The NHL Entry Draft is approaching quickly which is the first big event of the off-season and has fantasy GMs drooling over a new crop of rookies entering the NHL. In most drafts you canít go too wrong drafting offensive players who were selected in the first 20 spot of the NHL draft but what about the remaining players?
Finding those gems later in the draft takes a lot of prep work and a little luck. Here are some tips to help you with your prep work heading into your fantasy draft:
1.Key Characteristics: When you are reading through the different Draft Previews and watching the NHL Draft watch out for some key characteristics like hockey sense, creativity, offensive, runs a power play, speed or great vision. All of these describe a player who understands the game, can see how the play before it happens and can create his own scoring chances these are all things you want in a fantasy player.
2.Student of the Game: If a player is described as a hard worker or a student of the game that is some one who is willing to do what it takes to make it at the next level. Playing in junior is much different than playing in the NHL and it takes a lot of hard work and studying to make it.
3.Boom or Bust: STAY AWAY from any player that is listed as a boom or bust as more times then not they never, ever turn out. Let your opponents get frustrated with this type of prospect as there is usually way too much hype and not enough production.
4.Injuries: If a junior player has suffered multiple injuries during his junior career that is a good sign that he will be injury prone during his professional career. However donít write off injured junior players as the injuries just may be a result of their bodies still growing. Once a junior player has finished growing his injury problems may be behind him so use these injuries just as a caution.
5.Junior Stats: There is an old saying of ďdonít judge a book by its coverĒ well the same goes for junior stats. European prospects are usually playing in leagues against grown men and end up playing on the 3rd or 4th line so their stats are always much lower than their NHL potential. QMJHL prospects play in a league that is much more wide open (more of a European feel) so their stats are usually higher than their NHL potential. Donít pick a player based solely on their stats.
6.WHL and OHL: The WHL and OHL style of play is the closest thing in juniors to actual NHL play, so what you see a player doing in those leagues will be very close to what they can bring to the table in the NHL. WHL and OHL players end up being more NHL ready because of the tighter checking and hitting in these leagues.
7.Needs to get stronger: Donít let those words scare you off of a prospect as they may be in a situation where they are still growing or have not received any conditioning coaching. At the last Draft Combine there were players who could barely do 1 push up or a sit-up but are extremely gifted hockey players. With proper coaching any player can get stronger so imagine if a player is already gifted but then gets stronger how much better they will be. Potential prospect gem in the making here.
Do the research, take lots of notes so that when it comes time for your fantasy draft you will be well prepared and not miss out on the next best thing.