The other day, I wrote a mostly positive review of Hockey Prospectus’ 2011-2012 book. I also recently spent $4.95 to pick up their VUKOTA spreadsheet to “dominate my hockey fantasy league”.
For the VUKOTA spreadsheet, I wasn’t expecting a spreadsheet as comprehensive and flexible as Football Outsiders KUBIAK (which costs $20), but I did expect enough statistical detail to allow me to manipulate it to my league’s rules.
In short, the good news is that the spreadsheet only costs $4.95. It is hard to call spending $4.95 a waste of money. I prefer to think of it as a donation of encouragement to the Hockey Prospectus team.
The website suggests that the purchaser will dominate their league thanks to the VUKOTA rankings. In reality, the spreadsheet only shows three of the six typical offensive categories (goals, assists and penalty minutes) and only one of the four typical goalie categories (save percentage). Missing was any type of instructions on how the creator of the spreadsheet envisioned it being used for fantasy purposes.
To be of substantial value, the spreadsheet needs to project shots, shot percentage and total power-play points. It also needs to take a stab at projecting goalie wins, shutouts and goals against average. If I am going to be greedy, it should list hits, blocked shots and short-handed points.
While I understand that VUKOTA may not track these variables, it must list them if it is going to be sold as a fantasy drafting solution. A short term solution would be to add columns and simply list last year’s stats for those categories that aren’t projected for 2011-2012.
For me, the spreadsheet was of little to no value. Instead, I opened up a spreadsheet, went to NHL.com, grabbed last year’s stats by position and then sorted by shots taken. Although I didn’t really understand Corsi until I read the Hockey Prospectus book, I did understand that the key to scoring is shot volume.
From baseball, I knew that players peak around age 27 and surmised that is was more like age 23 or 24 for hockey. For fantasy purposes, I focus on shots and player age, and make sure I have some coverage across the stat categories. If your league is like mine, there will only be a couple of other teams thinking in similar terms which makes for a pretty easy draft.
With the season starting tonight, it is probably too late to pick up the spreadsheet for this year. My advice for next year is to ensure their spreadsheet has enough detail to help you win your league before you pull out your credit card.