Sep 4, 2010, 11:00 PM EST
While Pro Hockey Talk doesn’t specialize in fantasy hockey (our Rotoworld cousins do, though), we still think that there are areas where we can help you, the budding imaginary general managers. For that reason, we’re going to discuss different philosophies, strategies and cheat sheets as fantasy drafts begin to increase around North America.
Today’s entry: Shots on Goal.
While many people roll their eyes at the debate, I still think that Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin will ultimately be the “Magic vs. Bird” debate for this NHL generation. I agree that other great players such as Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin and so so on deserve a bigger piece of the spotlight, but Crosby and Ovechkin are still on the top of the mountain.
That much remains true in fantasy hockey, too, especially if you don’t choose frivolous stat categories (more on that soon). With Crosby developing into a more trigger happy player, his mixture of normal stats plus FW and SOG get him back in the No. 1 pick argument in my mind.*
* – That being said, as long as Ovechkin doesn’t suffer an off-season injury, I would take him in most leagues (especially if they are wise enough to have winger/position categories … leaving all forwards labeled ‘F’ is no fun). The logic is simple: great left wingers are a lot harder to come by than great centers. That’s another discussion for another day, though.
All that out of the way, Ovechkin’s SOG make him the No. 1 option in leagues that include that stat. His 2009-10 numbers might look tame to you compared to his previous seasons, but keep in mind he won the imaginary shooting frequency title by 20 shots even after missing 10 games in 09-10. That’s still 5.1 shots per game, which would equal 419 overall. Here are the top 10 SOG leaders from the last three seasons, with Ovechkin the clear king of that category. (Stats via NHL.com.)
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In case you want a nice snapshot of which guys are consistent SOG-heavy players, here are the players who made a top 10 list at least twice in the last three years. (This includes their rank for 09-10, 08-09, 07-08; NR means “not ranked” although they might have been as high as #11.)
Alex Ovechkin: 1, 1, 1
Zach Parise: 2, 3, NR
Jeff Carter: 3, 4, NR
Henrik Zetterberg: 4, 5, 2
Vincent Lecavalier: 8, 9, 7
Ilya Kovalchuk: 9, NR, 10
Eric Staal: NR, 2, 8
Jason Blake: NR, 7, 5
Expect big SOG numbers from Parise and Carter since they’re going to be free agents after this season. Greed is good when SOG are concerned. I’ve always been a big fan of Zetterberg in fantasy hockey because he earns a ton of FW and often gains C/LW eligibility**. If he wasn’t so injury prone, so handsome and so devoted to playing for the Red Wings he’d be my hero.
** – This means you can play them at center OR left wing. Not every fantasy league allows you to do this, but players who can earn this opportunity warm my dorky heart.
My guess is Eric Staal would have contended for the top 10 if he wasn’t fighting injury problems last season. One might think that Lecavalier is primed for a minor bounce-back year merely based on the fact that he shot at a mediocre 8.1 rate last season. Jason Blake is notable for being one of those guys who only justifies his fantasy existence with SOG, but he has to be healthy to do so.
I’ll leave you with these last two thoughts: if you have the No. 1 pick in a league with SOG, just draft Ovechkin. Number two: if you are a commissioner for a fantasy hockey league, don’t make shooting percentage (or S%) a stat category. It is really dumb.
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