Alright, the holidays are over, we’re getting back into routines, and now’s the time to get real. There are only eight matchups left before playoffs, and some of us will be deciding to be sellers at the trade deadline. Here’s all the information you need to know to be prepared.
Once the regular season is completed, ESPN automatically generates a seed for each team in the league based on the regular season results. The seeds determine the playoff matchups.
The first two seeds are the division winners and get automatic entry into the playoffs. The division winner with the best overall record is seeded #1, and the other division winner is seeded #2.
Seeds 3 and 4 are the other playoff entrants, and can come from either division. The two teams with the best overall record besides the division winners will be our second playoff teams, with seed #3 playing seed #2 and seed #4 playing seed #1. The winner of those games play each other in the league championship, while the losers move the the consolation match for 3rd and 4th place.
In the event that two or more teams have the same winning percentage at the conclusion of the regular season, the following tie-breaking system determines the seeding:
Seeds 5-12 enter the consolation ladder and play to determine final rankings on the year. Starting this week we’ll be adding a Playoff Picture section to the blogs that look at how the playoff race is shaping up.
The Trade Deadline is Thursday, February 9th at 12PM Eastern. This falls in the middle of Matchup 17, so you’ll have to decide early if you’re going to make a playoff push. After the trade deadline passes you can still add/drop players from free agency, but you will not be able to trade players or draft picks with other teams.
Next season we will have 7 keepers again, so as you’re thinking about changing your roster for the playoffs, keep in mind who you may want to hold on to. Next season you are required to keep at least 6 players – this is to prevent teams from trading everyone away and tanking too hard. If a team wants to forego the 7th keeper in order to pick from the free agent pool one round early, that option is available.
Trading Draft Picks
For the first time we will be allowing draft picks to be traded! Because we are a keeper league though, it’s a bit complicated. Here’s how it works. As we’re required to have keepers next year, you cannot trade picks in any of the keeper rounds 1-7. Thus, Round 8 will effectively be the first round where players are chosen out of the free agent pool, and picks from rounds 8 on down can be traded.
Because we’re all adding the same number of players from the draft, there must always be an equal number of draft picks traded on both sides of a deal. To simplify it, the picks will be inverted; thus, if a 8th round pick is traded, the receiving team must give up their 26th round pick. The pattern continues with the 9th and 25th, 10th and 24th, and so on. You cannot trade a pick below the 17th round for a pick of lesser value.
For a team that is clearly out of the playoff hunt, acquiring picks in the 8th, 9th and 10th rounds by trading away good players that aren’t going to be on the keeper list will help set up a team for success next season.
Additionally, each trade must have at least one player going back the other direction – thus, you can’t just trade a player for a pick. You also cannot trade the picks within the ESPN system, so you must notify the League Commissioner of what the draft picks being traded are. The Commissioner is able to manually change the draft order prior to the draft next season.
We are keeping track of draft picks here.
Best Forward: Ryan Kesler 23.3 (Brett R)
Best Defenseman: Ryan McDonagh 13.9 (Brett R)
Best Goalie: Sergei Bobrovsky, Marc-Andre Fleury 13.7
Best Individual Performance: Ryan Kesler 11.4 (Brett R)
Worst Forward: Matt Read -0.5 (Brett R)
Worst Defenseman: Brandon Carlo -0.2 (Rhys)
Worst Goalie: Petr Mrazek -1.2 (Frank)
Worst Individual Performance: Matt Murray -3.3 (Davin)
Almost unbelievably, we had another matchup flip happen. In Matchup 10, Sohayl’s 0.5 point victory was erased as some adjusted scoring the following week put Frank up by 2.5 points. I guess it’s inevitable with as many close matchups we’ve had, but still…to have another one the week after our first is pretty wild.
The matchups in weeks 11 and 12 were a little more straight forward. Rhys, Sohayl and Cal won both matchups, while Brennan, Brett D and Frank lost both. Jace, Brett R, Brock, Chris, Davin and Justin all went 1-1.
At least that’s as it stands right now – with two of last week’s matchups finishing within 3 points, it’s entirely possible that by Wednesday Justin or Brett D could wind up with victories instead of losses.
For the rest of the season, we’re going to take a look at how the playoff picture is shaking out.
Projected Playoff Bracket
#1 Jace (9-3) vs #4 Cal (8-4)
#2 Brett R (8-4) vs #3 Rhys (8-4)
In the Hunt
Brock (7-5), Sohayl (6-6), Chris (6-6)
Brennan (5-7), Brett D (5-7), Davin (5-7)
The West Division is going to be a bloodbath leading up to the playoffs, with 5 of the 6 teams at .500 or better as it currently stands, both Rhys and Cal would make the playoffs while Brett R would be the lone East team to make it. There’s still plenty of time though, and Brock, Sohayl and Chris aren’t that far behind. Brennan, Brett D and Davin are all at 5-7, and while it’s getting harder to see them moving into a playoff picture, it’s by no means impossible. For Frank and Justin though…mathematically they’re not out of it, but it means running the table the rest of the way and getting a whole lot of luck in the seeding.
We’re going to switch it up a bit this week. Rather than look at how a struggling team can improve, we’re going to look at the hottest team in the league, and try to see how he’s found success. Currently riding a 7-matchup winning streak, Cal has gone from bottom of the league to a playoff contender in barely half a season. Let’s see why Blades of Glory is living up to its name.
Best Forward: Derek Stepan 132.4
Best Defenseman: Dougie Hamilton 81.2
Best Goaltender: Sergei Bobrovsky 136.0
Notable Injuries: Rick Nash, Jonathan Quick
After starting the season 0-3, Cal split his next two matchups to sit at 1-4 after five weeks. Since then, his team has been on an absolute tear. It hasn’t really been a lucky run, either – all of the stats seem to suggest that this team is the real deal.
Looking at the charts, we can see the team improving steadily over the season. Using the Total Fantasy Points chart, Cal was consistently scoring below average until Week 4, at which point he began steadily outpacing the average score, and now sits at second in the league in Total Fantasy Points collected. That’s outstanding.
More than anything, Cal’s found success by building a very well-balanced team. He’s in the top half of scoring in all of the most significant categories of Goals (4th), Assists (5th) and Shots on Goal (2nd). His percentage of points collected practically mirrors the league averages, so it’s not like he’s getting an unsustainable number of assists or something.
If anything, you could suggest that Cal has been slightly unlucky, as he sits second in the league in Fantasy Points against; yet unlike poor Justin, Cal has managed to take more victories than losses.
There are some clues to his success: Cal leads the league in player activations, which shows he’s fastidious at keeping his lineup current. It’s a simple and obvious thing, but that can absolutely make a difference in a league as close as ours is. He also runs with the minimum of 6 D on his roster, opting to keep 5 forwards on his bench as forwards tend to earn more points than defensemen.
He’s had some terrific success through free agency, highlighted by collecting now-Vezina-contender Sergei Bobrovsky for free after he was dropped by Brennan. He’s made a point of regularly cycling through players at the bottom of his lineup to get more games in. He’s also used the trade market to add useful pieces to his team. Aquiring Brandon Saad and Nazem Kadri from Rhys in exchange for Burakovsky, Pominville and Henrique is looking particularly smart, especially as Saad was then flipped for Mark Stone.
There are a few areas to watch out though. Bobrovsky’s contributions could plummet if the Blue Jacket’s insane winning streak regresses hard and fast. With Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov as two of his biggest point earners, a Tampa losing streak could leave him gasping for points. The Avalanche are a tire fire this year, and with Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog in his lineup, who knows how many points they’ll contribute. He could look at trading any of these forwards to shore up his team in other areas. I’m not crazy about how many Maple Leafs he has on his roster, but he’s shown that he’ll dump guys like Connor Brown after a short time anyway.
Frankly, Cal should terrify any opponent he faces. He’s deep at every position, and as he’s proven, he can win any matchup he faces.
Strengths: G, PPP, SOG, W
Keep ‘Em: Dougie Hamilton, Derek Stepan
Dump ‘Em: Connor Brown
Target: overall depth
Watching the Waiver Wire
We had one waiver pickup during the holidays as Davin nabbed Michael Frolik.
Best Unsigned Forward: Matt Puempel 16.3
Best Unsigned Defenseman: Thomas Hickey 8.3
Best Unsigned Goalie: Kari Lehtonen 11.6
Best Unsigned Individual Performance: Matt Puempel 13.3
So I guess we’ve gotta talk about Matt Puempel. The Rangers LW potted a hat trick of power play goals against the Coyotes, and put up one of the best fantasy games of the season. Could this continue? Well…those were goals 7, 8 and 9 of his career, so let’s not be too hasty. It’s likely he’s a flash in the pan, but if you’re looking for a left wing pick-up…I suppose there are worse options.
Take a gander at Phillipp Grubauer the next time you’re looking to shore up your goaltending temporarily. Washington’s backup has been spectacular this year, winning 6 of 8 games he’s started with a terrific .932 SV%. The only problem is that Holtby gets the vast majority of starts for the Caps – you may have to look out for back-to-backs or weak opponents in order to get the start.
Travis Konecny may have recently been a healthy scratch in Philly, but he remains an intriguing pick-up option. With 5 G and 14 A in his rookie season, the 24th overall pick in 2015 has been a surprise success for the Flyers. His second power play unit definitely gets less ice time than the first unity of Giroux-Voracek-Simmonds-Schenn-Gostisbehere, but you can count on him to put up a ton of shots – his 83 SOG so far this year leads all available free agents.
The biggest match of the week is unquestionably Cal (8-4) vs Jace (9-3). Jace has the better record, but no one has beat Cal in 7 straight weeks. Can he make it 8 in a row? We also have another Brother Battle as Brett D (5-7) and Davin (5-7) meet up again. Brett took the first match in a landslide, let’s see if Davin can even the score. Elsewhere we have Brock (7-5) vs Brennan (5-7), Chris (6-6) vs Justin (2-10), Brett R (8-4) vs Frank (3-9), and Sohayl (6-6) vs Rhys (8-4).