A couple of Saturdays ago I drafted a pair of fantasy hockey squads, including one - the JapersRink All-Bums - in the Mirtle Hockey Blogger Invitational league (check out Wyshynski's squad here, with links therein to a couple of other teams).
Having the eighth pick in the 18-team, 20-man roster draft (head-to-head scoring, with the following categories: G, A, +/-, PIM, PPG, PPA, GWG, SOG, W, GAA, SV, SV%, SHO), I knew I'd be missing out on the top forwards, but would have a chance to grab a good goalie. Considering that goalies will account for five of the thirteen scoring categories but only two or three of any given team's roster spots, drafting a netminder was definitely my strategy going in. And so the draft started:
- Alexander Ovechkin
- Evgeni Nabokov
- Sidney Crosby
- Evgeni Malkin
- Martin Brodeur
- Vincent Lecavalier
- Dany Heatley
The first round progressed without a single goalie being taken before Miikka Kiprusoff went with the last pick of the round, which got the wheels turning in my head - there were some other goalies I liked a lot, and if I took a second goalie with my second pick, it would force most of the teams picking after me to take at least one goalie, leaving a similar forward available with my third round pick as I would have gotten with my second. The picks continued with a predictable run on goalies, and as my pick came up I was salivating at the chance to steal Chris Osgood, but no dice - he went with the pick right before me, leaving me with a choice of Pascal Leclaire, Niklas Backstrom and a bunch of similar forwards. I took Leclaire.
Sure enough, what followed was another run on goalies, with six of the 14 picks before my next one being netminders. The best goalie available when it got back to me was Vesa Toskala, but of course I wasn't looking G. I was looking for the best skater available... which was Chris Pronger. So through three rounds, I was set in goal with probably the best goaltending in the League (if Leclaire can stay healthy), and I had a top five defenseman.
I spent the rest of the draft scrambling a bit for forwards and often taking the best available player (frequently a defenseman), and here's what I ended up with, by round:
- Luongo (G) - see above
- Leclaire (G) - see above
- Pronger (D) - see above
- Nathan Horton (C, RW) - dual eligibility is nice, and someone's gotta score for Florida, right?
- Shane Doan (RW) - looking forward to seeing what he can do with a real center
- Daymond Langkow (C) - I never like drafting dudes whose value is so dependent upon linemates, but Langkow was the right pick here
- Kris Letang (D) - with Gonch and Whitney out, Letang will get all the ice he can handle
- Markus Naslund (LW) - reborn on Broadway? I hope so
- Sheldon Souray (D) - solid pick here, but always an injury risk
- Ryan Malone (LW) - hopefully he gains C eligibility
- Wojtek Wolski (LW) - another injury risk with pretty good offensive upside
- Shea Weber (D) - love this guy
- Bill Guerin (RW) - my first major "ugh" of the draft
- Kyle Okposo (RW) - here's where I became the first person in fantasy hockey history to draft Islanders in back-to-back rounds
- Tim Connolly (C) - yet another injury risk with offensive upside
- Chris Clark (RW) - this pick may have been made with my heart rather than my head, but the Captain has looked good in the preseason
- Tuomo Ruutu (LW) - hey, guess what? An injury risk!
- Jared Boll (RW) - needed a goon, but didn't need one with a broken hand
- Janne Pesonen (LW ) - already cut for Aaron Voros
- Paul Ranger (D) - already cut for Stephen Valiquette... hey, I heard a rumor about a Lundqvist injury
So what do you guys think? If there's any interest, I'll keep you guys posted and may even ask for some advice along the way.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Alex Ovechkin and the Caps are the number one reason to watch the NHL this year.... Damien Cox chimes in on AO vs. Sid.... MediaPost chimes in on AO's latest endorsement deal.... Ken Campbell saw the Karl Alzner cut coming back on Thursday.... Ross McKeon predicts 80 goals for AO and a Finals appearance for the Caps (I guess working the refs pays off).... Allan Muir sees a second-place Southeast Division finish for the Caps.... Linda Cohn is the lone contrarian at ESPN picking against the Caps in the Southeast (though she's got Ovi winning the Hart somehow).... The Caps open the season eighth in CBS's Power Rankings, seventh at TSN.ca and Yahoo! and 10th at CNNSI.... Finally, Cristobal Huet's agent, Steve Bartlett, was on XM204 last week.