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Fantasy Hockey: Yahoo! And The Kuznetsov Konundrum

Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey dropped the ball on adding Evgeny Kuznetsov to their system frustrating fantasy hockey owners who were prepared to add him to their rosters.

evgeny-kuznetsov
evgeny-kuznetsov

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Controversy can often take on a life of its own when it comes to fantasy sports. Ill will can be harbored over decades often because of one event. True, this happens in real life but in fantasy there seems to always be a different and bizarre dynamic.

Let’s look at what happened to Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey this year. First, they had the incident with James Neal where he sat for weeks “day to day” with an injury everyone knew was more serious. ESPN, Fantrax, etc. had options to deal with the player being “out.” Neal was injured before the season started in rather questionable circumstances (some say horsing around).

It would take several attempts but eventually Yahoo! responded with an IR and IR+ slots for players who were out but timetables were shorter. This article explains it all more or less. There was no way another strange event could happen again, could it?

The Kuznetsov Konundrum

That answer to the question would be … yes … it could happen again. Late last week it was announced that Evgeny Kuznetsov would come to the NHL and play for the Washington Capitals. It was clear he was going to play early this week and sure enough he did. While most fantasy leagues were right on it, there goes Yahoo! again dragging its feet in the sand … err mud. Almost every single person in the hockey world knew that Kuznetsov would debut on Monday versus the Pittsburgh Penguins and yet there was nothing from Yahoo! at all.

Monday, there was zero from the fantasy hockey giant and then pretty much the same on Tuesday. It got frustrating to no end for people trying to pick up the player. Questions and curiosities were peaked on Twitter which maybe garnered some publicity for Yahoo! but not of the good kind.

Then there was this quote that was simple but just said it all.

It is bad enough that Yahoo! has some of the greatest stat errors in the history of sports at times and often makes random stat corrections at the worst possible times in the playoffs. At least early Wednesday morning, Kuznetsov was finally added.

Do You Pick Him Up?

This is the bigger question now. In deeper leagues, the answer is a resounding yes. Kuznetsov had pretty much proven everything he could in the KHL. The goal of Adam Oates was to ease Kuznetsov in as a player. Last night he saw almost 15 minutes of ice time in his second game and started to look more comfortable out on the ice. Kuznetsov had three shots on goal, a couple scoring chances, and even delivered his first NHL hit.

Now, there are concerns. He is 21 but still only weighs a little over 170 lbs. At 6-foot, that is a little concerning as far as playing on the NHL ice. Plays happen faster and so do collisions. His hands and speed are definitely assets and he will be able to play with the top six in Washington. It may come down to execution and durability on the bigger stage.

I have a simple rule. centers are a dime a dozen in fantasy hockey. If the fantasy league is 12 teams or larger, you should pick him up. If you are decimated by injuries, you should pick him up. However, if neither of those conditions exist, do not pick him up. Again, the Washington Capitals are in the middle of the fight for their playoff lives. The upside in Kuznetsov is not quite known just yet though he could easily be a 65-75 point producer in a few years or he could flame out entirely. Either way, it is an interesting fantasy hockey gamble to take. Needless to say, good luck.

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