A typical fantasy hockey league or hockey pool has 8 - 12 teams but often have as many as 20. Other types of pools may have a greater number of teams, which may dilute the average talent making it more or less fun depending on the league, but also represents more closely the actual NHL, which currently has 30 teams. Other forms of fantasy hockey may allow an unlimited number of teams, whereby any number of owners may draft the same player(s). These typically have a restricted number of "trades" where one player may simply be exchanged for any other in the player pool, typically of the same position.
The most common way for choosing NHL players or teams to comprise a fantasy team is via a draft, either online or in person. However, the method ranges from basic (picking from comparable players who are grouped in boxes) to complicated (i.e. 'auction' style).
Most office hockey pools (or fantasy leagues) keep the teams simple - merely choose 12 or 15 or 20 skaters from any position, most points win. However, as the fantasy hockey league becomes more realistic, it takes on the appearance of actual NHL teams.
One common format of a fantasy team (rotisserie style) is:
- 2 Centers (Forward)
- 2 Left Wings (Forward)
- 2 Right Wings (Forward)
- 4 Defensemen
- 2 Goaltenders (or Goalies)
- 4 Bench Players
- 2 [Injured reserve]
Common categories in which the fantasy owners collect points include:
- Plus/Minus (+/-)
- Penalty Minutes
- Power Play Points
- Game-Winning Goals
- Faceoffs Won
- Shots On Goal
- Wins (Goalie)
- Goals Against Average (Goalie)
- Save Percentage (Goalie)
- Shutouts (Goalie)
- Hat Tricks
"Points" (which is goals plus assists) is the most common measure of a fantasy hockey team's performance.
Types of fantasy hockey leaguesEdit
In a 'Head-to-Head' league fantasy owners are matched against each other weekly in one on one duels. The owners attempt to win as many categories as possible per week, with their weekly scores to be added to their cumulative score. It is the only league that offers a bracket-style playoff format at the end of the regular season.
A 'Points' league is one in which point multipliers are assigned to certain categories and all owners try to accumulate points by scoring in these categories without the weekly competition. For instance, if 10 points are awarded for a goal and 5 for an assist, a manager who selects a player who scores 10 goals and 30 assists will collect 100 plus 150 points for a total of 250 points. Points are awarded for multiple scoring categories in the same fashion.
A 'Rotisserie' league is one in which teams are ranked in order from best to worst. In a 10 team league with 10 categories, the maximum number of points a team can earn is 100 (by finishing 1st in each category). The least is 10, by finishing last and collecting only 1 point per category. Rotisserie leagues are likely the most strategic type of fantasy pool and reward managers whose team has strong, balanced scoring across all categories.
Simulation Hockey LeagueEdit
Simulation Hockey leagues use a video game (such as the EA Sports NHL series) or a hockey simulator program as a match simulator. Each team manager selects an NHL team and is able to submit, control and edit many of the aspects of their team. Either players are drafted and teams are built from scratch or each manager starts with the official NHL roster loaded on the software. In either case, managers can acquire players during the season through waivers and trades. Transactions are submitted to the Commissioner of the league, who in turn loads the lines and runs the program, simulating a game based on the set attributes.
An 'Express League' offers contests with shorter timeframes than traditional season-long fantasy leagues. The rules are usually the same as the 'Points' league. Games timeframe could be from 1 day to 1 week or even more sometime.
Any fantasy hockey pool that "rolls over" into other years is called a "Keeper" or "Dynasty" league. The leagues can be run each year in any of the above formats with a winner declared at the end of each season. At the end of the year team managers decide which players they wish to protect (the number varies - from protecting and keeping all players, to keeping as few as three or four players). Before the NHL season opener, a fantasy draft is held to fill out the rest of the roster.
Many keeper leagues, as well as some single season leagues, have adopted salary cap rules similar to the NHL. In a "Salary Cap League", a salary is assigned to each player before the manager selects his team. Salaries are usually determined by the NHL player's real salary. Otherwise a number value is assigned - usually by an online hockey pool program - or it is determined through an auction process. Each manager must ensure that they do not go over the predefined salary cap when selecting players.
Also some leagues have introduced a rookie draft into their fantasy league. By using the rankings from the last season to determine the draft order last place gets 1st pick and so on. Also in some leagues trading picks is also allowed.