Fantasy Hockey Cheat Sheets: Shots on Goal leaders

While 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 entries: Penalty Minutes, Faceoff winners.

Today’s entry: Shots on Goal.

alexosoghero.jpgWhile many people roll their eyes at the debate, I still think that Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin will ultimately be the “Magic vs. Bird” debate for this NHL generation. I agree that other great players such as Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin and so so on deserve a bigger piece of the spotlight, but Crosby and Ovechkin are still on the top of the mountain.

That much remains true in fantasy hockey, too, especially if you don’t choose frivolous stat categories (more on that soon). With Crosby developing into a more trigger happy player, his mixture of normal stats plus FW and SOG get him back in the No. 1 pick argument in my mind.*

* – That being said, as long as Ovechkin doesn’t suffer an off-season injury, I would take him in most leagues (especially if they are wise enough to have winger/position categories … leaving all forwards labeled ‘F’ is no fun). The logic is simple: great left wingers are a lot harder to come by than great centers. That’s another discussion for another day, though.

All that out of the way, Ovechkin’s SOG make him the No. 1 option in leagues that include that stat. His 2009-10 numbers might look tame to you compared to his previous seasons, but keep in mind he won the imaginary shooting frequency title by 20 shots even after missing 10 games in 09-10. That’s still 5.1 shots per game, which would equal 419 overall. Here are the top 10 SOG leaders from the last three seasons, with Ovechkin the clear king of that category. (Stats via NHL.com.)

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In case you want a nice snapshot of which guys are consistent SOG-heavy players, here are the players who made a top 10 list at least twice in the last three years. (This includes their rank for 09-10, 08-09, 07-08; NR means “not ranked” although they might have been as high as #11.)

Alex Ovechkin: 1, 1, 1
Zach Parise: 2, 3, NR
Jeff Carter: 3, 4, NR
Henrik Zetterberg: 4, 5, 2
Vincent Lecavalier: 8, 9, 7
Ilya Kovalchuk: 9, NR, 10
Eric Staal: NR, 2, 8
Jason Blake: NR, 7, 5

pariseandcarter.jpgExpect big SOG numbers from Parise and Carter since they’re going to be free agents after this season. Greed is good when SOG are concerned. I’ve always been a big fan of Zetterberg in fantasy hockey because he earns a ton of FW and often gains C/LW eligibility**. If he wasn’t so injury prone, so handsome and so devoted to playing for the Red Wings he’d be my hero.

** – This means you can play them at center OR left wing. Not every fantasy league allows you to do this, but players who can earn this opportunity warm my dorky heart.

My guess is Eric Staal would have contended for the top 10 if he wasn’t fighting injury problems last season. One might think that Lecavalier is primed for a minor bounce-back year merely based on the fact that he shot at a mediocre 8.1 rate last season. Jason Blake is notable for being one of those guys who only justifies his fantasy existence with SOG, but he has to be healthy to do so.

I’ll leave you with these last two thoughts: if you have the No. 1 pick in a league with SOG, just draft Ovechkin. Number two: if you are a commissioner for a fantasy hockey league, don’t make shooting percentage (or S%) a stat category. It is really dumb.

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    Blues have ‘wiggle room’ after locking up Parayko

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    The St. Louis Blues didn’t break the bank to keep Colton Parayko for five more years, and that’s important since they don’t believe the NHL’s salary cap will rise significantly in the next little while.

    Parayko’s cap hit came in at a manageable $5.5 million, as the two sides narrowly avoided an arbitration hearing that was scheduled for today.

    “You like to have as much wiggle room as possible,” GM Doug Armstrong said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Now we view the cap will stay flat for the foreseeable future. We’re content with the space we have. We’ll move forward and get ready for training camp.”

    The Blues now have a number of key players locked up long term, including Parayko, Alex Pietrangelo, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Patrik Berglund, and Jake Allen.

    For Armstrong, the next big decision could involve Paul Stastny, the 31-year-old center who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

    But a decision on Stastny doesn’t need to be made now, or even before the season starts. It’s the trade deadline that could be the real pressure point, akin to the Kevin Shattenkirk situation this past year.

    Per CapFriendly, the Blues have just over $3 million in cap space, with one roster spot left to fill.

    ‘Highly unlikely’ Suns will pursue shared arena with Coyotes

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    The Arizona Coyotes appear to be on their own in pursuit of a new arena in the Phoenix area.

    That’s because Robert Sarver, the owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, says it’s “highly unlikely” he’ll pursue a shared arena with the Coyotes.

    Instead, Sarver is focused on upgrading the Suns’ current home (and Coyotes’ old home) in downtown Phoenix, Talking Stick Resort Arena.

    From the Arizona Republic:

    Sarver said building a new arena would have “maybe made more sense” four or five years ago when the cost estimate was $450 million to $500 million. The costs now, Sarver said, are “significantly higher.” Thus his focus on upgrading Talking Stick, which soon will be the second-oldest arena in the NBA.

    “I think it’s the most economically viable alternative for the city and us,” he said. “I like downtown Phoenix. That’s my first preference. I think the NBA is more of an urban game. That’s our demographic.”

    Talking Stick Resort Arena, formerly called America West Arena when the Coyotes played there, was designed for basketball and isn’t ideal for hockey. In that way, it’s a lot like Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which hasn’t been a great fit for the Islanders.

    The Coyotes recently hired a new president and CEO, Steve Patterson, whose top priority is finding the team a new home in the Phoenix area.

    Crosby to celebrate 30th birthday with Stanley Cup in Nova Scotia

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    HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) Sidney Crosby will mark his 30th birthday by once again parading the Stanley Cup in his province.

    In tweets sent out by the Sidney Crosby Hockey School, Crosby said he would hoist the trophy in the streets of Halifax and Dartmouth as part of an annual civic parade.

    “Get ready, the Stanley cup is coming to town!” Crosby confirmed in the tweet sent late Tuesday night. “I will be taking Lord Stanley to the streets Monday August 7th in the Halifax-Dartmouth Natal Day parade.”

    The parade, part of annual events that celebrate Halifax’s birthday, also happens to fall on the Pittsburgh Penguins captain’s 30th birthday.

    Natal Day chairman Greg Hayward said he expects another 25,000 people will be lining the parade route on top of the roughly 40,000 usual attendees.

    “It’s extremely exciting to think that we’re going to have Sid and the Cup in our Natal Day parade,” Hayward said Wednesday.

    Crosby has shown off the Stanley Cup twice before in his hometown of Cole Harbour, just outside Dartmouth, in 2009 and 2016.

    Last July, Crosby carried the Cup in the back of a pickup that made its way to an arena in Cole Harbour as thousands of cheering fans looked on in sweltering heat.

    Arbitration hearing looming for Arvidsson, who broke out in big way last year

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    Viktor Arvidsson wants a one-year deal worth $4.5 million, while the Nashville Predators are countering with a two-year deal worth $5.5 million ($2.75 million AAV).

    That’s the situation with an arbitration hearing scheduled for Saturday, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

    The two sides could still reach a deal before each case is heard.

    Arvidsson, 24, broke out in a big way last year, scoring 31 goals during the regular season, then helping the Preds to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history.

    But Nashville needs to be careful with its cap situation, because Ryan Johansen also needs a new contract, and he won’t be cheap to re-sign.

    Arvidsson just wrapped up his entry-level contract.