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Trade Fever: Types of Preferences - Draft Edition

In continuation of the last Trade Fever article, this entry will focus on the types of draft styles and preferences seen in managers when drafting a team. Whether it’s a bias, a fluke or a habit, the following types might seem very familiar to you. While they might not require the same set of skills or influences needed to play the player, it’s a great refresher to have come draft time. Get yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy the read!

Let’s begin with:

“Who needs projections?” type– This type is usually a repeat offender. Every season, this poolie brings the previous year’s statistics and uses it like a bible. He doesn’t believe in projections and only relies on past achievements. They think that every player will (and must) reach the same or do better than their last campaign simply because they’ve accomplished the feat. As an outsider looking in, you can usually tell who this guy is going to select, and the funny thing is that most times they’ll end up picking a player who either left for the KHL or retired during the offseason.

Outcome: A team built around this type tends to start strong and it might see time as the leader of the pack. Sadly, this GM’s confidence will soon be shot as things start to crumble. Like most predicted, reality eventually hits and their team gradually slides down the standings. Most times, drafting this way gives you an first class pass to end up no higher than the middle and more so towards the lower part of the standings.

“What! The draft is tonight?!” type – Like the type title states, this sad poolie forgot about draft day. He’s done no research and arrives just as the names are being called out for the order of the draft. His only source of information is a random magazine he picked up at the corner store 5 minutes before arriving. What’s his strategy? Picking the highest available player from the magazines projections and praying for the best results.  Since this guy is unprepared, he’s so busy shuffling through the pages that he doesn’t hear a handful of names making him the point and laugh at guy when he tries drafting a player like Pavel Datsyuk in the 8th Round.

Outcome:  After name dropping a bunch of players and boiling the blood of many annoyed drafters, his team doesn’t look all that bad… except for the three long term injured guys he’ll start the season with. Let’s just say it’s an automatic ticket, without passing go, towards the last spot in the standings for this type of poolie. Note that the same outcome will apply to the manager who forgets about the leagues (extra) categories ¾ into the draft as he’s been picking for points only the whole time.
Jokes aside, the two examples above are strategies you’d be better off avoiding.  It is fair to say that most ongoing one year drafts have had one of these types at one point or another and I think we could all agree that things just wouldn’t feel right without them. So if your goal is to win, don’t be that guy. 

The following preferences will show different drafting habits which should really be used with caution. Keep in mind that these approaches aim more specifically towards one year leagues, therefore the same strategies may differ in keeper league drafts.

Hype: the underdog story – Some poolies get caught up in the hype of potential dark horses. While it’s true, these promising break out stars can make or break your team, picking too many of them will surely lead you to the latter. For example, if a manager stacked up on the hypes of David Perron, TJ Oshie, Devin Setoguchi and Claude Giroux in the 09-10 season, their team must have definitely been a disappointment. There will always be times where a manager must face the influence of hype, and media outlets tend to do that. That said, this tradition will undoubtedly continue this season as we see young defensemen such as Erik Karlsson and PK Subban getting picked ahead of proven guys like Brian Rafalski, Lubomir Visnovsky and Mark Streit. While it could work out, most times in doesn’t, so why take so much risk? Just so you can say that you owned Subban in a pool? Ha! Give me Streit in a one year any day!

Rookies: potential vs. proven –
This goes hand in hand with what’s written above. Too many times in one year leagues have I seen rookies get picked WAY before they are due. Watching Steven Stamkos in his rookie year get picked ahead of guys like Anze Kopitar, Corey Perry and Marc Savard was quite the jaw dropper. Potential should never outweigh proven if you’re only drafting for one given season. Would I be as shocked now as I was then to see Stamkos picked so early in this year’s draft? Not a chance! He’s definitely proven himself to be worthy of such a selection.  One season later, we have a different top rookie, yet same results. Yep, I had the pleasure to see John Tavares get picked before the likes of Mike Richards, Paul Stastny and Mikko Koivu. While Tavares wasn’t drafted as high as Stamkos did above, this pick was again simply too early. This trend is destined to continue every October. I’m sure most of you will see the likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Tyler Seguin picked rounds ahead of many proven players such as Derek Roy, Patrick Sharp and even Travis Zajac simply because some managers want to have the preferred name on their squad.  Let them. Most times going for potential over consistency is just not worth it and at the end of the season, the standings will reflect that. 

Team Player: one too many eggs – This one especially (or directly) applies to Head to Head as well as daily and weekly start leagues. There will be a time, in a draft not far away, where you will unintentionally (or knowingly) draft a few players from the same team. If that happens, you’ll quickly notice how shuffling these players around will seem like a strenuous task. While this strategy may work, and some managers do indeed pull it off, most times there are just too many factors going against you that can be easily avoided. Never mind the fact that you’ll be put into situations where you’ll need to decide which team member to play over which to bench (usually benching the productive one), what if the team only plays twice in a given week? What if the same team gets shut out in B2B games? If these factors match up, and inevitably they will, you’ll find yourself on the verge of losing key match ups, especially in the unforgiving playoffs. My rule of thumb is to limit yourself to no more than three players from a good offensive team (Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers) and/or two players from a lesser team (Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild). Also, make sure that if you do have three players from the same team that they are in different positions (ie: C, LW and D), makes shuffling a tad easier. Lastly, finding a balance of odd game schedules will allow you to make the most of your match ups throughout the season.         

Tenders: game of chicken – This is probably the most asked question that any poolie faces; when do I pick my goalie? The answer most often lies with your league’s categories and format (teams, rounds etc…). For example, in a 10-12 team league with only 1 goalie spot and two categories, wins and shutouts, most GMs will still grab an ‘elite’ goalie early on in the draft. Go ahead and let them. Smart GMs will realise that selecting a goalie much later in the draft (even in the last round), holds much more value when compared to other manager’s same round picks. Would you rather have Henrik Sedin & Ilya Bryzgalov or Roberto Luongo & Dustin Penner? Think about it!

On the other hand, if your league has 12 scoring categories and goalies stats take up 5 of them, 41% of categories favour tenders. Meaning if you need to start two goalies daily, guess where your focus and priorities will be? HPG contributor Brandon gave a great example of why you don’t always need the best goalie to be successful; you just need the ones who fill your categories best (read it here). In my eyes, if drafting your goalie(s) for the categories is your 1A, playing the game of chicken is definitely the 1B.  

To better explain that statement, once you’ve made yourself a list of which tenders you’d be comfortable owning, the flow of the draft will play a big part in determining where your breaking point will be in selecting yours. Sometimes you’ll have the luxury of waiting it out while other times they will  all be gone in a blink of the eye… seriously! For example, when I picked Alex Ovechkin first overall in DobberHockey’s 15 team entry league in the 09-10 season, 12 goalies were picked before it was my turn to select again at 24th. Boy, was my list squashed when I had to select Christobal Huet as my starter! After a few deals, I managed to get Henrik Lundqvist, but that’s besides the point. Therefore, the longer you can wait to pick your tender(s), the better your other positions will be, especially in a positional requirement league, when compared to rival teams. Just need to watch out for those massive goalie rushes!

And that concludes this edition of Trade Fever. Until next time, happy drafting!

GMG signing off

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions on preferences mentioned, (or not mentioned), feel free to email me at, by Twitter (@GM_Gates), or by clicking on the contact tab above. Simply direct it to GMGates by making Trade Fever the subject / title.

Next Edition: Types of Preferences – Off Season & Keeper League Edition

Published Mon, Sep 20th, 2010