When it comes to picking a winning sports fantasy pool / league (such as a hockey pool), it involves more than just picking the "exceptional players" from last season. You need to discover the players that are going to have their break out season – or at least try to! This article will outline the best practices and guidelines for selecting players in a NHL Hockey Fantasy Pool (or League).
For example, a few years ago Joe Thornton was atop the scoring leaders at the season's end. But the following year, he was nowhere to be found at the top of the scoring leaders. He was a mediocre player at best. If you had chosen a player such as Thomas Vanek who had a very average rookie season in 2005/2006, but he then had an exceptional 2006/2007 campaign. He would have cost you much less points than Joe Thornton but would give you many more points in the pool you are competitive in than you would have received with Joe Thornton.
Another strategy to keep in mind is doing your research on a player's current situation which includes injuries, contract disputes, etc. Players missing games in your pool can have a devastating effect on your positioning in the pool. If you insist on picking up injury prior players (such as Martin Havlat), make sure that your pool enables trades or dropping players who are injured or under performing so you can replace them if (or when) they become injured. You may also want to find out which players are coming to the end of their contract and will be looking for a big season point-wise to boost their value to get a bigger contract in their contract negotations. These players will usually give that little bit extra when battling in the corners and produce more points for you in the pool.
Also keep in mind that a player may have missed a number of games the previous season, so if your pool's draft is based on the players previous season's stats, try to find a player which you feel will yield a lot of points, but their stats did not reflect it from the last season because of their missed games.
Defensemen can also get you quite a few points depending on how your pool point allocation is setup, but in most cases, they will not get you as many points as forwards will. The top scoring defensemen usually do not finish much higher than 25th in the overall scoring. If you can avoid it, save selecting your defensemen until the later rounds as they are not going to provide you with as many points as forwards will. If you are unsure when it comes to your selection on whether to take the best available defenseman (such as a player like Nicklas Lidstrom) and a forward you had your eye one, try to think which will give you more points in the pool based on your pool's point allocation.
One more tip is to also have at least a few players which are time-proven constant point scorers. These players include Daniel Alfredsson, Joe Sakic, Dany Heatley and Daniel Briere. But do not have too many of these players as they will usually be expensive and you may have to choose players which you have no heard much of in the past because you have no points left towards the end of your draft. These types of players should give you points almost every time they play.
Also, if your pool includes a goaltender as a player to pick, these players can be big point-getters depending on how your pool allocates points for the goaltender's stats. Try to pick a goaltender which you feel will play 60-70 games in any given season such as Martin Brodeur or Olaf Kolzig.
On your pool's draft day, take a look (or print out) at the top players from the previous season and go through them and ask yourself if you believe they are capable of improving in the upcoming season. If you do not think they will, then you are probably better off passing on these players. Also keep in mind if the player has been traded to another team and who their line mates will be this season.
If you follow these tips, you may find yourself atop your fantasy sports pool.