It’s nearly midway through the NHL season, but more importantly for many fans it’s also the midway point of their fantasy hockey season.
Just like many of the managers of NHL teams, fantasy managers are reeling, looking to fill voids where injured players once were. I am in a number of leagues and in one it seems like I was hit with the injury plague. I’ve had Jason Spezza, Gabriel Landeskog, Jaroslav Halak, Jonas Hiller and most recently had James Reimer (first game after picking him up) all sidelined from injuries.
Being someone that has always been competitive with sports growing up I even find it frustrating to struggle in fantasy hockey pools, even if there’s nothing you can do about it. That said I know there are a number of people that feel the same way that I do about it. Here’s a few tips on sites or people to follow so you can stay on top of things, especially if you don’t have time to follow NHL on TV and get looks at players that way.
Left Wing Lock: A few years ago I started using this site for content and there wasn’t much at all. The site has now grown to include a lot of fantasy tips outside of the goaltending that I did and still use it for. Every day they have the list of games for the day and update who will be starting in goal as it becomes available, giving a link to the source under each goalie. If you’re debating over who to put in your lineup or leave on the bench this works the best I believe.
Another tool they have available is line combinations and their frequency, which you can search by team. This can help you if you’re looking for someone that isn’t on the top line, but could be getting second line power play time.
Yahoo Sports: It’s one of the most popular sites for fantasy sports pools so of course Yahoo is great for info to a certain extent. They constantly update depth charts for every team, but don’t have special team lines given to you. They also have updates on individual player profile pages, but you can get more details through many other sites. It’s good if you just want the overarching news quickly, which is what I use it for last minute, but it doesn’t give you all the nitty gritty details that help you improve your team in the long-term.
Twitter (accounts): I know this is a broad one and there’s no way to name everyone, but it’s really helped me a lot since I started using it for fantasy hockey tips. Scott Cullen from TSN is constantly posting updates on players, power rankings and guys to watch for as the season continues. Cullen has definitely dropped a few tips that have led to me moving up the standings in a pool.
Chris Johnston, formerly with the Canadian Press, is now with Sportsnet and is on the Maple Leafs beat. That said Johnston knows hockey and the NHL. He’s always on top of developing story lines and players improving throughout the league as the season goes on. You need to watch for the tweets, but who you should be trying to pick up is tucked in there amongst his column and story posts.
Following individual teams is helpful as well. The only problem with that is following 30 NHL teams is that it’s definitely overwhelming. It’s best to find guys like Johnston, Cullen, Kevin Allen (USA Today), Dave Stubbs (Montreal Gazette) or local journalists in the individual markets to get your insider info.
The final two sites are favourites of a fellow journalist and friend, Jonathan Briggins, who is based out of Halifax. I also use Rotoworld, but Briggins is more faithful to it than I am.
Rotoworld: It’s great for getting up-to-the-minute news on all the major league sports. Knowing a player has moved up to the top line or a major injury has created a hole for another player fill before your rival managers can give you an extra edge.
DobberHockey: This is helpful because it features great analysis on players, looking at things such as why certain players are struggling or if players are the real deal or simply a flash in the pan. They also have quick summaries of everything from all the games the previous night. If you don't have time to watch all the games but want all the latest fantasy relevant observations from games, DobberHockey is tops.
I hope these sites will help you to manage your rosters and get a jump on things. The one final tip I have is not to over manage. You don’t want to be making moves every day because you don’t want to give up a player just for having a bad game or two. Dropping someone prematurely could pay off for you, but it could also hurt you if someone picks them up right after they were dropped.
Christopher Cameron is the sports reporter for The News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @NGNewsChris.