If you want to play fantasy hockey, there are many different leagues to choose from. Of course, there is the NHL, but also NCAA or the Ontario Hockey League are options. Fantasy hockey works similarly to fantasy football or basketball. What is different is the way statistics are collected and the number of players you draft for your team.

Ice hockey

It makes sense that ice hockey is a sport especially popular in Nordic countries because of the required icy environment. Canada, Russia, Eastern Europe, and the United States are a few examples of where ice hockey is incredibly popular. It’s also important to point out that in some countries ‘hockey’ doesn’t actually refer to ice hockey, but to the grass-played game. We are talking about fantasy hockey here, but much of the real-life rules also apply to the fantasy game. Ice hockey is played in a rink and two teams compete to shoot the puck in their opponents’ net. Each team consists of 6 players, a format which is kept the same in fantasy hockey. It has the following positions: 1 goaltender and 5 players who skate up and down with the purpose of getting the puck into the net. It’s a fast and dynamic sport, fun to watch bot in real life and on TV. In recent years fantasy hockey has seen a significant rise in popularity. It seems that more and more people around the world take notice that ice hockey is not just a fun sport, but it also offers great potential as a fantasy sport.

Leagues

If you decide to play a season-long fantasy hockey league, that means you need to make sure the league has enough participants. Sometimes fantasy sports sites have an automated system to place each participant. Another possibility is that you gather your friends and family and create your own league where you compete with each other.  If you do that, one person will be appointed a commissioner. That person will, for example, be in charge of communicating the rules with all players.

NHL

The NHL stands for National Hockey League and is a professional hockey league in North America. Nowadays it has a total of 31 teams, of which 24 are based in the United States and 7 in Canada. It’s considered the biggest, most important ice hockey league in the world. Each year teams compete for the Stanley Cup, which gets awarded to the winner at the end of the Ice hockey season. The NHL was established on November 26, 1917 in Montreal, making it one of the oldest sports leagues in the world. Before it was called the NHL, the hockey league went by the name of NHA, which of course stands for national hockey association.

playing fantasy hockey

Draft tips

The first step to start playing is to draft the players for your team. The participants in your league will each take turns. There are as many drafting rounds as you need players for your team. If you get the first choice in one round, you’ll have the last choice in the next one. This ensures that the drafting process is fair for all participants. If you’re not happy with how your team turned out, you can propose trades while the league is in progress. But do keep in mind that everyone is free to accept or refuse your proposal.

Pick your team

When starting your ice hockey draft, keep in mind the game in real-life. You will need a nice balance between both defense and offense. Think of two excellent centers, two left wings, two goals, and four defensemen. Like I mentioned earlier, most fantasy ice hockey leagues keep the same set-up of 6 players. However, you will have a few extra players to rotate with. That is for the simple sake of preference or if any injuries occur. Keep in mind that the performance of your team depends on the real-life performance of the players. That should help you to make wise decisions when it comes to drafting. All information matters, not just their qualities and strengths, but also potential pitfalls. Points are scored in a number of different categories, make sure you know those before you start the draft.

Statistics

When the draft process is complete, you start following the statistics of your players. Depending on if you choose a daily, weekly or season-long league, you’ll start collecting points. A few important factors to earn points are power-play time, shooting percentage and amount of points scored. Power play time is particularly important for defensemen. The stats are based on real-time events that take place in the game. The stats have different categories and it’s basically a question of how your players perform in the different categories.

NHL fantasy hockey team

Other things to know

Most hockey team leagues consist of around 10 teams. Some try to keep in line with the National Hockey League and thus have around 30 teams in their league. If you’re new to fantasy hockey, you might be better off to opt for a smaller league. However, if you consider yourself one of those NFL fans that knows all the ins and outs about the players and teams, then opting for a bigger league shouldn’t be an issue for you. Drafts take place in a pretty similar manner, but some leagues have slightly different requirements. For example the size of your team, the amount of cash you get to ‘buy’ players and a few more things. Before you start a game of fantasy hockey, make sure you read the specific rules and requirements.

Strategy

There is a lot to say about strategy, always. But before I go into details, let me first state the most important thing when it comes to strategy in fantasy hockey: common sense. Chances are that if you’re interested to play fantasy hockey, you already know your fair share about the sport, its players, recent developments and so on. That information is valuable and thus should be part of your strategy.

Research

Comparing projections about the ice hockey season is an important part of your research. Ideally, you’d want to collect this information before you decide which competition to take part in. Research is so important because it allows you to get deep into each player’s qualities, risks, and dangers. This information is valuable because during the draft it will help you make the right decisions. You’ll know which players are overvalued, which players will have a breakthrough and so on. Rankings on websites about ice hockey can be useful, but be aware that they actually provide quality information. A little comparing along with using your own knowledge will do the job. Based on your gathered information, put together a draft of the most valuable players. Also, don’t forget to mark the players which are to avoid.

Goaltending

Goaltending is often a position that is easily overlooked because we feel there are more “exciting” players to occupy ourselves with. But the truth is that goaltending is of crucial importance in ice hockey. therefore it should be a priority, or at least one of them when you think about your draft. Your team will collect points based on their performance in real life and the win/save percentage of the goalie holds great value in the world of fantasy hockey. Get a goaltender who is rock-solid, reliable and consistent and also has a great rating online.

Mind the danger

It’s no surprise that hockey is a dangerous sport with a significant percentage of players that gets injured during each game. When you’re in the selecting process, make sure you read into the injury past of that players. Does he have any past injuries that are likely to occur again? how many games did he miss the previous season? Some players are simply more injury prone and it’s up to you if you want to take that risk or prefer to avoid them.

Sleepers

Getting star players on your team is great. But what is even better is when you’re super smart about your late-round picks. This is where you can set yourself apart because everyone knows the big shots. Research which players are upcoming and promising to make your team thrive. It has happened many times that the top scorers of one season were relatively unknown at the start of it. The better your predicting skills, the better your chance of rocking your league. Take a gamble with some under-the-radar players later on and it might just win you your fantasy league.