Fantasy Hockey: Evaluating the
2010-11 St. Louis Blues
For those that haven't dabbled in it, fantasy hockey brings fans a greater knowledge of the league and teams outside of their residential area. It forces you to follow teams and players you probably wouldn't take a second glance on. Unfortunately, this season was a disappointment for the Blues which caused them to have few relevant players in the game of fantasy hockey.
As a fantasy hockey writer for the past several years, it's been interesting for me to follow the expectations of a given player at the local level compared to the interest he is drawing from a wider angle at the fantasy level.
In fantasy hockey, it's all about numbers and statistics. Guys that score goals in bunches and fight on a regular basis garner all the attention while the role-players don't see the spotlight.
Below, I'll profile how a few of the members of this year's St. Louis Blues squad measured up based on expectations during fantasy drafts.
Expectations within the confines of St. Louis were absolutely enormous for the goaltender. There's been plenty of posts about him not only within my blog, but his name has littered the blog scene around the St. Louis area.
Overall, fan reaction here at the local level is that Halak greatly underperformed and fell well short of their hopes/aspirations.
However, from the fantasy hockey angle, Halak appeared to be exactly what people thought he would be. Based on ADP (average draft position), Halak wasn't a top goaltender selected in the vast majority of fantasy drafts. As a matter a fact, Halak wasn't even a top-10 goaltender selected in the majority of drafts.
Considering where he left the draft board on draft day, it appears fans as a whole knew what to expect from Halak in 2010-11, and that expectations in St. Louis were probably much too high.
Keep in mind coming into the 2010-11 season Halak's regular season numbers really weren't anything to get excited about.
10-6-0, 2.89 GAA, .906 SV% (16 games)
2-1-1, 2.11 GAA, .934 SV% (6 games)
18-14-1, 2.86 GAA, .915 SV% (34 games)
26-13-5, 2.40 GAA, .924 SV% (45 games)
To date ...
26-21-7, 2.52 GAA, .909 SV% (56 games)
These totals don't really scream consistency nor do they scream top goaltender in the NHL. Halak's save percentage has dipped a considerable amount which should indicate that he can be better than he has been playing. However, from a fantasy angle, individuals that drafted him likely got exactly what they were expecting.
The star of the St. Louis Blues this season, Backes has been a star in the fantasy world for quite some time - and the reason may surprise those that aren't familiar with the game.
Backes is a multi-category threat in the game of fantasy hockey, meaning not only does he contribute to the offense, but the fact he earns penalty minutes on a regular basis send his value several rungs higher. There are very, very few skaters that can notch 30 goals in a season, chip in bunches of assists, and also drop the gloves on a regular basis - Backes is one of them.
Teams that drafted Backes this season saw him bounce back from a fairly quiet 2009-10 season. Backes has already reached the 30-goal and 30-assist level in the 2010-11 season, and needs just seven more penalty minutes in the final two games of the year to hit the 100 PIM mark for the third straight season.
If you caught my piece in the Fantasy Hockey PDF Magazine that Fanball.com distributed both through email and on iTunes, you shouldn't be surprised by Pietrangelo's large fantasy worth.
The young defenseman was my spotlight player for the St. Louis Blues as well as my selection as the breakout star of the team, and he definitely hasn't disappointed.
In the game of fantasy hockey, defensive capabilities and skills are thrown out the window and replaced with an overwhelmingly large focus on defenseman that contribute to the offense. In this regard, Petro has slotted right in as an offensively gifted defenseman as he has contributed 11 goals and 31 assists through 77 games, with a couple still left on the schedule.
In the game of fantasy hockey, just like real hockey, the key is getting a big return on a small investment. In regards to Pietrangelo, his worth was known widely in the St. Louis area, but his skills were mostly unheard of across the country prior to the 2010-11 season. This allowed managers that were up on there hockey knowledge to land him with a late pick, meaning they received an enormous return on their investment.
Unfortunately, the Blues really don't have many standouts in the fantasy game. Prior to the deal that brought Chris Stewart to St. Louis, there really weren't many players on the roster that you would find owned in a significant number of fantasy leagues.
This is typically a pretty solid indication of what to expect from the team as a whole. NHL teams that have a majority of their players in the upper echelon of fantasy hockey usually go on to great success - think San Jose, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and others.
As the St. Louis youngsters continue to grow, and in David Perron's case return to full health, we can expect the fantasy game to more closely follow the Blues.