The philosophy for any professional sports franchise is that defence wins championships. For fantasy sports nuts, the best defence is a kick ass offence that will leave your opponent battered and bruised. So for all you fantasy fanatics looking for the competitive edge here is your 2007 guide to picking your best possible NHL fantasy franchise.
Step 1: Make a Statement
If you have the first pick in any league and you don’t pick up the newly anointed captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, then everyone in your league will assume you’ve been living on Mars for the last couple of years. Sid the Kid is hot, so hot he’ll probably melt the ice. It may be a stretch to estimate that the Crosby Show will match his numbers from last season, but last year’s Hart and Art Ross winner will definitely finish in the top three overall in points at the end of the season.
If you don’t have the first pick, don’t worry, there’s a whole slew of NHL talent that will be available through the first five rounds. Expect San Jose’s Joe Thornton, Calgary’s Jarome Iginla, Crosby’s teammate Evgeni Malkin, as well as Senators sniper Dany Heatley to round out the top five. Look for Heatley to improve on last year’s 50-goal and 55-assist season. He’s slated to become a free agent at the end of the 2007-2008 season and is looking for a hefty pay raise from new GM Bryan Murray.
Step 2: Don’t lose your cool
You may feel heated from time to time when occasionally a friend, or two, or seven are picking players that you’ve had your eye on. This will happen: you can’t avoid it, live with it. The best thing to do is pre-rank your players before entering the draft room. Preparation is a key attribute for any General Manager within his or her’s fantasy sports pool, and the prepared ones usually the ones who are at the finish line come season’s end.
Step 3: Look for sleepers
There’s been a lot of moving and shuffling during the off-season and teams like the Buffalo Sabres and the New Jersey Devils may have lost some significant talent during the free agent frenzy, but don’t count out their young talent. For instance, with the departure of Scott Gomez from the New Jersey Devils, Zach Parise will undoubtedly be see more playing time, which will produce more opportunities. Other sleepers include, Ryan Getzlaf and Andy McDonald of the Anaheim Ducks, Derek Roy of the Buffalo Sabres, Mike Knuble of the Philadelphia Flyers and Wojtek Wolski of the Colorado Avalanche.
Step 4: Defence, Defence, Defence!!!
In most leagues, up to five defencemen are chosen to represent your team. Yes, we know that most of the defencemen will not rack up as many points as the forwards, but if team victories are accounted to your overall final score, then choose wisely.
Look for Anaheim Ducks blue-liner Chris Pronger to go first overall for the defencemen. Pronger helped anchor the Ducks to the Stanley Cup last year along with Ducks current captain, Scott Niedermayer. With Niedermayer’s future in the NHL still up in the air, Pronger will have no problem filling in for both leader and enforcer. Other notable defencemen include the aforementioned Scott Niedermayer (if he does indeed return to the NHL, remember, I said to ‘choose wisely’), Pittsburgh’s Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar, Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom, and of course, former Hab, Edmonton’s Sheldon Souray (caution: if your playing in a league where plus/minus plays a factor, do not choose Souray. He finished last season minus-28, and by the looks of it, may match his plus/minus from last season. Souray will most likely be paired up with newly acquired Joni Pitkanen. Last year with Philadelphia, Pitkanen finished the season minus-25).
Step 5: Don’t forget the men in the Masks
Goaltenders will play an intricate part in the molding of your fantasy leagues. Goalies like Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur will probably pass in the first round by fantasy owners building their teams from the net out. Both men will play the majority of games for their respective teams this season and will definitely chalk-up most of the ‘W’s’ during crucial, must-win games. Other notable goaltenders rounding out the top-five include Calgary’s Mikka Kiprusoff, Detroit’s Dominik Hasek, and Anaheim’s Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Hopefully these helpful hints will help you on your journey to the fantasy sports championship, so before logging in, take twenty minutes to look over your projected picks and try to make the best decision possible if plans should change.
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