If you plan to lay a beating on friends and workmates in this year's fantasy hockey league, it's time to get in game shape. These tips will help you exact revenge on that lucky know-nothing wiener who won it all last year, and spent the summer crowing about it.
If you are a fantasy hockey novice looking to set up a league, check out our suggested format for an entertaining, low maintenance fantasy hockey league.
Know Your Fantasy Hockey League
In the most basic hockey pool you simply draft ten skaters and add up their points. But some fantasy hockey leagues use every stat in the book: goalie numbers, plus-minus, penalty minutes, ice time, even players' salaries. Your league might change rosters every week or ask you to slot players into a depth chart. The variations are endless. Read the rules and know what you're getting yourself into.
Is He Healthy?
Nobody can anticipate a mid-season injury. But going into your draft, you need to know who's healthy and who isn't. Don't disqualify all injured players - half a season from a scoring champ will outpoint 82 games from most third-liners - but check up on the latest injury reports. Remember also that last season's wounded will post much better numbers if they are back to full health.
Is He Signed?
It's your turn to pick, and you are surprised to see that the kid who went on a scoring tear last season is still available. Could it be because he's still sitting at home without a contract? Holdouts are rare in today's NHL, and usually don't extend beyond the first few weeks of the season. But the late start usually leads to a sub-par year.
Know Your History
Martin Lapointe had 27 goals and 57 points for Detroit in 2000-01. He had never come close to those numbers in seven previous seasons, and he never came close again. Sometimes a career year represents a genuine breakthrough. But over the long haul, most veterans return to their level. Which brings us to...
The 27 Rule
By the age of 27, most hockey players have found their level as point producers. The elite talents are the exception: Crosby or Ovechkin could ring up a career year at the age of 30 or 35. But the vast majority find their zone long before that. If a guy is 27 years old and still searching for the great leap forward, chances are it ain't gonna happen.
Page two: Beware the Breakout