Keeping up with the Joneses is hard to resist - in real life, and in fantasy hockey.
It's all about weighing needs-versus-wants, but temptation often gets the best of us.
That was the case for me during Period 1 in my keeper league, suddenly feeling the urge to upgrade my offence after fellow contenders acquired star forwards.
First, it was last year's defending regular-season champion's addition of Pavel Datsyuk for defence prospect Xavier Ouellet - shortly after he played for Canada at the world juniors -Â and a first-round pick in this year's rookie draft.
Then, our regular-season champion from two years ago who finished third last season, pounced on that same seller to pick up Jonathan Toews and Ryan Malone for a package of prospects - Oscar Klefbom, Joe Colborne and J.T. Brown -Â plus another first-round pick and the rights to goaltender Tim Thomas.
Those deals certainly impacted the balance of power, but I wasn't about to push the panic button. That is, until I lost Scott Hartnell to a broken foot that will sideline him for at least a month and maybe two. Not to mention, I was getting humbled by last year's fourth-place team in the opening week - a team powered by Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski, while also adding Daniel Alfredsson mid-Period.
That my Period 2 opponent was putting up even better statistics and appearing much improved over last season, I had to do something to remain competitive.
I'm coming off a somewhat surprising second-place finish last season with an extremely young roster that perhaps overachieved. But I complemented that cast - which includes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Jeff Skinner, Erik Karlsson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson -Â with proven veterans like Alex Ovechkin, Hartnell and the Los Angeles Kings' goaltending tandem.
Hartnell was especially valuable as a multi-stat contributor for points and penalty minutes. So I wanted - and/or needed - to replace his presence immediately. Just as I started scouring rosters for a similar player, another general manager announced his intention to become a seller and placed Corey Perry on the trading block.
He seemed like a perfect fit for my team and had a reasonable contract that might be worth extending this off-season, so I expressed interest. I quickly learned a seller's market had developed and that there were no shortage of potential buyers for Perry, including my aforementioned Period 2 opponent.
There was some back-and-forth and it became apparent he wouldn't come cheap, but eventually I caved. Perry cost me a pretty penny - in the form of my top forward prospect Ty Rattie, along with first- and second-round picks.
That was the price I had to pay to stay in prize money contention, though that Period 2 opponent made his own move by bringing in a slightly more expensive but equally effective Rick Nash for prospect Zack Phillips plus first- and second-round picks, as well.
This season is still in its infancy, but there aren't many sellers left and they don't have much left for sale. So it was 'snooze or lose' for the buyers and we had to buck up in an attempt to put ourselves over the top.
Time will tell who emerges as the real winners -Â and losers -Â but the rest of the 20-team field is left to play catch-up going forward. As many as 14 or even 16 teams are still trying to cash in this season, so it's not going to be easy for anybody over the next eight-plus Periods. But it should be fun for everybody - and that's always a good thing in keepers.
Last week's column covered the importance of parity in keeper leagues and that key component can be highlighted again based on our Period 1 standings. Two of our bottom-five teams from last season are sitting first and second overall, while last year's top-three teams are sitting eighth, 16th and 13th, respectively, to start this season.
It's only been one Period and obviously too early to draw conclusions, but as mentioned more than a dozen teams could beat any team in any given Period - on paper - so that's promising for our short- and long-term future.
I'm personally not faring a whole lot better in my single-season, points-only rotisserie draft at Officepools.com.
As of Wednesday night, I was tied for fifth in that 11-team league with 61 points from 14 players - Datsyuk, Hall and Mikko Koivu are tied for my team-lead with eight points each. That has me 13 points back of the top-ranked team - also powered by Marleau and Pavelski -Â and 10 points ahead of last place. Injuries are taking their toll in that pool too, and as a result, I'm regretting my final pick of Columbus rookie Cam Atkinson, who is out for a couple weeks with a high ankle sprain. My roster is otherwise healthy and slowly but surely contributing, so hopefully I can climb those standings in the weeks to come too. Stay tuned . . .
Larry Fisher is a sports reporter with a keen interest in fantasy hockey. Follow him on Twitter @LarryFisher_KDC or email
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