NHL

All About the 2017 Draft

September 23, 2017

Mark it on your calendars, boys: the third annual Bottom of the Pacific Draft is happening Sunday, October 1st. The Online Draft will begin at 7:00PM Pacific/8:00PM Mountain, but you’ll need to give yourself at least a half hour to prep.

The online draft room opens one hour before the start time, and I highly encourage you to log in early to make sure everything is working correctly. It went pretty smoothly last year, and we want to make sure everyone has a great experience again this year.

Jace has agreed to once again host our Kelowna draft party – we’ll want you there at 6:30pm so we can get computers set up and organized. That way, at 6:50pm, we’ll can get our out-of-town managers on Skype and we’ll all be together for an introduction to the season.

With that in mind, lets dig into the details.

Draft Type, Order, and Picks

Our draft this year is a little different in that it is a Straight draft – unlike previous years where we’ve run a Snake draft, this year the order of picks does not reverse.

The order of each round of the draft is based on the reverse order of last years’ standings:

Steve – Sohayl – Frank – Brett D – Brennan – Davin – Chris – Brock – Brett R – Jace – Cal – Rhys

This does not, of course, take into consideration the picks that were traded last year. You can see which picks were traded on our Draft Picks page. Remember that the first seven rounds are auto-picked with our designated keepers, so Round 8 is where the fun starts.

As this is the first season where all teams have keepers, it’s going to be interesting to see which teams try and recreate their roster from last season and who opts for a wholesale change. And with a less heralded crop of rookies available, will any of them make a dent like Matthews, Laine or Nylander did in 2016-2017?
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Do Your Research and Pre-Set your Draft Order

I’ve put together a ton of resources, tools and projections for you guys, all found on our Draft Resources page. Once you’ve begun creating your own draft list, you can start editing your own Pre-Draft Rankings list. This list will import to the draft application for you, so you won’t forget who you’re intending to pick.

Do a Mock-Draft or Seven

As always, getting used to the drafting software can be crucial. I’ve written a refresher on how to use the ESPN Fantasy Draft Application, and I encourage you to practice in a couple of mock drafts. ESPN Mock Drafts are currently open, and can be found here:

ESPN Mock Drafts

I suggest choosing a draft that has 12 teams picking so you can get a general idea where players will be falling in our league and seeing what players will theoretically be in the lower rounds.

As you’re doing your mock draft, get used to how to draft a player, how to search for players, how to add desired players to your queue, check out the different sorting and ranking methods, make a list of players that seem to be getting picked lower than you think they should, and so on. Even when there’s only 1-3 real live people in the mock draft, the computer AI will still do an decent job of approximating a human player.
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Positions Are Important

You have 26 roster slots to fill, with 20 starting slots and 6 bench slots. If you draft 5 LW, 5 C, 5 RW, 7 D and 3 G, that will give you all of your starting slots filled with one extra on the bench, as well as one bonus bench slot to add extra depth where you think you’ll need it.

Think about balancing your roster as the draft goes on. You don’t want to be stuck drafting all your defensemen in rounds 20-26 after everyone else has snapped up the best ones.

One other note: ESPN assigns each player a position, but this can change during the season depending on usage. We saw a TON of this last season. Some players can also be assigned dual positions (or even triple in the odd case), which can make them more valuable to your roster as they can slot into more roles. It’s not an exact science, but you can get an idea which players may eventually get dual positions by researching online – in fact, ESPN has already started giving players dual positions which is a nice change from last year. And, for the first time, you’ll be able to choose which slot you want to put these players into when you draft.

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Goalies Disappear in Bunches

Once again last season we saw goaltenders disappearing in bunches. If you start to see goalies getting snapped up, you may want to make your move as well. You’ll want to grab at least one full-time starter that can be counted on for 55-60+ games. You get points for simply starting a goaltender in our league, so even the unquestioned starting goalie for a bad team (*cough* Semyon Varlomov in Colorado *cough*) has quite a bit of value. You can carry either 2 or 3 goalies; I expect most teams will carry 3, but some may find more value in an extra forward or defenseman.

Balance Your Conferences and Teams

It can be a high-risk/high-reward strategy to pick up linemates in the draft, and in fact we saw a few teams try this last season. Doubling up on goals and assists can really boost your fantasy points total, but if the line goes through a rough patch, your performance will suffer twice as much.

It’s good practice to fill out your roster with players from all over the NHL; I try to cover at least 20 teams with an equal mix from the Western and Eastern conferences. This also has the benefit of making it less likely that all of your players will be playing on the same night, causing you to leave points on the bench.
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Draft One Good Player From Your Favorite Team

It’s way more fun watching games when you’re cheering for both your NHL team and your Fantasy team. I had some great success (Cam Talbot) and some utter failure (Milan Lucic) with this last year.

Don’t Get Too Attached

The owner picking one spot ahead of you WILL take the player you were gunning for. Trust me, it’s going to happen. Probably multiple times. The timer is unrelenting and the draft will continue, so you’ve gotta shake it off quickly and make your pick. The key here? Create a deep list of options you’d be happy with, and take the next guy on it. The draft platform allows you to add players to your queue, which is a quick and easy way to keep track of who you want to target.
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Keep One Eye on the Future

In Year 1 Brett D used his 5th overall pick on Connor McDavid, opting to choose him over elite players in their prime like Stamkos, Seguin, Kane and Tarasenko. Brett has suffered for a couple seasons, but holy cow is his future looking bright with McDavid poised to lead the league in points for the next two decades. As a team in a keeper league, you’ll want a good mix of veterans and rookies to stay competitive every year. And when it’s looking like it might be your year to win it, don’t be afraid to go all-in. Despite being an expansion team last season, Cal pushed in all of his chips and came oh so close to taking it all.

Be Proud of Your Smart and Clever Picks

…And mock the other managers mercilessly for their terrible and ill-conceived picks. Trash talk away! There’s not a chance anyone will beat you this year with the stellar roster you’ve put together. Everyone else needs to know about it.

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