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Fantasy mailbag: Drafting two goalies in early rounds

Elite workhorse options may be worth prioritizing with NHL scoring uptick; Trouba vs. Fox on Rangers' first power play; ideal roster format

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

All offseason long, NHL.com will be answering your fantasy hockey questions leading up to preseason drafts. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.

 

MORE FANTASY COVERAGEMock draft | 100 'F' | 50 'D' | 25 'G'

Power rankings | Team previews | Sleeper picks | Cheat sheet

 

I'm intrigued by Team 11 [in first NHL.com fantasy mock draft] going with Andrei Vasilevskiy and Sergei Bobrovsky [in the first two rounds]. Is it a good strategy to go goalie-goalie early? -- @CroWarrior1978

You definitely have to consider this strategy, which fantasy editor Rob Reese utilized in NHL.com's mock draft, especially with scoring on the rise in the NHL. Just look at the number of skaters with elite offensive production last season compared to 2017-18 and especially 2016-17:

2018-19: 100-point scorers: six; 90-point scorers: 14; 80-point scorers: 28; point-per-game players in at least 60 games: 31

2017-18: 100-point scorers: three; 90-point scorers: nine; 80-point scorers: 21; point-per-game players in at least 60 games: 22

2016-17: 100-point scorers: one; 90-point scorers: one; 80-point scorers: seven; point-per-game players in at least 60 games: eight

The center position is so deep that Sean Monahan (112th), Jonathan Toews (115th) and Dylan Larkin (133), not to mention bounce-back candidates Mathew Barzal (132nd) and Anze Kopitar (138th), fell far in the mock draft. Breakout candidate Nico Hischier (from the much-improved New Jersey Devils) and 70-point scorer David Krejci (73 last season) went undrafted, which won't happen in all leagues but is still telling.

The uptick in scoring could scare fantasy owners away from prioritizing goalies. But, on the contrary, you can now land forwards with ceilings of 75-80 points in mid-to-late rounds, so why not solidify your first two goalie spots with elite options? The later you get in a fantasy draft, the fewer trusted workhorse goalies you'll find. You'll get into drafting multiple breakouts, sleepers, rookies and timeshares, risky strategies that can pay off but are better suited for the third (or fourth) goalie spot on your roster.

Top-ranked workhorse goalies Vasilevskiy, Bobrovsky or even Frederik Andersen have high-powered offenses on their side and 40-win potential with strong peripherals. You can't control injuries, but you can control the quality of the workhorse goalie you select and his team's outlook. The scoring uptick should make fantasy owners value elite workhorse goalies even more. Even though veterans Ben Bishop and Marc-Andre Fleury have injury histories, you'll want those goalies on your side when they are healthy because of their elite track records and clear No. 1 roles for contending teams. Waiting too long to draft a goalie is not a good feeling. Drafting two goalies early solidifies the position and could shake up the landscape and cause others to reach on goalies while you take the best forwards and defensemen remaining.

The Vasilevskiy-Bobrovsky pairing (late first, early second rounds) would give you a clear edge over multiple risky starters and/or timeshare options. While other teams sweat out their goalie options on a daily basis, you can trust the NHL's top-tier workhorses and either handcuff their backup or invest in a boom-or-bust option as your third goalie in late rounds.

Video: MTL@TBL: Vasilevskiy sets Bolts record with shutout

 

What do you expect from Adam Fox this year? Does he run PP1 (for the New York Rangers), or does that belong to Jacob Trouba? -- @surkhriarh

Fantasy owners should fully expect Trouba to patrol the Rangers' first power play when they open the season against the Winnipeg Jets, his former team, on Oct. 3. Trouba scored an NHL career-high 50 points (18 power play) last season, with the bulk of his first power-play usage and production coming when Dustin Byfuglien and/or Josh Morrissey were injured late in the season. Trouba, acquired by the Rangers in a trade, could have a higher fantasy ceiling as a full-time power-play quarterback, especially for a much-improved team that features high-caliber forwards Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and rookie Kaapo Kakko.

Fox is a deep sleeper rookie worth selecting in the final round of a standard draft. He led the NCAA in points per game (1.45; 48 points in 33 games) and had 21 power-play points (four goals, 17 assists) in his junior season at Harvard University. Fox will be available much later than Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche) or Quinn Hughes (Vancouver Canucks), other rookie-eligible defensemen out of the NCAA, but carries more risk because Trouba is his teammate.

Defense issues could cause the Rangers to use Trouba in more of a defense-first role and potentially give Fox more sheltered usage. Or an injury could shake up New York's roster. New York is doubtful to go with a two-defenseman power play, but Fox could outperform Trouba in power-play situations. With all that said, Trouba remains the clear favorite for first power-play usage this season. Next season could be a different story.

 

Trying to set up a [fantasy] league again. In your opinion, what's the best format to balance out forwards and defensemen without forwards being heavily favored over defensemen? -- @mikecapo91

Here's my favorite fantasy format in terms of roster players and positional spots: 18 players per team and 12 teams in the league (216 total players). Here's the roster breakdown: 2 centers, 2 left wings, 2 right wings, 5 defensemen, 2 goalies, 1 utility spot, 4 bench and 2 IR+ spots. You don't want your league to be too shallow, but you also want decent options on your waiver wire to keep things interesting if one team loses valuable players to injuries.

The utility spot balances the volume of high-end centers around the NHL. Defenseman is a much more scarce position than forward, but fantasy leagues should value defenseman points. Having five defensemen instead of the standard four values the deep sleepers and multiple players at the position on most teams. IR+ spots in Yahoo leagues are important because they include day-to-day injuries, giving fantasy owners added roster flexibility.

 

READ: Fantasy Mailbag: July 21

 

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