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Fantasy Hockey: The Monday Mailbag

A regular piece where you folks do all the work. You can send in any fantasy hockey related questions via twitter @fantasyhockeydk. I’ll try to post them on Monday’s, unless I sleep in, then it will be Tuesdays, or in the very worst case scenario, we’ll just keep your mail and laugh maniacally.

One of the misnomers in fantasy hockey is that there is “one” right answer for any particular question. In reality, there are many, many possible solutions to each problem you’ll face. Instead of looking for that one mythical expert that can provide that perfect response (you’ll be searching a long time), it’s best to read as many opinions as you can. At the end, you’ll have multiple perspectives that you can mold into a strategy for your squad.

That’s the idea behind bringing back the mailbag for the 2014-15 season. Also, it’s an excuse to make numerous references to 1998’s horribly bad You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

On to the mail… 

Q: Who gets more fantasy points this year, Neal or Hornqvist?

A: No matter what way you approach this one, it has to be Neal. He’s a better player than Hornqvist and will probably shoot 40 or 50 more times. And Neal is the featured piece on Nashville’s power play, whereas Hornqvist isn’t guaranteed to be on the first unit in Pittsburgh.

Don’t take that as me being down on Hornqvist, quite the contrary, I’m expecting career highs from him virtually across the board. But even his best numbers will be a bit below Neal.

Q: Who has the most upside, Nichushkin or Drouin?

A: A tough one for me to answer given my (somewhat) overblown love of Nichushkin. Obviously Drouin is considered to be the higher end prospect, going well before Nichuskin at the entry draft a year ago.

The wild card here could be their team situations. Nichushkin is likely going to have an easier road grabbing prime minutes and power play time in Dallas. Whereas Drouin is finding himself on a Tampa team that suddenly is flush with wingers.

If forced to pick one today in a keeper pool, objectively it’s Drouin, but it’s almost too close to call.

Q: What are your projections for the Sedins? Both are available in my 6 player 12 team keeper league.

A: I’m giving them a mulligan on last season. It’s like golfing with your Dad when you duff your tee shot 15 yards on the third hole (that’s normal right?), and he tells you to goo pick it up and take another rip.

There were so many things working against them in Vancouver last year. It’s hard to believe that at 33 they’ve simply ‘lost it’ to that degree. Look for around 70 points from each of them.

Q: Even in multi-cat leagues, does it ever make sense to take Perry over the big 4?

A: In a word – no. As good as Perry has been at times (50 and 43 goals is incredible) there is too much risk of regression. Despite his dominance in recent years he’s only broken 80 points twice, ever. Sure, the penalty minutes are fantastic, but you’d be giving up a tonne of upside potential if you took him over say Malkin or Ovechkin. Also, the advanced stats point to a step back from Anaheim as a whole.

Q: Who are the top 5 forwards?

A: The BIG four are still (at least for one more season) at the top of my list. The fifth spot is really going to depend on your format and which categories are favoured. I’d guess it’s one of Hall, Tavares, Seguin, or Perry.

Q: What is the floor/ceiling for Seth Jones?

A: If I was building an NHL franchise he’d be an early pick. In fantasy, though, I’m not sure yet. Shea Weber is locked up forever as the team’s power play quarterback and Roman Josi had a spectacular year in 2013-14. Jones could certainly be a low 50s point producer if everything goes right, or he might settle into the high 30s. We’ll likely need another couple years of data before making firm conclusions.

Q: Will Bishop and Varlamov be as good as last year?

A: My rule with goaltending is they have to perform at an elite level for two straight years before I start to consider them among the top five to seven tenders.

If you ever find yourself overvaluing a guy based on one year, make sure to watch this on a loop.

Q: Who is this year's Radko Gudas? (Late round sleeper pick with hits and PIMs)

A: Marcus Foligno on Buffalo could be a late round guy that chips in 30ish points, while also breaking 100 penalty minutes and 200 hits.

Q: Even with his very poor +/- is Ovi still a top 3 fantasy player? Or have Perry and Malkin jumped above him?

A: There’s no question that his point totals have significantly dipped from his prime years. It’s hard to see him being a consistent 100 point option again. But if your pool includes shots and/or hits as categories, you’ll have to keep him inside the top three (if not number one). Plus minus can fluctuate wildly year-to-year, and he’s had plenty of seasons with double digit positive totals as well. A safe pick this season.

Q: How many rookies from this year’s draft class do you see making and staying with their team all year?

A: The first four will likely get an extended look (Ekblad, Reinhart, Draisaitl, Bennett), after that there are a few wild cards, but no sure things to stay up this year. I’m sure a couple of guys will surprise and we’ll end up seeing between five and six play a full season. It’s unlikely anyone will have a significant fantasy impact this soon.

Q: Who is the biggest steal in the first 10 rounds?

A: Somehow, and I don’t really know how it happens every single year, but Radim Vrbata will once again be the biggest steal. You’ll look up in the ninth round and there he’ll be, sitting there in the draft queue without a home. Give him a home, dammit!

Q: How do you see the goaltending situation shaking out for Carolina? Khudobin as head of 1A-1B platoon?

A: Despite the comments from Ron Francis, I don’t see how Khudobin doesn’t start more than 50 games. The only proverbial stick in your bike spokes might be Carolina trying to showcase Cam Ward for a trade at the deadline, in which case they’ll split the games.

Q: What are your thoughts on the LW1 situation in Anaheim? Silfverberg have any shot at 50+ points?

A: With his wrist shot (it’s something to behold) there is always a chance for 50 points. There is a lot of internal competition for that first line slot and I’m guessing they’ll experiment with a number of different options. Don’t overinvest here, but if you can grab him in the late rounds as a flier than it’s worth it.


Darren (@fantasyhockeydk) is a contributor for McKeen’s Hockey. He’ll answer any of your fantasy hockey questions. Unless you bring up Kovalchuk, in which case you will be banned for life.