Fantasy Factor football champion, Kevin Zuk and his Ashes of the Igloo team were up first and he went with one his favorite, Penguins star Evgeni Malkin. Not really surprising as he is the defending MVP. Although I was surprised he didn't go with his boy Rick Nash, who is apparently "dead" to him now. Next was Mr Magoo on Ice and he selected sniper Steven Stamkos. In a shortended season, it'll be interesting to see if he gets to 50 this year.
The next pick was a name you didn't typically see in the first round and I thought I'd never see ahead of a healthy Crosby. The Flying Hellfish picked Claude Giroux of the Flyers. Giroux vastly outplayed Crosby and the Penguins last spring, so maybe it is a good pick. With the next pick, Benchwarmers wasted no time and selected the heart and soul of the Penguins organization, Sidney Crosby. He's a risky pick considering the concussion problems, but he played out the rest of last year and looked very good. If he can stay healthy, he'll be the most valuable fantasy hockey player this year.
My auto drafting brother, Geno Machineo was next and he must not have preset his player ranking beforehand because under no circumstances would he have selected Alexander Ovechkin. That's right, Mr Die Hard Penguins fan picks Ovie in the first round. If Ovie can get back to his old 50 goal scoring self, maybe he can let go of some of that hate. Speaking of hated players, Corey Perry entering into a contract year with Anaheim will look to bounce back after a letdown year last year with Buy Out Clause, whom by the way logged on from work to take part in the draft. That's the kind of commitment I like to see. Hopefully his IT people will give him a break. I mean, its hockey and when are you going to be able to do a fantasy hockey draft in mid-January ever again? Hopefully never.
We're up to 7th and I was looking at the board and getting ready for my pick. "Hmmmm... well there's the Sedin twins. That'd be cool to have both of..." Zombies selects Daniel Sedin. *Sigh* Nevermind... It was a theme that stuck throughout the night.
Next was my pick! Lots of names, but nobody really sticking out. Lundqvist? Nah, I read an article about him saying he didn't think he was going to be good in the beginning. Quick? Stanley Cup hangover possibility. Rinne? Not without Suter. My strategy from last year by picking the two best goalies in the league first and second (Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo) wasn't viable this year. I hate to be a homer, but Pavel Datsyuk really is the best player on the board right now. He's in mid season form already, he'll be on a line with Zetterberg. He's uber talented. Why not?
As if picking a first rounder wasn't agonizing enough, now its my turn again. Now who? Zetterberg? Nah, too early. The other Sedin? Nah, I'd want both, not just one. Scrolling way down on the list I found Martin St Louis. Whoa, what's Marty doing down here? He didn't put up 90 points last year, but he'll always be on Stamkos' line.
The long wait began. Lots of names flew off the board. Most of the "elite" goalies were gone, but I had a plan for that position anyways. Maybe I could go with the Staal boys in this round. Zombies selects Eric Staal. Or not. Well its the third round, probably the earliest I could make this selection without being too much of a homer. Xtreme Machine selects Henrik Zetterberg. He was named captain that day, I have to have him on my team, for better or worse.
You know, I really don't care if I have both Sedins. Henrik Sedin is a former MVP and Art Ross Trophy winner. Its actually pretty stupid that he's fallen this far. At worst, he's a point per game player, at best he's an MVP and the best 4th round pick ever.
As I watched Jimmy Howard and Tuuka Rask fall off the board, I thought it might be about time to work on my goalie plan. With Ken Hitchcock as coach, the Blues were by far the best defensive team in hockey giving up 15 less goals than the 2nd best team and almost 30 less than the 3rd best team. While the Blues went with a timeshare, the better, more talented of the two is Jaroslav Halak. He was their starter in the playoffs before he got injured and posted some great numbers during the regular season. Elliot was then added to my que for a later round.
Back to offense. The Rangers made a big move in acquiring Rick Nash and didn't really give up a ton to get him either. Already with Gaborik on the team, Brad Richards was going to have another really good linemate and even if they don't all play together, Richards will always be paired up with one of them.
I was looking for more offensive depth and considered Nicklas Backstrom of the Capitals just as Mr Magoo on Ice snatched him up. In this round, Buy Out Clause made an interesting selection of Roberto Luongo. I'm sure he'll start somewhere this year, probably in Toronto, but as of right now, he's a back up. A risky pick, but could really pay off depending on what team he gets traded to. It was almost my trade again and I felt that I needed more offense. When you miss out on the big names in the first round, you have to make up for it with depth. Still on my high from the Richards pick, I figured, why not get his linemate Marian Gaborik just in case all three do get put together on the same line. I wouldn't mind owning 2/3 of a mega-line.
At this point in the draft, I had noticed that only a handful of defensemen had been taken. As I mentioned before in the previous round, depth will be key. With plenty of good defensemen out there, I went with the best one, Shea Weber. He may spend the next 14 years rotting away in Nashville, but for this year he'll be an Xtreme Machine player once again.
So as I had my long wait till I picked in this round, I figured "There's plenty of good defensemen out there still and they're not being taken. I could really solidify that position this next time around." I moved the next two defensemen that I wanted to the que. When it was my turn, they were both still there. First, was Drew Doughty of the Kings. He had a bit of a down year last year, but make no mistake, he's one of the league's elite blueliners.
I don't know what it is about the Coyotes but they keep contending, no matter who plays for them. They don't have a lot of talent, but one of the few talented players that they do have is Keith Yandle. There were a lot of trade rumors swirling around him last summer and if the Coyotes struggle in the standings or financially, Yandle could very well be dealt and his value could really skyrocket. Having someone of that caliber as my 3rd D, will really help give me a depth advantage. My defensemen were complete and they are easily the strongest core in this league.
Okay, now that the defensemen are well situated, back to offense. Or maybe Elliot? Nah, he'll make to a couple more rounds. Right? It was a risk I was willing to take. Now I realize its 2013 and not 1993, but in terms of Teemu Selanne's level of play, there's not much of a difference. Even in his 40's, the guy knows about to score goals. This is going to be his last year (how many times have we said that?) and I'm hoping he has one more good year left in him to score maybe 15-20 goals in this shortened season.
Probably one of the most underrated players in hockey is Mikko Koivu. Even before, Parise and Heatley he was about a point per game player as the Wild's top line center. Well now the Wild have plenty more support via free agency and from within. This could be the last time Koivu ever gets picked beyond the 10th round.
Alright. I'm starting to freak out. My goalie master plan could fall apart any second if I don't pick Brian Elliot. Time to stop messing around and complete this thing. Elliot was a beast behind that Blues defense. 23 wins in 36 games, 9 shutouts and a 1.56 GAA with a .940%. Statistically, he's better than Halak.
The NJ Devils don't have very many options on offense. Whenever they have crucial moments when they need a goal, it'll be Kovalchuk and Patrick Elias. Elias put up a 78 point season with 29 powerplay points. Granted that was with Parise on the team, but even a 65 point players is good at this late stage in the draft.
Looking at my team, there were a lot of player makers. Lots of assist guys. I should blend in some shooting and goal scoring power. A couple years ago Jeff Carter was considered an elite goal scorer. Last year, he was supposed to be the center the Jackets have been looking for, for Rick Nash. Then he won the Stanley Cup. Now... he's getting drafted in the 15th round? People say he's lazy. Has an attitude problem. Whatever. People forget that he has talent and could become an impact goal scorer real quick once again.
Speaking of talented players not living up to their potential, remember when Vincent Lecavalier used to be considered as one of the best players in the world? Since Stamkos arrived, Vinny has been a little down in the scoring department. However, it should be noted that his "down numbers" are close to 30 goals and 60-70 points a year.
Well as talented as the Blues guys are, I'll need another goalie. I considered Nicklas Backstrom, Jonas Hiller, Miikka Kiprusoff, but all were taken well before this round. What about the Caps? Braden Holtby was sitting there at the top of the draft list for awhile, getting passed by over and over again. Did everyone forget about his really strong showing in last year's playoffs? I don't know about the defense, but he'll get plenty of goal support. Added Neuvirth to my que.
Late in the draft, I'm looking for hidden gems. I see someone and think "hey why hasn't he been taken yet?" I actually saw David Krejci earlier and thought he'd be gone by 18, but I was wrong and happy that I was. He's the Bruins second line center and has a couple of solid linemates to go along with him. A 60-70 point player if he stays healthy.
Seriously, you have NO IDEA how long Damien Brunner sat in my que during this draft. Each round I kept thinking "Pick him! Pick him now or you'll lose him!" Each round, I kept holding my breath. I almost cracked in the 11th round, but I said "No. I'll wait till Steve Yzerman's 19th round and pick him". Fortunately, the Swiss superstar was still available. He probably would have gone undrafted, but whatever. I wanted him on my team. He is the Swiss scoring champion from last year and was tearing up that league again with Zetterberg as his linemate during the lockout. The two have chemistry already and will continue to be linemates in Hockeytown. Here's hoping for Detroit's next superstar that came out of nowhere.
Back to more proven commodities, Nathan Horton missed most of last year due to a concussion. He's back now and the sniper is looking to regain that 50 point, 25 goal look to him again. He will likely be paired up with Krejci, so I have two reasons to cheer for Boston's second line.
Twenty First Round:
Well its down to my last two picks. I really should complete out my Washington tandem. Xtreme Machine selects Michal Neuvirth.
Twenty Second Round:
After 15 goals in 26 games, I had high hopes for Chris Stewart last year. Well, he kind of let me down. He scored 15 goals again, but in 79 games. Yikes. He blamed his lack of production on conditioning and made every effort in the off season to fix that. Here's hoping he gets back on track.
Ashes of the Igloo (B) - The forwards look good. A lot of them need to either hold or progress and not regress such as Ladd, Evander Kane, Logan Couture, Patric Hornqvist. They all enjoyed better than normal season last year and can't regress or it'll be a major hit to the depth. The defense is solid and he has 4 goalies that will play plenty of games, so he plenty of options from game to game.
Mr Magoo on Ice (B+) - I really like the goaltending with Mike Smith and Pekka Rinne. One of the best goal scorers in Stamkos and possibly the best defenseman in fantasy hockey Erik Karlsson. Depth is a concern though. Not much beyond the top guys.
The Flying Hellfish (B-) - The goaltending is rock solid with Tuuka Rask and Jonathan Quick, but I don't like the defensemen or the offensive depth. Giroux and Parise will have to carry the load and hope that inconsitent players like Briere, Franzen, Nugent-Hopkins and Landeskog step up or are more consistent.
Benchwarmers (B) - I like the overall look of the team. Strong at forward with Crosby, Tavares, Kovalchuk, and Iginla, but beyond the top half the bottom half is a little scary. The defensemen look okay, but I think Brian Campbell's big season last year was a fluke. I expect his number to come back down to Earth, while Del Zotto's number should go up. Potential disaster as goalie. Bryz and Crawford are not dependable and if the Wings defense doesn't adjust to the loss of Lidstrom, Howard could be in trouble.
Geno Machineo (C+) - Lots of goons and he'll be relying on PIM category to help him. Ovechkin is great, but the roster under him is nothing special. King Henry and Cory Schneider help boost this team up to a C+.
Buy Out Clause (B) - Some risky picks here. Will Luongo be a starter this year? Brodeur is a hall of famer, but will he play like one this late in his career? Do Jagr and Alfredsson have another year in them? Is Patrick Kane going to focus on hockey? Is Jordan Staal, on another team, going to break out? Will Nash gel with his new teammates? Can Corey Perry play like an MVP again? This team could really go either way.
Zombies (A-) - Run by DMC, who I would consider an elite fantasy player in these fantasy factor leagues, has a strong team with depth on offense, good defensemen and decent goalies. I would say goaltending is the weakness of this team with Fleury and Ward, who could both rack up a bunch of wins regardless of their play.
Xtreme Machine (A) - I hate to give myself the highest grade, but... I actually feel very good about this team at this point. Datsyuk, Henrik Sedin and Martin St Louis are good players that can be elite level at times. Plenty of depth with Zetterberg, Richards, Gaborik, Selanne, Koivu, Lecavalier, Elias. Definately the best defense in the league with Weber, Doughty and Yandle. The only real question mark is my goaltending with the Blues and Caps tandems. The Blues had the best defense in the league last year, so Halak and Elliot combined should make one really good goaltender and the Caps, with their high flying shootout style of hockey should win them plenty of games.
Don't get mad about your grade or too excited. Its a lockout shortended season which means this season will be wildly unpredictable and you can almost throw everything you know about hockey out the window.
So what was your impression of the draft? How did you do? Did you get who you wanted? Are you happy? Disappointed? Let us know in the comments!