No, we don't have a swanky Vegas casino theatre. And no, we don't have Jay Mohr. And yes, there's still two weeks left in the season. But it's time for the Fantasy Hockey Faceoff Awards!
We're honouring the best and worst of the season with our MVP and LVP prizes. Everyone's got their own definitions, but for our purposes the MVP (Most Valuable Player) is the guy who best outperformed his average draft position. The LVP (Least Valuable Player) is the biggest underachiever based on the player's average draft position.
Why are we doing this now with more than two weeks left in the regular season? Because next week we're starting our two-part series on playoff pools. We'll offer suggestions on the best formats, followed the next week by tips on which players to pick. Then we ride off into the sunset, done for the season.
We'll also continue to offer our usual transaction advice over the final few weeks.
Still looking for a league? Wow. Well, try CBC's Hockey Night in Canada Fantasy Pool
presented by KIA. It's free to play and the top prize is a new Sorento.
Becoming a fan of the Fantasy Hockey Faceoff guys? Then follow Jesse
on Twitter, plus the CBC Sports fantasy hockey account
.Who's the fantasy MVP?Jordan:
Several players exceeded expectations this season and could be considered one of fantasy hockey's MVPs, including Ray Whitney
, Brian Elliott
, Joffrey Lupul
and Milan Michalek
The two players that I would identify as the most valuable this year are James Neal
(LW/RW) and Patrik Elias
(C/LW). Neal had 22 goals and 45 points last year split with the Stars and Penguins and as a result was drafted on average 130th overall in Yahoo! leagues. Heading into action on Thursday, Neal is tied for ninth in league scoring with 72 points, tied for fourth in goals with 35 and tied for first in power-play goals with 15. He also is plus-10 with 74 PIMs and 12 power-play assists.
As for Elias, the 35-year-old all-star snub has not slowed down as many expected. Drafted 164th overall on average (15th round), the Devils' veteran is tied for ninth in assists with 45, tied for eighth in power-play assists with 17 and tied for 11th in total points with 70. Who would have thought at the start of the season that Elias would be tied in points with Henrik Sedin
through 73 games?Jesse: Erik Karlsson
has delivered outstanding value in multiple ways. He's vastly outperformed his draft position (87th overall) by notching 72 points, which puts him in the top 10 among all skaters. And, maybe more important, he's done so as a defencemen, giving his owners a huge leg up at a position where elite scoring totals are scarce. The next-highest scoring defenceman in the league (Brian Campbell
) is a whopping 23 points behind Karlsson. If you were savvy enough to pick Karlsson (and ignore his brutal minus-30 rating last season, which has improved to plus-16) you've essentially been allowed to play a star forward at defence. What an advantage.
Honourable mention to Jordan Eberle
, who was drafted 169th (!) on average and ranks 11th in the league in scoring with 70 points (including 32 goals). I also love Eberle's discipline (remember, my league docks for penalty minutes). He's incurred an Eriksson-esque eight PIMs.Who's the fantasy LVP?Jesse:
I considered Sidney Crosby
here because, while 21 points in 12 games is impressive, it's still 21 points from an average draft position of 25 (the first pick of the third round in your typical 12-team league). But I'll cut Crosby some slack because, while everyone knew he was a risky pick, how could anyone have known he'd return to the lineup only briefly in December for going out again for another three months? Plus, he leads the league in points per game with 1.75.
For LVP "honours" I prefer to focus on players that don't have injuries as an excuse for their poor performance. So I'm going with a pair of Capitals: Alex Ovechkin
and Tomas Vokoun
. Ovechkin, drafted No. 2 overall on average (and No. 1 by yours truly) just doesn't look like the same player anymore. The guy who averaged 106 points over his first five seasons dropped to a career-low 85 last year and is now on pace for 67. Some of the guys ahead of Ovechkin in points per game: Alex Tanguay
, Martin Erat
, and P.A. Parenteau
. What's the problem? It doesn't help that Ovechkin is shooting less than ever. He's on pace for 313 shots, which would be 54 below the career-low he set last year.
As for Vokoun, did you know he was drafted 20th overall on average - ahead of Tim Thomas
, Marc-Andre Fleury
and Jonathan Quick
? A lot of fantasy players were clearly expecting a big year from Washington, but with the Caps struggling for a playoff spot, Vokoun has posted just 25 wins - tied for 20th in the league and just two more than Mathieu Garon's
Dishonourable mention also goes to two more Caps who have underperformed, though partly due to injuries. Mike Green
(the 30th overall pick on average and the top defenceman) has seven points. Nicklas Backstrom
(11th overall) has 42 points.Jordan:
Though players like Jeff Carter
, Danny Briere
, Christian Ehrhoff
, Alex Goligoski
and even Carey Price
could be my focus for least valuable player based on where they were drafted, Lubomir Visnovsky
tops my list. He was the sixth-highest defenceman drafted this year at 51st overall on average and yet the Ducks' veteran finds himself 45th among all blue liners (tied 229th overall) with a meager 26 points. Let's put it this way: he's currently tied in points with Fedor Tyutin
and barely ahead of Jamie McBain
, Nikita Nikitin
and Jared Spurgeon
. Nothing could be more frustrating and depressing for Visnovsky owners than that statement. Well, except maybe this one: Visnovsky had 50 assists (26 on the power-play) and 68 points last season.
Add this guy!
Now's the time when you need quick, short-term fix for an injured or struggling player as you try to win the playoffs in your pool. If you have the roster space, pick up Marcus Foligno
or Andrew Shaw
. Foligno has five goals and seven points in six games since being recalled by the Sabres and he's only three per cent owned in Yahoo! leagues. Available in 99 per cent of leagues, fellow rookie Andrew Shaw is on fire for the surging Blackhawks. He's scored four goals and seven points in his last four games. Get them while they're hot!Jesse:
The much-discussed Alexander Radulov
is available in 98 per cent of leagues. Seems low, right? Well, the reason is that Yahoo! has him on waivers until March 24, so you'll have to win a claim in order to add him to your roster for the final two weeks of the season. If you've got any moves left, enter a claim for Radulov. When we last saw him in the NHL, he notched 58 points and 26 goals in 2007-08. In the KHL, Radulov dominated over the last two seasons, averaging 1.2 points per game, including 143 points in 104 games over the last two campaigns. The KHL ain't the NHL, but those are pretty impressive numbers nonetheless.
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