The Coyotes would seem to me to be the best kept secret in fantasy hockey. They’re a lot like claymores in Call of Duty. At first you’re like "why do I need claymores dude, I’ve got this assault rifle?" Then of course you try out the claymores, realize you can now use them to tactically defend any portion of the map and they’re almost impossible for the enemy to counter. *mind blown*
(Apologies, we’re 60 words into this post and I’ve already slipped into video game talk)
I’m not entirely sure why Phoenix doesn’t get more attention in the national media. I’m all the way up in Toronto, Canada, and while we know a bit about the Coyotes (no, I don’t mean this kind), most of the coverage is centered around Dave Tippet and his coaching tactics…oh, and how snazzy that jersey re-design turned out.
To the more die hard NHL fan, and more specifically to those in hockey pools, your team has become a great place to get value in the draft. I’m in one pool where inevitably Radim Vrbata will remain undrafted until the very late rounds. This year I remember asking out loud "why is no one drafting VRABTA! He scored 35 goals and routinely posts 240 shots, COME ON?! (I was already full of wingers and couldn’t rectify the problem)
Well I’m tired of it, I want Vrbata, OEL, Yandle, the whole lot of them, to finally get some respect from poolies and end this Rodney Dangerfield level of disregard. Here are the 7 best kept Coyotes secrets in fantasy hockey that probably won’t be secrets much longer:
Keith Yandle is a top 5 defencemen
He doesn’t get the media hoopla of a Subban, Karlsson, or Byfuglien (although is he even a blueliner anymore?) but he finished tied for the most power play points and third in shots on a goal by a defencemen. After the big three are off the board, there is an argument for Mr. Yandle.
Shane Doan is a cyborg
Maybe it’s the hair (yep, must be the hair) but I always forget that he’s 37 years old. A 56 point pace is still fantastic value in the late rounds.
Vrbata remains the most underrated player in fantasy
There will be some that complain about 51 points and 263 shots as being "down". I don’t. That still ranks him 11th in the NHL for shots and his dip in points may be partially explained by an uncharacteristically low shooting percentage of 7.6% (aka, bad luck)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson will win (ok that might be too bold), SHOULD win a Norris trophy one day.
Astute observers have known how good OEL is for some time, but this year marked the first time he has gotten some serious attention. In pools that count time on ice he is becoming an elite option (6th in the league at 25:53 per contest)
Mike Smith is still a serviceable low-end 2 or high-end 3 fantasy netminder
Sometimes I feel bad for Smith. He’s often judged against the numbers he posted in 2011-12, totals that will be almost impossible to replicate (2.21 GAA and .930 Sv%). In fantasy, many poolies have gotten frustrated and discarded him as an option. While he may not be elite, the number of tenders starting 60 plus games remains small. If he can improve even slightly next year he could make for decent value as your second option.
Antoine Vermette and face-offs
He is like one of those online guys on EA’s NHL 14 who has mastered the art of the face-off. So much so that you quit midway through the second period, tired of losing EVERY single draw, turn off the console, and curse your inanimate controller for letting you down.
Vermette finished second in the NHL for faceoff wins with 1005 (second to only Boston’s Patrice Bergeron). It’s a category that has been implemented increasingly in pools. It was an added bonus that Antoine finished with a decent offensive year of 45 points and 160 shots.
No one knows who Mikkel Boedker is
I’m convinced that this is solely because his name is so damned hard to spell properly. He really shouldn't be so far under the radar – drafted 8th overall in the 2008 draft he has the pedigree to be a consistent option. This year was a big step towards fantasy relevance with 51 points and 166 shots. I’m guessing he’ll be around in the very late rounds of next year’s draft, an absolute bargain.
Darren Kennedy is a fantasy hockey writer and purveyor of useless pop culture knowledge. You can catch him on twitter @fantasyhockeydk