Hello everybody and welcome in for a different kind of post this week. I had the opportunity to do a 12-team cats league mock draft with the guys over at Five Hole Fantasy Hockey last week and I thought it would be worthwhile to do a little breakdown on my picks and my strategies throughout the draft. Here are the scoring categories and rosters for the draft:
Based on the categories, I made a conscious decision to fade defensemen and goalies early and focus on guys who could contribute in what I consider “premium” categories: that is, categories that bad players don’t contribute in. If you don’t get many hits/blocks/PIM early, you can supplement that later, but it is harder to find goals, shots, and power play points late in a draft. You can also think of this as distance from the mean: in cats leagues you still need to prioritize categories where the top players distance themselves from the average players. That is certainly the case for the categories I mentioned above, and less so for the banger cats. Now, this is certainly a balancing act and you can’t neglect the banger cats completely or you’ll put yourself too far behind, but a greater emphasis on the skill cats is how I like to attack these drafts. So going in, my plan was to find some decent banger cat defensemen later on, and fade goalie as they only represent 4 of 11 categories. Let’s get into the picks:
1st round, 11th overall: Andrei Svechnikov, RW
This selection should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed my Twitter feed for any length of time. Svechnikov is on the Pastrnak trajectory, ready to be fed more ice time and see that jump into the 90+ point range. The bonus? He hits, too.
2nd round, 13th overall: Auston Matthews, C
I was a little torn on this pick between Matthews and Patrick Kane, but elected to go with the guy who is my pick to win the Rocket Richard trophy this year and has shown some growth in the banger cats aside from PIMs. With Svech and Matthews at the top of my lineup, I have a terrific foundation in G, SOG, & PPP.
3rd round, 35th overall: Max Pacioretty, LW
Pacioretty adds to my winger depth while providing more G, SOG, PPP, and hits. Jake Guentzel, Kyle Connor and Gabriel Landeskog were also in play here but Pacioretty should be in a prime position to run it back with a very similar season to last year’s and that level of production would be good value here in the late third.
4th round, 38th overall: Kyle Connor, LW
Again prioritizing wingers who tend to thin out quicker than centers and keeping up with G, SOG, & PPP. At this point I should be starting to pull ahead of the other teams in those previously identified key cats. Connor doesn’t bang at all but as the first real negative player in those categories I’m ok with getting his 40+ goal upside in the 4th.
5th round, 59th overall: Evgeni Malkin, C
I felt I had to stop the slide on Malkin here. He fills the stat sheet in every category including PIMs when he’s on the ice. Sure he’s going to miss 15 games every year, but he’s a legitimate difference-maker when he’s playing and in the late 5th the risk is worth the reward.
6th round, 62nd overall: Taylor Hall, LW
This was a brand pick for me as I’ve been talking up Taylor Hall. With the recent news of him signing in Buffalo I’m even more bullish on him as he’ll have a stud center for essentially the first time in his career. He should be a PPG player on Eichel’s wing with upside for even more.
7th round, 83rd overall: David Perron, RW
In this range I started to look for some more banger value to round out my categories while not completely forgoing my early advantage in the skill cats. Perron fits that mold nicely.
8th round, 86th overall: Bryan Rust, RW
Rust is another player who adds some hits to my team without sacrificing much on the scoring side. Is he dependent on Malkin for all those points he racked up last year? Yes, but he showed legitimate skill and his underlying stats were excellent. I’m OK with buying Rust at cost this year, and especially in a bangers league.
9th round, 107th overall: Thomas Chabot, D
Chabot is a bit of a bland pick for most, but considering how bad Ottawa’s PP was last year (dead last in the league), any sort of dead cat bounce could boost Chabot’s counting stats. He wasn’t bad to begin with, but if the kids can add some juice to the lineup he could easily eclipse 50 points. He’s not elite but not a zero in the banger cats.
10th round, 110th overall: Tristan Jarry, G
I was reading the tea leaves on this one with Matt Murray on his way out of town. Pittsburgh will rely on Jarry pretty heavily and he should return great value on this pick with names like Marc-Andre Fleury and Elvis Merzlikins picked ahead of him.
11th round, 131st overall: Morgan Rielly, D
I was absolutely stoked to see Rielly still available at this spot. He should return to full time PP1 duties in 2020/21 on the stacked Toronto power play and is a low key good contributor in blocks.
12th round, 134th overall: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D
I doubled up on defensemen at this turn because the value was too good to pass up. OEL is well known as an offensive presence but the man also put up 129 hits in 66 games last year and represents spectacular value this late, validating my “wait on D” approach.
13th round, 155th overall: Tuukka Rask, G
I’ll be honest, I wanted Mackenzie Blackwood with this pick, who went one spot before me. I decided the risk was worth it with Rask, who could be a steal or could blow up in my face here if he doesn’t come back with the Bruins.
14th round, 158th overall: Brendan Dillon, D
Dillon adds the PIMs, hits, and blocks that I’m still a little light on with this team. Given the three other stud defensemen in front of him, I was fine taking the hit on the skill categories to get him here.
15th round, 179th overall: Vincent Trocheck, C
Any pick this late starts to look like a bit of a dart throw but here’s hoping Trocheck finds his game again given a full season in Carolina. He also gives me that PIMs/hits floor which is nice at this stage.
Here’s the full squad:
Overall, I think I have a ton of skill on this roster, with major strengths at C, LW, and D. I might be a little light on PIMs and hits but I think this roster will contend with any. My goalie situation is completely tied to Rask, but that is the only true weakness I find with this roster. I’m pretty pleased with the draft overall, but would love to hear your thoughts.
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