I Wake Up Screaming: 2022-2023 Fantasy Hockey Season Review

How to Write a Good Hook: Chapter 1

“Hook” the readers with an interesting quote, anecdote, statistic, or question For this piece, I’m going full-on Riddler:

Who were my four most important players and or free agent pickups across my two teams for the 2022-2023 fantasy hockey season? 

…and then throw this at them:

You’ll have to wait until the end of the article to find out .

PLEASE DON’T PEEK. I think it’ll be worth it so hang in there. 


Looking back at the past year in fantasy hockey got me thinking. Usually that’s not a good thing. 

As a starting point, and if you haven’t been there yet, you need to go to Episode 122 of the Apples and Ginos Podcast and listen to Nate and Blake’s discussion on “How to Self-Evaluate Your Fantasy Hockey Season.” For a podcast loaded with outstanding episodes, #122 is particularly noteworthy.

To keep on brand, give a nod to Nate and Blake, and stay consistent with that episode’s hook, I’d like to offer up my preferred film/tv choices. You know, in case you were wondering. 

As one of the elder A&G-ers, I can’t compete with the whippersnappers and their upkeep with what’s on fleek. So I’ll stop trying too hard to try too hard and leave it at this: I’m more of an old film/Turner Classic Movie channel kind of guy preferring to delve into film noir and or anything else from say the 1940’s through the 1950’s.

(If you’re so inclined, here’s a link to the film that started it all for me and introduced me to my all-time old school film crush, Carole Landis: I Wake Up Screaming from 1941).

However, if I had to pick one tv show, my go-to would have to be Seinfeld for way too many reasons to get into here. But if you’d like to get a sense of why and perhaps what it’s like to be a NY metro kinda guy (as to why you’d want to do that, I don’t know but…), Jerry’s reaction and facial expressions in this 12 second clip encapsulate it all. 

O.k, onward. 

HTH Cats League Results: Third Place

I’ll first deal first with my Yahoo Public Categories League. This is a Platinum Level league which is Yahoo’s highest level, therefore the competition is, at least on paper, the most challenging. The categories are fairly standard with goals, assists, +/-, PPP, SOG, and Hits for skaters and Wins, Goals Against Average, Save Percentage, and Shut Outs for goalies. 

My Auto-Draft Results are below for context.

1.(10)Igor Shesterkin (NYR – G)
2.(15)Victor Hedman (TB – D)
3.(34)Timo Meier (NJ – LW,RW)
4.(39)Alex DeBrincat (OTT – LW)
5.(58)Nikolaj Ehlers (WPG – LW,RW)
6.(63)Marc-Andre Fleury (MIN – G)
7.(82)Jack Hughes (NJ – C,LW)
8.(87)Pierre-Luc Dubois (WPG – C)
9.(106)Cole Caufield (MTL – LW,RW)
10.(111)Brent Burns (CAR – D)
11.(130)Erik Karlsson (SJ – D)
12.(135)Hampus Lindholm (BOS – D)
13.(154)Ryan O’Reilly (TOR – C)
14.(159)Brock Boeser (VAN – RW)
15.(178)Carter Verhaeghe (FLA – LW)
16.(183)Carey Price (MTL – G)

I purposely did an Auto-Draft because I wanted to see how adept I could be in managing the hand dealt to me. Honestly though, I’m pretty sure I did so because the draft time and date conflicted with my go to sleep early routine. Or something like that. 

Sparing the gory details, I ended the year with only Timo, Igor, and EK left from my draft selections. As you can tell, I wasn’t shy about adding and dropping players.

I’m particularly proud of the job I did this year with this team and here’s why: I began the year not paying as much attention to this team as I might have, had I not dedicated more of my time to my points league team. More about that later. 

Anyway, I got off to a slow start but slowly clawed my way toward the top as the year went on and ultimately finished the year in first place for the regular season, lost in the semis to a lesser team that had a great week while my guys bailed on me! (not that I’m bitter, but c’mon Tage. Now is not the time to be easing off here. What are you doing?!) and then easily won the third place matchup. 

As I look back, my team’s relative success happened for two reasons:

1. I wasn’t afraid to turn my team over. 

2. I started listening to fantasy hockey podcasts like Apples and Ginos. 

My most impactful (for good and bad) trade acquisitions: 

–Dougie Hamilton, NJ, D, I can’t remember who I traded away for Dougie….but he’s a Devil and I’m a fan and he had a really solid season for me and New Jersey.

–Val Nichushkin, COL, RW/LW, pre-injury and pre-hotel incident…but who, when he was in the lineup and with Colorado’s awesome down-the-stretch schedule, paid off well. 


—Thatcher Demko, VAN, G, who I traded for while he was still on IR, when a little birdie on Five Hole Fantasy Hockey convinced me that he’d be back and might turn out to be a sneaky league winner…so thanks ROG cuz he sort of did. 

Not to be like whatever, but while Demko and Stuart Skinner, who I picked up on the waiver wire about midway through the season, helped propel me into the top echelon, their late season doldrums sunk me in the end. Did anyone say Zero G? I just didn’t have any other viable playoff options and I figured that I’d have to dance with the date(s) I brought. 

Overall Lessons Learned:

1. Not a huge fan of the Cats League format especially as it pertains to the default Yahoo settings. No same day drop/adds which means it’s more of a “set and forget” kind of league. Unless you’re really looking ahead, it’s tough to deal with players having to clear waivers before you pick them up. I know I could look to join a private cats league which allows same day drops and adds, but at this point in my life, I have enough homework. And I’m o.k. with just using this as a kind of “test team” to try things out with less pressure. And that’s pretty much how I approached this league. I didn’t stress too much about drops and adds, but still incorporated many of the strategies and tips I gathered along the way and it was a nice addition to my overall fantasy experience.

2. I’m going full on Zero G with my Cats League team next year. I’ll use Auto-Draft again to see how I can manage the hand dealt to me, but I also want to see how I do fading goalies.


3. I was reacquainted with the fantasy hockey truism that there’s really not a whole lot you can do if your players do not perform. I learned that lesson the hard way in this league and experienced the other side of that same coin in my points league which I’ll discuss next. 

HTH Points League Results: First Place

This is my “home league” points league on Yahoo and the one I dedicate the bulk of my attention to. It’s also the one I agonize over the most. It’s a 10-team league, so it’s a relatively “shallow” league. But with that shallowness comes the fact that every team is stacked and the waiver wire is always ripe. Additionally, I feel a certain amount of pressure to do well because after all, I allegedly know what I’m doing…Allegedly. 

The statistical categories are pretty standard with Goals, Assists, SOG, +/-, and Blocks for skaters and Wins, Saves, Goals Against, and Shut Outs figuring into the points for goalies. 

My Draft Results are below for context.

1.(1)Connor McDavid (EDM – C)
2.(20)Timo Meier (NJ – LW,RW)
3.(21)Ilya Sorokin (NYI – G)
4.(40)Jake Oettinger (DAL – G)
5.(41)Filip Forsberg (NSH – LW)
6.(60)Devon Toews (COL – D)
7.(61)Josh Norris (OTT – C)
8.(80)Matt Duchene (NSH – RW)
9.(81)MacKenzie Weegar (CGY – D)
10.(100)Evan Bouchard (EDM – D)
11.(101)Jesper Bratt (NJ – RW)
12.(120)Pierre-Luc Dubois (WPG – C)
13.(121)Robert Thomas (STL – C,RW)
14.(140)Clayton Keller (ARI – LW,RW)
15.(141)Jakub Vrana (STL – LW)
16.(160)Ivan Provorov (PHI – D)

Of my original team, I finished the season with McDavid, Sorokin, Meier, Oettinger, Bouchard, and Keller. Everyone else I either dropped at some point or traded away before the deadline. 

Overall Lessons Learned:

1. This league is a one player keeper league and because I had the first pick…duh. And what a year McDavid had. Love him or not, he is, in my opinion, the most underrated overrated player in fantasy and real life hockey. He always plays, always puts up points, and always is on the verge of going bananas. So lesson one is until further notice, he is my man.

2. Outside of my first four picks, I was not, in retrospect, happy with my overall draft. I did a million mock drafts but fell victim to what could have been a potentially fatal draft approach. Namely, assuming that a player’s previous year’s performance automatically resumes in the new season. Exhibits A and B were Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene who were both huge disappointments. They over-performed last year and I should have realized that they were bound to slip back to reality this season. Doing my homework going forward will mean more than merely doing mock drafts. It will involve continuing to do what I did this year post-draft, i.e, relying on the other members of my team (the A&G Network) to do the analytical work that I do not have the ability nor inclination to do. 

It’s not that I’m not analytical because I am. It’s just that my analytical skills are not based on the types of analytics that are mathematically justified. I’m more of what you’d call an irrationally rational thinking analyst. That is…I Wake Up Screaming. 

3. I have always done my best to use my allotted (4) adds every week and I continued to do so this year. If I’ve been good at anything over the years, it’s been in doing whatever I could to maximize my rosters on a weekly basis. To me, the most important strategy for success in fantasy hockey is maximizing your roster.

The Four Horsemen

So who were the four most important players and free agent acquisitions for me this year? It’s funny because I really gave a lot of thought to this question and it was pretty tough to narrow it down. 

Some of the contenders included Tage Thompson, Jared McCann, Clayton Keller, Alex Tuch, Jeff Skinner, and Travis Konecny. And the more I thought about these players I was like, eh, not really feeling it. Something’s missing. I mean, these guys were o.k, but I was looking for some difference makers. (by the way, those players WERE some of my most impactful players this year and without them, my team’s fortunes would have been drastically different. You’ll see what I mean in a minute, but I’m going to go in another direction).

And then, February happened.

I had been a pretty regular listener to the Apples and Ginos, Five Hole Fantasy Hockey, and the Keeping Karlsson Podcasts, but it was Episode 100 of the Apples and Ginos Podcast that changed things and motivated me to reach out to its creator, Nate, and ask him if I could, in some way, contribute to the show’s content…

And now you’re reading this. Can’t make it up. 

(Back to The Four Horsemen aka The Most Impactful Players on My Team): 

1. Blake Creamer, VAN, C/RW/LW: I’m not sure if it’s his tri-eligibiltiy or the coiffure, but this beauty just gets the biz. Let’s face it: Big Kuzy and Boone got nothing on the Dingle. I mean, he just does it all, filling all the important categories with an insane deployment. He bangs and he’s a beefer. What a legend. And he does so without you having to lower expectations. C’mon, what are we doin’ here!?

2. Josh Hutchinson, TOR, D: Streamed Hutch in and out of my lineup every week, mid-week and it paid off almost as handsomely as Austin Matthews’ ‘stache…just joshin. Seriously though, stacking him with my number three player below, was the sort of blueline help I relied on throughout the season to bolster the back end of my team. While I miss his Zero G Check-In, what I hit on won’t soon be forgotten. 

3. John Binkle, DAL, D: Like with Hutch above, Binklemania was a weekly, mid-week malady that I was fortunate enough to contract. Binksy was the calming influence on my team this year and rostering him regularly contributed to my team’s overall success. Stacking him on my first pairing with Hutch added flavor to what was otherwise some pretty bland D-man fare and kept my perspective in…check please!

4. Nate Groot Nibbelink, TOR, zero-G, Corsi For, High Danger Chances, IPP, and Zero G…what the heck. These were all terms as foreign to me as an easy commute to The Rock for Timo Time. And yet, those terms are the spines of Nate’s fantasy hockey analytical retentiveness. While I still don’t quite understand what it all means, Nate’s delivery ensured that even I could benefit. I know goalies can be voodoo, but with him in my crease, my rate stats were ab-so-LOOT-ly not to be faded. Much love.

Here’s Looking at You Kid

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the fantasy hockey community, especially this one, and the appreciation I have for all of the good folks here.

One of the many things I’ve found so gratifying about this season, has been the introduction to the idea of a fantasy hockey community. Up until this point, I hadn’t really even been aware that one existed. But the discovery of like-minded people has been such a positive experience for me that I felt it necessary to take a moment and self-reflect on this reality too.

Perhaps more than anything else, I’ve been really appreciative of the idea that the experts on this site like Nate, Blake, Binksy, and Josh bring with them not just their impressive fantasy hockey acumen, but also a difference-making sense of humility which allows non-experts like me to feel as if even I have something valuable to contribute. 

There’s nothing more satisfying than to have one of the crew members ask me what I think about a particular player and or strategy. Who me? Yes, you! Too often I think that sort of thing gets overlooked while bogged down in the fugue state that daily life often finds us.

So, here’s looking at you kid. And if you don’t know, that’s a reference to my favorite film of all time, Casablanca.

And if you do know, we need to talk. After I get some sleep of course. Don’t want to wake up screaming.

Thanks for reading. 

Mike@Fantasy Hockey Professor

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