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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Anti-Fantasy Hockey

Did you draft Nino Niederreiter as a sleeper in your fantasy pool last year only to be rewarded with a disastrous one point, minus-29 rating in 55 games?

What if instead of being a total bust, that was an MVP-calibre season. No, I don't mean what if Uncle Nino scored 100 points, I mean what if that terrible season was exactly what you envisioned.

That's the logic behind Anti-Fantasy Hockey. Purposely trying to create the absolute worst fantasy hockey team imaginable. It's a concept that me and a few friends laughed about a few years ago but never actually created a formal set or rules, let alone a league. But with a lockout looming, this is the time of harebrained ideas to combat boredom.

An Internet search shows that Daniel Wagner had a similar idea and ran a pool for Pass it to Bulis readers last season.

Wagner grouped similar players in 15 separate categories (e.g. “Art Ross Candidates” or “Gritty Goons”) and asked poolies to select the player in each category they thought would do the worst in 2011-12. Players were awarded 1 point for a goal, 1 point for an assist, 1 point for a win, and 2 points for a shutout. The team with the lowest score was crowned the winner.

That's a pretty good way to select a bad fantasy team, and a fun way to test your prognostication ability, but it doesn't really reflect who the worst fantasy hockey players. There are plenty of good players being selected, they are just bad relative to their peers, which isn't the same as a "bad fantasy player". Obviously, even Alex Ovechkin in a down-year is better than a lot of players.

To rectify this problem, you have to create a system that rewards people for choosing the type of players that statistically contribute the least to their teams. The catch is these players actually have to play regularly in order to accumulate fantasy points. Selecting a bunch of young players likely headed back to junior or some borderline NHL scrappers that might see 10 games a season isn't fun and doesn't take much brain power. Figuring out which players consistently see their name in a lineup card on a nightly basis, yet provide their team with almost nothing tangible is much more difficult.

That means playing games gets points, scoring goals and notching assists loses points. Imagine watching the highlights and incredulously staring as Paul Bissionnette scores an improbable hat-trick. Once what was just a hilariously improbable situation could now turn your first-round anti-fantasy player into a bust.

For players, the points system breaks down as follows:

Games Played: +2 points
Goals: -2 points
Assists: -2 points
Plus: -1 point
Minus: +1 point
Optional:
Shots on Goal: -0.1 points
Power play point: -1 point
Shorthanded point: -4 points

For goalies:
Win: -3 points
Loss +3 points
Overtime Loss: +2 points
Goals Against: +0.5 points
Shutout: -2 points

Teams should consist of 10 players (two centres, two right wingers, two left wingers, and four defencemen) and one goalie. There should be no adding/dropping players throughout the season.

Selecting the goon from each team might seem like a wise move, but consider that it is becoming increasingly rare for a fighter to play most of his team's games. In many cases teams selectively scratch enforcers depending on which team they are facing. Oh, up against the Detroit Red Wings? Take a seat, Biz. Travelling to Boston? Maybe think about packing some extra foil.

The better choice is stay-at-home, defensive defencemen. They are going to play a ton of games, aren't going to score many points, and because they usually face the opposition's best players, should be good for a hefty minus. If they play on an awful team, even better. Last season, the three most "valuable" anti-fantasy hockey players—Nick Schultz, Brett Clark, and Robyn Regehr—fit this description.

The best forward is clearly a bottom-6 guy, preferably an enforcer who actually plays consistently, like Shawn Thornton, or a no-offense, pure-defence player, like Manny Malhotra or David Steckel.

Picking a goalie becomes especially tricky because you have to identify a team that is going to be awful, but one with a goalie that will play regardless of consistent shelling. In other words, a really bad team with a good goalie. You might know that Jonas Gustavsson is a terrible goalie, but if he isn't going to play the majority of the games, his ability to stink up your team diminishes.

Last season a good example was Carey Price. The Habs lost a ton last year, and behind a battered defence allowed a lot of goals. But Price is an unquestioned No. 1 goalie and was going to get the majority of the starts irrespective of the quality of the team in front of him. It wasn't like Montreal was going to have a better chance to win with Peter Budaj taking over.

For anyone interested in playing Anti-Fantasy Hockey this season, I have outlined the forward, defenceman, and goalie from each team that would net the most points under the scoring system above (not including the optional point deductions). I also have a spreadsheet of players (modified from one available to download from Hockey Abstract) that you can view as a Google spreadsheet here.

Yahoo! doesn't allow you to use games played as a stat for points, so a good, simple site to use is Online Pools.

Boston
Forward: Shawn Thornton – GP: 81, G: 5, A: 8, -7 = 143 points
Defenceman: Adam McQuaid – GP: 72, G: 2, A: 8, +16, = 108 points
Goalie: Tuukka Rask – GA: 44, W: 11, L: 8, OTL: 3, SO: 3, = 13 points

Buffalo
Forward: Matt Ellis – GP: 60, G: 3, A: 5, -3 = 107 points
Defenceman: Robyn Regehr, GP: 76, G: 1, A: 4, -12 = 154 points
Goalie: Ryan Miller – GA: 150, W: 31, L: 21, OTL: 7, SO: 6 = 47 points

Montreal
Forward: Brad Staubitz – GP: 62, G: 1, A: 0, -5 = 127 points
Defenceman: Alexei Emelin – GP: 67, G: 3, A: 4, -18 = 138 points
Goalie: Carey Price – GA: 160, W:26, L: 28, OTL: 11, SO: 4 = 100 points

Ottawa
Forward: Kaspars Daugavins – GP: 65, G: 5, A: 6, -2 = 110 points
Defenceman: Jared Cowen – GP: 82, G: 5, A: 12, -4 = 134 points
Goalie: Craig Anderson – GA: 165, W: 33, L: 22, OTL: 6, SO: 3 = 55.5 points

Toronto
Forward: David Steckel – GP: 76, G: 8, A: 5, -14 = 140 points
Defenceman: Carl Gunnarsson – GP: 76, G: 4, A:15, -9 = 123 points
Goalie: James Reimer – GA: 97, W: 14, L: 14, OTL: 4, SO: 3 = 50.5 points

Philadelphia
Forward: Zac Rinaldo – GP: 66, G: 2, A: 7, -1 = 115 points
Defenceman: Nicklas Grossmann – GP: 74, G: 0, A: 11, +5 = 121 points
Goalie: Sergei Bobrovsky – GA: 78, W: 14, L: 10, OTL: 2, SO: 0 = 31 points

Pittsburgh
Forward: Joe Vitale – GP: 68, G: 4, A: 10, -5 = 113
Defenceman: Derek Engelland – GP: 73, G: 4, A: 13, +10 = 102 points
Goalie: Brent Johnson – GA: 42, W: 6, L: 7, OTL: 2, SO: 0 = 28 points

New Jersey
Forward: Ryan Carter – GP: 72, G: 4, A: 4, -13 = 141 points
Defenceman: Mark Fayne – GP: 82, G: 4, A: 13, -4 = 134 points
Goalie: Martin Brodeur – GA: 136, W: 31, L: 21, OTL: 4, SO: 3 = 40 points

NYI
Forward: Matt Martin – GP: 80, G: 7, A: 7, -17 = 149 points
Defenceman: Milan Jurcina – GP: 65, G: 3, A: 8, -34 = 142 points
Goalie: Al Montoya – GA: 89, W: 9, L: 11, OTL: 5, SO: 0 = 60.5 points

NYR
Forward: Brandon Prust – GP: 82, G: 5, A: 12, -1 = 131 points
Defenceman: Dan Girardi – GP: 82, G: 5, A: 24, +13 = 93 points
Goalie: Martin Biron – GA: 50, W: 12, L: 6, OTL: 2, SO: 2 = 7 points

Florida
Forward: Jerred Smithson – GP: 69, G: 1, A: 5, -5 = 131 points
Defenceman: Erik Gudbranson – GP: 72, G: 2, A: 6, -19 = 147 points
Goalie: Jose Theodore – GA: 125, W: 22, L: 16, OTL: 11, SO: 3 = 60.5 points

Winnipeg
Forward: Tanner Glass – GP: 78, G: 5, A: 11, -12 = 136 points
Defenceman: Mark Stuart – GP: 80, G: 3, A: 11, -4 = 136 points
Goalie: Ondrej Pavelec – GA: 191, W: 29, L: 28, OTL: 9, SO: 4 = 102.5 points

Carolina
Forward: Patrick Dwyer – GP: 73, G: 5, A: 7, even = 122 points
Defenceman: Bryan Allen – GP: 82, G: 1, A: 13, -1 = 137 points
Goalie: Cam Ward – GA: 182, W: 30, L: 23, OTL: 13, SO: 5 = 86 points

Tampa Bay
Forward: Tom Pyatt –  GP: 74, G: 12, A: 7, -19 = 129 points
Defenceman: Brett Clark – GP: 82, G: 2, A: 13, -26 = 160 points
Goalie: Dwayne Roloson – GA: 128, W: 13, L: 16, OTL: 3, SO: 1 = 77 points

Washington
Forward: Matt Hendricks – GP: 78, G: 4, A: 5, -6 = 144 points
Defenceman: Karl Alzner – GP: 82, G: 1, A: 16, +12 = 118 points
Goalie: Michal Neuvirth – GA: 95, W: 13, L: 13, OTL: 5, SO: 3 = 51.5 points

St. Louis
Forward: Scott Nichol – GP: 80, G: 3, A: 5, -5 = 149 points
Defenceman: Roman Polak – GP: 77, G: 0, A: 11, +6 = 126 points
Goalie: Jaroslav Halak – GA: 90, W: 26, L: 12, OTL: 7, SO: 6 = 5 points

Chicago
Forward: Jamal Mayers – GP: 81, G: 6, A: 9, -4 = 136 points
Defenceman: Johnny Oduya – GP: 81, G: 3, A: 15, -6 = 132 points
Goalie: Corey Crawford – GA: 146, W: 30, L: 17, OTL: 7, SO: 0 = 48 points

Columbus
Forward: Colton Gillies – GP: 75, G: 2, A: 6, -9 = 143 points
Defenceman: John Moore – GP: 67, G: 2, A: 5, -23 = 143 points
Goalie: Steve Mason – GA: 143, W: 16, L: 26, OTL: 3, SO: 1 = 105.5 points

Detroit
Forward: Justin Abdelkader – GP: 81, G: 8, A: 14, +4 = 114 points
Defenceman: Niklas Kronwall – GP: 82, G: 15, A: 21, -2 = 94 points
Goalie: Ty Conklin – GA: 44, W: 5, L: 6, OTL: 1, SO: 1 = 25 points

Nashville
Forward: Paul Gaustad – GP: 70, G: 7, A: 14, -1 = 99 points
Defenceman: Hal Gill – GP: 76, G: 1, A: 12, -3 = 129 points
Goalie: Anders Lindback – GA: 32, W: 5, L: 8, OTL: 0, SO: 0 = 25 points 

LA
Forward: Kyle Clifford – GP: 81, G: 5, A: 7, -5 = 143 points
Defenceman: Rob Scuderi – GP: 82, G: 1, A: 8, -7 = 153 points
Goalie: Jonathan Quick – GA: 133, W: 35, L: 21, OTL: 13, SO: 10 = 30.5 points

Dallas
Forward: Vernon Fiddler – GP: 82, G: 8, A: 13, -13 = 135 points
Defenceman: Mark Fistric – GP: 60, G: 0, A: 2, -3 = 119 points
Goalie: Kari Lehtonen – GA: 136, W: 32, L: 22, OTL: 4, SO: 4 = 38 points

Anaheim
Forward: Matt Beleskey – GP: 70, G: 4, A: 11, -2 = 112 points
Defenceman: Francois Beauchemin – GP: 82, G: 8, A: 14, -14 = 134 points
Goalie: Jonas Hiller – GA: 182, W: 29, L: 30, OTL: 12, SO: 4 = 110 points

San Jose
Forward: Brad Winchester – GP: 67, G: 6, A: 4, -5 = 119 points
Defenceman: Justin Braun – GP: 66, G: 2, A: 9, -2 = 112 points
Goalie: Antti Niemi – GA: 159, W: 34, L: 22, OTL: 9, SO: 6 = 49.5 points

Phoenix
Forward: Mikkel Boedker – GP: 82, G: 11, A: 13, -2 = 118 points
Defenceman: Derek Morris – GP: 59, G: 2, A: 9, -12 = 108 points
Goalie: Jason Labarbara – GA: 43, W: 3, L: 9, OTL: 3, SO: 0 = 45.5 points

Vancouver
Forward: Manny Malhotra – GP: 78, G: 7, A: 11, -11 = 131 points
Defenceman: Marc-Andre Gragnani – GP: 58, G: 2, A: 13, +6 = 80 points
Goalie: Roberto Luongo – GA: 127, W: 31, L: 14, OTL: 8, SO: 5 = 18.5 points

Calgary
Forward: Tim Jackman – GP: 75, G: 1, A: 6, -21 = 157 points
Defenceman: Scott Hannan – GP: 78, G: 2, A: 10, -10 = 142 points
Goalie: Miikka Kiprusoff – GA: 162, W: 35, L: 22, OTL: 11, SO: 4 = 56 points

Colorado
Forward: Jay McClement – GP: 80, G: 10, A: 7, -8 = 134 points
Defenceman: Jan Hejda – GP: 81, G: 5, A: 14, -17 = 141 points
Goalie: Semyon Varlamov – GA: 136, W: 26, L: 24, OTL: 3, SO: 4 = 60 points

Minnesota
Forward: Darroll Powe – GP: 82, G: 6, A: 7, -20 = 158 points
Defenceman: Marco Scandella – GP: 63, G: 3, A: 9, -22 = 124 points
Goalie: Niklas Backstom – GA: 105, W: 19, L: 18, OTL: 7, SO: 4 = 55.5 points

Edmonton
Forward: Eric Belanger – GP: 78, G: 4, A: 12, -13 = 137 points
Defenceman: Nick Schultz – GP: 82, G: 1, A: 6, -12 = 162 points
Goalie: Nikolai Khabibulin – GA: 100, W: 12, L: 20, OTL: 7, SO: 2 = 84 points

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