Kukla's Korner

The Goods on Fantasy Hockey

Where Should I Draft…

In a season that already has an uncertain start time for all players, is there any player whose fantasy draft position is more uncertain than Roberto Luongo? Even though we are no closer to a NHL season start than we were yesterday, the possibility of Luongo starting the season on the Canucks’ bench seems more and more likely. That is why for the first time in awhile, Luongo is ranked outside of the top 50 by numerous entities (#66 by Yahoo, #85 by NHL.com). Is this ranking too high for a goalie who could start the year as a backup? Too low for a one-time elite option in net?

Of course, don’t forget that I’d like "Where Should I Draft..." to be based on questions from you, the Kukla's Korner site visitor. So please post the name of a player you're wondering about in the comments below, through email, or via Twitter.

Let’s consider the three most rumored possible scenarios: 1) Luongo as the starter in Florida, 2) Luongo as the starter in Toronto, and 3) Luongo as the backup in Vancouver. If Luongo is traded to Florida (clearly his most preferred destination) or Toronto, he would start at least 55 games while leading his new team into the playoffs, clawing his way back into the top 50 in fantasy rankings in the process. Should he remain in Vancouver, his situation would continue to be cloudy, as he could start anywhere from one-quarter to one-half of the Canucks’ games while never really reacquiring his status as the team’s number one goalie – even if he managed to outplay Cory Schneider. It would seem unlikely that the Canucks would park an asset like Luongo at home and make him wait for a trade, although his presence around the Canucks will create an awkward situation while the writing on the wall is understood.

At this moment, my gut feeling is that the most likely scenario is that things will stay the way they are, at least to start the season. Should that happen, don’t assume that Luongo is damaged goods. It’s not as if timeshare goalies, or even backup goalies, are completely devoid of fantasy value – think of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak last season. You couldn’t count on Elliott to start every game, but you had to put him into your lineup when he was starting. In addition, both goalies posted sub-2.00 GAAs with top-10 SV%, although neither goalie could reach 30 wins. (Personally, I’d rather post sound ratios than chase wins in fantasy leagues, whether it be hockey goalies or baseball pitchers.)

So where would I draft Luongo today? In drafts in which the goaltending run starts very early (which categorizes many of the drafts I’ve participated in), it wouldn’t be too much of a reach to draft him within the top 50. My preference would be to draft another goalie with a more stable situation first, then hope he’s around by the 7th or 8th round in a standard 12-team league. Either way, Luongo’s selection will be an attention-grabbing one, given his status as a lightning rod for criticism.

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About The Goods on Fantasy Hockey

My name is Ian Gooding, and this is The Goods on Fantasy Hockey. Given my ability to understand numbers, write sentences, and follow hockey, it’s not a surprise to those who know me that I became a fantasy hockey writer. I started writing about fantasy hockey in 2006 for fantasyhockey.com and became the site’s content editor in 2007. Looking to expand my audience, I joined Kukla’s Korner in the summer of 2011 to create the site’s first fantasy hockey blog.

A few times each week, I’ll provide an article called “Pick Six” where I will write about six players that should either be in your fantasy team’s starting lineup or bench for the upcoming game. As well, I’ll provide the fantasy takes on important hockey developments. You can also email me your questions or comments to gooding74@shaw.ca, or follow me on Twitter.

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