September means it is now hockey pool draft season. When deciding who makes the ideal fantasy player, the key consideration is the stats that are used in your pool. Most pools use goals, assists and penalty minutes for skaters. Let's look deeper at what makes a great fantasy player.
GOAL SCORER: Drafting a goal scorer means you are getting a player who creates his own offence. A playmaker will only get points if the goal scorer puts the puck in the net. So when looking at players to draft who score about the same amount of points, always go with goal scorers, as they control their own destiny. Last season, only Sidney Crosby (51), Steven Stamkos (51) and Alexander Ovechkin (50) scored 50 or more goals. There were four other players who scored 40 to 49 goals and 17 players scoring 30 to 39 goals. Elite goal scorers score 50 or more goals a season, while good goal scorers pot in the 30 to 40 range.
POWER PLAY POINTS: Only offensive players get to play on the power play. When a team has the man advantage, they don't put out their strongest defensive player. Just like on the power play, fantasy teams want the best offensive players out there. A lot of websites just list power-play goals but you should look at power-play points because it gives you a better idea of how a player produces with the man advantage. The top five power-play point producers from last season were: Steven Stamkos (41), Brad Richards (40), Anze Kopitar (38), Nicklas Backstrom (37) and Martin St. Louis (37).
PENALTY MINUTES: There is a fine line when looking at PIMs, as too many penalties puts your player in the penalty box instead of on the ice and not enough penalties means you're losing out on a whole scoring category. A player like Colton Orr will get you a lot of PIMs but nothing for points, while a player like Andrew Brunette will get you 50 to 60 points a season but has averaged 14 PIMs over the last three seasons. Drafting players like Steve Downie (22 goals and 208 PIMs), Ryane Clowe (19 goals and 131 PIMs) or Alexandre Burrows (35 goals and 121 PIMs) is what you need to consider for pools that count both points and PIMs. However, it's pretty rare to find someone who produces a high number of points and PIMs. A good range is 50 to 100 penalty minutes a season.
SHOTS: There is an old saying: You can't score unless you shoot. The puck won't go in the net by itself -- someone needs to shoot the puck. Offensive players like to take shots; heck, all players like to shoot the puck, but when deciding who to draft consider the guy who shoots the puck more. The top five shot producers from last year were: Ovechkin (368), Zach Parise (347), Jeff Carter (319), Henrik Zetterberg (309) and Crosby (298).
PLAYING TIME: The final stat to look at is time on ice (TOI). Your fantasy player won't get you any points if he is stuck on the bench. Most first-line forwards will play 20 to 24 minutes a game while top-pairing defencemen will be on the ice for 26 to 30 minutes. Look at even-strength TOI and power-play TOI. TOI is usually dominated by defencemen and the top three average TOI per game from last season were Joni Pitkanen (27:22), Duncan Keith (26:35) and Scott Niedermayer (26:30). Ilya Kovalchuk was the highest forward with an average TOI per game of 22:02 that was good enough for 65th overall. The top five power-play TOI per game from last season were: Ilya Kovalchuk, Mark Streit, Sergei Gonchar, Brad Richards and Mike Green.
Remember, the two biggest factors to look at are guys who can create their own offence and are getting enough playing time for them to have that opportunity to score.