Fantasy hockey season is rapidly approaching, but before we can even get into the nitty gritty of the draft kit — analyzing our rankings, breaking down a goalie guide, or talking draft strategy, there’s a pretty big elephant in the room that needs discussing.
Yahoo’s positional designations are a damn mess.
It’s never perfect in the offseason. As someone who has to go through them each year for these projections, I can absolutely confirm that there’s generally a lot of room for improvement. And that improvement often does come as the season progresses.
But this year, Yahoo’s that behind the curve.
It’s so bad that we actually adjusted our “Fantasy Trends and Hidden Gems” schedule to boost this topic to the top of the list.
It’s something that could mess with your draft strategy — especially if you’re in a league that does categorize forwards by position. You may draft a player thinking they’re one position, only for that to be corrected. Or, if you’re like me, you aim for forwards with more than one forward designation for flexibility, and right now that’s extremely limited — just four skaters (Jack Hughes, J.T. Miller, Alexandre Texier, and Kevin Rooney).
So how can you manage this year’s chaos, and what can we do to help?
We can point out some inaccuracies that we anticipate to change, whether it would be an outright correction or an additional designation added, for fantasy managers to take in stride while making early roster decisions. Obviously we can’t hit them all, or we’d be here all day.
And Yahoo, we know you’re reading this (because who isn’t?), so we’re going to make this a little easier on you. Here are some of the key adjustments to make ahead of the season’s start, and we can chat at a later date on what else could be corrected or tweaked. Here we go:
Matthew Tkachuk, LW, FLA
He’s so incredibly valuable that I’m sure managers aren’t fixated on his positioning and will adjust accordingly as needed, but Tkachuk plays right wing, so ideally that gets added.
If you look through Florida’s roster on Yahoo, you’ll notice other red flags — like the fact that there isn’t a single right wing listed on the team. Keep that in mind, as well. Sam Reinhart could get a RW added to his center designation, and Evan Rodrigues (also noted as a center) should get some sort of winger listing, too. Carter Verhaeghe is also oddly listed as a center, when he’s very much a left wing.
Leon Draisaitl, C, EDM
Yahoo’s not wrong here, Draisaitl is a center. But if Jack Hughes is noted as a center and a winger, then Draisiatl should be as well — he plays right wing with Connor McDavid whenever they’re paired at even strength. Last year that comprised 37 percent of his five-on-five ice time.
Tim Stützle, LW, OTT
Apparently Yahoo hasn’t kept up with the Senators, because Stützle’s primary position should be center now. While he spent some time at wing in the past, he solidified himself as a true top-six center last year.
Jordan Kyrou, C, STL
Kyrou’s played center before, but he really should have right wing added since that’s primarily where he’s played at the NHL level. His teammate, Pavel Buchnevich, should also get a RW added to his LW status.
Andrei Svechnikov, RW, CAR
Svechnikov plays the right side, but he also plays the left quite often — just look to last year, when he was on the left alongside Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Martin Necas for 200-plus minutes. Expect a LW designation to be added here.
Martin Necas, C, CAR
Speaking of Necas, he should be listed as a winger. A right winger, to be specific. Yahoo is manifesting far too many players to shift to center, apparently.
Timo Meier, RW, NJD
Meier very much feels like someone who should be listed as a pure winger, with both right and left designations. He seems very likely to play on the left this upcoming season, and his positioning should reflect that here.
Mathew Barzal, C, NYI
Like Draisaitl, this is technically right. But keep an eye on this because he could play on the wing again if the Islanders slot Bo Horvat down the middle of that line as they did post-deadline. That could expand Barzal’s lineup flexibility.
Joe Pavelski, C, DAL
Pavelski’s played one position pretty exclusively in Dallas these past few years: right wing, alongside Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz. So that should be how he’s listed in this context, too.
Jonathan Marchessault, RW, VGK
To the left, to the left… The reigning Conn Smyth winner belongs in the box to the left.
Dawson Mercer, C, NJD
Is this designation technically wrong? No, Mercer is a natural center. However, he primarily plays the wing in New Jersey to get top-six minutes. So this is absolutely a player who should be noted accordingly, as a C/RW. Once again, if Hughes has that… Mercer unquestionably should.
Ivan Barbashev, C, VGK
Barbashev’s a utility player. He plays center, but also is used on the wing. That’s where he played on his way to a Stanley Cup in Vegas. So this is definitely someone who should be listed with more than one position.
Seth Jarvis, C, CAR
While Jarvis is a center, he’s primarily played wing at the NHL level and that’s the position that probably should be prioritized here, if there had to be a choice of one or the other.
Ryan Hartman, RW, MIN
Hartman plays down the middle in Minnesota, often on their top line.
Anthony Duclair, LW, SJS
The overall ‘winger’ designation is also fitting here, but at the very least Duclair should be listed on the right.
J.T. Compher, LW, DET
I know it’s harder to nail down the exact positioning for Jesse Compher, since she’s usually listed vaguely as a ‘forward’ as opposed to anything more specific. But J.T. is very much a center.
Ryan Strome, LW, ANA
A center designation would be more than fitting here. His teammate, Frank Vatrano, should be noted as a winger, on the other hand.
(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)