Fantasy Hockey: Final Average Draft Position Report

We are in the final week of preparation for the 2013-2014 NHL Fantasy Hockey season. Knowing how the ADP of certain players has fluctuated in public opinion helps guide you through your draft; the opportunities for value will present themselves. This third ADP report is the last of a three part series, and you can find the first and second ones here and here.

Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall
Apr 26 2013 St Paul MN USA Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall 4 celebrates his goal with forward Nail Yakupov 64 during the first period against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center Brace Hemmelgarn USA TODAY Sports

I’ll briefly look at several players I’ve been tracking to see how they’ve risen and fallen, as well as some other quirks I’ve found.

Taylor Hall (LW-EDM) – I have been able to do a couple of my own drafts and several mocks over the last couple of weeks: In the 11 drafts I’ve done so far (re-draft leagues), Taylor Hall has not dropped any further than 25th overall pick. He’s cemented as pretty much a Top-20 pick so I’m comfortable taking him in most spots of the second round.

Anze Kopitar (C-LAK) – This has been maybe the biggest mover that I’ve seen who gets taken early in drafts. A few weeks ago, Kopitar was falling consistently into the third round in most Yahoo! leagues and was a late second round pick on ESPN. Since then, Kopitar has risen to late second round-early third round stats on Yahoo! and second round status on ESPN. The value is gone, as that’s about where he should.

James Neal (LW/RW-PIT) – I have not seen much movement on Neal’s ADP since the start of September. I am still firmly in the camp that he’s a second round pick but you can grab him in some leagues in the third round.

Nazem Kadri (C-TOR) – Kadri has been one of the biggest surprises for me so far through drafts. When Kadri wasn’t signed to a contract, he was going around the ninth-10th round ADP. Since then he’s only risen to about an eighth round pick (somewhere around 90th overall). His draft position has jumped about 20 spots, much less than I thought it would once he was given a contract.

Erik Karlsson (D-OTT) – It’s been quite the movement for Karlsson over the last few weeks. I have done Yahoo! drafts where he’s lasted into the third round but in my last few ESPN drafts Karlsson has gone in the first round of every one of them. If Average Time On Ice is a category, don’t be shy to take Karlsson at the end of the first round.

Nail Yakupov (RW-EDM) – The movement on Yakupov has actually been in the opposite direction you might expect. With the news of his centre Sam Gagner breaking his jaw (out six to eight weeks), combined with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missing the first month of the season at least, there is concern in Edmonton for Yakupov’s production. His draft position has dropped to Nazem Kadri-range and I would feel much more comfortable taking him where he’s going now (eighth-ninth round) than where he was going (fourth-sixth round).

David Backes (C/RW-STL) – My ADP read on him is a bit skewed because I end up taking him before other people can. This is a guy that is a roto monster and can easily return fifth round value in roto leagues, so I’m grabbing him in the seventh round whenever I can.

Marian Gaborik (RW-CBJ) – People need to realize that there are a handful of hockey players in the NHL that can score 40 goals – Ovechkin, Stamkos, Malkin, Crosby, Neal, and maybe guys like Corey Perry and John Tavares – and Gaborik is one of them. I’m actually seeing his draft position fall pretty steadily in drafts so he’s kind of like Backes; I would take Gaborik in the fifth round and sleep easy.

Those are the guys I’ve been tracking closely throughout the month. These guys all present good values at where they’re being drafted (relatively speaking).

There are, of course, some other very interesting developments since the last ADP report. This is what I’ve seen.

  • The big news is C Damien Brunner signing a multi-year deal with the New Jersey Devils. This takes him from off-the-radar to draftable in most leagues. He fought inconsistency last year with 16 points in his first 21 games but only 10 in the next 23, and a function of this was a reduction in ice time. He will play Top Six minutes in New Jersey and is a sneaky 60-point threat. Depending on how your team is constructed, I’m fine with a draft pick just about anywhere outside the Top 100 picks.
  • The early favorite to play left wing with the Malkin/Neal line in Pittsburgh was Beau Bennett. However, after a hat trick in a weekend game playing with Malkin and Neal, it looks like C/LW Jussi Jokinen has the inside track. I saw a lot of what made Mikhal Grabovski successful in Jokinen’s game – a hard-nosed grinding game complemented with skill – and that could play well on that line. He’s being virtually undrafted so feel free to take a late-round flier on him over Bennett.
  • Tomas Vokoun was, in my opinion, the goalie to own in Pittsburgh. However, an emergency blood clot surgery over the weekend has put his future in doubt for now. There is no timeline for recovery, which has been pegged for anywhere from weeks to months. Until we know how long he will be out, he is still a better value pick than Fleury. However, if we find out he’s out until the end of November, his draft value plummets.
  • Over the weekend, Edmonton C Sam Gagner took a negligent slash in the face from Vancouver’s Zack Kassian, resulting in a broken jaw. With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins set to already miss a month with shoulder surgery, there is a big vacancy at centre in Edmonton. I was already expecting Boyd Gordon to get extra duties at centre, but he looks locked in to the second line centre role in Edmonton. Grab him as a late-round flier and drafts and try to flip him after a couple of weeks.
  • I know it’s only preseason, but Max Domi, the 2013 first round pick of Phoenix, looks great. His hockey IQ allows him to see the game one or two plays in advance, so he can use his exceptional quickness and puck-handling skills to get an edge on defenders. He has been paired at times with Radim Vrbata, too. While I don’t expect that to stick – that’s probably Mike Ribeiro’s line mate – it tells you how high the coaches are on him. He’s a dark horse for Rookie of the Year and a late-round flier in deep-ish 12-team leagues.
  • Another rookie, C Brandon Pirri, looks to get the second line centre job in Chicago. This is a former second round pick who was nearly a point-per-game player in the AHL last year as a 21-year old and led the AHL in points. With Dave Bolland gone, there’s a vacuum at centre in Chicago behind Toews. I think Pirri locks it up, and is rising up draft boards rapidly. I’m fine with taking him anywhere after the 14th round of a 12 team draft. He’s being pretty much undrafted as it is, that might not last long.

This will be the last ADP report before the season starts so hopefully this has helped you in picking out different players to target in drafts, and where you need to target them. As always, if you have any questions about these players or any others, feel free to tweet me @SlimCliffy.

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