Top 10 Soon-To-Be Fantasy Debates

by Tom Collins on July 18, 2016 | (11 Comments)

Which future hockey debates could one day top Sid vs. Alex?

The NHL fantasy landscape is chock full of great debates. Especially in the past decade.

Sidney Crosby vs Alex Ovechkin. Evgeni Malkin vs Steven Stamkos. Roberto Luongo vs Corey Schneider. Taylor Hall vs Tyler Seguin. And remember all the debates about Mike Green's fantasy value vs his constant injuries?

Now there's a whole new generation of debates coming. Crosby and Ovi are getting older and are no longer guaranteed to be number one picks. Malkin and Stamkos are injured too often. Luongo is getting old and Schneider is on a bad team. Seguin is on a team with tons of offense and Hall is now stuck in New Jersey. And nobody knows where Mike Green is anymore.

But those debates are passé. What can we expect to see for the next five to 10 years?

Here are the top 10 fantasy debates that will be upcoming. Feel free to debate them in the comments.
 

10. Erik Karlsson vs Kris Letang

Karlsson has had no real equal for the past few years. But that changed a little bit this past season. Letang had the highest fantasy points per game at 1.55 (Karlsson was second at 1.49) in the World Hockey League made up of Dobber forum members. Letang was the top defenseman (Karlsson was 15th) in Yahoo leagues. Of course, Karlsson is easily the top defenseman in points-only pools. Karlsson has been healthy his whole career except for a Matt Cooke skate blade to the achillies. Letang's health is always an issue. But if Letang can regularly play 70 games a season from here on out, the debate is sure to happen in leagues other than points only.
 

9. Joe Thornton vs Father Time

We saw a lot of this with Martin St. Louis near the twilight of his career. How long can a great player continue to be great or even fantasy relevant? Thornton is now 36 years old and just had a point-per-game season where he played in all 82 games. That's a pretty rare feat. Only six players in NHL history aged 35 or older have played 82 games and been at least a point-per-game: Joe Sakic (twice), Marty St. Louis, Wayne Gretzky (twice), Teemu Selanne, Ray Bourque and now Thornton. How long can he keep it up? And long will poolies keep trading him for prospects that are three years away from the NHL instead of taking the immediate production?
 

8. Dustin Byfuglien vs Brent Burns

These two have plenty of similarities. Let's look at their last three years:

2015-16 Burns: 26 goals, 49 assists, 75 points, minus-5, 53 PIM, 352 shots, 101 hits, 30 PPP, 145 blocks

2015-16 Buff: 19 goals, 34 assists, 53 points, plus-4, 119 PIM, 246 shots, 217 hits, 17 PPP, 105 blocks

2014-15 Burns: 16 goals, 43 assists, 59 points, minus-9, 65 PIM, 239 shots, 144 hits, 25 PPP, 123 blocks

2014-15 Buff: 18 goals, 27 assists, 45 points, plus-5, 124 PIM, 209 shots, 203 hits, 17 PPP, 59 blocks

2013-14 Burns: 23 goals, 25 assists, 48 points, plus-26, 34 PIM, 246 shots, 145 hits, 11 PPP, 24 blocks

2013-14 Buff: 21 goals, 35 assists, 56 points, minus-20, 86 PIM, 257 shots, 213 hits, 26 PPP, 80 blocks

They both like to hit, shoot, score and both can be slotted in as a forward in many leagues. If given a choice to have one of them for next season, which one do you take?
 

7. Yahoo vs Fantrax

This is coming up more and more. Yahoo is free and easy to use. Fantrax costs money but has a lot more features. Yahoo has an easy to use mobile app but isn't great for dynasties. Fantrax has pretty much every drafted player and is easier to house a farm squad, but their mobile app is lacking. It will be interesting to see what happens when these sites start offering advanced stats as categories. But for now, it seems as if Yahoo is best for one-year leagues and Fantrax for keeper pools and dynasties.
 

6. Shayne Gostisbehere vs John Klingberg

The two of them have started their careers in almost identical fashion. Klingberg joined the Stars because of injuries and immediately became a Calder Trophy candidate, finishing with 40 points in 65 games and became the team's top offensive defenseman. Gostisbehere joined the Flyers because of injuries and immediately became a Calder Trophy candidate, finishing with 46 points in 64 games and became the team's top offensive dman. They are both 23 years old and will be leading their squads for the next decade.
 

5. Pierre-Luc Dubois vs Jesse Puljujarvi

The Blue Jackets shocked the hockey world when they selected Dubois with the third overall pick instead of Puljujarvi. This is a debate that could easily rage for a decade if neither turns into a bust. Puljujarvi will get to play with Connor McDavid and shouldn't be lacking for offensive opportunities. But Columbus will want to prove they made the right draft choice. Dubois will get numerous chance as the Jackets will do everything for him not to fail.
 

4. PIM vs no PIM

This one has already started but I feel will really start ramping up in the next few years. Some fantasy GMs feel like if a player can get a stat for a PIM, that should be reflected in leagues as well. Others believe PIM is not a good stat since putting your team a man down is not something that should be rewarded. I believe that PIM should simply be a negative stat, the same as an interception in fantasy football. That way it's still counted but it acts as a negative.
 

3. Carey Price vs Braden Holtby

The best goalie debate of the past five years revolved around Carey Price vs Tuukka Rask. For the next five years, it will be Price vs Brayden Holtby. Price won the Hart Trophy in 2015 and is the best goalie in the game but can't stay healthy. Holtby plays on a powerhouse team and just set a record for most wins in a season by a netminder. There will be plenty of debate this fall about who to select first in one-year pools, and that debate will continue for at least half a decade.
 

2. Connor McDavid vs ???

Every superstar needs a foil. It's been that way or decades. Maurice Richard had Gordie Howe. Wayne Gretzky had Mario Lemieux. Sidney Crosby had Alexander Ovechkin. So who will be McDavid's arch-nemesis? That's the part that we don't know yet. There are plenty of candidates: Jack Eichel, Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn and even Sidney Crosby. A dark horse pick would be Johnny Gaudreau to re-invigorate the Battle of Alberta.
 

1. Traditional stats vs advanced stats

This one will go to the heart of many hockey pools over the next decade. There's already a movement afoot to switch some of the stats commonly found in hockey pools, such as plus-minus, to advanced stats such as corsi. I could see other stats like blocked shots and hits being switched as well for the misguided reason that blocking shots or hitting people are bad. But making a switch in any hockey pool is bound to create a lot of divisiveness.

 

  • Captain Obvious

    I agree that PIM should be negative. Whoever gets more PIM loses the stat, easy.

  • chimp82x

    LOL @ Connor McDavid vs. anyone.

  • BDog

    Connor McDavid vs Patrik Laine

    • Captain Obvious

      Connor McDavid vs. Kyle Connor. Connor vs. Connor.

  • Invictus350

    I would have to pick Klingberg. Little more experience and doesn’t have Provorov biting at the heals

  • Hopefully it’s McDavid vs Matthews for Leafs fans sake! Gaudreau would be interesting like you said to spark the battle of Alberta again, got to love Johnny Hockey!

  • Chad Burly

    Subban vs Weber

    • Tom Collins

      That almost made my list, but I thought that would be more of a real-life debate than a fantasy one.

      • Chad Burly

        yeah, that’s true. I know a lot of NHL fans will be watching that. And how larsson and hall end up doing.

  • Rick Roos

    Ala Schneider/Luongo, I was a bit surprised not to see Murray/Fleury here. Of course the looming expansion draft makes it a bit different than the former situation in Vancouver, but I think it’s still along those same lines.

    Neat list though – a few of these were already on the Cage Match radar in one way or another, but you prompted a few more ideas as well.

    • Tom Collins

      I thought about Murray/Fleury, but figured it was still too early. Last year might have been Hammond vs Anderson and we know how that turned out. If I had to choose another goalie battle, I would have gone Gibson vs Allen.