No matter what type of fantasy pool you are in. No matter if you are preparing for the initial draft, and expansion draft, supplemental draft or mid season trades and roster adds/drops, these three key concepts will help guide you towards fantasy pool supremacy among your peers.
Watching a lot of hockey is your best means of identifying talent. Sure it is much less time consuming to buy a new stand magazine like McKeens or the Forecaster (the two best by far) or get an on line ranking from a website like fantasyhockeycoach.com or dobberhockey.com and they will help. But seeing a player with your own eyes is the most reliable means of finding talent. Watching lots and lots of NHL hockey is the most important way to understand how a player will perform in the NHL. There have been countless players who dominated other leagues but failed to translate that success into NHL success. Watching players in the NHL allows you to see how well certain players compare against others in regards to different skill sets. such as; Skating ability, shooting, passing, and hitting. Get as much information that you can from online and print media to help you talent analysis, but watch the games yourself. Not a pro scout you say. Not sure what to look for? Perhaps this will help.
Gus Katsaros who scouts and writes for Mckeens once told me "when scouting a player look for the four S's. Skating, Speed, Skill, and Smarts. Players who posses all four are elite superstars like Sidney Crosby. A player who has three is a star like Jason Spezza. Players who demonstrate only two are valuable better than average players such as David Backes. If a player only has one, no matter how good he is at it, he is not likely to pan out to a top tier player. Therefore not worthy of you serious consideration. A good example of this is Rob Schremp. Schremp has lots and lots of talent but little else to go with it. Lets take a closer look at the four S's.
What to look for in terms of skating. Foot speed and agility or balance. There is a difference between quickness and speed. Don't be fooled by a player who is quick down low or in the corners to thinking he is fast. As for Agility, is he smooth skating backwards and laterally?
Smarts or hockey sense are if he makes good plays consistently. Or does he turn the puck over by making blind drop passes at the blue line (Jason Spezza). Does he get position on defenders, find open ice, create picks making room for team mates or just stand around waiting for something to happen. Is he leading the play or following it?
Skill is easier to notice. Goals and assists stats are a clear indication that players like Steen Stamkos have skill! But look for more subtle details. Can he make and receive hard smooth passes consistently? Does he take, and win key face-offs? Can he stick-handle and deek past defenders and on shoot outs? Can he handle the puck while skating at top speed?
Speed is perhaps the most obvious to notice. Does he have elite level speed that allows him to separate himself from or catch up to other players?
Knowing a players talent level is important, but the opportunity he currently has to work with is a significant influence on his value. Tyler Seguin is supremely talented but a little buried on a deep Boston bruins depth chart for example. Look at the teams depth chart (thn.com) and understand what opportunities he will have. Top six forward or top four defender? Starting goalie or back up? Will he see any time on the power play? Is the team he plays on any good or will his plus/minus bring down his value? Is he an over priced declining veteran fighting off younger, more talented prospects?
Talent, scouting, and opportunity are three key factors you need to constantly be analyzing from your initial draft and on to be best prepared to make the most informed decisions in managing your fantasy roster. It is not easy. It is time consuming. It is also fun, but most of all, it works! And the reward of being champion at the end of the season is more rewarding than any prize money you will win. Good luck!