OK – the best time of year is upon us! And hopefully you’ve got a gang together for a playoff pool, or maybe you’ve got one going on with your internet buddies. Either way, you want to win! So here’s a few strategies for you to employ on draft day.
Strategy #1 – Cornucopia of Superstars!
The traditional way of picking for the uninitiated, the strategy of simply taking the best player available is definitely the way to go in the regular season. But the playoffs provide a bit more nuance than that. You might have won your pool on Steven Stamkos’s 60 goal season, but you’ll notice he’s not available now. The Lightning missed the playoffs as Tampa’s blazing offence could not mitigate the parade of stiffs and sieves they had at the other end of the ice. So! How and when would this method be effective. So when would you employ this method of picking? This style lends itself to the outliers – 1st pick or last pick in a snake draft. A few years back a friend of mine had the “snake” pick – 6th and 7th pick in a 6 person draft. Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin were both still available. Naturally, he picked them both. They combined for 29 points and won my friend the pool, even though OV went out in the first round and Crosby went down in the second. It helped that no one drafted 5 of the top ten scorers that year (Ville Leino? Mike Cammalleri?) but the moral of the story is the same. He took the best players available as opposed to banking on one team. Supporting many different teams in the first round will occasionally get you a handsome lead that slowly dissipates, but if there was a surefire way to win everyone would do it. This method works best with first or last pick. Occasionally gives you a big opportunity to gamble on a superstar who’s out with injury and due to return in the second round.
Recommended players – Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Claude Giroux, Jonathan Toews, The Sedin Twins, Daniel Briere, Ilya Kovalchuk, Anze Kopitar, Joe Thornton, Marian Gaborik
Strategy #2 – Picking Winners
Occasionally can be called the Homer’s Method, this method involves banking on one team – and one team only – to win the Stanley Cup. It can also work if your chosen team goes to the finals and loses. This is best suited to having a mid round pick – the top superstars who can singlehandedly win a pool title are off the board. It’s also the preferred method of guys who love their team, and have a team in the playoffs with a legitimate shot at a Championship. It’s also a double letdown when your team gets bounced, and may increase the amount of abuse you take from rivals. The obvious problem with this method is if your team gets upset in the first round, you’re out and you’re the laughingstock of your pool associates for a year or so. The less obvious downside is that this can be an inefficient method if you pick a heavily favored team. You might believe that Pittsburgh will win the Cup, but if you don’t get Malkin or Crosby you have to abandon this strategy. This works better with deep teams than teams led by their superstars. Boston is an ideal team for this strategy – their top players won’t fly off the board and there’s plenty of secondary scoring for you to take in later rounds.
Boston – Krejci, Bergeron, Lucic, Seguin, Marchand, Peverley, Chara, Corvo
Chicago- Toews, Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Keith, Seabrook, Stalberg
Detroit – Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Filppula, Franzen, Cleary, Bertuzzi, Lidstrom, Hudler, Kronwall, White
Philadelphia – Giroux, Jagr, Hartnell, Simmonds, Briere, Voracek, Timonen, Carle
Strategy #3 – Paired teams
This method could also be called “hedging your bets” – similar to the Homer’s Method but with a twist. Instead of picking one team, you pick two. You can have a few teams in mind, but it’s best to be flexible with this strategy. You can pick one team from each conference, and if they meet in the finals you’ll probably win your pool by a landslide. An even more conservative method is to pick two teams within the same conference to increase your chances of having multiple players left in the final. This method is more relying on the makeup of your whole team than the performance of individual players. Apply most of the principles from the Homer’s Method to your first few picks, then as the board dwindles try and stockpile secondary players from your sleeper team. This method can also allow for some creativity – if you have 3 guys from your top team and 2 guys from your sleeper, you can use your last pick to grab that superstar from the team everyone expects to fail. If they throw down some upsets you’ll have a tactical advantage, and if they go out quietly you’re relatively insulated against their failure.
Recommendations for Secondary Team
Nashville – Radulov, Kostitsyn, Fisher, Weber
St. Louis – Backes, Oshie, MacDonald, Pietrangelo, Perron
Florida – Versteeg, Fleischmann, Weiss, Campbell, Bergenheim, Kopecky
New Jersey – Kovalchuk, Parise, Elias, Henrique, Sykora
San Jose – Thornton, Marleau, Havlat, Couture, Pavelski
New York – Gaborik, Richards, Callahan,