This season, Hockey Prospectus launched a writer/reader fantasy league in an effort to better connect with you, the reader. Meant to be an incredibly challenging format, the league is a 16-teamer with 25 roster spots available to each owner. Naturally, this requires owners to be especially astute with the depths of NHL rosters.
Writers Ryan Wagman and Erik Yost joined me as the HP representation of the league, but a few reader invitees chimed in for this draft recap and "roundtable discussion."
You can view the league homepage here, with the draft results here
First, some full write-ups for the HP contingent.
Ryan Schwepfinger (Team Schwep)
Core: Phil Kessel, Henrik Sedin, Rick Nash, Zdeno Chara
Best pick: I liked getting Ryan O'Reilly at 204, but none of my picks felt like home runs. It felt like I kept getting sniped a few picks before I planned to take somebody.
Mulligan pick: I reached a little for Devan Dubnyk at 85, especially considering I got Ryan Miller at 117. I also took Radko Gudas particularly high (245th overall). It is a hits and blocks league, but I could have probably gotten him near the end.
Strategy: I really wanted to take three goalies before anyone else did, and I accomplished that. However, my trio of Mike Smith, Dubnyk, and Miller is not as strong as I might have liked. Quick was taken a few picks before I wanted him, and then the same happened with Schneider a few rounds later.
Targeted sleepers: Drew Shore and Tomas Hertl are two guys I wrote about that I got late. Very happy with them in a league this deep.
Overall tips: All leagues are different. Size your scoring up and play to the room. I always prefer upside to a steady, veteran presence. Most importantly, manage your team well throughout the season. Follow along all season for our tips!
Ryan Wagman (Zamboni Tracks)
Core: Steven Stamkos, Nazem Kadri, Antti Niemi, Alex Pietrangelo, Jonathan Huberdeau
Best pick: "I had the second pick. Stamkos is a no brainer. Also very happy getting Alex Pietrangelo in the fourth round."
Mulligan pick: "During rounds 18-19, a few picks went very quickly and I wasn't quick enough updating my board. Was running out of time and went with Jonas Brodin. Not that I hate the pick, but I was scrambling to beat the buzzer."
Strategy: "In a 16-team league with most teams looking to roster three goalies, that meant that bonafide starters would be hot currency. I had to take some earlier than I would have truly valued them. Niemi in the third, Halak in the eighth."
Targeted sleepers: "Got Tyler Toffoli in the 15th, Jake Gardiner in the 16th, Cody Eakin in the 21st, Emerson Etem in the 23rd. I enjoy gambling on youth. I feel strongly about those four. Hopefully they take big steps this year instead of further down the road. Didn't get: I was preparing to draft Kyle Turris in the tenth round and he was taken with the pick before mine. Took Cody Hodgson instead."
Overall tips: "Split your draft into four phases: Take skill early, 'safe players' in the second phase, upside in the third, and fill in the gaps in the fourth. Best advice I could give is that the draft is just the basis. Manage your team actively afterwards throughout the season."
Next, a few reader participants' thoughts.
Tyler Piede (Team Piede)
Core: Claude Giroux, Chris Kunitz, Carey Price, Dustin Brown
On taking Carey Price so early: "I missed the boat on most of the great [goaltenders], but I really capitalized on what I believed to be a severe drop-off in talent in Carey Price. In fantasy spots across the board, the name of the game is capitalizing on market inefficiencies. I feel that the fact that Price is often the subject of scorn makes him very comparable to a Tony Romo: how he's characterized by fans and the media often cause his reputation to precede his performance, which is usually pretty good. However, this causes him to be slightly undervalued by the market, and really provides an opportunity for success. I think he bounces back nicely this year. "
Aron Vad (Team Vad)
Core: Tuukka Rask, Dustin Byfuglien, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza
Best pick: "Probably Brandon Dubinsky in round 10 and [Steve] Ott in round 11. Those guys are studs in this format and I am happy to have both." Note: coincidentally, these were two of my "late round guys to target!"
Strategy: "Know your categories, having a well-rounded team will keep you in the hunt. Hits and blocked shots aren't susceptible to droughts, usually [arena bias]. I'm not a fan of one- or two-category studs, though I am experimenting with them in another league to see how it works out."
Stephen Burtch (Grabbo's Goons)
Core: Henrik Lundqvist, Tyler Seguin, Zach Parise, Matt Duchene
Thoughts on depth of league and the impact: "I do think it changes your outlook a bit. You really have to think of players that fill roles more than you do in smaller leagues where everyone can target top players that fill stat sheets. When you start digging down into 200+ players drafted, skaters don't do everything well anymore, so you begin to look for guys that have skill sets that make them valuable in the point categories being used."
Strategy: "One third of the league categories we're using are goaltending, and only 2-3 players per team will pick those stats up. That drastically increases a goaltender's marginal value. It also means it's extremely important to have two solid netminders."
Darren Schienbein (Who Needs Teeth?)
Core: Corey Perry, Pekka Rinne, Evander Kane, Drew Doughty, Jordan Eberle
On the categorical impact of hits and blocks: "DeKeyser and Smid are two [players] I was hoping to get and was glad I got. With Smid, I figured blocks and hits would get filled with him and he [was taken] late in the draft. Edmonton [official] scorers give a lot of blocks…more than other buildings." Ed note: The Oilers have finished top 10 in the NHL in blocks every season since 2006-07. Building effects in play, or a byproduct of being a poor team over the years?