It's one of the hot debates in fantasy hockey: Is it better to categorize penalty minutes or hits?
Standard Yahoo formats don't take hits into account, but this alternative stat grows with each passing year and is now prevalent in more than one-third of all leagues.
Whether Yahoo will eventually institute hits as a standard category remains to be seen, but the hits inclusion instead of a more arbitrary stat like PIMs would make sense. Though PIMs can gauge the physicality of a player, the stat is centered around tactical penalties, which are detrimental in reality and can reflect undisciplined play. Players who use clean body checks on opponents can help their team regain possession of the puck and generate offense. That said, advanced statistics and the Stanley Cup Playoffs show how valuable possession anchors like Duncan Keith (16 hits in 80 games last season) can be, so hits don't always equate to real-life value.
With so much gray area, the discussion rages on -- but the only things fantasy owners need to be concerned with are their upcoming draft(s) and the categories in your league settings. If you're doing a PIMs league, immerse yourself in NHL.com's top 250 rankings. If you're going the hits route, study this cheat sheet leading up to draft day.
Below are more than 50 players who should be on your radar in hits leagues. Fantasy owners should value these assets a few picks/rounds higher than their standing in NHL.com's rankings depending on the degree of boost provided by their hits performance. For easy reference, I listed additional forwards and defensemen whom you should consider relevant in 12-team hits leagues.