NHL Fantasy Draft: Surprises, Head Scratchers and Rivalries Galore

Isaac SmithAnalyst IJanuary 27, 2012

NHL Fantasy Draft: Surprises, Head Scratchers and Rivalries Galore

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    The NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft has just concluded and we had a barnburner of a draft.

    Team Alfredsson and Team Chara are complete. For a full view of the rosters listed click here.

    The questions of the night are not who ended up on which team, but more about internal alliances and rivalries that have developed between players and teams.

    To explore more of some of this evening's surprises, head scratchers and rivalries, I invite you to read on.

Rivalries: Leafs vs. Sens

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    If the hockey world had forgotten about the Maple Leaf and Senators rivalry in the early 2000's, it's back this year with almost full force.

    The Senators and Maple Leafs are both in contention for the playoffs, something Toronto hasn't made since before the lockout, and tonight's All-Star fantasy draft has only enhanced this rivalry.

    Daniel Alfredsson picked all three of the other Senators eligible, selecting Karlsson with his first pick, Spezza with his second pick, and letting Milan Michalek fall to his 12th pick before selecting him.

    Meanwhile, Zdeno Chara had Joffrey Lupul as an assistant captain, which was probably a reason that Chara selected Maple Leaf Phil Kessel with his eighth overall pick, and Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf with Chara's 13th selection.

    Look for this rivalry to play itself out throughout the media over the weekend.

Rivalries: Bruins vs. Canucks

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    Watch the Stanley Cup Finals last year?

    Then you know the smack talking that went on during the grueling seven game series that was eventually won by the Boston Bruins.

    This rivalry still exists today, as Bruins captain Zdeno Chara "apparently" made clear through his teammate Milan Lucic.

    Lucic was quoted through TSN's James Duthie as saying: "I'm pretty sure there won't be any Canucks on Z's team."

    Read into it what you will, because Chara did not pick either Sedin, or Canucks' defenseman Alex Edler. Chara picked up both of his Boston teammates, Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin.

    Is the newly formed rivalry between Boston and Vancouver alive and well?

    Better believe it.

Surprises: Jimmy Howard Is Selected as the Final Goaltender

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    Jimmy Howard is having a career season in front of a revamped Detroit Red Wings defense.

    Despite giving up four goals on 12 shots in his last game against Montreal, Howard still boasts a 30-11-1 record with a 92.4 save percentage and a 2.03 GAA.

    But of the six goalies in the fantasy draft (one being already spoken for as an assistant captain in Henrik Lundqvist), Howard was the last goaltender spoken for behind the likes of Carry Price.

    Being undervalued is nothing new to Jimmy Howard as he was left off the initial ballot that came out earlier this season and was voted in as a write in. But being selected behind a struggling Carry Price (17-17-8, 91.4 save percentage, and a 2.40 GAA), is a nothing short of a slap in the face to Howard.

    Will he use it as motivation for the rest of the season as Phil Kessel seemed to do when being the final selection last year?

    Time will tell.

Surprises: Stamkos Falls to 12th Overall

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    Steven Stamkos leads the NHL in goals with 32.

    Apparently that wasn't good enough to get him selected in the top 10 of this fantasy draft.The hometown biases likely played a big part in bumping Stamkos down the ladder in this All-Star draft, but come on! There's passing on the leading goal scorer in the NHL once, but four or five times?

    Look for Stamkos to respond with a big performance in this weekend's events.

Surprises: Alfredsson Makes Michalek Wait Til Alfie's 12th Pick

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    Milan Michalek's 23 goals rank eighth in the NHL, but that didn't stop Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson from making Michalek wait for a long time before selecting him.

    After selecting Karlsson with his first pick and Spezza with his second pick, Alfredsson waited until his 12th selection before selecting Michalek.

    Props to Alfie for not selecting Michalek up front. He needed a goalie and at least another defenseman, but Alfredsson made Michalek wait for an eternity after calling Karlsson and Spezza right away.

    Michalek scored on his first NHL shot.

    The man gets hot in a hurry, and he knows how to make a highlight real finish.

    Just ask Carry Price about this goal.

Surprises: Marian Gaborik Falls to 31st Overall

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    Marian Gaborik is no slouch.

    In fact, he's currently ranked sixth in the NHL in goals with 25, and has 39 points in 47 games.

    That may not seem like too many points for a high All-Star selection.

    But when one of the assistant captains, fellow Ranger goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, didn't even select his own teammate through 15 rounds, it can also be interpreted as a smack in the face to some extent.

    Don't be surprised to see Gaborik put up a couple markers on his own goalie when he faces him this weekend.

Head Scratchers: Nobody Wants the Sedins?

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    The Sedin twins represent the last two Art Ross Trophy winners. Henrik won the award in 2009 and Daniel in 2010, respectively.

    The fact that Chara supposedly said that he would not select anyone from Vancouver meant that Alfredsson would be the beneficiary of receiving both Sedins on his team.

    How long would they have to wait?

    A pretty long time as they found out soon enough.

    With Alfredsson selecting two of his teammates with his top two picks, the Sedins seats must have been feeling a little warm by the time Daniel Sedin was finally selected at 18th overall.

    Henrik was not so lucky, waiting until the 26th overall selection.

    Will we see an all-Swede Alfredsson-Sedin-Sedin line up on Sunday?

Head Scratchers: Keith Yandle Picked Before Better Defensemen

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    My apologies to Keith Yandle, but being selected in front of Dion Phaneuf, Alex Edler, and Dennis Wideman would never happen in an online fantasy draft.

    Yandle, a defenseman for the Phoenix Coyotes, is obviously not accustomed to being surrounded by the talent that he will have on the ice with him this weekend. A big reason for that is the current ownership—or lack there of—situation in Phoenix.

    Phoenix remains limited in the players that it can sign as it awaits a new owner.

    Yandle is not nearly in the same league as players like Phaneuf, Edler or Wideman. Phaneuf and Campbell benefit from a better surrounding cast than Yandle does, but even still Yandle has just 29 points in 50 games, a far cry from the 59 he had last season.

    Picking Yandle at 22nd overall was a surprising move considering the remaining defensemen, but since it was Alfredsson making the pick, one could immediately rule out Dion Phaneuf.

    Let's just hope one of the three defensemen picked after Yandle doesn't make him look like a pylon out there on Sunday.

Head Scratchers: Tyler Seguin Hung out to Dry by His Captain

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    The whole All-Star captain choosing his teammate thing might be a little bit overplayed these days. But letting Tyler Seguin slip to the 15th round? Come on, that isn't right.

    Seguin has 43 points in 46 games this season and leads the NHL in plus-minus this year with an eye popping plus-34.

    But because Chara correctly guessed that Alfredsson wasn't going to select his teammate with any of his picks, Chara was able to make Seguin sweat it out a little bit more and wait to be selected in the 15th round.

    So while this late selection appears to be a head scratcher, it allowed Chara to get the other players that he wanted, and perhaps needed, before calling the name of his phenomenal sophomore teammate.

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