Over at From the Rink, James Mirtle provides an update on the Hockey Blogger Invitational fantasy league...
There’s been some shifting in the standings lately as we head into Week 15 of the Hockey Blogger Invitational, but no one can catch Tha Gnomes of Five Hole Fanatics fame…
My squad, the Fab Forecheckers, is plugging away admirably in 2nd place among the 18 teams. With this many teams and players, the waiver wire is extremely thin, so my roster is pretty much the same today as what was drafted. After a slow start Alex Ovechkin is proving worthy of my #1 overall pick, and Robert Lang has contributed nicely in Montreal, but J.P. Dumont seems to have fallen off the pace lately.
Sean Allen, fantasy hockey writer for ESPN.com, takes a look at the Shots On Goal (SOG) statistic, and how it has become part of the standard toolbox in fantasy hockey scoring systems. He also runs down the SOG leaders so far this season, and evaluates which ones are likely to keep up the pace:
Shots on goal has quickly made the transition from a custom-league statistic to a standard-league category in a few short years. Although many have long advocated for the stat to be used with regularity, this is essentially the first season of fantasy hockey when you would be hard-pressed to find a league that doesn’t include it. But it’s not always the headline players who rack up this statistic, much like power-play goals (or points) and average time on ice. You can find surprises and acquire them on the cheap in fantasy leagues.
Insane SOG performance is just one reason why Alex Ovechkin (who led the NHL last year with 446 SOG, the 2nd-highest total on record) was my 1st overall draft pick in James Mirtle’s Hockey Blogger Invitational fantasy league this season. For those wondering, the Fab Forecheckers currently sit 3rd in the 18-team league, with this week’s victim (err… opponent) being none other than Greg Whyshynksi, better known as Yahoo’s Puck Daddy.
Folks seem to love bashing the NHL as a business entity, but on one key front they are positioned to make good progress. Target Marketing.com has a report today on a new, customer-oriented and database-driven approach to marketing that the NHL is pursuing, with the goal of “activating the avid fans”:
Sportswriter Jimmy Cannon once said, “A rabid sports fan is one that boos a TV set.” But this isn’t the only behavior that sets avid ice hockey fans apart.
NHL data shows that avid fans attend lots of games, consume hockey through multiple media and are inclined to use high-tech products, such as broadband and high-definition television. They demonstrate a higher incidence of fantasy league involvement and are the biggest spenders of all hockey fans. Predominantly male, the mean age of avid fans is 39. About half have families with children…
At last count, the NHL had 20 million avid fans: 13 million in the United States and 7 million in Canada. That represents more than a third of the league’s 53 million fans throughout North America.
It was prudent to save Ryan Jones for the end of these forecasts, as the rookie was no sure thing to make the Nashville Predators roster straight out of training camp. With the reassignment of Josh Gratton and today’s demotion of Antti Pihlstrom, Jones has indeed earned a spot at the NHL level for the time being (here’s the Opening Roster). That’s no small achievement in an organization that usually prefers to have young players adapt to professional hockey at the AHL level before skating with the big club.
While Jason Arnott and David Legwand get most of the attention among Nashville centermen, Scott Nichol plays just as important a role in the team’s success. As a faceoff and penalty killing specialist, Nichol’s accomplishments are well-known. But his general even-strength play is worth some attention as well.
Is there a more controversial Nashville Predator than Jordin Tootoo? His penchant for dishing out big hits without apology puts him at the center of a firestorm at least a couple times each season, it seems. Unlike most other agitators around the NHL, however, Tootoo has recently developed into a more well-rounded player, and looks to provide some offensive punch to go along with his more traditional, physically aggressive fisticuffs.
Perhaps nobody on the Nashville Predators has more to prove this season than Shea Weber; long celebrated as an up-and-coming defenseman and sometimes compared to draft classmate Dion Phaneuf (that 2003 group was stacked with good defensemen), Weber would appear to have all the tools of a top-flight blue-liner. He’s big, tough, has a powerful one-timer and is an agile skater. Last season it was hoped that he would step into the void left by former captain Kimmo Timonen, but a knee injury on the first shift of the first game pretty much derailed his year.
So far in training camp, we’ve seen a bigger, badder Shea Weber; he’s reported with some additional muscle, and appears to relish the challenge of being the highest paid defenseman on a playoff-caliber team. So just how far will Weber take his game this season?
It’s been a long 2.5 hours, but the draft is complete for James Mirtle’s 2008-09 Blogger Invitational Fantasy Hockey league, and it’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out this season. A number of well-known bloggers are ready to put their NHL savvy to the test, including P.J. Swenson of Sharkspage, Greg Wyshynski (Yahoo’s Puck Daddy), Battle of California‘s Earl Sleek, and many, many more. It’s an 18-team field that should be quite competitive as we wend our way through the long grind of the upcoming NHL regular season. Sure, we did have one unfortunate soul stuck on auto-draft (he ended up with Alexander Radulov and Erik Johnson, ouch), but by and large these managers were on their toes.
So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, let’s meet your 2008-09 Fab Forecheckers…
If a single player could represent the history and growth of an NHL franchise, that player would probably be David Legwand. The first draft pick of the Nashville Predators displays many of the hallmark characteristics of the team; he’s an underrated two-way player, and succeeds more through a consistent, hard-working effort than any eye-popping display of talent. Some look at his 2nd overall draft position from 1998 and consider his offensive production disappointing, but GM David Poile saw enough there to reward him with a 5-year, $22.5 million contract. What can we expect, then, from Legwand this season?
One of the several key Nashville Predators signed to new contracts during the offseason was Martin Erat, the 27 year-old Czech who re-upped for 5 years at $4.5 million per season, a richer and longer deal than that given to J.P. Dumont, who gets considerably more attention as an offensive force. The question, then, is why did GM David Poile pay so much for a player who has yet to top 23 goals or 57 points in a season?