In part three of a five-part series on finding value in your fantasy hockey draft, today's article will focus on centers. Part I in this series discussed left wings while Part II discussed right wings. Specifically, we're interested in using the Yahoo average draft position (ADP) to not only determine the best players to target in your fantasy hockey draft, but also when to target them. The assumptions made in this article include the following: (1) you're in a Yahoo standard league, (2) your league has 12 managers, and (3) your league is not a keeper league.
Before we jump into the details of which centers are undervalued, it's important to get a handle on how managers are behaving in their fantasy hockey drafts so far. In the image below, you'll see exactly how many centers are drafted in each round of a standard draft (on average). At the center position, there are 12 players taken in the first three rounds combined; this behavior is nearly identical to what we've seen in recent seasons. One significant difference this year is the absence of a large spike in Rounds 7 and 8; the middle of the draft is quiet for centers this year. We believe there is tons of value available to you at the center position in this year's drafts. We can use this information to better understand who and when to take when our name is called during the draft.
Player Rankings and ADP
At leftwinglock.com, we create annual fantasy hockey draft kits which marry your scoring settings with our projections to generate customized player rankings. This exact type of draft kit was used by our team to defeat the fantasy experts at NHL.com and win the first-ever Zero Transaction Fantasy Championship. The draft kit includes sortable spreadsheets filled with projections in 25+ categories for over 600 NHL players. For the purpose of this article, we generated the customized player rankings for NHL players that can be drafted as centers in the Yahoo fantasy hockey system. We then compared these player rankings to the player's ADP (average draft position) to determine which players are undervalued (it's never wise to draft on rank number alone). That is, we're looking for players who our draft system ranked highly and whom managers are overlooking.
Below, you'll find a table of 15 players who are eligible at center and are being undervalued by managers in fantasy drafts (there are many more listed in our draft kit). Detailed comments for some of these players can be found below the table.
|Joel Eriksson Ek||MIN||C||104||164.7|
Patrice Bergeron - Bergeron is a great example of a player who you should work up a risk profile for in advance of your draft. At the moment, managers are selecting him at the very end of the 7th round (as a reference point, Bergeron was selected at the end of the 3rd round in drafts last Summer). Your risk profile for Bergeron should include the injury situation in Boston (Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy out until late November and Matt Grzelcyk out through October); the Bruins have a new head coach in Jim Montgomery; and Bergeron's age - he enters the season at the age of 37. The most important part of this risk profile is Marchand's injury. Not only will he miss up to 20 games, he'll be coming back from double-hip surgery (an injury known for reduced production in the first season of recovery). With the risks in mind, let's focus on the positives. Bergeron has increased his shot volume in each of the last four seasons (reaching a peak of 4.0 shots per game in 2021-2022); Bergeron has generated at least 20 power play points in each of his last four seasons (when adjusted to 82-game pace); and Bergeron's production last season was inhibited by an unsually low SH% and tEVSH%. Bergeron's high shot volume, strong +/- values, and history of power play production make him a strong play in this format. Grabbing him in the 7th round of your draft (or even late 6th round) makes for a strong value opportunity.
Evgeni Malkin - There are 25 players in the NHL capable of generating at least a point-per-game in offensive production, at least 45 hits, and at least 20 power play points each season. The overwhelming majority of these players have something in common: they are being selected in the first four rounds of fantasy hockey drafts this Summer. Malkin, who is among these 25 players, is sliding into the 6th round in this year's draft almost solely due to his injury history. And what a history it is. Over the past decade alone, these injuries have afflicted the following body parts: ass, shoulder, foot, elbow, knee, and head (concussion). Over that same span he has missed time due to seven upper-body ailments and six lower-body ailments (apparently all different injuries from the specific body parts listed above). In 16 seasons, Malkin has played in 85% (~70 games) or more of Pittsburgh's games just five times. The last time he finished an 82-game season was in 2008-2009. No one would fault you for bypassing Malkin in your fantasy drafts. But, when healthy, Malkin's production makes him an early-round draft value. Recommendation: buy the ultra-strength Tums and grab Malkin in the 5th round.
Vincent Trocheck - Managers are waiting until early in the 14th round to draft Vincent Trocheck this Summer, which is in line with how they behaved just one year ago. Trocheck's ownership level (sitting at just 40% as of today) is the surprising number as he was owned in nearly all leagues by opening night of the 2021-2022 season. Trocheck's 51 points in 80 games is likely the reason for hesistancy from managers. We believe that Trocheck left approximately 5-6 points on the table last season due to an abnormally low assist rate on the power play. In the Yahoo standard format, Trocheck provides solid category coverage (2+ SOG, 2+ Hits, and top power play time) and we see the exposure to Artemi Panarin as bringing upside to Trocheck's output this season.
Joel Eriksson Ek - Although he's not a massive point production guy, Eriksson Ek brings value in this format due to his shot production (2.9 per game) and hit production (just under 2.0 per game). His icetime has increased in each of the last four seasons and he was a mainstay on the top power play unit in 2021-2022. Don't jump early here; this is a guy being drafted in the 14th round and owned in just 31% of leagues.
Customized Player Rankings
If you're looking for a chance to draft players with great projections that are being ignored by the other fantasy hockey websites, then consider downloading one of our fantasy hockey draft kits this season. You won't be disappointed. While this article focused on the Yahoo standard scoring system, our customized draft kits can handle just about any scoring system you throw our way. You'll find plenty of draft day steals.
For 16 years, you've trusted Left Wing Lock as a reliable source to bring you accurate starting goalie information, line combinations, and player news alerts. That same passion and dedication fuels us as we create the best fantasy hockey draft kits available. We invite you to let us build your customized fantasy hockey draft kit for the 2022-2023 season. Order your kit today!
PLAYER: an NHL player involved in this analysis. Click player name to visit player profile page.
TEAM: the current NHL team for this player.
YPOS: the official position designation for this player in the Yahoo Fantasy Hockey system.
LWLRANK: the rank assigned by Left Wing Lock for this player in this specific scoring system only.
ADP: the average draft position for this player in the Yahoo Fantasy Hockey system.
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