For the last couple weeks, I’ve been pumping out some fantasy hockey cheat sheets of the league’s less common stat categories. I’ll begin covering some of the more “meat and potatoes” stuff soon (and put them all in one easy post in the near future as well), but I thought I’d throw out my two cents on which categories you should use – and which ones aren’t worth inclusion.
There might be some obscure fantasy hockey leagues that cover categories I won’t consider one way or another (is there a league with Corsi ratings yet?), but these should be the most common options provided by the bigger fantasy sports providers.
I don’t think I’m pulling rank when I say that every league will (or should) include: goals (G), assists (A), goalie wins (W), save percentage (SV%) and goals against average (GAA).
Points – I’m adamant that points are a great stat category to accompany goals and assists. Let’s make it most simple though: why would you want a lesser stat (like, say, penalty minutes) to matter just as much as a goal or an assist? By making a supposedly redundant points category, you ensure that the biggest hockey impact plays make the biggest impact in fantasy, too.
Powerplay points – I actually think some variation on powerplay points (PPP) is a no-brainer, but I wanted to isolate them because I think PPP are better than powerplay goals (PPG). While there are plenty of second assists that mean very little on a PP goal, there are some great passes that make scoring a goal a relatively simple task. So why not account for any contribution to the man advantage?
Shots on Goal – Shots on goal can cause havoc beyond a tally as rebounds can lead to other opportunities, including penalties being taken in desperation. I’m a fan of this stat.
Controversial, yet classic
Plus/minus – This stat isn’t controversial to most casual fans, but it surely is among nerds such as myself in the hockey community. A player’s plus/minus (+/-) has just as much to do with the teammates around him as it does anyone’s defensive acumen. That being said, it’s such a simple stat that I think it remains worthy of its place as a fantasy hockey staple. For now, at least.
Penalty minutes – It’s weird to “reward” a mistake, but penalty minutes (PIM) also distinguish gritty play and tougher players. Plus there’s something delightfully messed up about giggling as Todd Bertuzzi takes another boneheaded penalty.
Shooting percentage – Quite frankly, this is a really dumb stat for fantasy purposes. If an opponents’ defenseman scores on one lucky shot while Alex Ovechkin takes 10 shots to score two goal, your team is at a disadvantage with shooting percentage. That’s an oversimplification, but it’s a dumb stat I say.
Time on ice – It’s boring. Really, really boring.
Goalie shutouts – They happen so rarely and does it really matter if a goalie wins 5-0 instead of 5-1? I’m not saying every “SO” is worthless, but I wish this stat wasn’t so prevalent in fantasy hockey.
Hits – I’m a fan of including this newly added (at least in Yahoo!) stat since forwards and defensemen both pile them up. Really, I could even accept it replacing PIM if you’re feeling bold.
Blocked shots – Eh, blocked shots are interesting but they’re so defenseman-exclusive that I’d rather pass on that one.
Faceoff Wins – It’s not a great category, but I’ve always liked them for some reason. I guess it’s just a matter of personal taste.
Goalie saves – I like saves in some way because they give a boost to beleaguered goalies who face a ton of shots and rarely win. Still, you only want so many “quantity over quality” stats in fantasy hockey, so this one’s a toss-up.
Finding the proper goalie-skater stat ratio
Some leagues overvalue goalies in a simple way. I was in one league (and it might continue that way) in which there were four categories for skaters and four for goalies. In other words, the 2-4 goalies you’d have are just as important as the 12-16 skaters you’d normally draft. That’s out of whack, even if goalies really have a bigger impact than most (if not all) individual skaters.
Suggested stat categories (Goalie categories in bold)
All around: G, A, P, PPP, +/-, PIM, SOG, Hits, W, GAA, SV% and saves. 12 categories
Finesse: G, A, P, PPP, +/-, FW, SOG, W, GAA and SV%. 10 categories
Rugged: G, A, P, +/-, SOG, Hits, PIM, blocked shots, W, GAA, SV% and saves. 12 categories
Meat and potatoes: G,A,P,+/-,PIM,W,GAAand SV%. 8 categories. (You could also exchange a goalie category for PPP)
OK, so those are my recommendations. Obviously these suggestions are totally subjective, but believe me, if you lose a fantasy league after assembling a super talented team because of shooting percentage or a garbage game shutout … well, I won’t say I “told you so.”
(But my knowing grin might say enough.)