Fantasy hockey: 5 takeaways for your mock drafts

Fantasy hockey mock drafts are a good way to practice strategy and prepare for when the real thing rolls around. (Getty Images)
Fantasy hockey mock drafts are a good way to practice strategy and prepare for when the real thing rolls around. (Getty Images)

Fantasy hockey mock drafts are a great way to ease into your drafts; they give you an idea of what to expect from different spots in the draft and they’re fun to boot. Mock draft super teams are posted all over social media this time of year, but the reality is that the majority of leagues will draft pretty similarly to the mock drafts that feed into the ADP every manager sees when they’re finally drafting for real.

I recently completed a 12-team, H2H Categories mock draft with the following standard Yahoo categories:

Skaters: Goals - Assists - Plus/Minus - Power Play Points - Shots On Goal - Hits

Goalies: Wins - Goals Against Average - Save Percentage - Shutouts

Here’s the team I was able to build, drafting from the turn with the 12th pick:

1. Alexander Ovechkin (Was - LW)

2. David Pastrnak (Bos - RW)

3. Timo Meier (Sj - LW/RW)

4. John Carlson (Was - D)

5. Vladimir Tarasenko (Stl - RW)

6. Drew Doughty (LA - D)

7. Zach Werenski (Cls - D)

8. Joe Pavelski (Dal - C, RW)

9. Roope Hintz (Dal - C)

10. Evgeni Malkin (Pit - C)

11. Charlie McAvoy (Bos - D)

12. Matt Murray (Tor- G)

13. Elvis Merzlikins (Cls - G)

14. Troy Terry (Ana - RW)

15. Ryan Pulock (NYI - D)

16. Artturi Lehkonen (Col - LW, RW)

I really like how this team shaped up for the most part, but I did come away with some takeaways I wanted to share with you as you perform your drafts.

1. Fading centers works

I made a concerted effort in this draft to avoid taking centers with my first few picks and see who might be there for me a little later on. This worked exceptionally well in my case, as I was able to get Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, and Evgeni Malkin with my eighth, ninth, and 10th round picks and I have all three players projected for close to a point per game with very good category coverage in this setup. In fact, there were even some centers later on that I felt had terrific value but ultimately decided I shouldn’t take since I already had these three on my roster.

2. When drafting on the turn, go get your guy

Trying to play the ADP game of passing on the next highest ranked player on your draft board just because the ADP suggests they should come back to you at your next pick is great when it works, but it becomes very tough when drafting on the turn like I was in this mock draft. With so many picks to come before you pick again, it’s best to adhere to your personal draft board a little more strictly and not get too cute trying to get the best ADP values possible. Draft a team that you think is better than the opposition, and beat them with your guys if they suggest you reached for a player or two.

3. Don’t get caught without a queue

I was pretty good about staying prepared with a queue of players set up since I was drafting from the turn and had lots of time between picks, but there were a couple of instances where the player I really wanted was drafted just before me and I had to scramble. Avoid getting so focused on getting the player you really want to fall to you that you don’t have your backup plan in place and have to scramble while on the clock. When there’s five picks left before mine, I make sure I have my next six players set in the queue so I know that even if the first five go off, I still have a player ready to draft that I’m reasonably comfortable with selecting at that spot.

4. Watch your positional eligibilities

With my selection of Troy Terry in the 14th round, I committed a cardinal sin: I drafted a 3rd RW-only player. My personal mantra is to select a maximum of two players at each forward position that don’t have dual eligibility (max 2 C-only, 2 LW-only, 2 RW-only). Having roster flexibility with dual-eligible players at your forward positions will certainly get you more games played from your roster throughout the course of the season, and you don’t want to be that person who lost a matchup because they had to bench Troy Terry as the 3rd RW-only on a heavy night while leaving a LW or C slot empty.

5. There will be value at goalie later on

There was a total of 30 goalies taken in this 12-team mock draft, meaning that at a minimum there are at least two starting goalies in the league that weren’t taken. Goaltenders will emerge throughout the season and you shouldn’t get stuck on “needing” a goalie in the early rounds as the Markstroms and Saros's come off the board. Instead, focus on finding players with huge upside later on like I did with Matt Murray and Elvis Merzlikins. Murray has one of the best team situations in the league and Merzlikins is an unquestioned volume starter on a young and improving Blue Jackets squad; take shots on goalies with room to outperform their ADP and focus on building up those crucial wing and defence spots early on.

One bonus takeaway: injured players seem to be falling very far in mock drafts this season. I found Charlie McAvoy was too big a potential steal to pass on in the 11th; I’ll skate by with Ryan Pulock in his place until he’s back in my lineup. If he was healthy, he probably would have been a 5th round pick, so McAvoy feels like a big win in the 11th even considering the amount of time he’ll have to spend on my IR.

Nate Groot Nibbelink is the creator of Apples & Ginos Fantasy Hockey and the originator of the #ZeroG draft strategy. You can find him pontificating about obscure fantasy hockey strategy topics in the Apples & Ginos Discord Server or on Twitter @applesginos.

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