How to Play Fantasy Hockey Online

By Kacey Kroh, Abshier House, Abshier House

Playing fantasy sports online has become a popular way to join a new fantasy sports league. The fantasy hockey format was the first to launch on the web in early 1995. Since fantasy hockey was the very first format to go online, it paved the way for all other fantasy sports formats to follow suit.

The first company to technically invent a fantasy hockey website was a Canadian brewing company that launched ads in 1995 as part of an “I am Online” advertising campaign. Since then more popular sites have taken over the market, and fantasy hockey online has become an entity of its own.

How to choose a fantasy hockey website

To find the right website for you, you must first determine what your league needs are. Some questions you may want to take into consideration are as follows:

  • What amount of time are you willing to spend on your league?

    Most online leagues offer both express and variations of full-season formats.

    If you are willing to put in the time and consider yourself a hockey fanatic, then feel free to dive right in to a high-stakes, full-blown, standard league that performs daily player rotations.

    If you are beginner, however, and you aren’t really sure if you even want to join a league, try playing an express league format first. Then try a custom league that follows fewer players and fewer stats and then join a more complex game.

  • What will the league cost you to enter?

    Many websites offer free leagues as well as paid leagues. Most free leagues, however, do not pay a winning pot. Instead, they give you a spot on their wall of fame as well as send you a trophy or token in the mail for winning. Some free sites will offer a winning payout, but typically these sites will bombard your screen with advertisements.

    If you are looking for a hassle-free league that offers a winning pot at the end of the season, then unfortunately, you will have to pay for a season pass. (Usually $10–$30 USD.)

  • What format of game are you looking to play?

    All fantasy hockey websites offer the standard league format in which 20 teams of 15–18 players are scored on all 30 statistical categories. Most of these leagues have a bench of six (called the utility slots), and six of your players will be on the bench at all times.

    You then rotate daily or weekly the active players with the players on your bench and score only the active players on the games for that day or week. This can sometimes be chaotic especially if you are a “newbie” to the world of fantasy sports.

    Try looking for a website that offers custom leagues. These leagues often do away with player rotations and score in 4 x 4 or 2 x 2 x 2 formats.

    A 4 x 4 format will score on only four offensive and four defensive stats. And a 2 x 2 x 2 format will score on only the top used two offensive, two defensive, and two goalie stats. Keep in mind that there are many variations when venturing into the realm of custom leagues. Be aware that the league rules are not always the same. Check with the league master or commissioner to get the run-down on all the rules that league follows.

  • Who are the people you are playing against?

    Most online leagues are comprised of random people from around the United States and Canada with some overseas fanatics joining in on the fun as well.

    If you are looking for a league that is comprised of only people you work with or just your friends, you or one of your co-workers/friends will have to create a private league, and everyone who wants to play would either have to be invited or ask to join.

    Good private leagues available online almost always cost money to create; however, if you collect a small entry fee from all your members, the cost will most likely amount to no more than $2–$3 per person.

After you determine your league needs, you then need to see what sites are available. The following list of the top five fantasy hockey websites may be able to steer you in the right direction.

  1. Yahoo! Sports — The most popular of the free fantasy sites

  2. CBS Sports — Offers free leagues as well as custom and private premium leagues

  3. NHL.com — Official site for the NHL and offers the most basic of league gameplay

    [Credit: Courtesy of the National Hockey League and NHL.com]

    Credit: Courtesy of the National Hockey League and NHL.com
  4. ESPN Fantasy — Most up-to-date information

  5. Daily Joust — Totally free to join and fully legal way to have a chance to win real money online!

Pick your fantasy hockey players

You have the information needed to narrow down your choices and have most likely already chosen a website to play on; you now need to pick out your players. Follow your league’s rules and choose players that best fit your team.

On a standard league team, you would pick out the positions as follows:

  • 2 Players from the Center position

  • 4 Players from the Defense position

  • 2 Players from the Goaltender position (goalie)

  • 2 Left Wing players

  • 2 Right Wing players

  • 3-6 Bench/ Utility slots (any player position qualifies)

Custom leagues sometimes remove the bench players to eliminate the need for player rotations. This type of custom league is great for beginners looking to learn the game before trying out a more complex league.

Pay attention to the type of league you join. Some leagues do the standard draft in which each member picks out a player for his/her team, and the pick rotates through all the members until all team players have been chosen. Other leagues have a different method in which preconfigured fantasy teams are created and an auction is held. You would choose a whole team instead of individual players and bid on it to try and win the team for your league’s season.

Watch games and fill in stats

After you have selected a team all that is left is the time it takes to play the game. Watch the games of your choice, catch NHL highlights from your favorite source, and score your players according to your league’s format. Log in to your league page on either a daily or weekly basis, fill in your stats, and rotate your players. Score all your players’ statistics by the scoring system your league prefers to use. Good luck!