Good Afternoon, Good Evening, and Good Night

You know when you go to McDonalds and order an extra EXTRA large milkshake. That milkshake is awesome. You sit there, all self-satisfied, consuming your zillions of calories thinking “man, I could drink milkshakes the rest of my life – one continuous straw, forever.”

Of course eventually the time will come when that drink is empty. You’ll go home with a sore stomach and spend the next two days swearing off of them altogether.

Milkshakes are kinda my fantasy hockey.

And the last few years I’ve put a lot of time into fantasy hockey writing. You could say TOO MUCH time, and you’d probably be right.

Sadly, I’ve fallen prey to every writers nightmare – burnout. It’s something you don’t really imagine happening when you’re starting out. It seems inconceivable that you’d ever get tired of writing about Yakupov’s shot volume, or Luongo’s even strength save percentage.

But there is a point, at least for me, where it starts to feel like work. And when I got into writing about hockey and fantasy pools in particular, it was about the fun of it all. That’s something I’d like to get back to, and I don’t know if you can do that while writing and tweeting about it for hours each day.

I’m planning to step away altogether – a 100% break. It might last for two weeks, maybe two months, or maybe forever. Time will tell. I’ll still be poking around different blogs as a regular reader. And agonizing over which goalie to start on any given Saturday night. But I won’t be a regular part of the fantasy hockey community.

And that’s something I’ll really miss.

The writers and readers that I’ve met along the way have always been hugely supportive (even when you’re telling me how overrated Letang is!). Getting to write about a sport you love and having people reach out to you to discuss ideas, theories, trades…etc is a special feeling. Helping fellow poolies weigh their options and build championship teams has truly been rewarding.

I sincerely wish the best to everyone in the future (especially those of you with Nichushkin on a roster)

Cheers folks,



Phil Kessel: The Kinda Sorta Cornerstone

Fantasy drafts are never an easy thing. But there are ways that your draft can be made easier.

Landing a top three pick can simplify things in a hurry – take one of Crosby, Ovechkin, or Stamkos, and continue on your merry way.

Where things start to get a bit more precarious is between picks five and 10. Where we enter into a group of players who can all make a case as legitimate long-term cornerstone pieces. Here we have guys like Hall, Seguin, Tavares, and yes, even MacKinnon.

Interestingly, I rarely hear Kessel mentioned as a central building block you could have for five plus seasons. This, despite some truly gaudy numbers the past three years: six straight with more than 30 goals (yes, he would have made it in the lockout), three times a top 10 point producer, and a two-time 300 shot man.

Outside of penalty minutes (he’s never been above 30) there isn’t really a hole in his portfolio. Sure, there’s an argument that his plus minus will never be strong on Toronto, and that’s valid. But even that category has made the slow creep towards respectability in recent years, siting near even (-5 in 2013-14).

So why is he rarely mentioned in that Tavares/Hall/Seguin tier?

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The Brightside of Datsyuk

As you probably know by now, Mr. Datsyuk has already suffered an injury this year – yes, it’s only been one pre-season game, but that’s apparently all it takes.

Some of you likely drafted Datysuk in your one year pool, or already own him in keeper leagues. You’ve even texted your friends exuberantly with phrases like “I GOT DATSYUK!” and “You know why my team is better than yours? Datsyuk!” and simply “Datyssuukkkkk!!.”

Repeating letters in a player’s last name needlessly via text message, that’s how you know a poolie really loves his guy.

Sadly, the euphoria has ended far too soon for many of us. It’s obviously too early to tell for sure, but this could be an omen that we’re in for another up and down year for Datsyuk. Which would be a disappointing follow-up to his 37 points in 45 games last year.

We all take this news differently. For me, at least, it’s cause to write a song. Or, since I suck at writing songs, I let someone else write it and lazily change the lyrics.

Let us sing together…

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Death, Taxes, and Poolies Being Upset With Rick Nash

In the words of the venerable Ilya Bryzgalov – why you have to be mad? He’s a good guy.

I don’t think there is a more polarizing name in fantasy hockey than Rick Nash. Merely mentioning him on twitter throws my timeline into disarray, with many claiming they have sworn off him altogether.

Sitting here, at nearly midnight on a Saturday night, a time when I should be sleeping, I was compelled to put some words together on the big winger. Because he’s going to provide a tonne of value at the draft table, all while half of the worlds poolies have decided to delete him from their rankings.

The anger with Nash has less to do with his actual numbers – which have been more or less spectacular, especially when you consider some of the teams he captained in Columbus – and more to do with misplaced expectations. In 2003-04, he scored 41 goals, tying him for the league lead. As you might expect, those kind of numbers for a guy THAT YOUNG raised expectations to uncontrollable heights. It was no longer a question of if he’d ever reach 50, but how many times? We started discussing who would introduce him for his Hall of Fame speech before even 200 games had been played.

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High Noon – Vrbata versus Hornqvist

A piece where we pit two fantasy players against each other, tell them to stand back-to-back and walk 10 paces, then…. well, there probably won’t be any shooting, but hey at least you can vote!

It’s a heck of lot easier to imagine prosperity than it is to imagine failure. It’s why we buy lottery tickets – the chance of winning, however small, has an allure.

I think there is a similar line of thinking when it comes to the NHL and players changing teams. We all talk about what could go RIGHT, splling very little ink on the distinct possibility that it doesn’t work out. Two guys – Patric Hornqvist and Radim Vrbata – are going provide a nice little test study.

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Stay With Me…

We’re getting to that emotional time of the fantasy hockey offseason. You’re in a dynasty league, reviewing your roster heading into 2014-15, and coming to the stark realization that you won’t be able to keep all of your favourite players.

For me, this means potentially having to part ways with the Man-Child and personal favourite – Valeri Nichihushkin. It’s tough for me to talk about, and truthfully I’d rather not. It’s days like this I want to curl up on the couch in the basement with a bottle of wine and some old Sarah McLachlan CDs and let the afternoon slowly fade away.

Sure, there is a chance I’m able to nab him later on in our re-draft, but it’s far from a given. My team is wearing the battle wounds of three straight contending seasons in which I’ve been forced to divest myself of draft picks for veteran help. I don’t have any early selections, which means Nichushkin will be fodder for other managers before I have a chance to intervene. It’s heartbreaking.

On my way into work today I was listening to the radio and came across Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me.” It’s almost as if it was written about me and my squad. Like he peaked inside my heart while writing it. Sam Smith knows the struggle I’m going through right now, he gets it.

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50 Thoughts for 2014-15 – Part Four

The final post of a four-part series looking at 50 thoughts for the upcoming fantasy season. Unlike Star Wars I didn’t make you wait 30 years for the fourth instalment – it’s been like, what, only 20 hours? Of course Star Wars was PROBABLY a bit more highly anticipated than this post.

Now I’m just rambling, on to part four…

Understanding save percentage tiers

It’s the holy grail of goalie evaluation. Unfortunately, total save percentage can vary greatly from year to year. The biggest culprit is power plays, where random stuff can, and often does, happen. A couple bad goals and a tender’s save percentage will be out of whack for weeks, if not longer.

As a general rule, I’d focus on even strength save percentage when setting up your goalie draft board. Sadly, though, most pools still only use total save percentage as a category.

Let’s take a look at how things broke down in 2013-14…

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