NHL Fantasy Hockey: Who moves up, who moves down on your draft list?

Dobber Hockey
September 27, 2013

Dobber is back to force-feed you the latest fantasy hockey trends. The founder of DobberHockey.com and a columnist for The Hockey News website, he long ago immersed himself into this rollercoaster world and is unable to escape.

Moving a guy up or down your draft list by two or three spots may seem trivial, but it changes the entire face of your team. What if you bumped Chris Kunitz up three spots on your list last year and he fell into your lap in the fourth round? Would that have helped? It sure beats that Corey Perry pick you were thrilled to make (and within weeks were pissed off about).

Give these guys a nudge upward

Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets – The de facto starter for the Jets no longer has to face Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos half as much as he did before. That alone should knock his GAA down a half-point.

Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal Canadiens – After ending last campaign with 12 points in the final 13 games, the 19-year-old is primed for a breakout. We all know it's going to happen, be it this year or three years from now. But if it doesn't happen in 2013-14, the downside is still a pretty good 45-point season, making it low risk if you bump him up a dozen spots on your list.

Brandon Dubinsky, Columbus Blue Jackets – After two years of slowly fading towards fantasy nothingness, Dubinsky showed signs of become a major multi-category stud late last season when he posted nine points and 37 PIM in the final eight contests. Now he's clicking on a line with Marian Gaborik and although it's only preseason, it nonetheless looks promising that he gets back to his 50-point, 110-PIM ways.

Michael Frolik, Winnipeg Jets – It's rare that a player peaks at the age of 21, but so far that's been the case with Frolik, who topped out at 21 goals and 45 points in 2009. He'll see a bump in ice time with his new squad and probably some PP time as well. He should be snapped up as you start filling your bench late in the draft.

Jakub Kindl, Detroit Red Wings – Kindl was second among Wings blueliners in power-play ice time last season and that's not going to change. After a bit of a slow start that was riddled with healthy scratches and minimal ice time, Kindl had 17 points in his last 48 regular season and playoff games. That's not going to knock you out of your chair, but it indicates that he could be a 35-point player this year. Right now in your average Yahoo draft Kindl is not among the Top 50 defensemen picked, when he should probably be around 45th. Especially when you consider his potential plus/minus.

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Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks – In Yahoo drafts his average draft spot is 160. I'm not saying that he should be Top 100, but a 45-point player with upside for more and who has dual-position eligibility should be bumped up to 150. And because Silfverberg has one of the better handles in hockey, bump him up higher still.

Marcus Johansson, Washington Capitals – In most drafts, Johansson is slipping through 15 rounds. To me, he should be bumped up a full round or two. Not only because he finished last season strong (20 points in 22 games) thanks to lining up with Alex Ovechkin, but also because he is currently listed as a center. He should be moved back to the wing again early in the season, giving you that extra positional eligibility.

Mikkel Boedker, Phoenix Coyotes – The 23-year-old took a step forward last season with big increases in both his production and his ice time. Now he has a talented center who can get him the puck in Mike Ribeiro. Yet he's only been drafted in 16% of Yahoo leagues. That's half the amount of Edmonton's David Perron (35%) for production that will be pretty similar.

Jiri Tlusty, Carolina Hurricanes - What is everyone afraid of? Tlusty was tied for 34th in scoring last season and he was a plus-15 to boot. Fantasy owners predict a market correction this year, but the pendulum effect has swung that correction way too far the other way. It looks like he will still be available in your draft at 150, and he's a nice pick there.

Steve Downie, Colorado Avalanche - At an average pick of 171, Downie is a steal at that spot. If you could move him into your Top 150, thereby making sure you get him, he would still be a steal. He has dual-position eligibility (LW/RW) and when he plays he is one of the best points/PIM combos out there. Granted, he's been injured often over the last four years, but even 55 games from him will get you 30 points and 120-plus PIM.

Tweak these guys downward

Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets – Bobrovsky is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and the clear-cut starter for an up-and-coming team. But he's being drafted, on average, seventh in terms of goaltenders. That's ahead of the likes of Corey Crawford, Mike Smith and Jimmy Howard. Bobrovsky is not going to be a bad netminder this year. He'll be fine. But he won't do as well as he did last year because last year he faced the four best goal scorers in all of hockey exactly zero times. And that's not including John Tavares. 'Bob' is in my Top 12, but he's not in my Top 7.

Nail Yakupov, Edmonton Oilers – Drafted 49th in 100% of all Yahoo leagues strikes me as pretty extreme. He has a ton of upside, obviously, but why gamble on it coming to fruition this year? At pick 49 you're in the vicinity of Ryan Suter, Roberto Luongo, Chris Kunitz and Jamie Benn. Yet poolies are flocking to Yakupov over these players. First overall picks not named Crosby, Ovechkin or Stamkos generally take several years to get the points needed to warrant a Top 50 pick in fantasy leagues.

Brad Richards, New York Rangers – I'm not against the idea of Richards bouncing back from a weak 2012-13. But I'm not going to draft him as if it never happened, either. He's being drafted as the 29th highest center, which puts him as the No.3 C in most leagues. While the No.3 C sounds about right, taking him in the Top 100 is too high. Too many other, safer options out there. And frankly, at that point in the draft, I'm addressing other positions and worrying about my No.3 C closer to 130.

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils – The future Hall-of-Famer has averaged (pro-rating last year) about 26 wins per season over the last three years. In a normal year, that would put him around 21st in the league for that category. His save percentage has been 0.908 at best (2011-12) in that span - and that's a number that pretty much puts him behind every starter in the league. Yet he's being drafted around 20th in terms of goalies, which makes him the No.2 goalie in most cases. You just can't have that, not with his recent injury history and Cory Schneider hanging around. He has to be a No.3 goalie in fantasy leagues. No higher. In fact, his average Yahoo selection (96.2) puts him ahead of Schneider (131.8), as well as Ondrej Pavelec and Devan Dubnyk.

Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks – Now 37, Boyle experienced the first step in what is possibly a permanent slowdown. His 48 points in 2011-12 was his lowest number since 2008 when he missed time with injury. He followed that up with an even worse 2012-13 that included just 14 points in his final 41 games. So…to the people drafting him in the 10th round (on average, using Yahoo) - why? Ahead of Kevin Shattenkirk, Slava Voynov and even Brent "winger-and-defenseman" Burns! Insanity.

Don't draft

Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks – The Living Legend had a great start to last season but managed just 11 points in his last 35 games. Now 43, that's probably par for the course for Selanne. He may help your fantasy squad during the month of October, so if you feel comfortable trading him before November no matter how well he's doing, then go ahead and draft. But it's best if you just leave him for somebody else to select.

Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators – Is he a great prospect? Yep. Is he having a strong camp? Yep. Should you draft him? Nope. You may not have noticed this, but under the column that says "team" - beside his name it says "Nashville". So what are we looking at here in terms of upside? Nothing that warrants a draft selection. Grab him off waivers later if you must, but otherwise let someone else take him. Then giggle silently as you recall how that same someone suckered for Colin Wilson back in your 2010 draft.

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Sheldon Souray, Anaheim Ducks – Shocked to see that 37% of the Yahoo leagues drafted this guy. Stunned. He's not even playing until the New Year and when he does play he offers sub-par production and above-average penalty minutes. And for that, you want to waste an IR spot on him for three or four months?

Ryan Whitney, St. Louis Blues/Free Agent Camp Invite – If you're going to roll the dice on a defenseman who 'may' get 40 points, I could name 50 better candidates than Whitney. There's nothing wrong with leaving him alone and scooping him up off the waiver wire if he (doubtful) starts off well (doubtful) enough to be fantasy relevant (doubtful).

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