How Does Fantasy Hockey Work? How to Play and Prepare for Drafting
January 23, 2024
As the football season concludes and the start of baseball season is still months away, fantasy sports lovers find themselves in an unusual in-between space on the fantasy calendar. If you're seeking a compelling way to fill the void, consider delving into the world of fantasy hockey.
Wondering how fantasy hockey works? Fantasy hockey is a captivating game that allows you to assume the role of manager for your own NHL team, leading them to victory on the ice each night.
Let’s go through the basics of fantasy hockey, providing essential insights for newcomers transitioning from other fantasy sports. Gain the knowledge you need to hop over the boards and get onto the virtual ice!
What Is Fantasy Hockey?
Fantasy hockey is an interactive and competitive game where participants draft real NHL players to build their virtual hockey teams. These teams then compete based on the real-life performance of the players in actual NHL games.
As a fantasy hockey manager, you'll make strategic decisions about your roster, including setting your lineup, making trades, and picking up free agents to maximize your team's success.
How Does Fantasy Hockey Scoring Work?
Understanding how scoring works is crucial to excel in fantasy hockey. Scoring systems can vary from one league to another, but here are some common scoring categories and their explanations:
Goals (G): One of the most straightforward scoring categories, players on your roster earn points for each goal they score during real NHL games. Typically, goals are awarded two to three points each.
Assists (A): Assists are another key statistic in fantasy hockey. Players receive points for every assist they register during NHL games. Like goals, assists are typically worth two to three points each.
Plus-Minus (+/-): Plus-minus measures the goal differential when a player is on the ice during even-strength or shorthanded situations. If a player is on the ice when their team scores a goal, they earn a plus, and if the opposing team scores, they earn a minus. The sum of these plus-minus values contributes to a player's fantasy score.
Penalty Minutes (PIM): Penalty minutes are accumulated when players are sent to the penalty box for infractions. In most fantasy leagues, players receive points for accumulating penalty minutes. However, it's essential to strike a balance, as excessive penalties can negatively impact a player's plus-minus.
Shots on Goal (SOG): The number of shots a player takes during NHL games can also earn fantasy points. This category rewards players who consistently put the puck on net.
Special Teams Points (PPP): This category is for points that players accumulate in power play and shorthanded situations. Players on your roster earn points when they contribute to their team's success during special teams situations.
Goaltender Categories: For fantasy hockey leagues that include goaltenders, scoring categories often include saves (Sv), wins (W), and shutouts (SO). Goalies earn points for making saves, winning games, and recording shutouts, making them a crucial part of your team's success.
Understanding your league's unique scoring system is crucial, as variations or distinct point values may be assigned to different categories. Also, leagues may have custom scoring categories, such as blocked shots or hits, which can add complexity to the scoring system.
A well-rounded roster with players who can contribute in multiple categories is often a winning strategy. When drafting and managing your team, aim to strike a balance between goal-scorers, playmakers, and contributors in other statistical areas to maximize your chances of success in your fantasy hockey league.
What Formats Are Fantasy Hockey Leagues Organized In?
Just like fantasy football, fantasy hockey leagues can vary in size and format. You can join public leagues with strangers or create a private league with friends and colleagues.
The most popular formats of fantasy hockey are head-to-head and rotisserie. In head-to-head leagues, your team competes against another team each week to win certain statistical categories. In rotisserie leagues, your team accumulates points over the entire season based on your rank in each statistical category. Each format requires a slightly different strategy for success.
How Should I Prepare for a Fantasy Hockey Draft?
A successful fantasy hockey season begins with a well-prepared draft. Here are some tips to help you get ready:
Research player rankings: Before the draft, familiarize yourself with player rankings and projections from trusted sources like ESPN, The Gist Sports, and Rotowire. These rankings will help you identify valuable players in each position.
Do mock drafts: Participate in mock drafts to practice your drafting skills. Mock drafts are simulations that allow you to practice drafting without any real consequences.
Create a draft strategy: Develop a strategy based on your league's scoring system. Prioritize key positions (centers, wingers, defensemen, goalies) and be flexible in case your top choices are already taken.
Stay informed: Keep up with NHL news, injuries, and player updates as the season progresses. Being proactive with roster changes and waiver pickups can make a significant difference in your team's success.
Play Fantasy Hockey with Confidence and Strategy
Fantasy hockey is an exciting way to engage with the NHL season and test your managerial skills. By familiarizing yourself with these foundational pieces on how to play fantasy hockey before diving into managing a team, you'll set yourself up for (hopefully) a successful season that leads to a championship in the spring.