Apparently, I hate having free time, as I have signed myself up for three separate fantasy hockey leagues. This isn't because I'm good at fantasy hockey and none of them are for money. It's because I enjoy being locked into the NHL season and it helps me to pay attention to what is going on around the league as opposed to just the Canucks. It's also nice to have a player or two to cheer for when I'm watching a game that doesn't involve the Canucks.
Unfortunately, the first of the drafts snuck up on me when I wasn't paying attention. I joined one of the Nucks Misconduct leagues with 19 other teams, a bigger league than I'm used to. The live draft was yesterday and I was only able to be there for the first three picks and the last five, depending on my pre-draft rankings for the rest. The result was...mixed. Here's my team: I Miss Kyle Wellwood.
1. (3) Steven Stamkos - C
In the first round, I had the third pick, which is one of my least favorite places to pick. As expected, Ovechkin and Crosby when one and two, leaving me with a difficult choice: do I hope that Stamkos continues his success from last year (especially on the powerplay), go with the more proven Backstrom (though he scores fewer goals), take a chance on Malkin playing a full season (with his high PIM to go with it) or solidify my goaltending with Luongo or Miller? Obviously, I went with Stamkos. Goals are harder to come by than a lot of other stats and he led the NHL in powerplay points last season.
2. (38) Ryan Kesler - C
I hate taking two centres with my first two picks as centre is the deepest position in fantasy hockey, but the combination of points, penalty minutes, and powerplay points makes Kesler a decent bet. Also, I'm a total homer and have a massive man-crush on the guy. I try to divest myself of my emotions on draft day, but it never works.
3. (43) Dan Boyle - D
I'm very happy I got Boyle at this position in the draft, as he's a legitimate powerplay quarterback who will put up plenty of points for me, especially goals. He had a reasonable number of penalty minutes last year, so he'll chip in from time to time on that stat.
4. (78) Tomas Plekanec - C
Here's where the auto-picking takes over and, of course, it's the first pick I'm not happy with. Since I already have two great centres, the last thing I want is another one before I have a single winger. Plekanec is also a risky proposition, as he jumped from 39 points to 70 last year and I'm skeptical he can continue to produce at that level. That said, he's consistently scored 20+ goals over the last 4 seasons and he's playing with a legitimate sniper in Cammalleri, so his assist totals may be alright. But ultimately I may end up trying to swing a trade for a winger before the season starts.
5. (83) Alex Burrows - LW
This pick I don't mind at all. Yes, he's starting the season injured, but he'll likely slot in with the Sedins right away when he gets back, which is fantasy gold. If not, he'll be paired with Kesler, which is also not a bad thing. Burrows puts up goals and penalty minutes in abundance and is also likely to have a high +/-. He won't do anything on the powerplay, but at this point in the draft, that's a reasonable tradeoff.
6. (118) Chris Mason - G
My first goalie, and even though he plays for Atlanta now, I'm reasonably happy with this pick. He'll get plenty of starts because Ondrej Pavelec is incredibly unreliable (I should know, I had him in a pool last year), and he'll be reasonably consistent. If I hadn't been auto-picking, I would have tried to pick up a goalie in the 4th round in place of Plekanec, but I'll take Mason. Atlanta will hopefully win a few more games this season.
7. (123) Tobias Enstrom - D
For my second defenceman, I get a decent powerplay performer who will provide plenty of assists, but not much else. He was 7th in the league among defencemen for points last season, which is nice, and at his age he can be reasonably expected to improve.
8. (158) Niclas Bergfors - RW
Eighth round and I'm just getting my first right winger. Yikes. And he's a Thrasher. Double-yikes. He's a great young player and he'll get plenty of playing time in Atlanta, but this pick is still a bit of a risk. Hopefully it will pay off.
9. (163) Jonathan Bernier - G
Another risky pick, but one I feel pretty good about. I am confident that Bernier will battle with Quick for the starting spot with the Kings and I am confident that Bernier will win that battle. By the end of the season, this pick will look like the steal of the draft. In three games last season, he posted a .967 save percentage and a 1.30 GAA. Bernier will get plenty of wins in LA and he'll post a better save percentage and GAA than Quick while doing it.
10. (198) Devin Setoguchi - RW
I'm hoping that last year was an aberration and Setoguchi will have a bounce-back season. If he does, this will be a great pick. If he stumbles into Cheechoo territory, then he'll be hitting the waiver wire.
11. (203) Marek Zidlicky - D
This was when I got back online and looked to fill in some vacant roster spots. Zidlicky had a terrible +/- last season, but he got a lot of points on the powerplay and will give me a good number of assists. At this point, that's about all I can hope for.
12. (238) Vinny Prospal - LW
What can I say? I needed another left-winger and Prospal certainly is a left-winger. Actually, that's not even true: he's listed as a centre on NHL.com. In any case, he scored 20 goals last year and was decent on the powerplay so I can't complain.
13. (243) Steve Ott - C
Yes, another centre. He racks up the penalty minutes but also scored 22 goals last season. None of that will matter, of course, as he won't get into my lineup with Stamkos, Kesler, and Plekanec in front of him. I really need to trade Plekanec.
14. (278) Fedor Tyutin - D
One more defenceman, one more powerplay quarterback. He was the best of what was left, though I'm now wondering if I should have gone for a goon who would rack up penalty minutes instead. We'll see what the waiver wire has to offer.
15. (283) Bill Guerin - RW
This is a risk, but not a big one as there are players available on the waiver wire to replace him if he doesn't stick with the Flyers. But with the Flyers trading Gagne away and Zherdev being a bit of a question mark, I think the Flyers sign him as insurance. Yes, he's old, but he's been remarkably consistent. I think he can be successful with that group of forwards.
16. (318) Dwayne Roloson - G
Is this the year that DiPietro stays healthy? My guess is no, which means Roloson will get the bulk of the starts. I think the Islanders will be a better team this year, which means Roloson will get a few more wins. Is that a foolish thought? Yes, but again, in this round of a draft with this many teams, it's slim-pickings.
So that's team one, I Miss Kyle Wellwood. I like some parts of this team and hate other parts. I really wish I had been able to live draft the whole thing, because there's no way I would have taken another centre in the fourth round. Oh well, I still have two more teams in smaller leagues: the Emily Carr Echidnas and the Aldergrove Awesome.
For those who get horribly bored listening to people talk about their fantasy hockey teams (I know I do), I'll try to keep updates to a minimum, perhaps once a month unless something momentous happens.