NHL Advanced Stats - Hocky Analytics Betting Guide
NHL Advanced Stats - Hocky Analytics Betting Guide
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NHL RESTART FORMULA
A question for those that enjoy betting hockey, normally many people like to look at advanced stats, say CORSI/XGF/PDO/SCF/SPECIAL TEAMS etc, everyone has their go to stats. My question is going to be in regards to such a long hiatus, many people enjoyed looking at last 10 or 25 games when putting together a bet to see who's been playing better of late, it generally correlated to a decent return. Should we be looking at the last 25, or the entire season in stats, with teams having been off for three+ months now, it's going to be quite difficult to get a good grip on betting at the restart, I'd assume as we get through the first set of games, some trends should show up to bet a bit more accurately come actual playoff rounds. Thoughts on L25/L10/Full season for formulating bets for the NHL return? Thanks!
The greatest player rarely mentioned - Gretzky/Lemieux/Howe/Orr/__________
Raymond Bourque Appreciation Time
When people are talking about the best players of the past 50 years... I firmly believe Bourque in the same tier as Howe, Gretzky, Orr, Lemieux -- even if he's behind those guys, he's absolutely in the same tier.
I remember Bourque, yeah, One of the greats from back in the day.
He was not one of the greats. He's the great that other and future greats should be compared to -- and in our lifetimes, I'm beyond certain that we're going to watch them all fall short. Maybe Bourque didn't change the way the game was played the way some of those guys did but... it's only because he didn't need to. He fit the way the game was played -- as if the game was made for him. He could beat people with physicality, he could beat people with finesse, and he did it at an unbelievably elite level, for 30 minutes a night, for 22 years.
During his career, Bourque held 8 of the top-9 slots. Expand that to until today and his seasons still place 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 12th, pretty much only falling due to two defensemen who spent time at forward.
Compare that to most shots, by a forward during that time period -- there are 13 forwards in the top-20. Brett Hull is the closest comparable to "dominating his positon" and he falls clearly short. Bourque was consistently ahead of his peers, moreso than anyone else was ahead of theirs.
He finished top-10 in the NHL (even among forwards!) in shots in 13 - more than half - of his 22 seasons. Three times he led the league in shots (84, 87, 95). In 1985 he was 2nd to Gretzky, in 1988 he was 2nd to Lemieux, and in 1996 he was 2nd to Jagr. Most shots/game in a season by a defenseman, all-time
Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr own 11 of the top 12 slots. Bourque shows up 8 times before anyone other than Orr shows up twice, and almost caught Orr for the record -- Orr's best season was 5.43 shots/game; Bourque's was 5.36.
A handful of defensemen have done it more than 4-5 times. Bourque did it 24 times.
Who cares about shots, goals are what win games. Get on with it.
You're right - forget all of that. Throw all of that evidence in the toilet. Flush twice.
Recently, Shea Weber reached 10+ goals for the 11th time in his career. A fantastic achievement; even HoF defensemen ProngeNiedermayer managed that only 8 times apiece. The first time Bourque failed to reach double digit goals was his age-40 season. Most seasons with 10+ goals in NHL history (leaving for the WHA may hurt some players here)
Bourque is 7th overall, doing it 21 times. There are only 6 defensemen in the top-100.
(shoutout to Patrick Marleau, who moved Bourque to 8th two days ago, and surely would have tied Francis/Jagr if he didn't spent the 04-05 lockout helping his parents on their farm). Let's bump 10 to 15 for shits and giggles. Only five defensemen in NHL history have scored 15+ goals, 10+ times (Weber could be the 6th with 1 more 15+ goal season):
Four of the greatest offensive defensemen ever did it 10/11/12/13 times.. and then there's Bourque with 18 seasons. He made the team as an 18 year old rookie and scored 17 goals. Then he scored 17 (or more) goals for 15 years in a row, followed by a 23 goal pace during the lockout-shortened '94 season. And then he scored 17+ in back to back years after that. I'm going to call that 18 consecutive years. That's incredible longevity and production for a forward. Bourque did it from the backend, and the best playmaker he had was ... 4.5 seasons of Adam Oates? Forwards with a similar number of career goals as Ray Bourque:
Vincent Lecavalier, Jason Arnott, Tony Amonte, Joe Thornton, Patrick Elias, Marian Gaborik, John LeClair, Paul Kariya, Shane Doan, Markus Naslund
Some defensemen bring value with lots of points, not just scoring like 20 goals.
Okay, alright already. Forget it. Take all that evidence and shred it, then set the shreds on fire.
29 are in, or will be in, the Hall of Fame (sorry Pierre Turgeon, you totally deserve it)
28 are forwards (Coffey, Bourque)
Only 3 of those forwards did it more than Bourque: Gretzky, Howe, Dionne.
Bourque's consistent longevity and production, by that measure, was bested by only 3 forwards. I really feel like there should be, I don't know, maybe a dozen forwards? ...Before you find any defenseman on that list.
8 defensemen have ever cracked 1,000 points. Eight. In history.
Erik Karlsson has the next realistic chance at being the 9th 1000pt defenseman ; he reached 600 points in the same game Marleau passed Bourque 2 days ago. Bourque has 1,579. That puts Karlsson ... just under 1,000 points behind him. 8 defensemen in history have managed that in their career, and that's roughly how far Karlsson is behind right now. Karlsson turns 30 in 4 months. If Karlsson retires at age 39, averages a 60 point pace, and only misses ~12 games a year.. he might get 1,000 career points. To catch Bourque, Karlsson would need to play another 12.5 years (until he's 42) without missing a game, and average 79 points a season. Nobody is going to catch Bourque.
He was a _defense_man, who cares about points.
Okay! Good grief. Take all that evidence, tie a rock around it, and huck it down the Mariana Trench.
Time on ice
Sadly, the NHL didn't start officially tracking time on ice until the final few years of Bourque's career, but...
If that's slightly inflated by some OT games: it absolutely doesn't matter. Only 5 players saw more playoff ice time in that span and they all played in 13-20 more games.
Throughout his 20s and early 30s?
Who doubts Bourque was consistently eating over 30 minutes a night? Maybe even 35? Did he reach 40 minutes some games? Bourque turned 40 years old a couple months into the '00-'01 season. This is how Bob Hartley distributed his shorthanded icetime that year. Later on, in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Bourque played 29:35. There's been a lot of links so far... did you read that last one?
"Based on his play, there is no reason why he should retire," Avs defenseman Rob Blake said. "He was probably our dominant defenseman all playoffs long."
Spoiler, he did retire, because let's be reality - how can you possibly top this moment...
Maybe he just took greedy long shifts. His coaches probably hated him.
Let's pretend you're right. Take all that evidence to the Will It Blend? guy and have him go to town.
Defensemen are just generally not considered for the Hart trophy. Lidstrom, Robinson, Chelios ... Elite defensemen, household names in some parts... All finished top-5 in Hart voting just once (1 time!) in their entire career. Pronger did win one, but he was never close - either before, or after. Paul Coffey and Dennis Potvin were top-5 in Hart voting twice. Bourque was top-5 in Hart voting on FIVE (5) occasions. He received at least some votes for the Hart trophy 12 times. He finished 2nd in Hart voting twice - once to Gretzky who won his 8th consecutive Hart in '87, and...
Bourque was a 1st/2nd team All Star for 17 consecutive years - as a rookie and then every year until he was 36... With another 2 selections later in his career for good measure. He was a 1st team All Star 13 times - holding the record over everyone.
The three times that Bourque wasn't a 1st/2nd team allstar? Well, four defensemen a year earn those honors, and he finished 7th/6th/6th - just barely "out of the money".
While Bourque may have "only" won the Norris 5 times (lol?)...
He was top-4 (yes, four) for 17 years to start his career, and he not once, in 22 years, was he worse than 7th. What other player can you say that about? In any sport? Perhaps a handful in history? The last 5 years, 7th in Norris voting: Josi (17-18, 18-19), Doughty (16-17), Hedman (15-16), Keith (14-15). That was a roughly comparable to Bourque, when Bourque was at the lowest point of his career.
Age 36, his first finish outside the top-4. He missed 20 games. His team finished dead last and allowed 20 goals more than any other team. The Bruins were a tire fire. He still got some votes.
A side note about trophies in general
Imagine we're at the 2020 entry draft, and the teams drafting 1st through 5th all have a different player ranked 1st overall on their scouting report, but the same player ranked 2nd overall. Even though all 5 teams drafting completely agree on the 2nd best player in the draft? He's going 6th overall at best. It doesn't matter if everybody agrees you're the 2nd prettiest girl at the dance - it just takes 1 person to fuck everything up... or 5 people to fuck your chances up in separate years.
Doug Wilson fucked up Bourque's first Norris. He scored 39 goals - not scoring more than 23 either before or after. Couldn't you have done that a different year, Doug? Bourque finished 2nd in voting.
Here are a handful of elite defensemen, and how many times they were nominated for the Norris (finished top-3 in voting):
Honestly, Bourque's "Norris problem" was that he was too consistent.
Yeah. That's a sentence. Too consistent. A Norris Problem. lol.
If Bourque had 3-4 shittier seasons and 3-4 seasons like Doug Wilson's, or Brian Leetch's?
If those guys didn't have the season they had, the year they had it?
If Bourque didn't miss some games in any of the other 14 years he finished top-4?
The narrow loss to Chelios?
The win he 'may have' deserved against Langway/Coffey?
If he had moved to a team with a Gretzky/Lemieux type player?
If Hull doesn't steal enough 3rd place votes to give Messier the '90 Hart?
There's an alternate universe where Bourque wins 10 or more Norris trophies and multiple Hart trophies, laughing all the way to the bank like a fox.
Okay, I'm getting the picture, but lets be reality... if he was actually elite he would have dragged the Bruins further.
While the Bruins didn't win the cup with Bourque... He was pretty much the only mainstay during the last 17 years of the Bruins record setting Playoff Appearance streak - and that streak certainly didn't end because of Bourque - as mentioned above, he got Norris attention that year. That awful '96 Bruins team - the only one that failed to make the playoffs with Bourque - had 10 defensemen appear in 27+ games, and Don Sweeney was the only d-man to dress for more than 62 games. Here's the team scoring leaders:
One of two seasons he cracked 60 points.
Finished 2nd on the team in scoring by 19 points despite being traded with more than 2 months left in the season
Never again eclipsed 40 points or 16 goals; more than half his points included Oates and/or Bourque in the scoring play.
5th on the team in scoring, despite playing only 40 games - due to a shoulder injury, and then being traded along with Oates.
His career high. He scored 3 shorthanded goals that year. Bourque assisted all 3.
The only time Boston didn't make the playoffs was when they fielded... that. And Bourque was the only constant.
3 losses by a single goal (excluding empty netters)
Lost 1st round
to the eventual champs (Devils)
Lost 1st round
to cup finalists (Panthers}
Lost 1st round
to cup finalists (Capitals), 2 losses in OT and another by 1 goal + empty netter
Lost 2nd round
to cup finalists (Bruins), 2x 1-goal losses and another by 1 goal + empty netter
Traded to Avalanche
Lost 3rd round
to cup finalists (Stars), in 7 games, 3 losses by a single goal
Won Stanley Cup
Bourque's teams surprisingly consistently lost:
to the champs, or at least a team that reached the finals
by a single game, and/or with many games decided by a single goal
Sometimes you just don't get the bounces when you need them. The Bruins teams he played on were just not equipped to deal with the superteams of the day (NYI/EDM/PIT), and they didn't catch lightning in a bottle where everything went their way one particular year (CGY/MTL/NYR).
The Bruins record with and without Bourque in the lineup (from the start of the 1979 season until March 6th, 2000):
With: 770-546-202, 94 point pace, winning 50.7% of games. Without: 57-52-22, 85 point pace, winning 43.5% of games.
Huh. So Bourque was pretty good I guess?
Hockey-Reference tries to calculate a pool of the most comparable players based on "similarity scores".
...attempts to find players whose careers were similar in terms of quality and shape. By shape, ... things like: How many years did he play? How good were his best years compared to his worst years? Did he have a few great years and then several mediocre years, or did he have many good-but-not-great years?
Only four (4!) defensemen have a "similarity" score over 77. Even compared to elite Hall of Fame defensemen... Their careers almost universally "tapered off" earlier, and many of them much harder. Some of those guys were not super competitive at the end of their career - kept on to teach youngsters, to play out their contracts, as powerplay specialists or role players. Some of them continued to pile up offensive numbers but lost an edge defensively.
He was an absolute monster, from the start of his career and for 22 years to the very end.
His "peak" seasons were crushing,
His "great" seasons were comparable to many HoF'ers "peak" seasons,
His "meh" seasons were still extremely comparable to elite defensemen just outside their prime.
Using that measure (point shares) to approximate how much impact Bourque had... After all you've read, you shouldn't be surprised to find out Bourque is 2nd only to Gretzky. Not only are the two are pretty much neck and neck, but... gobs of elite players from history are way behind the two of them. Is that a perfect measure? No. But taken with the totality of information provided above? Even if you did shred/light/sink/flush all that evidence as requested? There's just too much of it. Bourque had the biggest career impact in defensive point shares. He shows up 7 times in the top-200 best defensive seasons - as compared to Lidstrom (5), Stevens (5), Robinson (7), Chelios (5), Savard (6)... He was top-4 in the league in defensive point shares 10 times. In his 2nd worst defensive season, at age 39, he was very roughly comparable to Alzner, Hainsey, Carlson, Muzzin, Stralman, Pietrangelo... His 2nd worst season, at age 39.
Ray Bourque suffered a fractured left [forearm] last week in a pickup softball game Bourque fractured his jaw in a fight at Detroit in November of 1980 ...fractured his wrist during a check against Quebec defenseman Andre Dupont
A club's salary offer must properly recognize the players' capabilities and contributions. Bourque's achievements are "stunning". Every season he has been named to the All-Star Team and has been the winner or runner-up for the Norris Trophy as the game's best defenseman. Measured by the standards as agreed upon by the NHL and the NHLPA, including overall performance, number of games played, length of service, overall contribution to the club, and leadership and public appeal, Bourque simply is unmatched.
Agreed... Something to keep in mind: The owners, certainly during the 80s, were (and some still are) actively fucking the players. They withheld all salary information, so as a player, you either had zero negotiating power, or you had to ask people their salary - which was much more frowned upon then. Bourque would go into negotiations having no idea what anyone else made.
Ray Bourque said that in the past he and other players had tried to get salary information before negotiating and felt uncomfortable when doing so. "[having all salaries released] - it's good for the players, especially when it comes time to renegotiate," he told the Montreal Gazette. "That way you know exactly how you fare with players at your level. It's a lot better than trying to go in and guess all the time. "You always felt uncomfortable going up to a guy and asking, 'Hey, how much are you making?' This way all you have to do is peek at the list."
He wasn't trying to put the screws to his employer, he was awkwardly asking other players their salary.. I don't know Mr. Bourque, but... It sure sounds like he just wanted what was reasonably fair. Everybody has their own definition of "classy" but.. if that's not classy, then it's at least honorable. Another article from back in the day...
Some players (eg., defenseman Raymond Bourque) have been criticized in the past because they did not test out the free-agent market and instead, out of loyalty to their teams, signed contracts for less money than they would have received if they had made themselves available to the highest bidder.
...not with Bourque, obviously... but with what I expect someone to inevitably say:
Well of course nobody will catch him in points, there were a bazillion goals in the 80s.
Using League Averages (and no I didn't take an average of averages) the NHL saw teams average 3.38 goals per game during Bourque's career. Since the '04-'05 lockout, the NHL has seen teams average 2.85 goals per game -- the difference is under 20%. Okay? Now Karlsson only needs to average 79 points without missing a game until he's 40 to catch Bourque? Now Bourque drops from 11thto 17th in career points, still hundreds of points ahead of every defenseman except Coffey?
So what. You still can't compare between eras even with adjusting.
I don't think that era-adjusting is the be-all end-all. I haven't mentioned Harvey (7 Norris trophies in 8 years) or Shore (4 Harts) for that reason. That being said..
Award voting is among his peers, and he absolutely crushed that - in a manner that I sincerely doubt we'll ever see a defenseman replicate. Nobody in the NHL is even close to being consistently top-10 in Norris voting for a full decade.
Time on ice is dictated by his coach and his capability, and has nothing to do with era. His team winning % fell by 7.2% in the 1.6 seasons worth of games he missed; that time on ice seems well-spent.
His closest comparables had careers that overlapped his. He wasn't just compiling a fantastic career in a void - he was doing it while playing against all those guys.
Fuck stats and numbers and all that stuff. Show me clips.
I would love to, but 1) Sadly.. The footage available online from that era is mostly garbage. There are some youtube compilations available that aren't hard to find if you're interested. 2) The thing about highlight clips.. Yeah, Bourque had highlight plays, but ... That wasn't what made Bourque great. The highlights were a cherry on top of the desert of Bourque's game; all the small things he did, and how consistently he did them, was the main course of the meal.
Ray Bourque's career was basically ~15 years of Norris-worthy play with 5-6 years of being "just" a clearly top-5 to top-10'ish defenseman. Please, the next time you see someone talking about the greatest defenseman ever...
If someone rattles off the name Bourque like he was "just" one of those greats from the 80s/90s, politely remind them. Send them this link. Contact your local chapter of the Raymond Bourque Apprecation Club (if your area doesn't have one, start one).
If someone forgets to mention Bourque while bringing up Lidstrom, Coffey, et al.. Please - head to the nearest market, find yourself the freshest fish you can (I personally recommend a trout) - and use it to slap them around a bit, because that's absurd.
The next time you hear someone say "Gretzky/Lemieux/Howe/Orr type", consider adding Bourque to the list. If you somehow think he's not in a tier with those guys, then he must be _all alone in your tier 2, because nobody else came close.
Barzal on Victor Hedman: "He's just so long and smooth." Barzal, Scheifele and P. Kane's thoughts on NHL opponents via Zoom call.
A transcription of the questions and answers presented here. Face-off in your own zone with ten seconds left--who takes the face-off? Barzal:
I'm thinking O'Reilly. I'm going to take O'Reilly, I don't even think I've won a draw against him in three years now, so...
Yeah, I'd say O'Reilly maybe on the left side. I know Seguin is really good on the right side. He's maybe a little bit underrated, but it seems like we always kind of have a tough time against him in Dallas.
I'm going to go with Bergeron on either side. You know, I actually have had some good night against him, unless you're in Boston, then you just get... uh, the stats guys give it to him a little bit. [laughs] I think when push comes to shove, you put him in a face-off dot, he's going to take it. Definitely not Barzy. [laughs]
[laughs] Aww, man. I had some bad nights this year.
Games on the line. One-on-one, pucks on your stick--which defender do you least want to see defending the one-on-one? Scheifele:
I'm going to go with Ryan Suter. We play Minnesota a ton. I think his angles are so good. When you go one-on-one, you're going to try and back him down a little bit, probably try to beat him, and his angles are so good. His stick is so good. You're not going to be able to shoot through him, he can block shots. His angles and his feet are so good that he's just so hard to beat. Maybe you could take him wide, but his angles are so good you're not going to be able to get actually a good quality chance. I wouldn't want to see him.
I'd go with Shea Weber. Especially when he was in Nashville, when we were playing those folks 8 times a year. He's just a bear to go against. So strong, he's so big. If you ever got in a corner with him, there's no way you're coming out with the puck--or if you do, you're going to take some pretty big punishment for making that happen. Even today, when we play Montreal, same type of thing. If I get over to that left side [...] and I'm against him, he's just so physically punishing. He'd always be a tough guy to go up against for me.
Those are two good picks, but I think Victor Hedman for me. He's just so long and smooth. His gap's always perfect, and if you try to take him wide, he's 6'6, so you're not really getting around him. He can just hold you off, his stick is always so good, it's just always in your face. There's just not much room out there against him. He's not going to physically punish you maybe like Weber will, but he's just always in your grille, just poking at the puck. Just in perfect position, just always battling. He's a tough one for me.
Okay, now there is a 2-on-1, who is the player you most want to have with you on the 2-on-1? Barzal:
I'll put Ovi on the left side. Just 'cause it's an easy pass for me as a righty. If I was coming down on my left side, maybe throw Kaner over there, give him the one-T but I think down my right side, a little sauce to Ovi is probably going in.
I know you said no teammates, but I guess this kind of counts for that, but I'd probably have to say Panarin. I know I played with him a couple of years. The way he sees the game and the way he plays it was very similar to the way that I saw the game. Just really, really fun hockey, you know? Just kind of playing off each other, kind of hanging out on our sides, and almost like mirror-ment of each other, what the other person was going to do. That was probably the funnest hockey I ever played was playing with him. I think if I'm coming down on a 2-on-1, same type of thing, throw him a little saucer pass, and he's going to bang it in the net most of the time.
It wasn't that fun playing against you. [laughs] You just stood in the middle and just tried to whack it down, just try to knock it down, because they were just throwing seam sauces to each other. You didn't even go after them, you just sit in the middle and whack it.
Well, that's like you guys now. We get these 2-0 leads on you guys, and then all of the sudden, the second period rolls around and we just can't get out of our own end. You know, Scheifs in the middle doing his little sweeper one-timers, and Wheels is feeding him in the middle, it's like, it's not that fun to play against you guys, so we feel the same way.
Okay, you're on you're off-wing, and your stick is cocked and one-timer is ready. Who's the guy you want to be with the puck on the 2-on-1? Scheifele:
It has to be Blake Wheeler, but I can't say him. He's #1 though. You know, if I'm cocked and one-timer, I'm going to want a righty passing to me. A little better angle, he's able to manipulate that D a little bit better, and you know, the pass is a better angle for that one-timer, so I'm going to go with Stamkos. He's not known for his passing, but I've skated with him a lot over the years, and he does this little 2-on-1 pass that's pretty nifty. So, I'm going to go with him.
That's Oatesy's boy, eh? [laugh] Staying true.
Actually, if Oatesy was still playing... he's probably the best passer of anyone. I don't know if he could keep up to the boys now. If he hears that, he's going to be pissed I said that. [laughs]
I'm going to go with the best passer in the league right now, I'm going to go with McDavid. And he's got the speed coming down to kind of manipulate the defender, and maybe make him think he's going to the net as well. He's not a bad pick.
Best defenseman in the league keeping the puck in at the point? Barzal:
I mean, I feel like Burns has a bunch back there. That's not really something I pick up on during a game if a D-man is doing a really good job holding the puck in on the blueline. Actually, John Carlson has a wicked stick picking pucks out of the air, he's picked a few of mine off that I thought were good. I'd say John Carlson out there.
Most fearless defenseman on a pinch? Scheifele:
Roman Josi, by far. He's fearless back there. He'll spinorama two different times, he'll toe drag you, he'll go right down the middle. He's fearless, but he's pretty good at it. If he has just an inch on you, he's going to take advantage. He's by far the toughest.
Most annoying shot blocker? Kane:
I'd probably have to say Hjalmarsson. I've seen this guy just eat pucks his whole career. Now he's in Arizona, and he's just like, that's how he plays the game, you know? He just wants to block shots. [laughs] That's how he plays. It's hilarious to see him. He'll block a couple of shots, and he'll be hobbling around, but he still gets up and blocks the next one and then hobbles back to the bench to be out there the next shift. The guy's a warrior.
I want to throw two of my teammates in that conversation. I think Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech must block 7 or 8 a game. We don't play against each other to much, us, and Winnipeg, and Chicago, but those two guys, oh my god, I've never seen anything like that. Mayfield wants to eat shots in practice on my team, he loves it.
On a breakaway, which goalie do you not want to see in net? Scheifele:
Carey Price for sure. He's so calm in the net. He outconfidences you. His confidence in the net in his abilities, he's #1 I definitely don't want to see.
I'm going to go with Pekka Rinne. I don't know why, we've had a tough time with Nashville scoring goals. He's had some good nights against us. I think I've had two breakaways against him now, and both I didn't score on.
I was going to say Price as well. He's like, especially, we had that shootout in 2007 against Canada in the world juniors, and I went 0/2 on him. Same type of thing, he's so calm and patient in the net. I'd also throw Vasilevskiy in there. You think you have him beat, and he just kicks out his leg. You have to beat him, and then raise it, but you can't raise it too much because his body's over there as well. His legs are so long and athletic. I'd probably have to throw him in there.
Playoff berth is on the line, goes to OT 3-on-3. What other guys are in your line up? Barzal:
McDavid, one. I'd go with three forwards. If we're trying to score on the first shift, I'm going to go with me, McDavid, and Kucherov. That could be lethal.
I'd be on the wing, so I'd need someone to take a face-off. I'd say maybe Matthews as a centreman. He seems like he's pretty lethal in overtime, where he gets a chance and scores. Just to kind of round it out, we play with a defensive-defenseman--or somewhat defensive, but still has the offensive ability to make plays... I'd say Drew Doughty.
I'm going to go McDavid and Draisaitl. [laughs] Those teammates. They'll probably just go and score themselves, so I'll be the defenseman. [laughs] It seems like every game they get into overtime, it's 30 seconds in, and Draisaitl's got a breakaway, or McDavid's got a breakaway, or a 2-on-1, maybe even a 2-on-0, and they're scoring. I'm going to go with those two guys.
What if you're not on the ice and you have all of NHL's historical players? Kane:
The first three names that come to my mind would be Gretzky, Lemieux and Bobby Orr. If you had to bet against those guys. You look at Bobby Orr and the amount of points he had, his career as a defenseman--it's just unbelievable especially at that time. Maybe changed the way defensemen play the game. And watching some of those highlights with Lemieux and Gretzky playing on team Canada back in the day, it seemed like they had a lot of chemistry. Gretzky was feeding Lemieux a lot, so that would be fun to watch.
I'm going to throw some of my heroes in there. Stevey Y was my favourite player, so I'm going to throw Yzerman out there, I'm going to throw Oatesy, my other hero--
[laughs] Oh my god.
And then Dale Hawerchuk. Those three guys.
I really liked Datsyuk growing up. I'll throw him, Nik Lidstrom, and maybe Brett Hull. Get a sniper out there.
Best forward for tipping a puck or screening a goalie? Barzal:
We got Anders Lee on our team so it's a no-brainer for me. Get to see him work in practice just tip pucks, he'll go 15/15 just like nothing. Makes it look easy, when it's not. I feel like Joe Pavelski has the title of best tipper in the league. I'll give it to him.
Both of those guys are really good. I played with Anders at the world championships a couple years of ago, and he'd just stand in front of the net, screen the goalie, and guys would just pick their spots, and it was just so tough for the goalie to stop those shots because he was so good in front. I'm going to go with him in front of the net. It's hard to pick against Pavelski. You've seen that play so many times with San Jose--they get it back to Karlsson and Burns, Pavelski's coming through the slot and tips it in. It seems like he's incorporated that and brought that to Dallas as well. He's just really good at finding those open areas and getting a stick on it.
Landeskog. Colorado. He's had a ton of tip goals against us, I've seen him tip a ton of goals in other games. He's also just such a moose in front of the net. You can't move him, he's strong, he's good at actually screening a goalie too.
Best comic relief on the bench? Kane:
I'd had some hilarious teammates back in 2010. Guys like Ben Eager and Adam Burish were constantly chirping the other team. They were hilarious, especially Ben Eager. He seemed to have like, so many good chirps. Also, Dustin Byfuglien might be up there as well. He's just hilarious, like, I think even in the middle of games, especially when we were playing Winnipeg and he recently got traded there, he was coming by. He and Quenneville would be chirping each other and laughing and joking around in the middle of an NHL hockey game. He was always a good guy to bring some comic relief.
Honestly, it's actually with the rules that I can pick Dustin Byfuglien. [laughs] It's gotta be him. He's by far the most relaxed guy in the game. No matter what's going on, no matter how the game's going, he definitely will make a joke and get you going. I could hear from the other side of the bench him yelling at someone, I don't even know who he's yelling at, he could be yelling at a fan, who knows. He's always joking around, so I'm going to go with him.
Anders Lee again. This guy is so funny, whether it's on the ice or off the ice. He's always got a quick one-liner, or something goofy that he says that's really funny at the time. I'd say him for me again.
Anders Lee better be watching this later. [laughs]
I know, I'm getting some brownie points right now. Oh, or honestly, Jordan Eberle. He's pretty funny, we get into it sometimes too, but he's pretty light-hearted. We go back and forth sometimes. He brings some humour in there.
What if Jim Benning offers Chris Tanev a contract extension? (In-Depth Analysis)
After seeing Chris Tanev's agent come out and say Tanev wants to stay in Vancouver, I wanted to write a piece on what a potential new contract for Chris Tanev would actually look like. Based on the Canucks current salary cap implications, re-signing him just doesn't seem like the forthcoming future a magic-8 ball would shake out in Jim Benning's hand, but it's not entirely improbable. So, I questioned what a potential contract would look like—and I was going to make a tiny prediction with no basis in the comments of a thread—but instead I decided to look into the statistics of Tanev's previous contract, his current and previous production, and off-the-ice intangibles, and here we are! TL;DR AT THE BOTTOM I completely get it. It's kind of long, but if you're into it, awesome!
Tanev May Not Get A Raise
Hear me out. When Tanev signed his 5 year $22.25MM contract (4.45MM Cap Hit) with the Canucks, the cap percentage was roughly 6.45%. In today's NHL, with a Salary Cap at $81.5 Million, a 6.45% cap percentage would be equivalent to a $5.25MM cap hit. Was a healthy Tanev for the past 3 seasons worth that kind of cap percentage? Absolutely, but I think we all know his injury history hurt his dollar value and moreso his trade value. In my opinion, he has to be worth less than his healthy value—especially after we signed Myers to a 5-year $30MM contract—it's just not feasible.
Does a true comparable of Tanev even Exist?
I don't think one really does. With the precedent that Tanev has right now, he's a defenseman who misses 20+ games a year throughout his entire contract, yet he—knock on wood—hasn't missed a game all season and we just passed the halfway point of the season. It's unfortunate, but a smart gambler would consider this productivity more of an anomaly. Therefore, you've got to think short–medium term for his length and a smaller cap percentage relative to what a full season of production would look like.
Since we don't have an actual "Tanev baseline" for that, here are a few NHL comparable defenseman (mostly RHD) that have similar stats, are deployed in a similar role, and signed contracts at or near Chris Tanev's current age. *Note: These players signed 3-year deals which matches a similar term length that I would argue Tanev deserves.
Avg. GP Per Season (Previous Contract): 71 games (87%)
Quick Summary: Anton Strålman has consistently been known as a solid defenseman in his own zone, who has the capability to slot up and down the lineup. He has a great outlet pass and he has a fair amount of power play time. Surprisingly, with Tampa Bay he only starts 51% of his shifts in the defensive zone. For someone usually referenced for their defensive play, it's a low amount compared to the others on this list. Purely looking at his stats, Strålman, has consistently been healthy for almost all of his career and he's usually good for 20–40 points per season. Over the past 6 seasons, Strålman logs 20:00 TOI per game played, which equates to a low-end top pair RHD or high-end 2nd Pair D. I'll stop there because I think he has more offensive upside than Chris Tanev just based on his zone deployment and point production. Stralman's Cap Hit is heftier because of it. I also don't think his 3-Year age gap from Tanev played as big of a role in his contract as some may think. Consistently being healthy usually equates to more dollars when you're talented. I'll break it down with Tanev's stats, but it should be pretty clear that Tanev shouldn't really get a contract anywhere close to stralman's cap percentage, which would be around the $5.63MM range if the salary cap rises by $2MM next year.
Avg. GP Per Season (Past Contract): 73 games (89%)
Quick Summary: Ian Cole is a name that infrequently pops up. For a proper defensive defenseman, that's a good thing. He is a great comparison to what a healthy Tanev would look like statistically. In the past 3 Seasons, Ian Cole starts close to 55% of his shifts in the defensive zone. Like Tanev, Cole is capable of blocking shots. Last season he blocked 178 and he's on pace to block 172 this season. Furthermore, he gets little-to-none TOI for the Power Play and he has ranged from 1:45-3:17 for PK TOI/GP in the past 3 Seasons. Ian Cole currently has a similar cap hit as Chris Tanev ($4.25MM). It's a justifiable amount to pay for a defensive dominant top-4 defenseman. That said, Ian Cole is a LHD, and they typically have less market value than a comparable RHD, and his role appears to be similar to Tanev. That said, I still think Ian Cole is worth more, and once again it's strictly due to health.
Contract: 3 Years $10.5MM = $3.5MM cap hit & a modified-NTC (15-Team no trade list).
Cap % at Signing: 4.67%
Points Per GP (Prior 4 seasons): 0.30
Age at Contract: 27
Avg. GP Per Season (Prior 4 seasons (2 contracts)): 73
Quick Summary: In 2015-16 Michael Stone had a career high year with 75GP and a statline of 6G 30A on The Coyotes. The following season, he was traded near the deadline to Calgary after falling off on his previous points totals, and he never really came close to that afterwards. That said, with Calgary, Stone was originally deployed in the defensive zone for 57% of his starts and he logged an Avg TOI of 18:51. He blocked 143 shots that year and although I can't find his PK TOI for that season, he averaged 2:27/GP the following season. This pretty much equates to a defensive minded Top-4 RHD. So, his contract—had—some sense to it. Since then, Michael Stone has fallen off a cliff, but he still got his 3-year contract at 4.67% of the salary cap based on a combination of previous performance, age (3-years younger than Tanev now), and potential. He was bought out on August 1st, 2019 by Calgary, because he was underperforming and Calgary altered his deployment. Given what his role was before his 3-year contract, his actual cap hit was fairly low, and it's likely due to the modified-ntc being thrown in to the deal. I think Stone's contract is a good baseline for what a Tanev contract could look like, primarily because the modified-NTC format is one I could see the Canucks presenting to Tanev and his agent. Let's break down Chris Tanev.
Previous Contract: 5 Years $22.25MM = 4.45MM Cap Hit & a Modified-NTC in the final 3yrs (8-Team NTC)
Cap % at Signing: 6.45%
Age at Contract Renewal: 30
Avg. GP Per Season (Prior 4 Seasons): 55 (67%)
Avg. GP Per Season (Prior 4 seasons + This season (Averaged out to a full 82game season)): 60 (73%)
Points Per GP (Prior 4 seasons): 0.23
Points Per GP (Prior 4 Seasons + This Season (Averaged out to a full 82 game season)): 0.25
Quick Summary: I think we all have a general understanding of Tanev's value, so I'll try to keep it brief and jump to the number crunching.
Tanev is an excellent Top-4 Defensive Defenseman when he's healthy, and we're starting to see that this year. He's played a full season up to this point and he's on pace to break his highest season's point totals. Besides Alex Edler, Tanev is our longest tenured Canuck and he brings leadership qualities into the locker room (wears an A), so off the ice he means something to the club. GM JB definitely values those types of intangibles and it's been seen before with higher than expected contracts for players like Erik Gudbranson & Brandon Sutter. That said, Tanev has probably hit his peak, and the two people mentioned before had potential to develop into better players, so I don't think Benning would bank on growth with Tanev. The fact that Tanev has played a full season up to this point is fantastic. In the prior 3-Seasons, he has missed 29, 40, and 27 games. At least for the Vancouver Canucks, health will play a role in his contract value, and I truthfully see this season as more of an anomaly then a pattern of change. Now, looking at his defensive stats over the past 4 seasons, Tanev starts 55-62% of his shifts in the defensive zone. He hovers between 19:45-20:30 minutes of TOI per game, which is roughly equivalent to a solid 2nd/3rd defenseman on most teams, and he kills penalties at an elite rate. He is well over 3:00 TOI/GP just on the penalty kill over the past 3 seasons with the highest total coming from this year. He's still blocking shots at a great rate and he rarely takes penalties. Now, if you're GMJB and you're re-signing Tanev. What will his role be over the next 3 seasons? My projection would be a Top-4 option on the right side for at least the first 2 years. It's a safe bet to estimate that Tanev won't drastically decline. Defensive Defenseman tend to be more consistent, but they can falter (Michael Stone). Using the comparisons from earlier, I think Strålman's percentage of the cap (6.47%) would be far higher than what Tanev should get. Michael Stone's (4.67%) is a good baseline, but Tanev has always had a higher pedigree in every way other than health. Ian Cole's cap percentage (5.35%) is an amount I think Tanev's agent would take on a 3-year deal (4.36M Cap Hit), but I don't think the Canucks want to pay that much, especially with who they need to sign long-term (Pettersson, Hughes, Markstrom, Virtanen). Furthermore, Cole puts up slightly more points per game and he plays closer to 85% of a season versus Tanev's ~67-70%. I think the Canucks will offer another modified-NTC for Tanev in his 3-year deal and that should be worth atleast a .25% discount (% of cap hit) on a fair deal. Health consistency will also decrease Tanev's cap percentage. The only other thing I will factor in is next year's salary cap, and to be quick, let's say it's a $2M increase to $83.5MM. So, with all that said, this is what I project Tanev's contract to look like: 3yrs 12.4MM with a modified-NTC (8-team No Trade List) for all 3-years, which was the same as his previous contract. A 4.13MM Cap Hit which is 4.95% of Cap at signing.
A contract like this puts Tanev in a healthy spot in-between Michael Stone and Ian Cole's salary cap percentage at signing. It's a decent medium term contract that pays similar to his previous contract and it could even be front loaded to feel more like a raise at the time of signing (i.e. Year 1= 5.0MM, Year 2 = 4.5MM, Year 3 = 2.9MM). The only question that's left to unpack is whether the Canucks will even offer Tanev a contract extension. I think they would be fools not to... Given the Canucks current salary cap implications; If Jim Benning offered Chris Tanev this contract it should only come down to a choice between a fair offer and a chance at a free agency bidding war that the Canucks certainly won't partake in. Thanks for reading!
3yrs 12.4MM with a modified-NTC (8-team No Trade List) for all 3-years, which was the same as his previous contract. A 4.13MM Cap Hit which is 4.95% of Cap at signing.
The first (preseason) DFS content is available tomorrow on Draftkings! It's time to get back into the swing of things. Introduction Many people commented or PMed me last season saying that my posts helped them win more money, more frequently. I know I personally missed out on some big paydays by ignoring my own advice. (Sigh.) I’ve been playing DFS hockey since 2014 and have become gradually more invested in it over the past few seasons. I started playing $1 single entry tournaments and I’ve been hooked since my first entry placed 47/3448. You’ll generally find me in single entry tournaments on Draftkings and whichever site has the better tournament payout on the larger Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday slates. I have the same username on Draftkings, Fanduel and Rotogrinders if you’re looking for me elsewhere. Disclaimer I would recommend that you only play DFS as a form of entertainment. Hockey is a volatile sport where anything can happen any given night: the underdog could win, your starting goaltender could be injured, etc. While under no circumstances should you hold me liable should you lose, please take me into consideration if you do happen to come upon a big payday as a result of my advice ;) I’d advise restraint during the preseason and month of October while lines and systems are settling and the sample size is small. The whole point of using data to build your lineups is to reduce randomness, so your bankroll should be saved for when the league is more predictable. However, if you’re a degenerate like me, you likely have enough data about your personal habits to know that is unlikely. Slates The NHL schedule dictates larger slates on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with fewer games on days between. Larger slates tend to come with higher prize pools funded by more entries. Since a larger slate means more players are on the ice, that generally decreases specific player ownership. Though that increases your chance of your players having lower ownership if they go off, it also makes it more difficult to pick players that score more than the rest of the field, since there’s a higher probability more goals are scored. (And that’s what makes it fun!) While there are also all day, afternoon, evening and late night slates, as well as Showdown and whatever else have been introduced lately, the payout for these contests tends to be less overall for the same entry fees, while the difficulty of winning them is comparable, so I tend to avoid them with few exceptions. Contest Type Whether you’re playing cash games (50/50, multipliers, head-to-head), satellites, or GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) tournaments will greatly affect your strategy. In GPP’s you’re looking for highest upside to get the most overall points possible to win the tournament. In cash, you’re looking for the highest floor to ensure you’re above the fold. In general, play cash games for security and GPP’s for the thrill. I’m sure there are a lot of pros that play cash games regularly because you can easily double your wager any given night, which at minimum helps pad your bankroll to cover any GPP losses. I personally don’t like the upside when weighing risk/reward and therefore prefer to play GPP’s almost exclusively. However, cash strategies can also translate to smaller tournaments because you don’t need as much variance to set yourself apart from other lineups. Single-Entry vs Multi-Entry Daily fantasy hockey is always pitching itself as a game of skill while trying to distance itself from gambling for legal reasons. I contend that single entry tournaments are the truest test of skill here because each entry holds the same weight. These are my preferred contests by far, though there are rarely more than two any given night with a payout worth the ticket price. While you technically have a better chance of placing first by maxing your entries in GPP’s every night, it’s impractical for most players, especially the novice. You can see in the Draftkings Results Database that even seasoned veterans rarely employ this strategy as well. For what it’s worth, some of my biggest paydays have also been ones where I made the fewest amount of entries. Your mileage may vary. Rake Rake is simply the house cut taken by whichever site you’re gambling on. Along with entry fees it has increased in recent years and stabilized around 9-13% depending on the contest. If all things are considered equal, target contests with a lower rake, as more prizes are being paid out to the contestants. That also means GPP’s and satellites that are not filling up before the deadline can offer you a slight advantage. Bankroll Management You should care about how much money you’re gambling because no one else is going to. Bankroll management doesn’t factor much into my decision making simply due to the scale I operate at, so I’ll only offer this advice: winnings are not winnings until you withdraw them, and only if you haven’t deposited more than that originally. It boggles my mind when people praise themselves for winning a grand after dumping two the month before. Set an amount you’re comfortable losing and don’t deposit more than that when it’s gone. There are free bankroll trackers available online if you want an overview of how you’re doing, such as Daily Fantasy Nerd, as well as restrictions on each site if needed. Point Systems This whole post was based around the 2018-19 point system for both Fanduel and Draftkings. However, it was Recently Announced that adjustments would be made to the Draftkings point system this coming season. Here’s what you need to know: Prior to this year, there used to be relative parity between the Fanduel and Draftkings scoring systems. Aside a few discrepancies, like Fanduel awarding minor powerplay point bonuses, Draftkings accounting for goaltender points and hat trick bonuses, and a slight variation between block and shot values, Fanduel scores were basically 4x Draftking ones and the only significant differences were salary discrepancies and lineup construction. No longer. Not only have the Draftkings points been bumped up overall but their relative values have changed. A goaltender win is now worth less relative to a goal. While it used to take 15 saves to make up a goal, it will now take about 12. There will also be two points awarded for overtime losses. There are other minor changes to the basic scoring system, like assists and shots on goal are worth slightly less relative to a goal, but the real change will be in the new bonus system. Here you will see an additional three points awarded for hat tricks, 35+ saves, 5+ shots, 3+ blocks and 3+ point games. That 3 point modifier also stacks with the hat trick bonus, which is, frankly, ridiculous. This will significantly change the worth of playmakers, with two assists (10 points) now being worth less than a player with five shots on goal (10.5 points) without hitting twine. Draftkings claims this makes the game “more exciting” but right now it just seems like it’ll be more random. I fail to see how anyone that regularly plays DFS with any volume benefits from this change, outside of possibly drawing in more inexperienced entries and increasing the overall player and prize pool. The NHL players gaining these bonuses are, for the most part, already the top performers in those categories. Additional incentives are hardly necessary to have Burns or Ovechkin any given night. For others, certain punt plays could see a significant boost, though it makes little sense to me why two blocked shots would be worth 2.6 points but a third bumps that up to 6.9. Regardless, I still see linestacking being advantageous with these changes. Linestacking Outside of choosing a winning goaltender, using players on the same line is the most basic DFS advice you can give a beginner. Since there are so few goals scored in a hockey game and most of those goals correlate with an assist, you typically want to pick players with good linemates. The odds of stacking two corresponding lines and getting multi-point games that win you money is far greater than selecting six players who have standout individual performances on any given night. Depending on whether you play on Fanduel or Draftkings will determine what kind of strategies are available to you, as there are tighter salary constraints on Draftkings but looser restrictions. For example, on Fanduel you’re capped at 4 players from each team. On Draftkings, you only need 3 different teams represented, so you can technically play the entire top six from one team instead. Despite that, you cannot do the 4-4-1 stack available on Fanduel, where you pick two lines with their corresponding defensemen and a goaltender. Instead, you have to opt for a 4-3-1 stack, either using the utility position for a punt play (typically not ideal) or alternating one of the defensemen from a different team (preferable). I don’t like to break up line stacks because I’ve been playing long enough to see it come back to haunt me, but there’s always an argument for dropping an underperforming third wheel or due to salary constraints. Powerplay Correlation Roughly 20% of NHL goals are scored with the man advantage. Though not strictly necessary, players who have top powerplay minutes are more likely to score goals. If an entire line has full powerplay correlation, even better. There are few teams worth targeting for a powerplay stack where the players are not also linemates. However, last season the Lightning, Panthers, Sharks, Pens, Flames, Leafs and Caps all had great powerplay success with players combined from two or more lines. This can make a decent contrarian play against a weak penalty kill team or simply to deviate from the standard chalk on a smaller slate. Percentage of Ownership Generally speaking, whichever team(s) has the highest Vegas odds to win, and especially a high oveunder, will also be the favored teams, or chalk, for DFS. Since only 20% of GPP entries will profit and the chalk lines are likely to garner 20%+ ownership, if that line goes off it could break the slate (you’ll need that line to win). Just because a team is a favorite to win does not mean they’re your safest option. Primarily because there are no safe options, it’s also crucial to maximize your success by differentiating your lineups from others. Use Vegas odds and “expert” predictions as a guideline for what you think other people will be targeting, and keep this in mind when building your own lineups. Looking for the lines that could produce but be underlooked (and therefore under-owned) is necessary for a big payday. The larger the slate, the more likely you can profit from chalk. Likewise, the smaller the slate, the higher upside for contrarian options. On a 12 game slate there are likely to be several favorites, decreasing the overall ownership percentage of any given line. On a three or four game slate, more people are likely to gravitate to one or two lines. Whether you can actually afford to stack these lines together is another matter entirely. Sometimes the chalk lines are so prohibitively expensive that you have to make great sacrifices elsewhere in your lineup. Salary Constraints I don’t fully understand how either Fanduel and Draftkings come up with their player salaries because they often feel arbitrary. Kase was priced at floor on Fanduel for weeks, despite putting up solid production on the first line for the Ducks. There were thousands of dollars difference in Chabot’s salary when he was on a tear as well. Some players, like Shattenkirk, appeared to have inflated salaries solely due to name recognition. Occasionally there are straight up errors, like Keith Yandle was priced at floor by mistake for almost a week on Draftkings last January. Suffice to say that it’s worth analyzing the value of each player on a line when stacking, as well as exploring individual salary trends, as players are often propped up by things that don’t translate to DFS production. It’s rare that you’ll pick two lines that fit so comfortably you can afford top defensemen and a goaltender as well. If you have the salary left over to flesh out your lineup with Burns, Letang and Vasilevskiy, it’s hard to make an argument not to. More likely you’re going to be looking for pivots, a line that has a value player that brings down the total cost, or ultimately sacrificing somewhere in your lineup. A solid pivot for me was likely an outlier getting top powerplay time (ex. Pirri), an individual performer on a depth line (Ex. Donato; Perreault), an unrecognized rookie (ex. Svechnikov, Chabot), someone stepping in for an injury in a lineup, or a cheap defenseman with offensive upside (ex. Ekholm). It’s also not uncommon for a star to have less talented linemates. Sometimes that artificially inflates the cost of those linemates, but sometimes it makes the line a decent budget option. You’ll likely find these players alongside McDavid, Matthews, Crosby or Stamkos, for example, when their lines are not loaded with their corresponding Kucherovs or Draisaitls. Some lines are so prohibitively expensive they’re virtually unstackable at all, though these lines are also typically matchup proof. Because of the sacrifice required, these lines are often worth targeting on a larger slate or against tougher opposition where they’ll fetch lower ownership but still have the potential for a hat trick or more. Refer to COL1, BOS1, TBL2, etc. Contrarian Play Contrarian here simply means rejecting the consensus favorite, but it’s often confused with simply picking a line from a bad team to go against the grain. Note there’s rarely a good argument to pick a contrarian goaltender, outside of high upside for their salary. Keep in mind that Vegas odds, really even the best teams in the NHL, are roughly 60-65% likely to accurate project as a winner, and that winning alone is not always enough to make a goaltender valuable because they might not see a lot of shots. So when should you play contrarian? One of my favorite contrarian options on Fanduel specifically is when a line’s players have the “wrong” position. This happens when a player was previously playing out of position, and Fanduel is notorious for being slow to respond to these changes. Since it’s more difficult to stack a CCW or WWW line, these picks are naturally contrarian because they’re harder to fit into a lineup. Another option might be targeting secondary scoring on depth lines. Not only is this an option for affordability that’s easier to stack, but it’s a decent pivot off the chalk for a team that’s a favorite to win. It’s worth noting that a team playing on home ice has the advantage of last change and therefore can choose their deployment. If you’re targeting against a team with a solid shutdown line on home ice, a secondary scoring line might end up getting better deployment and production. Likewise, if you know a line will be forced to play a shutdown role, you might want to consider alternatives. This is called line matching and may differ on a nightly basis. One option that’s often overlooked is a game stack. That is, picking one line from either teams in one game. When two teams are porous defensively or have a historic rivalry, chances are if a goal is scored early in the first period the ice could rapidly open up and the game will become a shooting gallery. Finally, though this option is restricted only to Draftkings, you can stack two lines from the same team with each other. This could be the entire top six or a full five man powerplay stack. I would reserve this option only for high powered offenses against the weakest of opposition though. Defensemen I often consider defensemen an extension of linestacking, but in reality that’s not always feasible. Though there are technically points awarded for blocked shots, even the top shot blockers aren’t very DFS relevant on shot blocking alone, unless they are positioned against a high shot volume team and come at a reasonable price tag. It is worth considering a high floor from reliable shooters and/or blockers when looking for value if you’re stacking two expensive lines, especially in cash games. While it’s not uncommon to see rosters where people have two depth defenders squeezed into their lineup due to salary constraints, know that you’ll typically need at least another goal from your forwards to compensate for the backend unless they happen to get a lucky bounce. There are only around forty defensemen capable of regularly generating at a half point per game every season. With so few of these players available any given night, their salaries are typically higher than a forward with a similar point pace. The most prolific point producers are often unattainable for this reason. If an inexpensive defenseman finds his way onto the first powerplay unit, you can guarantee he will see high ownership. It’s almost always recommended to upgrade your defensemen if your salary allows. Goaltenders More important than any other statistic is whether or not your goalie is starting, so make sure to confirm that before puck drop. Daily Faceoff is the defacto place to verify the starting goaltender for each team. It’s not infallible, but it’s the best resource available without refreshing Twitter constantly for updates. While it’s rare this will haunt you, it’s important to note that the win is only attributed to the goalie that’s on the ice when the deciding goal is scored, and that’s not necessarily who’s in the net at the end of the game. This is especially pertinent if you’re considering playing preseason games, where there’s often split duty between two prospects. Even the worst goaltender is going to take up a sizeable chunk of your salary cap. However, unless they’re pulled from the game, even a losing goalie at least generally has some positive impact on your overall score. On the flipside, a winning goaltender can easily be your MVP every night. That’s a lot of pressure on picking the right player in this position, and therefore it’s often the hardest. Without consideration for quality of opponent, even the best goaltender on the first seeded team has generally won less than 70% of their games that season. Picking a winning team is already a gamble, let alone the challenge of picking a winner that also faces a lot of shots without giving up goals. Because of this, I don’t really have a strong inclination to any particular strategy here. Some nights I’ll single out a small handful of goalies I think will perform well and either correlate them with my stacks or disperse them based on their salaries. If I’m only targeting a few lines that night, maybe I’ll run the same stacks with several goaltenders and hope to see them all dispersed in the top fifty. Other times I’ll ride the same goaltender for every lineup in a boom or bust scenario. In any case, I would seriously caution against being contrarian here without knowing there’s high upside (the goaltender is cheapest on the slate and at least has a chance of winning, say). Recent/Historical Performance I’m not going to lie, I use DailyFantasyNerd to compare shooting and scoring trends amongst players, and I’m always dialled in to the hot hands as much as anyone. However, I feel like people might put too much weight on recent performance and too little on historical data and sustainability. There’s no question that sometimes players just go on hot or cold streaks, and betting on a player who’s in a slump to miraculously break it that night is equal parts realistic and gambler’s fallacy, as much as banking on the hot hand continuing his run would be. If you’re willing to do further digging, it’s worth taking into account whether a player is seeing a change in deployment or ice time. Consider whether they’re shooting more or less and what percentage of those shots are converting. Also note the quality of competition in the previous games. If you’re not doing any additional research whatsoever, just know these stats are usually shown as an average over the last five games and can be heavily skewed by one good or bad game, or even an injury. If I only have time for minimal research any given night, without fail I am checking ShrpSports and CBC Sports for the team matchup history. Providing other factors align, I will often trust historical data and narrative games over a lot of other metrics. Now, I’m often criticised for putting weight on either of these things whatsoever, but I’ll still argue that it’s foolish to ignore it. Obviously rosters change from season to season, and sometimes very dramatically. You should definitely take offseason changes into account. However, there are some teams or specific players that consistently (and often unexpectedly) have another team’s number, and rivalries are sure to bring out the best of both teams despite what fancy stats and standings indicate. Because of this, I tend to look at the outcome of the previous two season’s play and include any games played this season, with a greater weight put on teams that matchup more frequently. Especially if there is a team that shouldn’t be victorious that’s been on a relatively consistent win streak versus their opponent, I’m making a note of the upside from their upset potential, both to avoid picking the opposing goaltender and to consider linestacks that might otherwise be overlooked. I generally ignore playoff performances though because the stakes are higher and roles tend to be different. It also might seem silly to place any weight on things like personal milestones, birthdays or playing against your former team, but hockey players are human, and more often than not people step up to prove something to themselves or others, or help their teammates achieve personal goals. Advanced Stats I’ll consider advanced stats for our purposes as anything that isn’t already tracked for DFS points that might actually affect them. So, standard stats would be shots, goals, assists and blocks, and advanced stats would be metrics that affect that. Not all good hockey players are fantasy relevant, and therefore many advanced stats aren’t a good predictor of DFS production. I will say that advanced stats strongly suggested that Tampa Bay were not nearly as good as their record suggested headed into the playoffs. Either way, it’s worth understanding these terms as they’re becoming part of the narrative, and while player and puck tracking will soon be the norm, you can garner a slight edge over the competition with a bit of manual work if you’re so inclined. In any case, none of these stats should be considered in a vacuum, and hockey isn’t a science in that you’ll accurately predict an outcome via advanced stats alone, so don’t go crazy looking for a pattern that probably isn’t there. You can find all these stats (and much more) listed below at Corsica Hockey and Natural Stat Trick. Shooting Percentage Shooting percentage is predictive of whether on a player’s ice performance is sustainable. It’s most useful as a comparison to league and individual averages weighed against current performance to determine whether it’s an outlier. Simply, whether a player is slumping or over-performing. Scoring Chances These are shots taken where goals are likely to be scored, weighed based on where on the ice they’re taken from. It’s fallible, but it’s one of the strongest predictors currently available. If a player has a high shooting percentage but is also taking high danger shots, it stands to reason why they’re converting into goals. It’s worth noting when a line is generating high danger scoring opportunities without producing, as they’ll likely fly under the radar in the meantime. Expected Goals FoAgainst (xGF/xGA) Expected goals is a measurement of unblocked shots that register on net in the offensive zone. xGF/xGA doesn’t have a strong correlation with actual goals scored, which seems easily explained because it doesn’t take into account individual talent or scoring probability. While there’s a chance any puck thrown toward the net could lead to a goal, without taking into account the shot quality or where it’s generated from, I don’t place much weight on this personally. Expected Save Percentage (xSv%) This stat takes into account shot quality (though not shooter quality) and quantity and ranks the goaltender against the league average performance. Again, this isn’t necessarily a fair indicator of how well the goaltender performed. It is worth considering for how well the team’s defense has played in front of him though, so it can be used in conjunction with other stats when picking a goalie for the win and save upside. Corsi and Fenwick Corsi is likely the most recognizable name in advanced stats. This was devised to account for goaltender workload and adjusts for every time they have to be in position to make a save, so it takes into account shot attempts that are blocked or go wide of the net. It’s sister stat, Fenwick, is identical, aside excluding blocked shots. >50% Corsi/Fenwick indicates more shots on net than against. Neither take into account shot quality. Therefore, rather than using positive metrics to determine whether a team will score, I consider this a determining factor for diminishing the opposition from scoring, as they’ll possess the puck less often. This is especially worth considering for linematching. Note that Corsi/Fenwick will be influenced by zone starts. A player that gets more faceoffs in the offensive zone is more likely to put pucks on net than they are to have shots against theirs, and vice versa. A player that has negative percentage and >50% offensive zone starts represents poor ice performance. PDO/SPSV% This statistic is nothing more than shooting percentage added to the save percentage. Since this will always total 100% league-wide, variance higher than 100 supposedly indicates luck, or that a team is not as good as they seem, and anything lower indicates they may be better than they appear. Though this stat supposedly measures luck it can also indicate a significant skill gap (Kucherov and Matthews are dominant in this category). A line generating many high danger scoring chances without conversion should have a low PDO that regresses to the mean. There are more advanced stats available than these, as well as derivatives of each, though I think this is enough of an overview for daily fantasy purposes. If there’s something you’ve found to be useful though, feel free to drop it in the comments. Lineup Construction Now that you have narrowed down your chosen lines based on which teams you want to target and have a handful of goaltenders and defensemen/utility players selected, you’re ready to construct your lineups. This will likely be a very individual process based on system comfortability and how many entries you’re submitting. The default will be simply to load the corresponding app or website and do everything entirely on your device or browser, if not supplementing with pen and paper. Perfectly acceptable. However, this would be both cumbersome and time consuming for MME, so there’s also a bulk upload option available with .csv spreadsheets. This might be the approach you take if you’re using an optimizer too. Optimizers Free optimizers are basically designed to squeeze out every dollar per average point production or projection, which is very much not what I prefer to build my lineups on. Though there are better options if you’re willing to shell out some money, I don’t play enough volume to warrant a subscription and prefer a more hands-on approach anyway. I would highly recommend checking out Linestar though. I am not affiliated with them in any way, but they seem under-recognized in the market and are easily the best optimizer available for hockey in my opinion, utilizing a lot of the criteria I’ve mentioned here, including historical data, stacking and advanced stats, etc. which many other optimizers omit. There’s also an option for a brief trial based on ad views. Line Stacker I personally use a custom line stacker that I hobbled together with spreadsheets and the downloadable .csv files from Draftkings and Fanduel. You can access it here along with the basic instructions for how it works. Someone always comes along and messes it up somehow, so I would recommend downloading it to your desktop and using Excel to play around with it. Late Night Swaps Rosters lock when the first game of the night is slated to begin. If there are games on your slate starting later than that, keep in mind that changes can and do happen. Check for last minute line changes or which goaltender takes the ice even if things seemed certain at the morning skate. The worst thing that can happen is watching your first place entry plummet because it was a late reveal that someone has the flu and isn’t on the bench. Additional Resources Breadispain’s FREE Fanduel and Draftkings Line Stacker v1.1: My own hobbled together line-stacking tool for up to 24 lines. I don't know of a similar tool available right now and I find it handier than an optimizer. There’s also a rudimentary salary comparison tool between Draftkings and Fanduel implemented if that interests you. ShrpSports: See how well teams have performed against each other historically. CBC Sports: maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, but I think the CBC does the best overview of the slate with easy access to the latest game data. Daily Faceoff: Your best source for lineups, injury news and starting goaltender information. Daily Fantasy Nerd: I use this daily for an overview of who’s hot/cold in the last five games for shots on goal, ice time and points, though it’s worth making a deeper dive to see whether those points came from a single outlier game. Corsica Hockey and Natural Stat Trick: I use both of these sites for advanced stats, and occasionally the latter for line-matching data and post-game analysis. Linestar: Linestar comes closest to developing a DFS tool that actually correlates with how I build my lineups. They offer everything from analysis on value plays, recent performance in varying metrics, historical data vs opponent, change in salary, salary disparity between platforms, and much more. Results DB: see the best and optimal lineups from previous nights and who came out ahead. Awesemo, Rotogrinders and DFS Army: Since these are the more popular sites, I tend to review their postings and livestreams when time permits on the big slates for anything I might’ve overlooked and to get a better idea of where other people might be targeting. I personally place more weight on boggslite and Homercles, for whatever that’s worth to you. Summary It’s my opinion that Vegas odds and expert predictions should be used as a guide for chalk more than what you should target. It won’t take research to determine that good players with ideal linemates against weak opponents are more likely to score. Don’t ignore narrative games and historical performances. Advanced stats can be both helpful and distracting. Ideally you’ll always stack two or more players who are correlated on the powerplay with one or both of your defensemen, on teams with high GF/G and/or PP%, against teams with low CF% and/or a goaltender with high GAA, ideally with a low PK%. Consider whether these players have been under or overperforming and have any chemistry together. Players who shoot more often increase their point floor and probability to score. It’s advantageous to be on home ice for linematching but it’s rarely a dealbreaker. Round this out with a goaltender with a high expected SA/G and low GAA that fits within your salary constraints. Alternatively, build from the goaltender out or just hamfist whomever works. And that’s always easier said than done. Best of luck.
This may go without saying, but as a big fan of both the NHL and NBA, I absolutely love the "any team can win the Cup" aspect of the NHL playoffs
You can see Moneypuck's updated odds here (I meant to make this thread yesterday and didn't), but for the purposes of this let's take a look at Moneypuck's pre-playoff odds. Now take a look at 538's NBA Predictor. 6 teams are 87%+ to win their 1st round series, with them of them over 94%. Never mind Golden State's absurd odds, two Eastern teams (Milwaukee and Toronto) have a combined chance of 86% to make the NBA Finals (side-note but it's a real shame that Oklahoma City got hot enough to climb to 6th, because them in 7th/8th against either Golden State or Denver would be a fascinating 1st-round series). Every single 1st-round series is at least 70/30. Compare that to the NHL. Winnipeg has the lowest chance to win the Cup at 2.6%, and even they're given a 37.8% to win their first round series - better than any underdog in the NBA's 1st round. Five of the first round series' are toss-ups (55/45 or closer), and even the "overwhelming" favourite to win the Cup is at 15.8% (side-note here: Vegas having them at 2:1 pre-playoffs was such a horrible bet, the Blues at 14:1 looks pretty good). In the NBA, Golden State is -210 against the field (so you would have to bet $210 to profit $100, if they win the championship) and smart money would still be to bet on them! And stepping away from analytics and odds, is there any team in the playoffs where you can't imagine a scenario where they win the Cup? Ignoring the obvious ones (Tampa, Boston, Calgary, Nashville, Washington, Pittsburgh, San Jose): Colorado - 8-0-2 in their last 10 meaningful games (the final games against San Jose was after they had clinched), terrific powerplay, arguably the best top-line in the league (when it's on), and Varlamov/Grubauer could easily return to form and be .920+ goalies again Winnipeg - Hellebuyck becomes who he was last year, the D gets healthy, Laine wakes up, and they become the team that was dominant for the first 50 games of the sesaon Dallas - Ben Bishop put up a .934 this year and Benn-Seguin-Radulov is dirty, if they get any secondary scoring at all they can win the whole thing Vegas - Fleury does what he did last year, Stone/Patches drive the scoring, and their goal numbers catch up to their analytics. Toronto - Andersen finally plays his best in April/May, their top 3 lines overwhelm their opponents, the new-look D that hasn't played together yet (when healthy) is better than expected. Islanders - Barry Trotz. That's all you need to believe they can win. Hurricanes - Best advanced stats in the league most of the year, but to be honest this is probably the hardest sell. McIlhenney and Mrazek make magic in the playoffs, maybe? They absolutely caught fire as a team from February on so who knows, but I just don't know if the scoring is there and I don't trust that goalie duo. Blue Jackets - The team finally plays like they should with the insane amount of skill they have, and Bob puts up a .930 like we've seen. Edit I forgot the Blues, mostly because I couldn't decide whether they were an obvious one or not. They've been the second-best team in the league since they woke up and realized they know how to play hockey, and their goalie is on an all-time heater. I don't think it would shock anyone if they won. Are any of those situations actually unrealistic? No. Meanwhile in the NBA, for 11 or 12 out of 16 teams it's basically "Well, we can win if a flu epidemic wipes out the top 4/5 teams and some bounces go our way." I love the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Disclaimer: I don’t have the time to update this after I’ve submitted anymore, so make sure the lines are still together and there aren’t any late injuries/scratches/etc. If you reach me afterward, I’ll be replying via mobile. Saturday was a really sad night for me. I loaded up on Binnington hoping for shot upside from the Habs. Betting against the Habs is already difficult enough for me, but he got absolutely torched and MTL1 ended up being the best line on the slate with barely 1% ownership. Threw away all my winnings from the previous night. Oops. Happy belated Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians, and Columbus Day to my neighbors down south. Matchups I unfortunately don’t have a lot of time for today’s slate, but at least it’s a smaller one. Pretty much anyone other than the Wild or Coyotes is projected to score at least three goals tonight, so it should be a fun one. [email protected]: Even with the Leafs and Jets on the slate, if Tampa’s top line stays loaded they should see decent ownership tonight on a smaller slate. If you’re looking at a powerplay stack, Maroon is still listed on PP1, though note that Cirelli seemed to pick up all the additional points when they destroyed the Leafs despite that. Not sure if it was an alternating role or what. The Habs penalty kill has only been 65% so far this season. The Lightning advanced stats are among the worst on the slate. I’m going to have a few shares of MTL1 and MTL3 tonight and hope the hockey gods forgive and repay me for the weekend blunder. Both have had solid performances so far this season. MTL3 is particularly accessible on Draftkings tonight. MIN(b)@TOR: The Wild are the only team on a back-to-back tonight, though they did play yesterday afternoon in Ontario, so I’m not sure that will really affect their game much. Also: not sure it will matter, as the Leafs offense has been basically unstoppable. Even on a small slate I don’t think MIN1 will see much ownership tonight, so you could take a stab there for upside while what little offense is left on this team is saddled up with one another. There’s also a chance Dumba, Spurgeon or Suter could do some damage from the point, but I’m not putting much stock on it. It’s the Leafs top six or a powerplay stack here for me tonight. You could also make a case for Andersen in net, though he’s expensive in both formats. [email protected]: On paper, this is an interesting matchup. The Jets have the worst expected goals against on the slate and have been fairly porous without, well, their entire defensive core from last season. On the other hand, the Coyotes have the worst goal production so far this season. The Jets also have historically dominated the Coyotes with a 5-1 record over the last two seasons. I want to say that makes Hellebuyck the best value goalie on the slate, but it’s definitely with reservations. The Coyotes aren’t even cheap enough for me to want to punt them with some of the higher priced lines tonight. Not only are they barely scoring, there isn’t even one line that seems to be shooting much. I’m off them entirely until they figure things out. The top six for the Jets are in play, though I don’t expect Copp to really light the lamp if you want to keep him off L2, though he does add value if you need it. Connor has been averaging almost five shots a game since the start of the season and is bound to have a big night soon. If you need a one off from this game for cash, he also gets powerplay correlation and should have a solid floor. Pionk and Morrissey are getting closer to parity, so take your pick there if you want a four man stack. [email protected]: Another matchup that’s difficult to analyze tonight. In games where Hart was in net, the Flames were basically stifled. In games where Hart wasn’t in net, however, they scored at least six. They’ve decided the Oilers are the bigger scoring threat and are throwing Elliott in the cage tonight. If people do tend to gravitate to the Leafs tonight, I honestly prefer this matchup. CGY1 + Tkachuk or Giordano, no use messing around with depth tonight, especially because there literally hasn’t been a goal from a forward other than those mentioned yet this season. PHI2 has been the better line for the Flyers so far this season, and will likely fly under the radar because Konecny and Lindblom don’t have the name recognition of Giroux and Voracek. It’s not a cheap line, but it’s worth considering. Pair with Provorov for a powerplay stack. [email protected]: Outside the two main lines, there are tons of guys you hardly see mentioned having a great start to the season. Dekeyser is almost a point per game with solid peripherals. Pearson is leading the team in shots and almost a point per game as well. Both of these are quite unsustainable, mind you, but they’re cheap enough for now. Tanev is priced at floor on Fanduel and has solid back to back games if you need a punt. This is a risky fade for me tonight, but I’m hoping the Canucks can contain DET1 on home ice and Pettersson/Boeser stay quiet for now. [email protected]: Somehow the Preds are leading the league in goals right now, though expect that to dip as they’re near the bottom of this slate for expected goals delivered and it’s unlikely they dominate the Golden Knights at home. Still, they wanted to improve on goalscoring this offseason, and so far it’s working. You could make a case for the top four defense and top nine forwards if you like this matchup, though I’d likely stick to NSH2 and Josi/Ekholm/Ellis. Stastny delivered a four point performance after being reunited with Stone and Pacioretty, and offers about the same value Glass did with higher upside. Marchessault only has one goal on his last 19 shots. Like Kyle Connor, he should be due for some positive regression soon. Perhaps tonight, as the Preds are also giving up over four goals a game right now. The Vegas powerplay has been great at 30% so far, against the Preds PK that’s at only 71%. [email protected]: If the advanced stats are to be believed, the Kings have had incredibly strong possession play and extremely poor goaltending. These two teams have the highest expected goals, shots and Corsi on the slate and seem to be rather weak between the pipes. I love the Canes as a team but they’re so awkward for DFS purposes because they often score by committee. For that reason, I prefer to use them as plugs to fill holes than linestacking most of the time, with Haula, Svechnikov and/or Hamilton wedging themselves in there right now. CAR1 could definitely break out here though. Outside Kovalchuk and Toffoli as one offs, LAK1 and Doughty would be the main pick here. I know nothing about Sean Walker, but dude has five points in his last five games with fifteen shots. Undrafted standout or early season fluke? I have no idea. He’s playing decent minutes and is getting points at 5v5 though. TL;DR: I don’t feel like I have a particularly strong read on this one. Probable chalk are the Leafs, based on Vegas odds and people loving the Leafs, though the Flames offense is more predictable and also have a great matchup if they can get it together. There are other big lines on the slate, such as TBL1 and WPG1, and to a lesser extent DET1, VGK2, NSH2, VAN1 and MTL1. That’s not to discount the Canes or Kings. WPG2 and VGK1 are also “due” for some positive regression. MIN1, MTL3 and PHI2 deserve an honorable mention. Yes, I am generally mentioning everybody. There are more goals than ever right now ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ If you’re new to DFS, check out My 2019-2020 NHL DFS Primer.
Hey - Pat from StarterStory.com here with another interview. Today's interview is with Tyler M of Moneypicks, a brand that sells sports data. Some stats:
Product: Sports data.
Started: May 2019
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I am a 27 year old male from the South West United States. From an early age I was always fascinated with the idea of being an entrepreneur. My first business I remember making was creating a CD burning company in 2nd grade. Since then I was constantly brainstorming or thinking of ways to make a buck. A huge passion of mine is sports, I grew up watching Sportscenter every night and love playing and watching sports. Another thing I love is numbers. They never lie. Statistics and numbers are so eloquent as they can convey so much information for those willing and able to find correlations within raw data. The business I run is Moneypicks. (Instagram: @Money.picks). I use analytic models to determine the outcome of sporting events. I combine my love of sports and numbers to build proprietary systems that produce winners at a 60%+ rate. I have a masters degree from a top 10 business school and have a high level knowledge of NHL, Soccer, NFL and MLB. My product is a membership to my site which gives you access to all my picks, and my clients are a wide range of people from different walks of life. My typical customer is a male from the age of 18-35 who loves watching sporting events. I am currently making $200-$600 per day with almost zero overhead. I provide picks to World Series of Poker Champions, Plumbers, Doctors, Moms and everyone in between. I have been featured on the #1 Betting MMA podcast in the world and hoping to continue to have the opportunity to help teach people how to crush Vegas. image
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I started betting on sports during the World Cup South Africa in 2008. Like 99% of bettors I was completely over my head. I spent the next 10 years learning the hard way. I would not be writing this paragraph if I didn’t go through lots of losing. Humans only learn when we fail. Remember that. Among my friends it got around that I had sharp picks. I started off by texting the picks to my friends for years. When the list of people getting picks got to be too much work a friend suggested I make an Instagram page to get them out. This is where things get interesting. My page got very popular very fast. I went from 0 followers to 4000 in a little over 3 months doing absolutely nothing besides posting winning bets. A big part of this growth was during the last NHL season I was hitting at 67%. (this is confirmed on my Instagram page if you want to fact check) Up until May of this year I was giving out all the information for free. I work a full-time sales job and to me, it was just a hobby and the love I got from giving out free winners was enough for me. I then watched a documentary on Showtime about sports betting. They showed a guy named Vegas Dave (who I have spoken to at length on IG messages before ever watching the documentary) and he was making more money in a few hours than I make in a year at my 9-5. That’s when the lightbulb went off. Because I was providing the same service as him, at a higher level; and I already had an Instagram page with 4000 followers as potential customers. I never went into this to make money. I was just helping people. Doing this gained the trust of my community before I ever asked for a dollar, so when I finally did start charging business flooded through the door.
Take us through the process of designing your product.
The interesting feature of this business is that there is no product. I sell information. There are certain key metrics for various sports. In hockey some are goals for, GAA, day of the week, etc. In baseball its ERA, WHIP, Runs for and against, etc. My 10+ years of experience has allowed me to identify these key metrics. And then use the published data available to us, and reconstruct it into a formula that can accurately predict games down to the final score. These formulas are 100% proprietary information that I developed on my own through trial and error and meticulous back testing. It was not an easy process and the amount of time and energy I have poured into perfecting the formulas for each sport is in the thousands of hours. Although i do have a formal education in the way of a Bachelors and a Masters degree, I never took any stats classes or even bothered to care about learning to use excel until i realized i could use it to gain an edge in Sports Betting. If I had realized this in college I would have 100% taken Statistics and Excel focused classes. Because i got a late start on this i had to turn to Youtube / Google to learn the concepts, then applied my own ideas and thoughts from years of pouring over sports analytics. This is a super important point because every single person reading this has the power to learn something totally foreign to you right now. Never before in history have we had access to so much information. You can’t ever lose that thirst for learning new things. Some of the most successful people in the world all have that in common. It’s very important to remember one thing, I am predicting the outcomes of events that will be played by humans. Humans are irrational. All the stats can point to one outcome and if the pitcher’s girlfriend cheated on him last night, or the starting goalie goes down with an injury, then you can throw all the numbers out the window. Stats are an important tool for your tool box but they are not everything. Like any type of investing the most important quality you can possess is discipline. Financial discipline, to always bet the same amount on every game. Emotional discipline, to not chase your losses and to bet an amount that does not elicit an emotion response if you lose. This can be a slippery slope just like the stock market, and you have to be robotic with your decisions. I don't take a team because I like their jerseys, im taking that team because they have won 7 of the last 8 on Tuesday Nights, facing a left handed pitcher with an ERA of 5.00 or higher. My startup costs have been minimal. I paid a lawyer to form an LLC, paid for a website to be designed and hosted for 3 years. Also working with a marketing agency to produce the content for my IG page. I would say my overhead is less than $750 per month. I also buy sports memorabilia to give away to my members on a monthly basis.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Launching the business was a fluid process. As mentioned previously I began the Instagram page in November of 2018. I was just stealing people’s memes and reposting them and then also posting results from my bets. As this started to grow, I had marketing agencies reach out to me to try and work with me. I rebuffed most until one that really caught my eye contacted me. I have been working with them ever since. My page started to get much more professional after I began working with this agency: BEFORE : image AFTER: image image At the same time I started working with this agency, I began looking for a web developer on Fiverr. Once I find someone good to work with, I paid him $500 to make my website. If you are thinking about starting your own business, Fiverr can be a great place to turn to for various things. I paid for everything with money from my day job. I am very lucky to have an amazing day job, but no matter if you have the best job in the world or the worst. We ALL have time to make things happen outside the 9-5. I think that too many people get wrapped up in the idea that they are too busy. I wake up at 6am to work an hour on Moneypicks every day, and then work from 5pm until I go to sleep. Believe it or not I actually have a third and fourth business that I make time for. If you really want it then put away the xbox and Netflix when you get home from work. Spend your weekends grinding. My mantra: Live like a prince now to live like a king forever. In May, I officially launched as a paid service. The reaction was insane. I made $3000.00 in the first week and $8000.00 the first month. I got to 100 clients in only 36 days. It blew my mind. It was like a dream. I offer 3 different packages as of today. Daily for $12.50, Weekly for $50.00 and Monthly for $150.00. What you get in this package is access to the members area of my website and a betting school within that members area. The packages only differ in the length of time you can access the members area. I do not have it setup on a recurring basis simply because the amount of time I would spend dealing with customer service issues is not worth the headache or extra few bucks I might make. My prices are on the low end in the industry, the opposite end of the spectrum people pay $500 per pick or $15,000 per month. The two guys that charge this amount are much older and from a different era, I don't believe they utilize the technology that my generation wields and they don't connect to their community. My biggest learning lesson was just trying to go too fast once I got it in my head I wanted to start charging for my information. I had lots of issues with the website. I blame myself for not spending enough time testing the site as much as I should have. Luckily I have lots of communication channels with my customers and an awesome relationship with them, so they understood about any issues that did arise.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
My biggest recommendation for growth is to just stick with it. I posted on my Instagram page every single day. Bad days and good days. I engaged with people. I posted memes. Tried to stay relevant with any and all sports news. But really the biggest thing that attracted customers was that they were making lots of money taking my picks. The steps I took to increase traffic and sales was just to say yes to opportunities. I had a lot of different sports accounts reach out to partner on different projects. I would usually say yes just to gain exposure. I partnered with the #1 MMA betting podcast in the world @fistfulofcashpodcast and that was a great move. I also have been buying sports memorabilia and giving it away as a free gift to one random member each month. I do random discount codes and email old clients that left the service just to check in with them. I post a lot of DMs from clients, when I’m doing well or they are showing love. Sometimes i will post a random charity link and i'll put it out there on my IG that if you send me a screenshot of you donating to them then i'll give free picks for that day. But one of my main focuses is to just teach people how to bet properly. Las Vegas makes billions of dollars fleecing money off of the average joe, I want to show people how to turn the tables. The number one way I retain clients is by being honest and truthful. This industry is 95% con artists and scams. So when I post my results, or try and teach people how to be better at this then it really reinforces why the clients are working with me. image image image image image image
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The business today is thriving. I am excited about the direction it is heading and think that the growth of the industry will do good things for Moneypicks. I have had 69,000+ website views and sold 275+ memberships. I am working to grow my facebook presence and am looking to do some SEO on my website. My instagram following is nearing 5000 followers and I am excited about the prospect of breaking that number. The day to day operations start with waking up early at 6am to answer DMs and work on a morning post of my results. I will then post that to generate some sales and input data to analyze that days slate of games. I will post my picks a few hours before games then let everyone know picks are up via a story post on my instagram and letting the telegram group known to login to the website. During the evening I post story posts that show the results of the bets and respond to DMs again in the evening. image image image image
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I have learned a ton during this process. Balancing multiple ideas, jobs, businesses can be fun but you can also make mistakes and miss opportunities if you have your eggs in too many baskets. One opportunity I missed recently was a client who is a World Series of Poker Champion and Gold Bracelet winner had made a final table in a tournament in Vegas this summer. He texted me to get him some Moneypicks gear ASAP so he could wear it on a nationally viewed event. I missed him by a day! I didn’t move quick enough. A lot of times you need to act quickly. Opportunity does not wear a wristwatch. Good decisions I have made were working with a marketing agency that can help manage my social media and create content for the company so that I could focus on other tasks. A major trend that has helped me immensely is the huge popularity of sports and the proliferation of sports betting. It is becoming legal across the country and the industry will grow immensely over the next 5 years.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
“Your wish is your command” by Kevin Trudeu. I went from making $0 per month from moneypicks to making $8000 per month literally weeks after listening to this podcast. The law of attraction is something I have been practicing in my life without realizing it, and this podcast showed me how to harness it.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Make it about something more than money. Care about the people. Build a community. Build a brand! Money is great, but knowing that you are impacting hundreds maybe thousands of people in a positive way is really great. In an ideal world i would love to have a way to get in front of even more people to teach them how to properly invest but also some of the information I have learned along the way. I think building a platform is a greater opportunity than creating a business that simply makes money. Money is a means to an end, but true fulfillment comes from reaching for something greater.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I am looking for someone who can create content on illustratoPS, IG marketing, growth marketing, SEO. I am also looking for someone who can scrape data from the web into google sheets/excel. Anyone with connections that you might think can grow the company.
Overview: Joe Veleno is a 19 year old center most recently from the Drummondville Voltigeurs out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Veleno also played for the Saint John Sea Dogs, also of the QMJHL, before he was traded to Drummondville in the middle of the 2017-18 season. He was selected by the Detroit Red Wings 30th overall in 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Infamously, he is one of the 6 players granted Exceptional Status to play as 15 year olds in Canadian Hockey League (CHL). Veleno is currently listed standing at 6’1’’ and weighing in at 191 pounds. Stats: https://www.eliteprospects.com/playe271713/joe-veleno Also here is a look at how Veleno compared against the Q last season. I wonder why I would link that… https://www.quanthockey.com/qmjhl/en/seasons/2018-19-qmjhl-players-stats.html Development: Veleno began his recorded hockey career playing two seasons with the Lac St-Louis Lions, one year with their Bantam AAA team and one year with their Midget team, in 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively. Following from that, he became one of the six-ever players awarded by the CHL Exceptional Status, which essentially means that this player is so much better than his peers, he qualifies to not only to play in the CHL, but also as a 15 year old. Not only that, he was the first player to be given that status from Quebec. This puts him in a small list with players like John Tavares and Connor McDavid to also receive this honor. Following this event, Veleno was drafted 1st overall in the 2015 QMJHL Entry Draft by the Saint John Sea Dogs. Before he even laced up his skates to begin his CHL career, the expectations were sky-high for Veleno. In his first season with Saint John in the 2015-16 season, he put together a stat-line of 13-30-43 (Goals-Assists-Total Points) in 62 games, good for 8th on the team. He also helped the Sea Dogs reach the 3rd round of the President’s Trophy with a line of 6-1-7 in 17 games. While this was not the “Exceptional” start that has been unfairly placed on his shoulders, he certainly demonstrated he belongs in the CHL. In the next season, 2016-17, Saint John loaded up and where a dominant team all season and in the postseason, enroute to a President’s Cup championship. In his second season, Veleno was still only 16 for much of the season, and he potted 13-27-40 in the regular season while he posted 8-3-11 on that Cup run, through 45 and 18 games respectively. This is where the narrative that Veleno lacks offensive acumen starts to take shape. While for almost any other 16 year old he had a very good season, he was not able to force Saint John to play him in a bigger role. However, that Saint John team was very old, with the 8 players who scored more than him all being at least 19 to start the season, if not 20. By all accounts Veleno continued to play well Veleno’s 2017-18 season, the one leading up to his draft, would see the beginning of what would become a dramatic shift in his career. He was named the captain of Saint John to start the year and went on to score a respectable but once again less than “Exceptional” line of 6-25-31 in 31 games. That Saint John team was hugely decimated and even though Veleno only played 31 games, in what would be his final season for the Sea Dogs, he still ended up 5th in their end of season scoring. At around the midpoint of the season, Veleno was dealt to the Drummondville Voltigeurs for three first round picks. Following that, his production noticeably took off, finishing the regular season with a line of 16-32-48 in only 33 games. What a difference playing on a team with Maxime Comtois makes, eh? This brought his regular season totals to 22-57-79 in 64 games, finishing one point behind some guy named Alexis Lafrienère. Veleno also helped propel Drummondville into the 2nd round of the playoffs and scoring 5-6-11 in 10 games. Due to the concerns with his overall offensive production, that he did not tear the Q apart leading up to his draft year, he slipped all the way to Detroit at 30th over all. Now in his D+1 season, Veleno’s offense finally took off and showed the hockey world some of that much-maligned “Exceptional” talent. And it was glorious! To call his season anything short of dominant would be an under-statment. In a mere 59 regular season games, Veleno scored 42-62-104 good for 4th in points (behind 2 older players and 1 point behind Lafrienère, with each of those players playing more games than Veleno). Veleno lead the league in points per game (P/GP) at 1.763 for players who played in half of the games or more (looking at you Comtois!). After doing a bit of digging, that would put Veleno’s 18 year old season as the best scoring output in the Q since Nikolaj Ehlers and Conor Garland both hit 1.9 P/GP in 2014-2015. While I am sure Lafrienère is going to set the world on fire next season, we should feel at least slightly decent about what Veleno did. I will say however that Veleno’s offense cooled down a bit in the playoffs as Drummondville went out in the 3rd round and Veleno scored a decent line of 8-9-17 in 16 games. Before moving on, one thing I will briefly cover has been the string of quiet performances he has had playing for Canada internationally. He has represented Canada in the World Hockey Championships (WHC) U17 in 2015-16, as well as the World Junior Championships U18 in 2017-18 and U20 tournaments in 2018-19. At the U17 he scored 1-3-4 in 5 games, at the U18 0-3-3 in 4 and finally the U20 with 0-2-2. None of these results were particularly impressive, although it seems as if Veleno is not well liked by the Canadian hockey king-makers and seems to have been poorly used. Even when he is not scoring, Veleno is skilled penalty killer and back checker, and it’s not like Canada has been doing well internationally as of late. Not like it was the best way for me to watch Veleno live or anything. I’m not salty, I swear! Obligatory 2018-19 Highlight Video Link for the Lazy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UvFDExSL54 Also, here is 2017-18 because I’m nothing if not generous! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POmfjeAYL88 Projection: Coming into his draft year, Veleno was seen as a solid bet to make the show, but that he would top out as middle six pass-first center who can be very good on the Penalty Kill (PK) and also helpful on the Power Play (PP). From what I remember reading, as projections came out closer to the draft a lot of hockey fans, media and even NHL scouting staffs thought he was a high-character, high-motor player who could skate like the wind but had a poor shot and lacking the offensive acumen to be a true top six (or at least 1st line) NHL forward. However, just before the start of his draft year, Veleno was solidly inside many people’s top 10 or 15. Go figure. The superlative “200 foot player” is one that comes up a lot when people in the industry, be it media, coaches, General Managers or players, talk about in regards to how some players play the game. While that term is over used quite a bit, in this case I think it exemplifies the type of player he can round out to being at the NHL level. Veleno is a very hard working player and is a force on the PK and in his own zone. However, he also possesses elite speed and thrives in using it in addition to his creativity to find ways to get shots off. This is exemplified by the fact that he was tied for 2nd in the Q with 7 short handed goals last season, which was 1 more than he scored on the PP! This not say he is a slouch on the PP, as he has consistently been a difference maker for both Saint John and Drummondville on the PP, but more in the role of a facilitator. Watching shift-by-shift and highlight videos (as well as few games), I was consistently blown away at his vision, and I appreciated the fact that he never took a shift off even if the bounces weren’t going his way. He is someone who is always looking to make a play with the puck and find an open teammate. While I do not want to say that he has put to bed the concerns about his offensive game, I don’t think any player in 2018 exceeded expectations more than he. Finally, I would say that Wings fans the world over should be immensely excited by Veleno. While I am loathe to use this term, if his offense carries over against men in the American Hockey League (AHL) this upcoming season, the term “star” may start to be applicable. While his leadership, skating, effort and defensive play all seem translatable, and are why at worst he will be a good top nine player, it is his vision and passing ability that makes me excited. If I had to find a few non-Wings to compare him to, I think Jonathan Toews would be the absolute peak he could become, while among players just drafted I see him as similar to Alex Turcotte but with less injury concerns. TLDR; I spent too much time summarizing a 19 year old’s hockey career, go read it!
It’s that time of the year again. Maybe you took a few months off from thinking about hockey and might have missed a few things this offseason. Maybe you’re a fellow miserable Steelers fan trying to switch gears and think of something else. Maybe you just want a 10 min refresher. In any case, I thought I’d make a little cliff notes recap of everything involving the Pens and the NHL from this offseason and sprinkled a few takes in at the end. But let’s start with the one thing that nobody missed... Phil Kessel to Arizona for Alex Galchenyuk and Pierre-Olivier Joseph - The deal also sent prospect Dane Birks and a 4th to the Coyotes. We will probably never know the full extent of the reported tension Kessel had with Sullivan or Malkin and how much of that was overblown, but it was pretty clear that things got to a point where there was no way around moving him. And considering those circumstances, Rutherford did about as well as he could. Galchenyuk is coming off a 19/22/41 season in 72 games, but has several 50+ seasons under his belt. Way too early reports out of camp suggest he’s taking some drills with Malkin and he’s also a strong candidate to slide into Kessel’s place on the top power play unit. Joseph is a 2017 first round pick who possesses great skating, passing, and power play experience. The only consistent criticism of him through his whole juniors career is that for some inexplicable reason he can’t put on weight. It will be a situation worth monitoring as he begins his pro career in WBS. Olli Maatta to Blackhawks for Dominik Kahun - After being healthy scratched for the last 3 games of the Islanders series, the writing was on the wall that Maatta could be the odd man out. In return, the Pens get a versatile (albeit undersized) 24 year old winger in Kahun who is coming off a 13/24/37 stat line in his first NHL season. Think “Dominik Simon with better hands” and that should give you a benchmark of how Kahun plays. He figures to start the year in a bottom 6 role but I have a sneaking suspicion that it might not be long before he gets a look with Crosby and Guentzel. His game seems to fit the mold of what Sullivan likes in that role. Penguins Sign Brandon Tanev - Ok, lets get the obvious out of the way. The 6 year 3.5M AAV contract is not good. You never want to tether yourself to a bottom 6er for that long, especially when you’re strapped on the cap. But with all that being said, I actually really like the fit here. Tanev is coming off a career high 14/15/29 season where he was 3rd in the league in hits (278) and 3rd among forwards in blocked shots (81). Most importantly, he wins puck battles, which is something the Penguins sorely lacked while being eviscerated by the Islanders last spring. RFA Roundup - The Penguins took care of business with their 4 main RFAs: Marcus Pettersson (1 x 875k), Teddy Blueger (2 x 750k), Zach Aston-Reese (2 x 1M) and Jusso Riikola (1 x 800k). The Penguins would have liked to get a longer term deal done with Pettersson but it was simply not feasible given their cap situation. Blueger and ZAR return looking to claim every night spots in the lineup, which Riikola showed enough promise in an up and down first North American season to warrant another look. AHL tweeners Adam Johnson and Joseph Blandisi also return on RFA deals. Odds and Ends - 7th defenseman Chad Ruhwedel returns for another year, as do AHL defensemen Zach Trotman and Kevin Czuzman (2 years each). Familiar face David Warsofsky also returns for his 3rd stint with the Pens organization on a 2 year deal. On the forward side, AHLers Thomas Di Pauli and Ben Sexton return on 1 year deals while Andrew Agozzino comes over from the Avs organization as well. Departing the organization are Garrett Wilson (TOR), Ethan Prow (FLA), Chris Wideman (ANA), Chris Summers, and Jimmy Hayes. Cullen Retires - Matt Cullen also returns to the Penguins, but this time he won’t be on the ice. Shortly after announcing his retirement, Cullen immediately rejoined the Penguins in a front office player development role. Given his popularity within the organization as a mentor for younger players, it’s a pretty safe bet to think he’ll excel in this new role. Depth Goaltending - The Penguins top tandem of Murray and DeSmith remains unchanged. Tristan Jarry is back as well, but after a “just ok” 2.66 GAA and .915% season in WBS, he has some competition now. The Penguins added 22 year old Finnish goalie Emil Larmi, who backstopped his team to a championship in Finland’s top league with a stellar 18 game playoff run that saw him go 12-6 with a 1.72 GAA and .932 save percentage. Alex D’Orio also begins his first pro season, and although he struggled last year in the QMJHL, he’s coming off a great prospect camp and figures to be in the mix for playing time as well. WBS also added 9 year vet Dustin Tokarski on an AHL contract, who most recently served as backup for the Calder Cup winning Charlotte Checkers. All of this really seems like writing on the wall that Jarry’s time with the organization could be numbered. He doesn’t have much standalone trade value, but could be an intriguing piece of a larger deal should one materialize. Mike Vellucci - The least talked about but potentially incredibly significant organizational shakeup happened in WBS. After Clark Donatelli resigned as coach, the Penguins swooped in and hired Vellucci, who is coming off a season in which he just guided the Checkers to a Calder Cup. Then, when Billy Guerin left to become the Wild’s GM, Vellucci also assumed his responsibilities as the GM of the WBS Penguins. While this “double duty” may at first seem odd, it’s nothing new for Vellucci who served as assistant GM for the Hurricanes for 5 years and the last 2 of those as the Checkers head coach. Guerin and Donatelli left WBS in a state of disarray, and it’s hard to think of anyone better suited to turn things around than the man who played an important role in both building the Hurricanes back into playoff contenders and building the Checkers into AHL champions. The only major question here is why Vellucci, whose name would surely have been in the mix soon for both NHL coaching and front office jobs, would want to make a lateral move like he did. Maybe he’s just loyal to his old boss Rutherford. Maybe he’s preparing to be his eventual successor? Maybe he feels Sullivan’s seat is getting hot? All fair questions but whatever his reason may be this is a huge get for the organization. Sullivan Extended - While the Vellucci hire may have raised some suspicions about the Penguins confidence in Sullivan, Rutherford did his best to quiet those when he gave the 2 time champion coach a 3 year extension. No problems with this. Coaches salaries don’t count against the cap, so there was no reason to string things along. Draft Recap - The Penguins actually made a first round selection this year, taking 6’2’’ 207 lbs power forward Samuel Poulin. Poulin projects as a “safe floor” pick with nice size and playmaking ability, although he does need to improve his skating. If safe and solid doesn’t get you excited, then maybe 3rd round pick Nathan Legare will. Possessing one of the best pure shots of the draft class and nice size and speed to match, Legare could develop into quite the player if he can improve on his ability to create for himself rather than just rely on the setup. But seriously, this guy shoots bombs and I suspect he will be a strong candidate to become the “hype bunny” of the preseason. The Pens also added big 6’3’’ defensive-minded forward Judd Caulfield out of USA development team in the 5th, and a pair of Finns in the 7th with selections of overage but speedy forward Valtteri Puustinen and defenseman Santeri Airola. Prospect Pipeline - All of the above selections will return to their respective junior teams, but WBS will also be seeing an intriguing influx of first year pros. PO Joseph may have been the prized acquisition of the offseason, but it was his playing partner John Marino that was getting the buzz out of prospect camp. The Penguins acquired Marino from the Oilers for a 6th, and he projects to be a “jack of all trades” defenseman who doesn’t really have any overwhelming strengths or weaknesses to his game. He should make a splash in WBS. The Penguins also signed 27 year old Finn Oula Palve, who may not be a prospect anymore but will be treated as such as he enters his first North American season. Palve was a very productive player his past few seasons, although some of that may have been due to being line mates with Kappo Kakko. The Pens also have an intriguing crop of home grown first year pros ready to make their WBS debuts. Most notable of those is 2017 preseason darling Jordy Bellerive, who is now a full year removed from his scary burn injuries and looking to bring his intriguing blend of speed and playmaking to the pro level. Joining him will be Justin Almeida, who is AHL eligible despite being drafted only last year as an overager. Almeida was an absolute scoring machine in the WHL, posting 111 points in 64 games last season. Kasper Bjorkqvist is perhaps the least flashy but also the most pro ready of the new crop, and while he may not have a history of scoring a lot, he’s a responsible 2 way forward with the kind of freakish conditioning routines that rival those of Kris Letang. Speedy Slovenian forward Jan Drozg will also be likely turning pro, as will defenseman Niclas Almari, who would have likely been the consensus choice for 2nd best D prospect behind Addison before the additions of Joseph and Marino. It will be interesting to see how those 3 are able to carve out playing time in WBS among the veterans. AROUND THE METRO Rangers- The clear “on paper” winners of the offseason, the Rangers kicked the rebuild into overdrive and went for broke. They signed Artemi Panarin to a massive 7 year 11.6M AAV contract, traded for Jacob Trouba, traded for prized Hurricanes defenseman prospect Adam Fox, and drafted young Finnish superstar Kappo Kakko with the 2nd overall pick. While it’s unclear just how all these pieces will fit together, this influx of talent at least gives them a seat at the table. How far they can go likely depends on the development of young goalie Alexander Georgiev and whether or not Henrik has any juice left in the tank. Devils - If the Rangers were the offseason winners, Ray Shero’s Devils come a close 2nd. They drafted Jack Hughes #1 overall, made a blockbuster trade with the Preds for PK Subban, and won the trade sweepstakes for heavily hyped Russian defenseman Nikita Gusev. Like the Rangers, these additions put them in the conversation, but they have some serious question marks in net. Expect them to roll with a tandem of the promising but inconsistent young Mackenzie Blackwood and the oft-injured Cory Schneider. Blue Jackets - For as good as things went for the Rangers and Devils, that’s as bad as things are in Columbus. After pushing all their chips to the middle last year, CBJ has parted ways with Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingel and didn’t really bring in much aside from Gustav Nyqvist to replace that production. It’s back to the drawing board for these guys. Hurricanes - They dodged a major bullet when they were able to match Montreal’s offer sheet for Aho, but continued to stay busy throughout the offseason. The Canes swapped out Calvin de Haan, Michael Ferland, and the retiring Justin Williams for Jake Gardiner (on a steal of a contract), Erik Haula, and Ryan Dzingel. They are also actively shopping Justin Faulk. It’s hard to say yet whether they got better or worse with this shuffle of players, but they’ll look to avoid statistical regression after their unexpected run to the ECF. Capitals - Not too much change for Todd Reirden’s second year behind the bench. They’ll look to replace the departures of Brett Connolly, Andre Burakovsky, and Brooks Orpik largely from within, but the core remains intact, and we should expect to see more or less the same looking team as we have been accustomed to the past few years. Islanders - Another team that (after losing the Panarin sweepstakes) didn’t have a lot of movement in the offseason, save for a potentially very significant development between the pipes. Robin Lehner is out after his breakthrough season last year, and replacing him will be journeyman vet Semyon Varlamov, who should figure to split about a 50-50 workload with Greiss. It’s puzzling that the team didn’t make a stronger effort to keep Lehner after he played so well for them last year, but they’ve proven before that they are willing to part with top talent and rely on their system to carry them. Flyers - The biggest change here comes behind the bench, as Alain Vigneault returns to the metro division along with a pair of former Penguins Michel Therrien and Mike Yeo as assistants. They also made one splash signing in Kevin Hayes, who received a whopping 7 year 7.14M AAV deal. They also added Matt Niskanen, swapping Radko Gudas to the Caps. I feel like we already know what these guys are gonna be. They’ll go on some crazy mid season win streak, come crashing back to earth by losing 10 out of 12, and ultimately settle somewhere around the playoff bubble. Make no mistake about it. This division is the Thunderdome now. With everyone but the Jackets projected to be in the playoff mix, there will be some talented teams that will miss the playoffs. Gone are the days where a second round Pens-Caps series is a foregone conclusion, and a slow start simply cannot be afforded in this suddenly wide open division. Rest Of The East - In the Atlantic Division, the big 3 seem poised to continue their dominance. The Conference Champion Bruins remain mostly unchanged because, hey, if it’s not broke than don’t fix it. Coming off their historic regular season and inexplicable playoff exit, the Lightning mostly stood pat as well, making a minor alteration in the defense by bringing in Kevin Shattenkirk to replace Anton Stralman. They also still have some business to take care of with star RFA Brayden Point, although that is expected to be done at some point. The Maple Leafs opened their pocket books to give Marner his massive extension, and they now have a staggering 40.5M of cap space allocated to their top 4 players. They also had some considerable overturn with the rest of the roster, bringing in defenseman Tyson Barrie and forward Alex Kerfoot in a trade that sent Nazem Kadri to Colorado, and also adding Cody Ceci from the Sens. The biggest movers in this division were the Panthers, who may have missed out on Panarin but made the biggest coaching hire in landing 3 time cup winner Joel Quenneville. Joining him will be Bobrovsky, Stralman, and Connolly. Does this get them closer to the top 3 in the division? Yes. Does it get them all the way there? Probably not. After whiffing on the offer sheet with Aho, the Canadiens came up empty handed with pretty much everyone else too. The Red Wings biggest change comes in the front office, as they finally parted ways with Ken Holland and brought in franchise legend Steve Yzerman who is largely responsible for assembling the juggernaut in Tampa. Jason Botterill’s Sabres, on the other hand, find themselves searching for answers after having to sacrifice Phil Housley at coach and replace him with Ralph Krueger. They also stayed active, adding Colin Miller, Jimmy Vesey, Henri Jokiharju, and Marcus Johansson. These all, on paper at least, seem like pretty shrewd moves but another underperforming season could see Botterill’s seat getting red hot. And the Senators...well, let’s just say that’s still a train wreck. The Wild Wild West - Defending champion Blues return largely intact after locking up their young stud goalie Binnington, and like Boston, why wouldn’t they? The biggest movers in the entire conference have to be the Stars, who added veteran star Joe Pavelski as well as high upside reclamation project Corey Perry to an already star studded top 6. The PK Subban era is over for the Predators, but they still made a splash in signing Matt Duchene, who joins a core of centers that already included Ryan Johansen, Kyle Turris, and Nick Bonino. The Avalanche were also very active, adding Burakovsky, Kadri, and Joonas Donskoi while losing Barrie as they look to take the next step towards becoming major players in the west. Most of the Jets offseason has revolved around the potentially concerning RFA stalemate with superstar Patrik Laine, but it’s worth noting that they lost Trouba as well. The Blackhawks look to infuse more youth into their core of forwards, but they got some needed insurance on the back end in Robin Lehner, who should join a tandem with the oft-injured Corey Crawford. And the Wild pretty much spun their wheels after the failed Kessel-Zucker trade, and ended up going with vet forward Mats Zuccarello. In the Pacific, the top points finishing Flames remain mostly intact, although it seems now they have committed to young David Rittich between the pipes following the departure of Mike Smith. The Golden Knights nightmare cap situation forced them to offload Miller, Haula, and Gusev, but the core of the team remains the same and primed for another deep playoff run. The Sharks moved on from one face of the franchise in Pavelski, but locked up another when they gave Erik Karlsson a huge 8 year extension. The Coyotes showed that they believe they are ready to contend with the big Kessel trade, but did little else to improve their forward depth. The Canucks accelerated their rebuild with major veteran signings of Michael Ferland, JT Miller, and Tyler Myers, and when you combine these with their promising young core and the league’s thinnest division, they could be a sleeper playoff team this year. The Kings and Ducks continued their rebuilds with coaching changes, bringing on Todd McLellan and Dallas Eakins respectively. And the Oilers latest attempt to fix their issues involves James Neal and 37 year old Mike Smith, so expect them to once again go exactly as far as McDavid can carry them. SEASON STORYLINES Salary cap trade - The dirt cheap Pettersson contract allows the Penguins to go into the season cap compliant without having to make any major trades, but that doesn’t mean one still isn’t coming at some point. Ideally, you’d love to get Jack Johnson’s 3.25M off the books but that would involve another team actually agreeing to that, so the Pens may have to look elsewhere to open up some space. Bryan Rust is another popular name in these discussions, as the additions of Kahun and Tanev make his role a bit more crowded. Schedule Difficulty - Once again the schedule maker did the Pens no favors, hitting them with 17 back to backs (tied for the most). In addition, 14 of their last 16 games of the season will come against metro division opponents (including all 4 against Carolina in the month of March) so expect everything to still be on the line deep into the year. Sullivan’s System - While I don’t yet think Sullivan’s seat is hot (nor should it be), the Isles series exposed some glaring flaws that need to be addressed. The 2019 playoffs as a whole were a case study on how bigger, more structured teams are becoming increasingly effective in countering free-flowing speed and skill teams, and now it’s on teams like the Pens to adjust. The challenge for Sullivan will be finding a way to add some additional structure without suffocating the playmaking abilities of his best players.
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