Fantasy Hockey Cheat Sheets: Faceoff winners

Thumbnail image for stoll faceoff.jpgWhile Pro Hockey Talk doesn’t specialize in fantasy hockey (our Rotoworld cousins do, though), we still think that there are areas where we can help you, the budding imaginary general managers. For that reason, we’re going to discuss different philosophies, strategies and cheat sheets as fantasy drafts begin to increase around North America.

Previous entry: Penalty Minutes.

Tonight’s entry: Faceoff leaders.

While it’s not a stat that pops up in every fantasy hockey league, faceoff wins (or “FW”) is one of the easiest categories to dominate if you’re in a league with less-than-observant opponents. Generally speaking, they’re pretty consistent game to game so you can build a team that generates a lot of FWs with outstanding consistency.

Before I reveal a few tricks, here are the top 15 faceoff winners from the last three seasons. Keep in mind I don’t really care about winning percentage, since a 60 percent rate doesn’t mean much if you only take a few draws per year.

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While Alex Ovechkin mauls everyone in the shots on goal category*, Sidney Crosby’s value increases when FW are a category considering the fact that a) he takes a ton of faceoffs and b) he seemingly improves his skills in the faceoff circle every year. While I mostly ignore faceoff winning percentage, it’s a good indicator for budding stars. Chances are, Jonathan Toews might get a little better at draws and would naturally win a lot more if he can play 82 out of 82 games rather than just 73.

* – Yes, there will probably be a “SOG” cheat sheet too.

selannefaceoff.jpgThere’s one tricky move that savvy fantasy owners use: adding wingers who win faceoffs. I couldn’t find an easily sortable list, but after some digging I came up with the biggest FW generators who might be considered a winger (or, sometimes, they get the very spiffy C/RW or C/LW eligibility). Here are the wingers who made NHL.com’s top 100 faceoff win list.

*Henrik Zetterberg (often listed as a LW) won 544 faceoffs last season, good for 41st in the NHL.
*David Backes (often listed as a RW) won 504 last year, good for 50th.
*RJ Umberger (sometimes a LW) won 372 last year (good for No. 82).
*Patrick Marleau (if he’s on a line with Joe Thornton) might not be considered a center-only. He won 316 last year, tying him with Marc Savard for 94th.
*Claude Giroux (RW) won 297, good for 98th place.

With this information, you should be able to be build one of the top teams in your league in FWs. Some might scoff at paying attention to a stat like FW, but if you’re in a league that counts them as a category they actually count just as much as goals or assists, especially if your league doesn’t also include a separate points category. Why not dominate a category that is predictable and easy to win, especially since you can focus on the Crosbys and Zetterbergs who bring faceoff wins to the table but also can score in large quantities? I’m not saying focus solely on FW, but if you’re in a coin flip scenario, go with the guy who will win more.

Hopefully this cheat sheet will help you target those players. Expect more fantasy articles and cheat sheets as this week goes along.

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    WATCH LIVE: Blues at Blackhawks

    CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 12: Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck against Jay Bouwmeester #19 and Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues during the season opening game at the United Center on October 12, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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    The St. Louis Blues will look to improve their cushion in the Western Conference playoff race when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

    You can catch the game on NBCSN (7:30 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

    NHL On NBCSN: Blues look to slow down Blackhawks

    Blues extend Berglund — five years, $19.25 million

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    NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Ben Bishop #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning tends net against the New York Islanders during the second period at the Barclays Center on November 1, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The L.A. Kings have reportedly acquired goalie Ben Bishop from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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    The Kings are three points out of the final wild card spot in the West.

    More to come.

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    DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 13:  Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates his first career NHL goal against the Dallas Stars in the second period at American Airlines Center on October 13, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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    Connor McDavid once again had that blazing speed of his on display. The latest victims? The Nashville Predators on Sunday.

    The sophomore star scored his 21st goal of the season and league-leading 70th point thanks to a beautiful individual effort, putting his Oilers back into a tie game at the time.

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    BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 11: Ben Hutton #27 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Boston Bruins during the third period at TD Garden on February 11, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Canucks 4-3. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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    There was good news and bad news for the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, as the club deals with an outbreak of the mumps.

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