and their detailed stats will populate.

How to hear about and find up-and-coming players

Face it, if you are not a diehard hockey fanatic you most likely will have no clue who the new top players are. In most cases you can find a list of new NHL prospects from any online fantasy site. Some prospects from other countries, however, may be overlooked.

A fail-safe to this is to follow international leagues on the ESPN World channel, The Hockey Channel, or use another international source such as a website or overseas satellite TV station that specializes in sports coverage.

How to qualify for and use keepers

If you are in a returning league, you automatically qualify and are classified as a keeper league. What this essentially means is that the creator of the league can make a list of available keepers and distribute it among all league members.

This list contains players who had a good or great season the previous year, and an even amount of keepers will be chosen from each league member’s team. When it comes time to start the new season draft, you and other leaguers have the option to keep some of the players from the keepers list.

If you had a terrible previous season, you will still have eligible players on your keepers list, but you do not have to actually keep them. You can choose to let them all go and start with a fresh set of players.

Now that you understand the draft process and what it takes to outplay your other league members, you are well on your way to obtaining an enjoyable and perhaps rewarding season!