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:
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:
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- No, the Devils can’t possibly lose that many shootout games again next year
- 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.
- 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)
- 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?
- 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)
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.