It’s about time to draft for your Hockey Fantasy League. Before creating a spread sheet of potential players, you need to know what your league values. Leagues are very similar, but do differ in points for a goal or assist, points for power play goal, face off wins, hits, blocks, wins, shutouts, penalty minutes, etc. Once we know the values, we can build our list. The question is, do any of the current Blackhawks deserve to be on your list; if so, where? Let’s start with the centers.
For the sake of the article, the following stats will be used:
21 players, 16 starters, 5 on bench (1IR)
Goal = 3pts, Assists = 2, PPGoal = 1, Powerplay assist = .5
Shorthanded goal = 1, Game-winning goal = 1, Hat trick = 9
Faceoff win= .2
Hits = .2, Blocked shot = .2
Goaltender win = 4, loss = (-3), Goals Against = (-1)
Goaltender saves = .1, Shutouts = 3
We will start with the centers. In the case of the Blackhawks, there are really only two choices: Jonathan Toews and Artem Anisimov. The third and fourth line centers have not been established, so drafting Nick Schmaltz or John Hayden, for example, would best be left until your starting spots are established and you are building your supporting players and bench. Last season, Toews was 50th in the league in scoring with 21 goals and 37 assists, for a total of 58 points. Anisimov, who was the 125th leading scorer, had 22 goals and 23 assists in an injury-shortened season that cost him 18 games. 50th and 125th place don’t inspire confidence, but that is only part of the story.
Before jumping into assessing the value of these players based on the scoring, we need to dig a little deeper. Let’s look at the example of Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. McDavid was the scoring champ last year, and many fantasy GMs covet him as their first pick. On the surface, McDavid does seem to be a better option based on his scoring and age. Crosby scored well but did miss some games with concussion issues, and as he ages will likely miss some more. However, we need to dig further still. Calculating the points for all the fantasy criteria, Crosby takes the lead: Crosby had 445.3 total points versus McDavid’s 343. So why the difference? It’s pretty simple; Crosby had 494 more faceoff wins, 44 more hits and blocks and 11 more power play goals. Many people pass over these minor stats which only award your team .2 points. A big mistake.
So, clearly Toews and Anisimov’s basic scoring stats don’t warrant picking them too early in the draft, but how do they fare when adding faceoffs, hits, etc. Toews, while being 50th in scoring, is actually just five points behind McDavid in Fantasy points with 338.9. Toews didn’t score as well last year, but he did have over 800 faceoff wins and slightly more hits and blocks than McDavid. He only played in 72 games as well; if he played in all 82 games, he would likely have posted more fantasy points than McDavid. This isn’t to say that Toews should be chosen with your first or second pick. In fact, you would only have to look at the number 49 scorer, Ryan Kesler, to find an even better selection. Kesler tallied 205.8 face off points and 44.2 hits/blocks points to spring him past McDavid with 415 fantasy points. Niklas Backstrom, John Tavares, Mark Scheifele, Jeff Carter, and Ryan Getzlaf are also centers who scored more fantasy points than Toews last year, as did Mikko Koivu, who was actually below Toews in goal scoring stats. Surprisingly, Toews scored better than Evgeni Malkin, Tyler Seguin, Auston Matthews, Joe Pavelski, and Mikael Granlund. With line-mate Brandon Saad back in the mix, it is probable that Toews will increase his production this year. If that is the case, Toews could be a nice pick near the bottom of your top 10 centers.
In the case of Artem Anisimov, he totaled 217.2 fantasy points last season. Clearly, a fantasy GM would only take Anisimov deep in the draft unless he/she thought he would rebound after missing a lot of games with injury last season or improved his faceoff numbers. Anisimov’s scoring numbers aren’t strong enough to make up for a lack of productivity at the dot and with hits/blocks. Perhaps his assists can go through the roof with Kane on one wing and Alex DeBrincat on the other. (that’s a fan boys dream, but probably won’t happen) Wait until a late round after you have set your starters and are building your bench to choose Anisimov.
That wraps up the Blackhawks centers. Come back to BlueHQMedia next time when I break down the forwards. Where should you draft Patrick Kane, Richard Panik, Ryan Hartman, or Brandon Saad? And should you take a chance on Alex Debrincat or Patrick Sharp? Next time, I break it down.