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2022 Fantasy Hockey

(Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

2022 Fantasy Hockey: 10 Hardest Draft Day Decisions

2022 Fantasy Hockey
2022 Fantasy Hockey Leagues are almost here. We dissect the 10 hardest draft day decisions each fantasy owner will have to make this upcoming season. (Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

2022 Fantasy Hockey: 10 Hardest Draft Day Decisions

The Chinese farmer always says maybe. As you enter your 2022 fantasy hockey drafts, every fantasy owner is faced with tough draft day decisions when they’re on the clock.

Look, because Sean Allen is so dumb, a lot of these calls are going to be obvious. Others? Maybe not so much. In my opinion, these are the ten toughest calls to make heading into your draft. If you nail these calls, they probably will turn into league winning moves.

*No particular order

10: Who plays first-line center in Columbus?

I still hate that Johnny Gaudreau picked Columbus but we still have to live with it. The new Blue Jackets offseason addition will be flanked on the opposite side by Patrik Laine. We could be cooking with gas here boys.

Who’s playing first line center? Because that guy right now is going free in drafts. That guy can roll out of bed and suck while still eating points if Gaudreau / Laine have hot goal scoring seasons.

This is how I’m approaching it. Maybe it’s the right call. Maybe it’s not but the signs will always lead you down the right path.

Let’s take the coaches word for it. Boone Jenner is the established option. Jenner 44 points in 59 games a year ago. I’m not sure he’s a good player but he’s probably the best current option. Draft Jenner.

If Jenner struggles, keep an eye on the waiver wire. If the coach mixes up the lines, don’t be shy about wacking Jenner for Roslovic and or Sillinger. Who knows, maybe Kent Johnson is the guy?

If you’re really sifting through it, maybe this is just a situation you avoid entirely. I’m not bullish about Columbus this year anyway and don’t believe they’re strong enough defensively to be a real juggernaut. I have to use a top 100 pick to get Jenner and that just may not be worth it.

Long story short; how do you feel confident about any of this? Sillinger is the upside play but can you really feel confident about holding onto a guy that’s going to start the year on the third line for an average hockey team?

9: Can Igor Shesterkin Really Repeat That Season?

I have a theory. Some think I’m crazy but as evidence by the NHL cap challenge, I view goalies as bullpen pitchers in baseball. Well, most of them anyway. Igor Shesterkin has just entered god mode and now I just feel as though we should be fading him.

If you want Shesterkin in fantasy, you basically have to take him inside the top five. We’re talking about a guy coming off a .935 SV% and 2.07 GAA. That’s while playing for a team that just went to the Eastern Conference Finals. A bad team that he carried to that point. What if we’re just viewing this totally wrong?

Maybe Shesterkin is like having a great tight end in fantasy. There are only so many so you better make sure you grab one. Not sure it mattered for myself last year but the priority should be to get someone that’s not a black hole.

How high is too high to pick Shesterkin? Based on last year, there is an argument to be made he should go first. I just can’t see how he repeats that season but it’s certainly a talk worth having.

8: Do I Really Eat The Brent Burns Cheese?

I would lean no to this question but what if I’m wrong? What if Brent Burns is just hashtag built different? Burns, 37, still had 54 points on a down bad Sharks team a year ago. What happens now that he’s playing for Carolina? Burns is still a horse averaging over 26 minutes of ice time a year ago.

What if Burns is just ripping shots from the blue line and scoring? It’s a much better supporting cast in Carolina. What if Bruns eats all the Tony DeAngelo points from a year ago while blocking way more shots? The high end range of outcomes here is scary good.

However, my gut still tells me no. Give me Jaccob Slavin way later. Picking Burns around 50 is a little rich for my blood.

7: What Exactly Do I Do With Patrick Kane?

Patrick Kane at pick 70 (around where he’s going in drafts) is just flat out stealing. ESPN has Sean Couturier ranked two spots higher. Doesn’t that tell you how crazy that is? Comically enough, Couturier got hurt halfway through me writing this and I’m not editing it out. Boy oh boy… Sean Allen is in TROUBLE. Then again, until otherwise told, Kane still plays for Chicago and doesn’t appear to be in a rush to go anywhere.

Kane was productive last year (92 points in 78 games). However, Alex DeBrincat is now gone. Those easy assists are gone. 66 points from that total last year came via assist. Kane could easily lay a stinker this upcoming year for Chicago. Ridding yourself of any Blackhawk is probably a good idea right now.

Then again, what if a trade transpires at the deadline? What if I get Patrick Kane on a prime playoff contender when the fantasy hockey scores really start to count? Good luck.

6: Which Teams Suck?

Don’t pick guys on bad teams. That was the easiest first lesson I learned once I started doing fantasy hockey. Notice how I didn’t have a lesson learned blog after last year? I’ve mastered this game.

A year ago I faded anyone that had anything to do with the Canadiens, Sabres, Red Wings, Coyotes, Blackhawks, Sharks, or Kraken. 99% of calls went my way outside of Moritz Seider.

Who’s going to suck this year and which teams should you just totally fade in fantasy? That’s for you to decide. The easy calls for me are Arizona and Seattle again. However, there are more we should probably add to the list.

Are the Flyers THAT bad? What if the Bruins get off to a dreadful start? Does the year two sparkle come off Martin St. Louis? If you look at the NHL landscape, there aren’t that many teams tanking. At least, far fewer than the NBA has. Avoiding Arizona and Seattle are easy. Figuring out who this year’s version of Montreal seems harder. Just putting this out there. Don’t be shocked if the Rangers or Panthers take a step back. That’s what the signs are saying. Oh, and the Flyers are dysfunctional.

5: Who Is Colorado’s Goalie?

Aleksandar Georgiev or Pavel Francouz? Pavel Francouz or Aleksandar Georgiev? Good luck. Get this one right and you’re sitting in the driver seat. Get this one wrong and you’re stuck without a goalie. There’s also a third option. What if the Avalanche eventual starting goalie isn’t on the roster yet?

Do you just draft both of them? Colorado is the best team in the league and they’re going to stack wins. Having both and loading up elsewhere just may be the way to go. It’s just hard to know if it’s worth it. Francouz / Georgiev have to actually play well for this to become a steal. Also not a guarantee.

4: Is Nashville Actually Good?

I know that maybe I should but I just can’t put my arms around this Nashville thing. I’m not including Roman Josi or Juuse Saros. Matt Duchene, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and even Mikael Granlund had productive fantasy years. Can I really expect that again?

The West is brutal and that core is aging. Wasn’t too long ago that people thought they were ready to into rebuild mode. Then the offseason hits and the Preds only look stronger heading into this season. Nino Niederreiter and Ryan McDonagh are big additions. Why should they be worse?

Are you a Nashville believer for fantasy? My answer is maybe. Realistically, they’re being carried by Josi and Saros. However, if those other pieces play like they did a year ago, they are more than functioning members of any good fantasy team.

3: Does Owen Power Overtake Rasmus Dahlin?

I’m just telling everyone this right now. The Buffalo Sabres will be better than they were last year. They are going to be the ultimate junk yard dogs that stink but nobody wants to play. It’s no longer time to just avoid any Sabre in fantasy. They have real assets now including two defensemen that have big time futures.

Rasmus Dahlin took major strides forward this past year but now former number one overall pick Owen Power enters the fold. Do I really want two defensemen from Buffalo? Better pick one. Don’t get it wrong.

2: Do I Buy The Matt Boldy Breakout?

On paper, this one makes sense. Circumstances may delay the inevitable breakout to come. I wanted all the Boldy stock this year. Then Kevin Fiala got traded. Sad.

Here is the issue. Boldy is now skating with Marco Rossi and Tyson Jost. He probably won’t get powerplay time either playing the same position as Kirill Kaprizoz. Why wouldn’t I just take my chances that Ryan Hartman and Mats Zuccarello scooping up those Kaprizoz assists?

Did I just talk myself out of a potential premier young talent that should really take a step forward?

1: The Flames?

I figured I’d leave the Flames for last because no team has had more turnover. Think about all the things we need to dissect here.

Elias Lindholm has TWO new linemates with Jonathan Huberdeau and Tyler Toffoli. Calgary top line was the top scoring line in hockey last year. Tough bar to clear but maybe this line does better than expected? OR way worse than expected. Who the hell knows, we haven’t seen it yet.

Add in Nazem Kadri coming off a career best season. However, now his tag team partners are Blake Coleman and Andrew Mangiapane. What if Naz is just okay with the Flames? What if he’s found a new gear?

Who is the Flames top defensemen? MacKenzie Weegar is probably the answer but he’s also the new guy on the block. The Rasmus Andersson / Noah Hanifin powerplay unit worked last year. Will grumpy Daryl Suter get Weegar the ice time he deserves in a contract year?

With all this turnover, can I just count on Jacob Markstrom being dominant again? Markstrom was fantastic for me a year ago but is now the time to hop off the bandwagon? Lot of turnover. Is this team actually good or bad?

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