Monday, August 20, 2018

The Hockey News Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide 2018-19

I believe the Hockey News Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide is the most popular publication at my hockey pool drafts and rightfully so. It's easy to read and it lays out a lot of information there for you.  Even though I work on my own projections every year now, which I actually publish (click here), I sure do like looking at the other publication's numbers, just as a reference point.  Some of them may come in handy, as I try to possibly revise my numbers for when draft day (click here) actually rolls around.

One of the things I like the most about the other publications is their insight into some deeper players, who they might see making the team, which prospects are on the verge of breaking through and who might be falling off a little bit.  I don't get to watch hockey all of the time, no matter how much I would like to, so sometimes you have to rely on the hard work of other people to get the job done.

This year's guide does see a small improvement in the number of players published, as they have 707 projections in their book, including 62 goalies, so they cover the gamut of players across all 31 NHL teams.  Just doing a comparison between lists, they did offer up projections for some of the unsigned players, like Sam Reinhart and William Nylander, but mine will come when they sign.  They have a lot of projected rookies, mostly defensemen, that I didn't consider in my immediate list, but they're all certainly players to keep an eye on in training camp.

No surprises here, as Connor McDavid in Edmonton again rules the roost, in terms of projections for the 2019 season, coming in at 114 points.  The rest of the top 10 (and ties) isn't really much of a surprise either... Andrei Vasilevskiy and Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning, Connor Hellebuyck of the Jets, Sidney Crosby of the Penguins, Braden Holtby of the Capitals, Brad Marchand of the Bruins, Sergei Bobrovsky of the Blue Jackets, Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks, Nathan MacKinnon of the Avalanche and Pekka Rinne of the Predators round out the selection.

In goal, the rest of the top 10 of note are all worthy of a 1st round selection in the pool, if we were to have a 25-team draft again this year.  Matt Murray of the Penguins, Jonathan Quick of the Kings, Frederik Andersen of the Maple Leafs, Marc-Andre Fleury of the Golden Knights and Devan Dubnyk of the Wild are all worthy of your pick in the opening round and it's hard to argue with much of that.  They're betting pretty heavy on Murray in Pittsburgh, which I suggested you could, but his injury concerns are worth discounting his value on a bit.

The forward group had six in the top 11 (thanks to a tie), so the remaining four players of note look a little something like this... John Tavares of the Maple Leafs, Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals, David Pastrnak of the Bruins and Steven Stamkos of the Lightning.  Kucherov, Marchand and Pastrnak are the only three players in the top 10 forwards to not have been taken with the 1st overall selection in their respective draft year. 

The first defenseman on the list doesn't appear until 42nd on list, which means he would be a late 2nd round pick in a 25-team draft and I would imagine that the actual draft may see one of these top defenders go earlier than that and a landslide of blueliners may hit.  Last year, the top defender was taken early in the 2nd, 28th overall, followed by four more in the round.  Erik Karlsson of the Senators, Brent Burns of the Sharks, Victor Hedman of the Lightning, John Klingberg of the Stars, Tyson Barrie of the Avalanche, Seth Jones of the Blue Jackets, Morgan Rielly of the Maple Leafs, P.K. Subban of the Predators, Shayne Gostisbehere of the Flyers and Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Coyotes would be your top 10.  If you can snag one of these guys, you're probably going to be in good shape through the year.

How about the rookie class?  Are you shopping for those freshmen?  Elias Pettersson of the Canucks leads the Hockey News projections at 58 points, not too far from where I have him slotted, so he'll be one to watch.  The rest of the top 10 rookies, in order, are Andrei Svechnikov of the Hurricanes, Casey Mittlestadt & Rasmus Dahlin of the Sabres, Sam Steel of the Ducks, Ryan Donato of the Bruins, Filip Zadina of the Red Wings, Valentin Zykov of the Hurricanes, Andreas Johnsson of the Maple Leafs and Vladislav Kamenev of the Avalanche.

For just about anyone, I would suggest putting your own list together, but who really has the time to look at 700+ players, especially for my draft, to figure out who you should take and when you feel most comfortable to do so.  The Hockey News does do a pretty good job of putting together a list, where you can cross off players at the back of the magazine, but they do separate the skaters from the goalies too, so you better be prepared for that.

Maybe this year I'll look at a few other magazines out there, I know I have before.  It's kind of fun to compare notes.  It makes for decent reading.

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