Daydream Believer – Pinning My Hopes on Yakupov

There is this old adage in fantasy hockey circles that “no one likes hearing about someone else’s fantasy team.” While this might be true at dinner parties, with your parents, or at the office, it likely doesn’t hold true within the poolie community itself.

I for one spend countless hours reading stories from other managers. Part of that is just me being an obsessive fantasy hockey junkie who has an insatiable desire to learn as much as I can. Another part though, is that reading through others’ experiences can help me improve as a manager. Understanding the rationale behind decisions and strategies of someone else can help further develop your own team building process.

There certainly isn’t a “one size fits” all methodology to having sustained success. However, by reading as much as you can, you build a repertoire of ideas and thoughts to draw upon when working on your squad. Ultimately, the variety of league formats and settings available on the web means that you’ll inevitably have to do some customization when implementing ideas from other poolies, analysts, and bloggers.

That preamble is really just a long winded way of me telling you that I’m about to talk about MY fantasy team. Hopefully my strategy can in some way help you as you move through the summer and deal with the questions that will come with preparing for 2014-15.

Onto the big news – I traded for Yakupov! Hurray! *balloons falling from rafters* *James Duthie announcing on the TSN panel that he is a “can’t miss prospect”* *me drinking champagne while dancing around listening to DJ Kool’s “let me clear my throat.* (I also do this every time Netflix adds another season of Downton Abbey… don’t judge, it’s fantastic)

Wait… it’s not 2012?

The full trade was:

Henrik Lundqvist + Anze Kopitar

In exchange for

Nail Yakupov + Cory Schneider


I’m sure you’re a bit taken back by the names involved. On the face of it, I would appear to have completely lost this trade by every imaginable metric. The opposing manager left with the superior forward and goalie asset. Leaving me with a couple guys that still have a whole lot to prove in fantasy.

So why did I do it?

Enter the ever important “context.”

Our league format is 10 teams, with each manager keeping 4 forwards, 1 defencemen, and 1 goalie at the end of each season. I won the league regular season and playoff championship (as we like to call it, the “double”) in back-to-back seasons. Coming into this year I was attempting to achieve the vaunted THREE PEAT.

I was even threatening to win a third title, promptly retire from fantasy hockey, move to Chicago, and start up a minor league baseball pool… but I digress…

Unfortunately I was ousted in the second round of our playoffs. Now, wearing the wounds of multiple trips to the finals (by wounds I mean having essentially zero draft picks for the following season and only mediocre keepers) I’ve been forced to enter a rebuild.

My expectation is that the rebuild will only take 1 (potentially 2) seasons to complete. My current set of keepers are as follows:

Evgeni Malkin

Evander Kane

Jeff Skinner

Nail Yakupov

D – Keith Yandle

G – Cory Schneider

The original question still stands, why deal away Kopitar and Lundqvist? Couldn’t they have been a big part of your future?

Here is my thinking behind the deal:

  1. Lundqvist is 32 years old. Certainly not old by elite goaltending standards, but not exactly young either. If my rebuild (or “re-tool” as I like to call it, makes it sound less onerous) takes 1 or 2 seasons there is a real chance that Henrik is 34 before I’m competitive again.
  2. If my plan is to contend for 3 to 4 seasons at the end of this “re-tool” I’ve now got Lundqvist between the ages of 34 and 37. Those years could be absolutely fine, but there’s also a chance he is closer to the 7th or 8th best tender at that point than he is to 2nd (where I have him today)
  3. Cory Schneider is 28 and despite not having a full season as a starter, has a growing data set of career numbers that are as good as anyone. Coming off a season in which he posted a GAA of 1.97 and Sv% of .921 there is reason to believe he can be an elite option.
  4. No, the Devils can’t possibly lose that many shootout games again next year
  5. In 2 years’ time Cory will be 30 years old. If things go as I expect (or as I hope, anyway) he’ll be a top 5 goalie during the succeeding three or four seasons.
  6. It’s also worth noting that our league is heavily biased against “old guys”. Cory at 30 will likely have more trade value than Lundqvist at 35, even if his numbers aren’t as strong. (Don’t blame me for this! I’ve been trying to convince them to stop undervaluing Martin St.Louis for years)
  7. Anze Kopitar is one of my absolute favourite players to watch. Seeing him go was painful. But, I’m convinced that as long as Darryl Sutter is coach and LA employs a defense first structure Anze will remain in that 70 to 75 point, 200-220 shot range (If Darryl ever leaves expect a return to 80 and 250+). Those are more than respectable numbers, but are they elite?
  8. Remember we only keep 4 forwards, so having top-end talent is pivotal. The objective of my rebuild is to exit it with the maximum number of elite assets (I’d be happier with one top 20 forward, as opposed to leaving with 3 top 40 guys)
  9. In Yakupov I’ve added another lottery ticket to my forwards. There is significant uncertainly to him, but a quick look at the last few number one draft choices says a lot about his upside too (No, I don’t think he can be Stamkos or Tavares, but maybe a Kovalchuk-lite if all breaks well)
  10. With Kane, Skinner, and Yakupov I’m hedging my bets that one of them can be a top 20 asset and solidify himself as my second forward.
  11. While Kopitar is a superior asset today, in one or two years Yakupov may be better.

What really worries me about this transaction is my ability to see it through to the end. If Yakupov or Schneider start poorly next season and I devolve into a panic move it could be costly and undermine my original thought process. This plan is all about the long-term. It’s part of why I always recommend writing down your core strategy and team pillars so you can refer to it as the season progresses. Unless something unforeseeable happens (like being offered Karlsson, Stamkos…etc) I need to keep this group together for at least two seasons before I’ll start to see dividends.

It was a risk to be sure; much like the risks I’m sure you’ll consider taking this offseason. The one thing to remember is that there is a difference between a risk and a calculated risk – for my sake, I hope this move ends up as the latter.



7 thoughts on “Daydream Believer – Pinning My Hopes on Yakupov

  1. Wow that’s a brave strategy. Do you think it’s a good idea to be chasing young boys when you had studs in hand?

  2. #neverchaseyoungboys

    I do like the acquisition of Schneider though, I project him to remain in the top 5 gaa and sv% for the next 4 seasons.

    I just traded Lundqvist and Byfuglien (I couldn’t keep Dustin anyways) for Rask. I’ve got Schneider as my 2nd goalie keeper too.

    • haha, you might be right Ken. I can’t think of a more boom or bust prospect today than Yakupov. Hopefully when I’m ready to contend (1-2 years) Nail will be entering his prime years (or close to them anyway).

      I’ve long been a huge supporter of Schneider. With the Devil’s coaching staff locked up for a little while I expect them to continue suppressing shots effectively. Should mean a low GAA for Cory, along with his always elite Sv%. Wins will be hard to come by, but he’ll still be north of 30 IMO.

      Really like your move for Rask – leveraging an expiring asset in Buff to upgrade your G position.

  3. I took a gamble on Yakupov this year; buy low, right? I traded Brandon Saad, Griffin Reinhart and Curtis Lazar for Nail Yakupov, Brayden Schenn and Emerson Etem right after the WJC when the Oil Kings forward were at their highest value and with the hope that Yakupov becomes the best of the bunch. If Yakupov bombs then I just gutted a ton of my futures. Home run swing….

    • I really like that move. Saad has good (but not great IMO) potential and Reinhart/Lazar are still VERY early in their developmental curve. If Schenn can stick on Philly’s second line and Etem enjoys decent minutes in Anaheim you’ll be in good shape. Yakupov has the kind of elite (top 20) upside that is rarely, if ever, traded this early in a career. You did well.

      *crosses fingers*

      This year will be a big one.

  4. Interesting move. What I took out of it was to make sure you have a plan and commit to it. I recently acquired Yakupov and Heuberdeau and a few other pieces for Skinner. The hard part for me is now having the patience to hold onto Yakupov. The Oilers to me are a whole lot of mess and Yakupov doesn’t seem to be in well with Eakins. Hopefully a change of scenery for Yakupov will happen and do some good.

    Schneider is a stud. Him alone will be worth the risk.

    • That’s the thing with nabbing a guy like Yakupov or Huberdeau, you have to be willing (even though it’s SO tough sometimes) to wait it out and give them that 1-2 year window. I always recommend writing out a 3 year plan on paper. You can then reference it over time when the inevitable “itchy trigger finger” takes hold

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