I was excited to participate in the BR fantasy hockey league. Aside from myself, the league includes BR hockey regulars Greg Caggiano, Bryan Thiel, Ken Armer, Alan Bass, Chris Bouthilier, Jason Klau, Brett Bods, Tyler Hill, Matt Eichel, Matt Ellenberger, Faiz Ali Verji, Eric Kuzmiak and Chris Hoeler.
I look forward to participating in a league that will be so competitive. The draft confirmed what I had hoped was a reality: every owner knows hockey exceptionally well. Considering the league has 14 teams, we all had to delve deeply into our lists to assemble full rosters. I’d say that by the end of the draft, there probably wasn’t even a single second-line player left.
I will now discuss my roster.
1st round: Jason Spezza
I had the 11th overall pick. I was hoping to pick a winger first, but when it became my turn, Spezza was the best player on the board. Playing on a line with Dany Heatley, he’s a safe bet to record a good +/- and many assists.
2nd round: Henrik Lundqvist
This was an easy decision.
3rd round: Zdeno Chara
Chara is one of the few defensemen who will score 15+ goals per season. He always has a solid +/-, and he’s also good for 100+ PIM.
4th round: Brian Campbell
I was uncomfortable picking yet another defenseman, but Brian Campbell was too good to pass up. Chicago will have a run-and-gun style, and any time you can take care of one of the defensive lineup spots with a substantial offensive player, you do it.
5th round: Patrick Sharp
Not a sexy pick, but +/- counts for just as much as goals. Sharp was +36, and will play on Chicago’s first line. He can only get better.
6th round: Daymond Langkow
Plays on a line with Jarome Iginla. Enough said.
7th round: Miroslav Satan
This pick can easily be second guessed. I’m banking on Satan to have a big year because he’ll be playing with Sidney Crosby. It’s easy to forget what a good player Satan is because he’s been stuck on Short Island for the past few years.
8th round: Mike Cammalleri
Yes, I know he was bad last year. But, he’s still in his twenties, and there’s no reason he can’t rebound playing in Calgary.
9th round: Jose Theodore
This was a contentious issue during the draft. I had Lundqvist and saw that there were 3 solid goalies left: Tomas Vokoun, Dan Ellis and Theodore. I wanted one of them, ideally Theodore, who I think it much better than the other two (in terms of fantasy value). To my amazement, both Vokoun and Ellis were selected successively by Caggiano and Eichel, and Theodore fell to me.
Look at it this way: the teams concerned are the Panthers, Predators and Capitals. I think the Capitals are the best team of the three, and thus that Theodore will win the most games. Whether his GAA and Save % is better or worse than those of Vokoun and Ellis is anybody’s guess, but I think it’s hard to dispute that the Capitals will be a vastly better team than Nashville or Florida.
I would also point out that Caggiano has since turned around and dealt Vokoun in a trade which brought back Ryan Miller, a substantial upgrade.
10th round: Dennis Wideman
The good defensemen were starting to disappear, Wideman is better than most D.
11th round: Craig Rivet
I wasn’t interested in having defensemen on my team who was going to score 10 points, go +5 and record 60 PIM. Rivet was still on the board, and he’ll be on Buffalo’s first PP unit. Why not?
12th round: David Clarkson
At that point, I decided it was time to look into PIM. Clarkson was a player I had targeted before the draft. Though I don’t like the Devils, nobody can deny that there are very few enforcers in the NHL that have a good +/-, can score, and have the potential to increase their scoring output in the future.
13th round: Phil Kessel
I was surprised Kessel fell to the 13th round. There’s no reason he shouldn’t increase his goal total of 19 this year. He looked great in the playoffs…
14th round: Mike Smith
It was time to draft a 3rd goalie. Mike Smith faltered after he was traded to the Lightning. Though I’m skeptical that Tampa will make the playoffs (I cite Boston after the lockout, a similar roster makeover), if Smith can find the skills he apparently left in Dallas, he could be a steal so late in the draft.
15th round: Valtteri Filppula
Mike Babcock has said that Hossa and Zetterberg will not play on the same line. While I’m not sure I believe that, if it is true, it means that one of them could be playing with Filppula.
16th round: Daniel Paille
As Greg Caggiano pointed out during the draft, there are questions about Paille’s work ethic, but I think he was worth it for the 16th round.
17th round: Jordan Staal
Soon, Staal’s play will begin to determine how well he gets paid. Maybe that will finally push him to the next level.
18th round: Maxim Afinogenov
I was surprised that Afinogenov was forgotten by everybody. Who could forget such an exciting player?
19th round: Zack Stortini
I needed an enforcer. To put it bluntly, Stortini is an ogre.
20th round: Michael Nylander
Perhaps I was being a sentimental Rangers fan, but Nylander was great while in NYC. Many analysts think that was a product of centering Jaromir Jagr, and they might be right. However, if Nylander sees regular time with Ovechkin, who’s to say what he’ll do?
Questions/reactions are welcome.