Fantasy hockey: last-minute cheat sheet for sleeper picks

With the return of hockey in our lives, it’s never too late to draft a fantasy squad

As a sports fan, fantasy leagues are one of the most exciting ways to consume your favorite sport. Living the full general manager fantasy by meeting up with your friends and drafting your teams one by one, then facing off on a weekly basis against other rosters to assert your dominance over them is pure bliss.

Fantasy sports websites like to rank players based on their statistics. Most of the time, it accurately reflects players’ performances, but occasionally, players are left higher or lower than their real-life value. For hockey, the NHL website itself has a fantasy section, where they recently released their “Fantasy hockey top 250 player rankings”.

This list cumulates players’ projected statistics in a panoply of different categories for head-to-head leagues, but not for points leagues. With that said, here are five underrated players you should watch out for in your last-minute fantasy league draft.

Taylor Hall, LW, Boston Bruins

Projected ranking: 133

At 29 years old, the first overall pick in 2010 is coming off an abysmal season with the joke of an organization that is the Buffalo Sabres. With a poor two goals and 17 assists with a -21 plus/minus in 37 games compared to his standards, Hall picked it up when he got traded to the Boston Bruins with a hopeful 14 points in 16 games to end the season. After re-signing with Boston over the summer at a very reasonable price, (four years, $24 million), this contract will most likely be looking like a bargain at the end of this season. The 2017-18 Hart trophy winner is going to bounce back this year by bringing some second line scoring to a stacked Bruins’ offence and you can definitely expect Hall to outperform his projected ranking by quite a lot.

Darnell Nurse, D, Edmonton Oilers

Projected ranking: 83

With Oscar Klefbom’s injury last year, Nurse really seized his opportunity to become Edmonton’s most reliable defender by having an incredible season. In 56 games, the 26-year old put up an impressive 36 points — including 16 goals, the second-most for a defenseman last year. Fantasy-wise, Nurse had an even better season by averaging 25:38 minutes of ice-time per game, having a +27 plus/minus differential and by being in the top 20 for defensemen in shots, hits, and blocked shots. While Klefbom is still out this season, Nurse is looking to repeat what he achieved, and with Edmonton having a weaker defensive core than last year, the Ontarian could very well surpass these astonishing numbers by filling in an even bigger role this year.

Tyler Seguin, C, Dallas Stars

Projected ranking: 112

Having only played three games last year due to a hip injury, it’s hard to guess how well Seguin will perform this year as he will be entering his 12th season in the league. One thing is certain, Seguin has always been an impactful player and a pure offensive beast when healthy as he has put up more than 70 points in six separate seasons. Seguin should also benefit from the emergence of young talents in Dallas with players like Roope Hintz and last year’s Calder Trophy runner-up Jason Robertson. The second overall pick in 2010 will remind people of how good he was before his injury and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Seguin add another 70 point season to his already imposing resume.

Neal Pionk, D, Winnipeg Jets

Projected ranking: 131

From being a defensive liability to becoming one of the most underrated young blue-liners in the league since joining the Jets during the summer of 2019, Pionk has completely shut down critics and was able to become a quiet force in Winnipeg. Pionk is not a flashy player, so he is severely overlooked by poolers. Last year, he registered 32 points in 54 games, 10 of which were scored on the first powerplay unit. He also finished 10th in hits and with a +6 plus/minus differential. Ranked at 131, Neal could very much look like a steal early on in the season.

Linus Ullmark, G, Boston Bruins

Projected ranking: 79

Ullmark has never had a real chance to show off what he really is capable of, simply because the Sabres were atrocious during his time with the team . He has gone under the radar for quite some time now but last year he quietly put up a 0.917 save percentage and a 2.63 goal against average in 20 games on a Sabres team that ended the year with a 15-34-7 record, the worst record in the league. He was able to steal games all by himself last year. After signing with the Bruins over the summer, Ullmark is going to have his shot at being a number one goalie to a consistent playoff team and people are finally going to see his true value. If he falls in the draft, grab him if you can, you won’t regret it.


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt


RSEQ Football Mid-Season Report Card

Where do the Concordia Stingers rank at this point in the season?

With the second half of the 2021 RSEQ football season underway, the Stingers (3-2) are in third place situated behind the powerhouse first place Montreal Carabins (4-1) and the second place Laval Rouge et Or (4-2), with the Sherbrooke Vert et Or (2-4) and McGill Redbirds (1-5) in the fourth and fifth place spots respectively.

Right now, the standings are an honest indication of the overall power rankings for the league. With the Carabins, the Rouge et Or, and the Stingers holding the top three spots, it is without a doubt that these three teams will be battling it out for the top seed. While the power rankings may label these teams in first, second, and third, the statistics suggest the rankings are much closer than they appear.

The Montreal Carabins are the team to beat and top the list coming off a bye-week. The team’s only loss was against the Stingers 31-28 in a dramatic come-from-behind win. The other close game for the Carabins came against Laval, where Montreal squeaked by with a one-point victory 18-17. Otherwise, the Carabins have balled out with three double-digit wins: two against Sherbrooke and one against McGill. The Carabins also rank third in total offence and first in total defence. With impressive numbers on both sides of the ball, this multi-dimensional team has been successful for now but is being chased down by two teams who are breathing down their necks.

The Laval Rouge et Or officially find themselves in second place, but arguably one could make the case that they are still the best team in the RSEQ. Besides their narrow defeat to Montreal, Laval suffered an upset loss against Sherbrooke 23-17, giving up 20 points to the Vert et Or in the second quarter alone. Otherwise, Laval tends to dominate; they’re used to double-digit victories, with the most significant being the 55-2 smackdown they laid on McGill in week five of the season.

Laval is the contemporary juggernaut of the RSEQ: their defence is sound, ranking second in total defence, and most notably, ranking first in interceptions and passing defensive efficiency. If the Montreal Carabins are a multi-dimensional team, the Rouge et Or are no slouches either: Laval ranks second in total offence, first in rushing offence, and first in first downs with 140. It’s fair to say, Laval can find ways to win on both sides of the ball.

If there’s any team muscling their way in this playoff race, it’s the Concordia Stingers. This team seems to be improving with each week — ever-evolving and generating momentum, which has garnered them success. Despite a disappointing 36-10 loss to Laval on Sunday, Stingers starting quarterback Olivier Roy went from his first attempted pass of the season being intercepted, to breaking the single-game RSEQ passing yards record in the span of a month. The Stingers tout a stellar offence that tends to do its best work in the second half, which has granted them their dramatic come-from-behind victories.

One area Concordia needs to improve on to obtain the top seed, it would be their defence. Ranked fourth in total defence, fifth in rushing defence, and fourth in passing defence, the Stingers have given up an average of 445 yards per game. If the Stingers want to carry their momentum into the second half of the season, they’ll need to resolve their defensive issues.

This leaves the Sherbrooke Vert et Or and the McGill Redbirds in the fourth and fifth place slots, respectively. Sherbrooke has doled out a few upsets in an otherwise less-than-stellar first half of the season. With a win against Laval, and having gone toe-to-toe in a shootout with Concordia in week four, Sherbrooke can play heartbreaker for whichever playoff contender is yearning for that top seed.

As for the McGill Redbirds, the team’s losing record doesn’t reflect how solid their defensive core truly is. The Redbirds rank high in many defensive categories, including second in pass defence and first in sacks with 17. If it weren’t for their shaky offence, which could only register 22 points in their last three games — including a 21-13 loss to Sherbrooke on Saturday — the Redbirds would be sitting in a better position standings-wise.

After a lengthy hiatus between seasons due to the pandemic, it has been quite an eventful season, and fans can expect many more thrilling games to come.


Photograph by Catherine Reynolds


The Pros and Cons of Single-Event Sports Betting in Canada

With the approval of Bill C-218 in June, what will the consequences be for Canadian sports fans?

The unpredictability of sport is attractive. 

The sudden turning points at the end of a game entertain the masses and leave them on the edge of their seats. That single unexpected play that turned the game on its head sparks discussion and excitement for hours after the last whistle is blown.

For many, that excitement is usually propelled by external elements. The majority are usually booze-fueled; just intoxicated enough to know what’s going on, but too sloppy to contain themselves with the excitement of a closing play. The minority, however, are fueled by something different: a vice that will now be prevalent in professional sports in North America with the approval of Bill C-218 in June, legalizing single-event sports betting in Canada. That minority might soon become the majority.

Some people find that betting on sports not only provides added excitement, but also keeps those who were once uninterested now glued to the screen. Jack Allen happens to be one of those people. Not being a big sports fan himself, a few single-event side bets on offshore apps like bet365 kept him interested in not only the outcome of the game, but the sport itself. 

“[Betting] gave me a reason to actually care about the sport I was watching,” Allen said. “My friends watched sports and I would watch from time to time but wouldn’t really care, but now that betting is involved, I’m more interested in the outcome.”

As of this upcoming season, sports fans will now have the option of betting on multiple factors in one game — the Super Bowl for example — in real time. 

According to the Canadian Gaming Association, an estimated 10 billion dollars annually has passed through illegal bookmaking operations. Four billion dollars was spent through offshore betting apps while only 500 million dollars passed through legal provincial lottery processes. In theory, this bill will supposedly eradicate black market gambling, create jobs, and protect consumers, all while establishing a safe and legal betting option.

Entertainment companies have been on the move since the legalization. From Caesars expanding their online betting platform to Ontario, to BetMGM signing Wayne Gretzky in an attempt to expand from coast to coast, one thing is clear: gaming and entertainment companies are competing to become the conglomerate in Canadian sports gambling. However, will repeated exposure and accessibility to sports betting affect people who are most vulnerable? With Ted Leonis, owner of the Washington Capitals in the NHL and Wizards of the NBA  granting betting kiosks inside their arena, and more teams to follow suit potentially in the future, where in entertainment do we draw the line?

Dr. John Sader is a family physician who also sub-specializes in addiction. Having worked with all types of patients with varying addictions, Sader believes that not everyone is susceptible to the exposure of gambling in sports.

According to Dr. Sader, addiction depends on factors like inherited genetics, and how those genetics manage dopamine releases in the brain when performing a pleasurable task. From his experience, he explained that on average, 75 per cent of people who suffer from addiction also suffer from a genetic variant of postsynaptic dopamine receptors in the brain. 

“There are people who are born with hypo-receptive receptors. With the same level of normal stimulation, they feel much less pleasure.” 

In order to feel pleasure, someone who is born with these receptors will ramp up their activity at a higher level than a normal person.

“Addiction has to start somewhere; it starts by liking something too much to the point where you can’t control it anymore,” Dr. Sader said.

The National Council on Problem Gambling released a report before the legalization of single-event betting voicing their concerns over the negative attraction it can have for people, citing that sports betting is twice as likely to occur in comparison to other forms of gambling. With 45 per cent of sports bets conducted online, the rate of exposure and convenience is higher. The report also states that single-event betting offers more betting options on a single game than ever before. The increased speed between bet and reward will also increase the frequency in which people gamble. On top of all this in the age of doing work remotely, people now have more free time on their hands than ever before.

Dr. Sader has personally noticed an uptick in gambling admissions over the course of the pandemic, as people were forced to stay cooped-up inside.  

“They can’t go to the restaurant, they can’t go to the movies, they can’t do anything pleasurable. I can only imagine these hypo-dopamine people are suffering even more. Then you start to advertise gambling, and they can do it from their home, it’s on the internet, they start playing and they have fun and a lot of them will get caught up in gambling,” Dr. Sader said.

It’s still too early to tell what effect single-event sports betting will have on sports in general, and the people who watch them. In a time of mass consumption, the approval of this bill will increase viewership and revenue for sports leagues across North America, but at what cost?

As for now, the main challenge for many fans this upcoming season will be toeing the fine line between entertainment and addiction.


Graphic by James Fay


Experience and patience are keys for Stingers’ success this season

After an 18-month hiatus, the Stingers are looking to stay on top of the RSEQ standings.

As the Concordia women’s hockey team takes to the ice for the first time next week at the Theresa Humes Cup since the 18-month hiatus, Stingers head coach Julie Chu said that the anticipation to start the regular season has been overwhelming for the team. 

“Everyone was really excited to get back together again in a full season mode,” Chu said.

Fifth-year players are eligible to play in a sixth season due to the cancellation of last year’s. While some players have moved on to other things, notable players like Audrey Belzile and Brigitte Laganière will not only provide production and firepower to the roster, but also experience for the younger players coming into the rotation.

“We have a great group of veterans, [and] they’re going to be adding a level of maturity and veteran presence, especially when understanding our systems,” Chu said. The experienced veterans being paired with the youthful excitement of newly-acquired players will not only provide depth to the roster, but also an eagerness to grow and become better throughout the whole lineup.

With some experience on the lineup, important acquisitions have been made. Former NCAA defencemen Alexandra Calderone and Ariane Julien have returned home, not only providing a high level of talent, but also beefing up the Stingers’ defence “When you have players that have played at a really high level and have veteran experience, though not a veteran on our team, it helps a lot to have a great defensive core,” Chu said.

Though newly acquired players have proven themselves from a talent perspective, for Chu and her coaching staff, character is the defining asset that will dictate a player’s position on the team. 

“If they’re not a fit to our culture then it doesn’t add value to what we want to accomplish as a team,” Chu said.

Head coach Julie Chu (in purple) and the Stingers coaching staff. (Kyran Thicke / Concordia Stingers)

After taking the helm from former legendary head coach Les Lawton, Chu has had ups and downs with the team. Winning their first RSEQ playoff game in 11 years in 2016-17 and falling short against McGill provided positive experience on how to handle themselves in the second round against a dominant team. It played a big role not only for the team’s growth, but also the anticipation of knowing what to expect from their opponents deep into the playoffs. Beating McGill in the second round of the playoffs, that same year, the team won the RSEQ Championship and won bronze in the U SPORTS National Championship. Both those end of season accomplishments ultimately morphed the program overnight into a legitimate contender.

“We went on to nationals and unfortunately lost in our semi-final game in shootout to the team that went on to win,” Chu said. “What I was proud of is that our players rebounded and did an awesome job winning the bronze medal.”

In the 2019-20 season, though ranking first in the nation for 14 consecutive weeks, the loss in the playoffs as well as losing the chance to play nationals was a hard pill to swallow. Not ending the season on a high note would be demoralizing for most teams, however Chu said the Stingers are using their most recent season as motivation for what’s to come. 

“COVID took away their opportunity to continue playing so now they want to make the most of it,” Chu said.  

The fact that the Stingers haven’t played an organized game in nearly two years will be the ultimate challenge. 

“We have to be patient to get back into our rhythm, we have to be patient to allow us to develop and to grow.” 

For Chu and her coaching staff, the ultimate goal is to win, but what is more important is to lay down a good foundation so that by the end of the season, they’ll be back to the level they were at, before the pandemic.

Chu emphasized that this year is unlike any other. The inability to play for a full season will prompt growing pains, especially at the beginning of the year. 

“Whether we’re a sixth-year, or a first-year player, we’re all going to come back and not be in the same place necessarily that we would if we just finished a regular season,” Chu said.

Chu is also preaching resilience to her team. Not knowing what’s in store regarding how the pandemic will play out down the road is also another complication to consider this season.

“There will be some things in our control and some things that are not so we focus on things that are in our control to make sure that we can do everything that we can,” Chu said. 

With all teams coming off an inactive year, and with Bishop’s University Gaiters now introduced into the division, Chu added that it will be harder to estimate where the team will end up.

“Usually right now I’d give you the season outlook, but I think we’re a bit in the unknown because we haven’t played,” Chu said. “For me, that is what’s most challenging.” 

The Stingers will host the Theresa Humes cup next week from Oct. 1-3 at the Ed Meagher Arena. Their first game will be against McGill at 12 p.m. 


Photograph by Gabriel Guindi


Concordia hands Sherbrooke a 42-39 loss after walk-off touchdown

Stingers win overtime thriller as Olivier Roy smashes single game passing record

The Stingers etched their name into RSEQ history books on Saturday against the Sherbrooke Vert & Or, after starting quarterback Olivier Roy threw for a whopping 580 yards, which included five touchdowns. 

Roy said it felt good to break the record, but there are aspects that can still be improved.

“The game plan wasn’t to throw the ball that much, but you gotta do what you got to do. I’m proud of our guys,” said Roy.

The game started off with a touchdown throw from Sherbrooke quarterback Anthony Robichaud, completing a 47-yard catch and run to Charles Giroux. The Stingers responded with a stellar 55-yard catch from electric wide receiver Jaylan Greaves. Finally, the drive was capped off with a tight throw in the endzone to wideout Jeremy Murphy. 

The second quarter was when Concordia’s offence truly came to life. After both teams kicked field goals, Concordia capitalized on a bad Sherbrooke snap, which led to a safety. Sherbrooke rallied however, retaking the lead with excellent special teams play. The Stingers then recaptured the lead with a short touchdown throw to Greaves. 

With 36 seconds left in the half, the Stingers made the most of an errant situation; a catch from Concordia pass catcher Tristan Mancini was knocked loose, and the fumble was recovered by speedster slot wide receiver Jacob Salvail who took it 50 yards to the house for a Stingers touchdown. 

An interception from linebacker Zach Philion ended the half with Concordia leading 26-14.

The second half started with punts from both teams, as the defences were reinvigorated after the break. This stalemate ended abruptly after a 50-yard touchdown throw from Robichaud, with a single point touchback to make it an eight point drive for Sherbrooke. 

The teams once again traded field goals, before Concordia responded with a 50-yard touchdown of their own, once again to Savail, giving Concordia a 36-25 lead heading into the 4th quarter. 

A Sherbrooke touchdown to open the fourth quarter with a successful two point conversion put the visiting team within a field goal of tying the game. The Stingers’ situation worsened when their star wide receiver Jeremy Murphy went down with an injury following a monster reception.

Late in the quarter was when Roy surpassed the previous record holder, former McGill quarterback Matt Connell. He held the record for 14 years with 557 yards in a single game. The record now belongs to Olivier Roy, who eclipsed Connell by throwing for 580 yards.

After a Sherbrooke field goal to tie up the game, the match went into overtime. An unsuccessful drive marred by penalties set up Roy to throw a dime to Greaves for the walk-off touchdown to win the game. 

“You dream about it as a kid,” said Greaves moments after the final whistle. “It’s pure, it just fell into place. I can’t even speak, it’s just amazing.”

The Stingers have an upcoming bye week, giving them some time off before their next game on Oct. 10 at Laval.


Photograph by Catherine Reynolds


Will the Montreal Canadiens look for a new head coach this off-season?

Current interim head coach Dominique Ducharme may be the team’s next permanent man behind the bench

The Montreal Canadiens fired head coach Claude Julien on Feb. 24, after four years with the team. The Habs have missed the playoffs twice with Julien. Last season, the Canadiens were lucky enough to be the lowest-ranked club to qualify for the playoffs in a unique COVID-19 playoff format that saw 24 teams fight for the title.

Dominique Ducharme, who was already assistant coach, is taking the lead behind the bench for the rest of the season. However, it’s unsure if the Canadiens will look to bring in a new head coach for the upcoming seasons during the summer or if they will officially make Ducharme their new head coach.

This could depend on the team’s performances this season. After what looked like a solid start to this season, the team has been lacking consistency these past weeks, and losses have been more frequent than wins.

If Canadiens’ General Manager Marc Bergevin wants to sign a more experienced head coach this summer, there are some good candidates. However, we know that this Montreal market has always looked for bilingual coaches. In that category, options are very limited in terms of established coaches.

Gerard Gallant would be a familiar face to the Canadiens. He was an assistant coach with the team during the 2012‒13 season. He then coached the Florida Panthers and the Vegas Golden Knights. He has experience with veterans and rookies.

Another candidate could be former Dallas Stars head coach and current St. Louis Blues Assistant Head Coach Jim Montgomery. While not as experienced as Gallant, Montgomery has a 67-49-10 record in the National Hockey League (NHL), and an impressive 125-57-26 record with the Denver Pioneers in college hockey.

No matter Bergevin’s decision, it will need to be for the long term, as this Canadiens team is packed with young players and a promising future.


Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion


The defining Canadian sports moments of the decade

With the decade coming to a close, I really can’t help but be nostalgic of all the incredible sports moments we’ve seen in the past 10 years.

I have to give a disclaimer; this will be inherently biased as a Canadian. So let’s just call it ‘my’ best sports moments of the decade.

Sports evoke so much emotion and, like music, can take you back to where you were when these moments happened. I can remember where I was for each of these.

Alright, let’s get down to it. These are, by the way, in no particular order, my favourite moments:


Crosby’s Golden Goal

We begin where the last decade did. The Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver was the third time in history that Canada played host to the world’s greatest athletes. Never before had Canada won gold on home soil, until Alexandre Bilodeau grabbed the hearts of so many – on Valentine’s Day, of all days – winning gold in men’s moguls.

Up until the final day of the 2010 Olympic Games, Canada held 13 gold medals. They had one more to collect. The feeling around the country was that even if they did collect the most gold of all the countries, if they didn’t take home the men’s hockey gold it would’ve been a bust for the entire Canadian Olympic team.

There was so much hype around this team, as there always is. But at the same time, odds makers had a reluctance by so many to give them any credibility after finishing seventh overall in the last Olympics in Turin.

Jonathan Toews and Corey Perry opened the scoring for Canada in the gold medal game, giving them a leg-up on the United States. Ryan Kesler cut their lead in half in the second period. Then with 25 seconds left in the third period Zach Parise stopped the hearts of Canadians watching everywhere by tying the game up.

It was a pretty uneventful overtime, with no high quality scoring chances, until the 12:30 mark. Every broadcast around the world picked up Crosby calling for a pass, “IGGY!”

Crosby put it through the legs of Ryan Miller and single-handedly united a country. I still get goosebumps from watching those highlights.

I am also a firm believer that this game is what made Canada a flag-bearing country. I felt such immense pride to be a part of this country after that game, words do not even begin to describe the feeling of elation that I and so many others felt when that red light went off. I couldn’t sing our national anthem any louder if I had tried during the medal ceremony.

Marie-Philip Poulin gives Canada gold in Sochi

I know, I know. Another Canada vs USA hockey game – very original.

This game was insane; no other way to describe it. It was the second time the Canadians faced off against the Americans in this tournament and hoo-boy the sequel did not disappoint.

Heading into the third period, the US held a 1-0 lead and would extend that lead very early in that same period. It looked like it would take a miracle to beat Jessie Vetter, the American goaltender, at that point with the way she looked throughout the game.

Hockey is a game of hard work and skill, obviously, but sometimes you need a bounce to go your way. The Canadians got one off the stick of Brianne Jenner when it fluttered into the back of the net with just over three minutes remaining in regulation.

While all of this was going down, I was in my grade 11 English class, half listening to my classmates’ public speeches. I remember telling my teacher Ms. Novek, that “it’s borderline treasonous to not let me watch this game.” After a relatively lengthy argument, she allowed me to watch the remainder of the game in the back of the class if I promised to not disrupt her class and the speeches any longer.

Oh boy was that a mistake.

Marie-Philip Poulin scored in the dying moments of the game, and I stood up and shouted “F*** YEAH!” right in the middle of one of the speeches. I was kicked out of that class and sent to the principal’s office quickly, but I didn’t really care. I booked it to the library where they had a TV to watch the rest of the game with the library staff and other students who were skipping class to watch.

Poulin scored and I jumped into the arms of a kid in grade nine that I had never spoken to before in celebration. That’s the beautiful thing about sports, but more specifically international competition; strangers immediately become friends as you cheer for your country together.

Luckily for me, the principal was a cool guy and didn’t care about me yelling obscenities in class and I got off scot-free.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

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