Let’s get things started with some brutal honesty, the best drafter in the world can still get themselves into serious trouble as the season progresses. Injuries, trades, lineup changes, you name it. Some players get cold, or just take a season off and don’t produce. All of these factors can put a manager into hot water, and with their back against the wall, they might choose to make these poor decisions.
1. Trading your injured studs
In horse racing, when your horse goes down, you really have no choice but to sell him to the glue factory. Horses don’t recover from things like broken tibias (Steven Stamkos) or hip infections (Pekka Rinne). NHL superstars are different. Rinne will likely be out another month, and Stamkos probably won’t be back in the game until the beginning of January. Getting back to pre-injury form could take them up until mid-January to early February, but that is completely irrelevant.
Fantasy hockey is truly important for about four weeks per year, and those weeks are the playoffs. If you aren’t spending the season preparing for playoffs then there really isn’t any reason for you to be in them. If you’re on the bubble of making playoffs a few weeks before they start, then by all means, do what you’ve got to do. At this point in the season, trading away Stamkos, Rinne, or James Neal at a discount would be a poor decision in the long run.
2. Picking up Ilya Bryzgalov
Let’s say you’re one of those guys who drafted Rinne, or Cam Ward, even Jon Quick (whose fantasy numbers other than wins have been poor). You might be thinking Hey, here’s a goalie with a name as big as his five-hole, and he’s going to be a starter. Maybe this is a gift from God to save my fantasy team.
That’s a great thought, but if Ilya Bryzgalov is a gift from God, then God hates you.
Anyone who watched Bryz play last season with the Flyers knows that he’s indecisive with the puck and allows a bad play get to his confidence. One bad decision or bouncing puck can quickly turn to a three or four fleury (pun) of goals. Just because he’s a big name, doesn’t mean he’s a good start. Bryz is an average goalie at best, and he’s getting tossed to the wolves with Edmonton. No team defense and little offensive support means the only category Bryz can win for you is “Bears Feared.”
3. Relying on rookies
Sean Monahan got off to a great start, as did Mackinnon, as did Hertl. You might have all three, and you might find yourself in deep, deep trouble come playoffs. Rookies generally start off hot, because opposing defenses don’t understand how to play them. Midway through the season, they cool off, or drop off completely. Hertl has been hot so far this season, but it won’t be long before defenses realize that he’s easily pushed around and doesn’t get to the front of the net. If you’re thinking he’s going to be this good come fantasy playoff time, think again.
Now is the perfect time to ship these players. Everyone is excited for the fresh faces, and you could get consistent value that will be critical in an 82 game season. If you have one of these lights out rookies, now might be the perfect time to move them.