Anaheim DucksArizona CoyotesBoston BruinsBuffalo SabresCalgary FlamesCarolina HurricanesChicago BlackhawksColorado AvalancheColumbus Blue JacketsDallas StarsDetroit Red WingsEdmonton OilersFlorida PanthersLos Angeles KingsMinnesota WildMontréal CanadiensNashville PredatorsNew Jersey DevilsNew York IslandersNew York RangersOttawa SenatorsPhiladelphia FlyersPittsburgh PenguinsSt Louis BluesSan Jose SharksSeattle KrakenTampa Bay LightningToronto Maple LeafsVancouver CanucksVegas Golden KnightsWashington CapitalsWinnipeg Jets

Fantasy value of faceoffs

Fantasy hockey leagues these days are tracking more and more stats with sites like fantrax offering the ability to cover more than just goals and assists. It is now common to have leagues include peripheral stats such as hits, shots, blocked shots, and even shoot out goals. However, very few fantasy leagues track face-off stats. So why include them in the November Roto report?

Winning your pool is accomplished by identifying value. I am not talking about what players are forecast to score the most. I mean what players offer the best value.

What does this have to do with face-offs?

Nothing specifically, but face-offs are an important factor in a hockey game. Players who win draws with consistency are relied on by the coach and will see more ice time and play in key situations. Players who have a winning percentage have tremendous value in the NHL and that value carries over into fantasy hockey.

Offense only players when not scoring will receive reduced ice time whereas all-around players when not scoring continue to see a regular shift. Players that win face-offs regularly will be used regardless if they can score or are on a hot streak.

Here is a review on some of the best at face-offs in the NHL and what it means to their fantasy value.

Jonathan Toews and Vladimir Sobotka dominate in the faceoff circle.
Jonathan Toews and Vladimir Sobotka dominate in the faceoff circle.

Vladimir Sobotka- Sobotka is currently leading the NHL in FO% at an impressive 60.9% The St. Louis Blues are a very deep team with plenty of good forwards. Heading into this season, most forecasted Sobotka to be a fringe player, playing on the fourth line. His prowess on the faceoff is part of the reason why he has forced Coach Ken Hitchcock to play him more than that. As a result, he is on pace for a 40 point season and averaging 16:31 minutes of ice time per game. He would have been available in late rounds or as a waiver wire or free agent claim earlier in the season. That is good value.

Jonathan Toews- He is a perfect example of value. Toews has shown he has a scoring touch but is also very responsible defensively, has tremendous hockey smarts, is an excellent skater and plays a physical game. Toews soaks up ice time in every situation and often is on the right side of the puck due to his proficiency in the face-off dot.

Pavel Datsyuk- Another example of an elite two-way player who is more than just goals and assists. Datsyuk is also off to a slightly slow start and is currently on pace for 60 points. But with a face-off rate of 59.3% Datsyuk leads the team in all face-off situations and wins. With all the ice time he receives and his history of two-way play and consistency count on Datsyuk to finish the year at a point per game.

Jason Spezza- This season Spezza is transforming from a one dimensional offense only player into a more complete all-around player. Now in a leadership role for the team he is excelling. Gone are the drop pass turnovers. Part of Spezza’s game that has evolved is his face off proficiency. Spezza currently is eighth in the league in face-offs won at 571. This tells you that if he is scoring or not, he will be getting prime ice time.

“It’s just something I try to (take) pride in,” said Spezza.
“I want to be out there taking big faceoffs. It’s something I’ve worked on quite a bit in the last three years and I feel it’s something that I’ve been able to get a lot better at.”
“When I came here, I don’t think I was as good. It’s one of those things where if you work at them, you can get better at them. I’ve put a lot of time in trying to work on them.”

Patrice Bergeron- Second overall in the NHL with a 59.7% in faceoff wins and leading the league with 739 wins Bergeron is a key member of the Boston Bruins. He is on the ice for seemingly every critical draw in either zone. His prowess on faceoffs was evident in the post season

Face-offs are a key element in special teams.  Having immediate possession in the offensive zone to start the power play is critical. Losing the draw can often use up 20-30 seconds before the team with the advantage can gain possession in the offensive zone.

While face-off stats may not directly contribute to your fantasy teams points, they do have a significant impact on a player’s value. It is clear that players who have a winning record in the face-off dot are leaned on by head coaches. Those players see increased and regular ice time.  Being proficient at winning face-offs is a key element in being a complete player and will ensure quality ice time regardless of whether or not that player is consistently scoring. That makes a player have value to his NHL team, and to your fantasy team.