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NHL Best Puck - Guide To Drafting 1-4 vs 5-12

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

If you have not already please check out my first article I would highly suggest giving it a read first. This is taking a deeper dive into Pillar #2 while adding more overall context to how you should be drafting. I want to make it clear off the top that nothing listed below should change your mind on the initial deep dive article. Meaning, you should not be drafting players well before their ADP or ignoring correlation of players by team. The purpose of this article is to give the reader the best plan for drafting once the cards have turned and the order is set.

There is no secret to the advantage that exists when you can begin with one of the elite top tier Centers. This was gone over in the first article which I linked above. The reason for this value, is that the replacement of another center compared to Auston Matthews/Connor McDavid/Nathan MacKinnon/Leon Draisaitl is a massive drop off. In part, because they are arguably the four best fantasy players in Best Puck, but I would also add that there are simply a wider range of players at the various other positions that could contribute at a similar level.

33.3% of the time you will be lucky enough to draft 1-4, but what about the 66.7% where you aren’t blessed with this edge? How can you create a roster that can advance and potentially be a bit more unique for the playoffs? Of course, there isn’t a perfect formula that you must follow. However, we do believe there are a few tactics that will give you an edge overall based on the math from last year.

It seems that one mistake many made when drafting outside of the top four was believing they could make up for missing the elite centers by taking more centers. This tactic was done by the majority of people and was harmful to the advancement rates. Limiting yourself to a three-center build seemed to fare the best as you can make up more points maximizing two Winger positions and a potential utility than playing catchup to McDavid and Matthews and using several picks in the process. If you are drafting from the 1-4 position, you have a lot more freedom to build. I would really focus on maximizing the value of each round and considering you will be picking closer together, it should be easier to create correlations. Simply following this pattern is not enough. Let’s dive a bit deeper into the numbers to see exactly how we should deploy this theory once in the draft room.

Building the most optimal structure is about when you are investing in the position. Investing the lowest draft capital (meaning fewer, later-round picks) in Center and loading up on Wingers at the beginning of drafts produced a far better outcome when drafting 5-12. It is also interesting to see that investing less in Defense and more in Goaltending early created an edge. I think my takeaway is to try to have 2 goalies and 4/5 wingers at the turn into the 10th round, but if you draft enough teams you are welcome to play with this theory. The best part of this strategy is you will not find yourself reaching for these positions and can still use the Four Pillars from the first article to build the best possible construction.

If you miss on the 1-4 selections it can be frustrating, but I want you to consider that last year not a single Auston Matthews or Nathan MacKinnon team was in the finals. 3 of 12 had McDavid and 4 of 12 had Draisaitl. On one hand, 7/12 finals teams having a top four ADP player clearly shows the edge, on the other hand, both being on the same team shows the value that could exist in stacking optimally. This year with the finals being larger I would assume we see a smaller proportion of the teams in the finals from the top four selections.

Winning $10,000 is not decided by your draft position, but rather how you draft from the position you are given.

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