Just because the regular season is over, doesn’t mean that fantasy hockey is done. The playoffs are around the corner, and the second season is just getting started. It’s going to be a little different from previous years because of the 24 team format and reseeding after every round. Some of the same questions and the same strategies will arise, but there are so many more players to sift through than usual. Making this year a lot more fun!
Who goes first overall?
Which teams do you stack players from?
Who do you avoid?
All great questions that will, hopefully, be answered for you in this article.
A quick recap for you:
- Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington & Philadelphia will participate in a round-robin contest for the top seed in the East
- Pittsburgh will play Montreal
- Carolina will play New York Rangers
- New York Islanders will play Florida
- Toronto will play Columbus
- St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas & Dallas will participate in a round-robin contest for the top seed in the West
- Edmonton will play Chicago
- Nashville will play Arizona
- Vancouver will play Minnesota
- Calgary will play Winnipeg
I can see arguments made for, at least, five names to go first overall in playoff pool drafts. There are a few things I like to look at while deciding who to draft.
- The health of the players
- Regular season production
- Team matchups
Health shouldn’t be too big of a concern, seeing how everyone has been resting up since the COVID shut down, so I will be focusing on the other two this year. Regular season production is self-explanatory. What was there production totals & rates from the regular season? With that, Draisaitl jumps up as a clear top choice for that number one overall. But there is some hesitation there. The Oilers have to play the Blackhawks in the play-in round. The Oilers should be confident going up against a team that was a seller at the trade deadline, but the Blackhawks will have a healthy Corey Crawford, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane. The Blackhawks are a dangerous team when everyone is healthy. Putting my hope in a player that could be out of the playoffs after 3 games, isn’t ideal.
You cannot overlook the production that Drasaitl and McDavid can supply, but I tend to go a little safer if I have the number one overall pick. I would be eyeing up the eight teams with the byes. Top teams with top talent. If I have the number one pick in a playoff pool, I’m drafting…
— NHL (@NHL) April 8, 2020
Colorado has the first-round bye. They should have Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri, Matt Calvert, and Philipp Grubauer coming back, which would get that deadly power-play back together.
This is a high risk, high reward strategy. It could backfire quickly and leave you watching from the sidelines after one round. I generally don’t like to stack too many players from the same team on my fantasy hockey team. Two is usually my maximum, three is only if a player falls to me and I just can’t say no. If I draft MacKinnon, I’m trying to grab Rantanen or Landeskog. But I wouldn’t want both. I’d like to see the Avalanche play well. But if they end up losing in the first round, that’s three top draft picks that I won’t have on my team for the rest of the playoffs.
Pastrnak is a better option, as far as stacking goes, because you won’t be able to get all three from that top line. Stacking Pastrank and Bergeron would be a great idea though. Other stacks I would be looking for in the draft:
- Kucherov and Point
- Panarin and Zibanejad
- Ovechkin and Carlson
- Giroux and Couturier
- Crosby and Guentzel
Who To Avoid
This one is easy. I’m avoiding any team that I believe has no shot of moving on from the opening rounds. Montreal and Arizona are the top teams I’m avoiding, with Chicago as a close third. If I don’t think a team is going to make some noise in the playoffs, what’s the point of adding them to your squad?
Fantasy Hockey Is Back!!
Phase Three of the NHL return to play program is set to start on July 10th. That means training camps will be open and, just my guess, we should see some NHL playoff action around August 1st.
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