Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Choosing First Overall

With the first pick overall in your fantasy pool draft, you want to take the player that you think is going to get the most points, right? Well, this season should have a pretty good race for the scoring title, especially if all of the top candidates can stay healthy. Nowadays, you want to find a player that will definitely eclipse the 100-point barrier, as those are the players that are automatically in the discussion for winning the scoring title.

In 2008, only four players managed to jump over the 100-point mark in fantasy scoring for my pools. In 2009, four players again topped the 100-point mark. It's not an easy feat for these players, as the century mark is now only coming to those who are doing exceptionally well. The only two players to repeat as 100-point players in those past two seasons were Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, who are likely to go 1-2 in any pool draft, with the slight exception that Sidney Crosby is still beloved as a top two fantasy player.

It will be really hard to bet against last season's scoring champion, Evgeni Malkin, but it could be easy not to pick him, especially if you're not a big fan. It's hard to deny that Malkin is a talented player, as he's done some pretty crazy things with that puck, but for those who are not fans of Malkin, I would wager it would be because that he doesn't have the flair or the personality of those who are big time scorers. He just goes about his business, racking up points and helping the Penguins win games and with hardly a peep out of him. It's hard to tell if he's enjoying himself or not. However, Malkin is a big, giant ox of a guy, so his durability should be quite good, which makes him an excellent candidate for your number one pick.

The split in Russian loyalties, if you want to call it that, will see the other side lean on Alex Ovechkin for their big numbers. Ovechkin is a solid number one pick in pools, as he has as good a shot as anyone else to win the scoring title. If your pool has a larger onus on goals, then Ovechkin should be your selection, hands down. Most outlets now have him scoring 60 or more goals this season, which doesn't seem to be an outlandish thought, especially with the way he can get the puck away. He now has a legitimate setup man in Nicklas Backstrom and a few other weapons to help ease the pressure that is solely placed on him, game in and game out. I would be pretty happy with Ovechkin in any one of the top three positions in the draft.

The only player likely to spoil the Russian pairing at the top is Sidney Crosby, who has made a lasting impression already on most poolies, as he's been scoring on such a phenomenal rate since joining the NHL, only missing the 100-point barrier once, due to injury. At a career scoring rate of 1.36 points-per-game, Crosby is nearly a lock for 100 points again this season, even if he only plays in 75 games, he should still have 102 points. Crosby has yet to hit the 40-goal plateau (although he was close in his rookie season) and he has yet to play in a full 82-game season. Since he's already won the Cup, he may have a couple more accomplishments still left on his agenda to check off, for which he has plenty of time to do so in.

Who would you take first overall in your hockey pool draft? Myself, personally, I think I would go with Ovechkin, as I'm a fan and like cheering him on.

If you're looking to make a splash with someone else as the first overall pick, you should be trying to consider who would be most likely to get 100+ points. The usual candidates may include Joe Thornton, Jarome Iginla, Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Nabokov, Martin Brodeur, Miikka Kiprusoff, Vincent Lecavalier or maybe even Dany Heatley. Either way, you know what you have to be looking for when you're making a gamble like that, unless you're picking a player that you really, really like and would love to cheer on even more because he's on your pool team. Be careful when you do that though, as that is one of the first steps to losing your pool.

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