Fantasy Hockey: Does fighting belong in the game?

In the wake of last week's bloody scrap between Arron Asham and Jay Beagle, the debate over fighting in hockey bubbled to the surface once again. That's a complicated issue, but it got us thinking: should fighting have a place in fantasy hockey?
The Stars' Steve Ott, right, delivers extra fantasy value with his fists, but is that the right way to set up your league? (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In the wake of last week's bloody scrap between Arron Asham and Jay Beagle, the debate over fighting in hockey bubbled to the surface once again.

It's a complicated issue with no easy answer, but it got us thinking: should fighting have a place in fantasy hockey? Or, more to the point, should penalty minutes count as a positive or a negative in your pool?

We drop the gloves on that argument and give our adds and drops of the week in this week's edition of the Fantasy Hockey Faceoff.

Looking for a league to join? There's still time to get in on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada Fantasy Pool. It's free to play and the top prize is a brand-new Kia Optima Hybrid.

Like what you're reading? Follow the Fantasy Hockey Faceoff guys, Jesse and Jordan, on Twitter.

On to this week's topics:

1. Does fighting belong in hockey (pools)?

Jordan: As much as I think it’s a waste of a roster spot to pick up a one-dimensional enforcer like Zenon Konopka for a fantasy team, fighting and penalty minutes definitely belong. In my opinion, after the first few rounds of a draft are in the books, the two most important types of picks are the late-round sleepers and the multi-category performers, especially in deep leagues. Guys like Scott HartnellCorey PerryDavid BackesRyane Clowe and Zdeno Chara become infinitely more valuable in leagues where their points, plus-minus, power-play points, shorthanded points and PIMs are all considered. Even players like Matt Cooke, Steve DownieSteve Ott and Brandon Prust have carved out a place on fantasy rosters, just like on NHL ones. Ultimately, just ask yourself: why would you want to limit the number of players that can contribute to your team? The more the merrier, I say.

Jesse: First off, I have to put in a good word for Zenon because he's a stand-up guy and a fellow Niagaran (and also because he scares me). Second, I've always disagreed with the conventional pool set-up of having penalty minutes count as a positive. This is fantasy hockey, and having the likes of Cooke, Ott and Sean Avery on your roster is no one's idea of a fantasy. In real hockey, penalty minutes usually hurt a team (you can argue that coincidental fighting majors are neutral), so why not punish an undisciplined player like Evgeni Malkin, who takes a ton of minor penalties, and on the flip side reward disciplined scorers like Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards? Those guys don't get enough credit for staying out of the box, but that skill makes a difference on their real teams, so why not try and make your fantasy league more realistic by reflecting that value in your league?

2. Who's your add of the week?

Jesse: Guillaume Latendresse is available in 95 per cent of Yahoo! leagues, and he's off to a nice start with five points in six games for Minnesota. More impressive, he's put up those numbers while averaging only 15:43 of ice time (eighth among Wild forwards) and 2:23 of power-play time (sixth). Latendresse, who's only 24, missed almost all of last season due to a g-g-g-g-groin injury, but the year before he scored 25 goals in just 55 games with Minnesota after arriving in a trade from Montreal. If he stays hot, look for Latendresse to get more ice time on a Wild team that's always searching for scoring.

Jordan: Speaking of Steve Ott, don’t look now but he’s off to a great start to the season. The Stars’ tough guy is 31 per cent owned in Yahoo! leagues and has a team-high 20 PIMs. He’s also tied for the club lead in points (five) with Mike Ribeiro and, yes, Sheldon Souray. If you’re in a deeper league, Washington’s Marcus Johansson has been very impressive early on. The former first-round pick has three goals and an assist, including a power-play goal and two game-winners in four games for the Caps, despite not getting an enormous amount of ice time (14:03 per game). Johansson is owned in just seven per cent of Yahoo! leagues.

3. Who's your drop of the week?

Jordan: Unless you’re in a pool where you’re required to have an unusually large number of defencemen on your roster, I’m not quite sure why Dan Hamhuis is owned in 10 per cent of leagues. He’s clearly a defensive defenceman and rarely chips in with anything other than the odd assist. The Canucks blue-liner has averaged just 26 points over his seven-year NHL career and has just one assist through the team’s first six games.

Jesse: Sergei Gonchar, owned in 42 per cent of Yahoo! leagues, has looked like a shell of his former high-scoring self since arriving in Ottawa prior to last season. He had only 27 points last season in 67 games played, and the now 37-year-old defenceman is off to a slow start with two assists in five contests. With the Senators giving up a league-high five goals a game so far, Gonchar's plus-minus could be poisonous to fantasy owners. While he's still receiving more than five minutes of power-play time per game, you've got to wonder how much longer that will last, especially with third-year man Erik Karlsson continuing to cement his status as Ottawa's go-to defenceman. Oh, and Gonchar is already banged up with a bruised ankle.