Archive for September, 2009

Gut Reactions: The Central Division

September 29, 2009

Sooner or later I’m going to stop finding funny pictures …

1. Detroit Red Wings
My biggest regret with slacking on these updates is that I didn’t get to jump on the “You’re Crazy for Counting Out the Red Wings” bandwagon before a ton of people already refuted the annual “this is the year Detroit won’t make it” hoopla. Darn.
Naturally it’s not good that the Wings replaced Marian Hossa and Jiri Hudler with the likes of Todd effin’ Bertuzzi, but few teams can match the Red Wings defense (Lidstrom-Rafalski-Kronwall) and unstoppable winning tradition.
2. Chicago Blackhawks
I haven’t been shy about criticizing Chicago’s off-season moves, but those mistakes will hurt the team from a longterm perspective more than anything else. Chances are the ‘Hawks will move some personnel before next summer, but as is, the team is loaded.
Brodeur is a Fraud has a way of consistently flipping the script on my goalie assumptions and the Contrarian Goaltender did just that with his “No Respect for Huet” piece. While tCG’s powers of numerical persuasion cannot change me from anti-Huet to Cristobal-iever (hey-o!), the posts did at least make me hesitate in calling him a true problem.
With scoring depth, solid defense and their three best players entering contract years it is difficult to imagine Chicago having a total meltdown.
3. Columbus Blue Jackets
As a Faceoff dork, CBJ could have been a dream team in the circle if they kept Manny Malholtra. Still, the team is strong down the middle and has that Rick Nash guy people seem to really care about. When you combine an improving fleet of forwards and a good young goalie in Steve Mason with Ken Hitchock’s top-notch defensive system, it’s tempting to put Columbus above Chicago.
That would be hasty, though, since their ceiling falls considerably if Derick Brassard deals with more injury problems.
4. St. Louis Blues
The Central division is good enough to send four teams to the playoffs (not to say that will happen), so this isn’t meant to be a slight to the Blue-notes. The team is jam packed with young forwards and could really see a nice jump with the (hopefully healthy) return of Erik Johnson. Factor in the remote possibility of a Paul Kariya renaissance and it’s hard not to be excited about St. Louis.
In fact, the more I talk about this the less comfortable I feel with this prediction. Let’s move on.
5. Nashville Predators
Barry Trotz must be an awesome coach, right? No one ever sees much in the Predators, yet they always seem to scrap their way to competitiveness.
Unfortunately, their division isn’t “Detroit + awful + awful + awful + Nashville” any longer. You’ve gotta love Shea Weber, but it just doesn’t look like they have the horses to grind out a playoff berth any more.

Gut Reactions: The Atlantic Division

September 29, 2009

Sadly I only have time to post this edition with the text and this horrific gut. Contextual photo humor will have to wait. Sorry, hockey starved masses!

1. Philadelphia Flyers

While most of the Twitterverse mocked Philly for sending their farm system to Anaheim for Chris Pronger, I cringed for very different reasons. It was almost as if Paul Holmgren heard my claims that the Flyers were going from a bunch of meathead goons to a bunch of Downy soft forwards. Now, the Flyers are big and bad again and Pronger could not be a more fitting – almost archetypal – D guy for that team.

Pronger-Coburn-Timonen is the best defensive trio in the Eastern Conference. With Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and a handful of quality support players, the Flyers shouldn’t struggle to light up the scoreboard, either. As always, though, the Flyers had to build a beautiful house on a foundation of flimsy goaltending.

While I think Ray Emery was good enough to at least be on an NHL roster last year (and Brain Boucher is a solid backup), it is humorous that the team is once again rolling the dice in net.

They’ll get by gloriously in the regular season … but in the playoffs? I have my doubts.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins have a better chance to win the Cup than the Atlantic Division this season.

On its face, that’s a ridiculous statement but the Penguins have been slow starters since the beginning of the Crosby era and I expect that trend to continue. With Max Talbot sidelined for quite a while and a team that must be a little banged up from two straight deep playoff runs, the Penguins might sputter a bit with that big silver chalice-shaped target on their backs.

But don’t bet against them when the games start to matter.

3. New Jersey Devils

Speaking of never betting against someone, how can you doubt the Devils at this point? I’ve been stunned to read all of the Chicken Little talk about New Jersey after they lost not-so-essential players like John Madden and Brian Gionta. Look, they’re both nice players but why would those two land a death blow on a team that somehow remained contenders after losing Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens and Brian Rafalski since the salary cap was instituted?

Like some Raid-proof roach infestation, the Devils will continue defy expectations and make it to the playoffs again. And much like their spiritual insect brethren, it won’t be pretty … especially with Jacques Lemaire in charge.

4. New York Rangers

“Boy, if Marian Gaborik could just stay healthy the Rangers would see a huge upgrade.”

“If only Lindsay Lohan could calm down on the crank for a bit, she could be the next great starlet.”

“If only Al Gore could emulate true human emotions, he’d be a hell of a candidate.”

“It’s too bad time machines aren’t real because then Britney Spears could un-ruin her life.”

“If US banks didn’t destroy America …”

Wow, the “if game” really IS fun!

5. New York Islanders

Take solace in John Tavares.

Gut Reactions: The Northwest Division

September 29, 2009

Instead of going team-by-team, let’s stick some gut reactions into tidy divisional formats. Then at the end I’ll share wild guesses on playoff seeding and maybe a blindfolded dart throw at a Stanley Cup champion. You’re WELCOME.

1. Calgary Flames
Appetizers: Getting rid of “Mad” Mike Keenan, having three top-2 defensemen, Jarome effin’ Iginla, Olli Jokinen in a contract year, the fact that Kipper couldn’t perform much worse than he did last year.

Reach for the TUMS: Not too much beyond Iggy, have you SEEN Olli Jokinen?, Kipper could simply be on a free fall.

Weigh-in: The Flames aren’t a perfect hockey team, but they’re in the right division. Though each team brings something to the table, none of Calgary’s opponents will overload them with scoring talent.
2. Vancouver Canucks (the original gut reactions on Vancouver)
Chips and dip: They employ arguably the best goalie in the NHL, locked up the Cyborg Sedins for the mid-range future, chock full of ruggedness, still sports a splendid defense even without Ohlund.
Band-aid in the pasta: Andrew effin Raycroft, the Vancouver Olympics will make the Canucks have a crazy road schedule, the team has a general lack of monetary motivation, not a ton of high-end offense.
Verdict: As a pure team, I think Vancouver might be the best. However, the schedule is negative and their best players (Sedins + Luongo) are locked up which means they don’t have that contract year carrot dangling in front of them.

3. Minnesota Wild

Bread and butter: A nice goaltending tandem, Mikko Koivu, no longer dealing with Jacques Lemaire comb over jokes … uhhh ….
Bland, flavorless meat loaf: Do you really think they’re going to open it up? They lose Gaborik but make sure to give their trainers ample company by signing Martin Havlat.
Check: The NW Division falls off noticeably after Vancouver and Calgary (although this division always seems to revel in scrappy play).
4. Edmonton Oilers
Maple Syrup: Ales Hemsky is a diamond in the rough, young players can make a nice jump, Sheldon Souray slap shots his anger away.
Poorly digested Pecans: The Bulin Wall tends to turn into a dilapidated fence in non-contract years, Edmonton is (apparently) a godforsaken hellhole.

So…: The Oilers could scrap their way into a playoff spot, but my gut feeling is that they’ll tease for a few months and then putter their way to a golf course.

5. Colorado Avalanche
Calamari with a squeeze of lemon: Paul Stastny is quite good if arguably overpaid, they’re finally sucking it up and rebuilding after settling for mediocrity and nostalgia since the lockout, they’re not paying much for mediocre goaltending.
Rocky Mountain oysters: Their blue line is infested with crappy $3-4 million defensemen not named Kyle. The growing pains are going to hurt … can fans who’ve been spoiled since Day 1 be counted on when the team isn’t competing for a Cup for a few years?
Dessert: Keep your heads up, Avs fans. It’s time to yank that band-aid off instead of watching your skin peel back slowly.

CLS Redraft: Thoughts and Reflections

September 25, 2009

(Surprise! I’m back from family, work, and lots of general personal busy-ness, and I’m posting on CLS!)

Some of you may remember that last year, there was a really unfortunate incident that ended with a 14 year old who thought he could grow facial hair lifting the Stanley Cup. Scott Niedermayer’s playoff beard must’ve been rolling in its grave to see that. For a variety of reasons, the Detroit Red Wings came up short in a 7-gamer against the Pittsburgh Penguins last year. Fortunately, this summer, James O’Brien gave me a chance to rebuild, retool, and prepare to redeem a team that completely blew it (for various reasons, most forgivably being Nick Lidstrom’s testicle) and let a Stanley Cup slip through their fingers. I present to you, the team that will win back the Stanley Cup, the Cycle Like Sedins’ redrafted Detroit Red Wings!
Brenden Morrow (A) (3-16, 76) / Brad Richards (8-15, 225) / Jarome Iginla (C) (1-16, 16)
T. J. Oshie (6-23, 173) / Antoine Vermette (9-29, 269) / Steve Bernier (12-23, 353)
Todd Marchant (12-24, 354) / Jarret Stoll (10-16, 286) / Torrey Mitchell (11-30, 330)
Marcel Goc (13-29, 389) / Darren Helm (9-16, 256) / Matt Cooke (13-7, 367)
Aaron Ward (11-22, 322) / Duncan Keith (A) (2-15, 45)
Kent Huskins (14-2, 392) / Alexandre Edler (6-15, 165)
Colin White (14-15 405) / Jonathan Ericsson (6-22, 172)
Pekka Rinne (2-23, 53)
Jaroslav Halak (11-16, 316)
Yes, my entire 20 man starting roster came in the first 14 rounds, ending with Colin White at #405. Early in the draft, as a couple trades starting being made by PHI and EDM, the thought occurred to me that in the late rounds (15-20), all that anyone would have to pick from is the maybes, never-weres, and stupid video game favorites (Dimotrakos!!!) of the NHL. I started trading down in the 4th round, and was able to eventually parlay my picks into all being in the first 14 rounds. After making my 3rd round pick of Morrow, there wasn’t too many guys that I didn’t feel were significant upgrades over players who would be available 5 rounds later, so I traded down and skipped the draft for a couple rounds, stockpiling mid-round picks. At one point, I think I owned 4 or 5 11th rounders.
My original plan, as detailed at my own mostly inactive blog, was to draft strongly on defense, and build a team more in the mold of the Anaheim Ducks of recent seasons. If Zdeno Chara hadn’t gone one pick before me to Columbus, I might’ve taken him instead of Iginla. In the end, I decided one of the best forwards in the league, a guy who exemplifies everything that is good and wonderful about hockey, certainly deserved to be the centerpiece of my team, and I had to adjust my strategy accordingly. I might have made a mistake in filling up my forwards quickly, and missing out on a couple of better defensemen (Huskins and White are my only significant weaknesses, I feel), but overall, I think it turned out pretty well.
I’m pretty confident that my first line can hang with anyone in the league. Brad Richards may be obscenely overpaid, but he’s still a pretty good player, and with Iggy and Morrow on his wings, they’re liable to kick your ass and then score on you for good measure. My 2nd line might be a bit weak, particularly Bernier on the right side, but against lower pairings and with solid partners, I think Bernier can do allright. I have a massive hardon for Antoine Vermette, both from video games and from his real life FOW%, and with his speed and two big bodies on either side of him, I think that line could work pretty decently.
What I might be most proud of is my third line. I have 3 C’s, all with excellent FOW%, for a 3rd line, and I would have no problem shuffling any of those three into 2nd or 4th line duty as needed. Even my fourth line is pretty sweet, having my personal favorite player, Darren Helm, as well as a fantastic pest with a little bit of skill in Matt Cooke, and a super-cheap Marcel Goc on the left side. In lieu of having a standout defense, as originally planned, I decided it would work just as well to have a big, physical, and defensively responsible set of 12 forwards, and I think I did a pretty good job of filling that mold overall.
On defense, outside of White and Huskins, I think I’m fairly solid. The whole unit isn’t elite, but I think its pretty solid, and more than that, that defensive corps can definitely knock you around, and can even score a few goals. One of the hardest things to play against is a team that lets you take the perimeter and the boards, but will flatten you if you take two steps away from them. such teams have been, until 2009, the only kind of team to beat the Red Wings in the playoffs since 2001. Ducks, Flames, Oilers, etc, they were all built on letting you take easy-to-stop perimeter shots, and attempting to decapitate you if you stepped off the boards. I think this defense should do a pretty good job of that.
If there is a significant weakness here, its probably in goal, which should be nothing new to the Detroit Red Wings. I’m not entirely sold on Rinne (if I’d had the original pick that EDM used to draft him, I’d have gone with Vokoun or Hiller), as I’d like to see a bigger sample size, but I don’t think its unreasonable to think that at worst, he’s about a league-average goalie. Because I don’t entirely trust him, I decided it best to have a capable backup, and for that I chose Jaroslav Halak, because he’s shown the ability to play like a #1 before, though he’s lacked consistency. With help from a good defense, maybe he could gain that consistency. Again, at worst, he’s probably league average, and behind this team, I think league average could definitely be pushed up a couple points, a la Nicklas Backstrom.
In building this team, one of the things that quickly became apparent was that some people were attempting to build unrealistic teams full of fragile snipers that could never get the puck for themselves, the kind of teams that work in a video game, but not so much in real life. To me, one of the most fun parts of this entire redraft was not just trying to draft the best player each pick from a “score as many goals as you can” standpoint, but from trying to build an honest-to-goodness functional NHL team. I might not win any of the competitive aspects of this redraft, but to me, that’s ok, because I truly believe that this team, as constructed, could do very very well in the NHL. Hopefully, they do that well in the CLS-NHL as well.

Coming Soon …

September 23, 2009

… The 2009-10 season. Rut roh.

A look at the next couple weeks ahead (perhaps … at least I hope so):

  • If things work out well, I should have a daily feature (but that might be a big if to get everyone coordinated) that will (hopefully) bring a fresh-ish take on “link dumps”/headline type posts. Hopefully.
  • I’m going to finish up my season previews (“Gut Reactions”) although I’m going to change the format from team-by-team to division-by-division. This may be the only thing I can truly guarantee.
  • Finally, I hope to involve the team bloggers in a spirited but brief little feature to preview the NHL season in true CLS fashion.
Not sure if all three of the above plans will come to fruition, but it never hurts to try. Stay tuned kiddos.

CLS Re-Draft: Round 16

September 20, 2009


16-1 (451) – Florida Panthers – Toni Lydman
16-2 (452) – Colorado Avalanche – Dan Ellis
16-3 (453) – Chicago Blackhawks – Justin Abdelkader (Acquired from Montreal)
16-4 (454) – Anaheim Ducks – John Mitchell
16-5 (455) – Buffalo Sabres – Brent Johnson
16-6 (456) – Boston Bruins – Petteri Nokelainen
16-7 (457) – Ottawa Senators – Brian Boucher
16-8 (458) – San Jose Sharks – Jimmy Howard
16-9 (459) – Toronto Maple Leafs – John Madden
16-10 (460) – New Jersey Devils – Richard Park
16-11 (461) – Colorado Avalanche (Acquired from New York Rangers): Cody McLeod
16-12 (462) – Carolina Hurricanes – Derek Boogaard
16-13 (463) – Minnesota North Stars – Erik Ersberg
16-14 (464) – Boston Bruins (Acquired from Los Angeles, via Edmonton) – Stephane Yelle
16-15 (465) – Toronto Maple Leafs (Acquired from Detroit, via Edmonton): Sergei Kostitsyn

Symbolic of Radek Bonk being gobbled up by the KHL???

16-16 (466) – Philadelphia Flyers (Acquired from Columbus): Cory Murphy
16-17 (467) – Washington Capitals: Fredrik Modin
16-18 (468) – Pittsburgh Penguins: Jarkko Ruutu
16-19 (469) – Phoenix Coyotes: Radek Bonk
16-20 (470) – St. Louis Blues: Tom Kostopoulos
16-21 (471) – Atlanta Thrashers: Mike Comrie
16-22 (472) – Nashville Predators: Cal O’Reilly
16-23 (473) – New York Rangers (Acquired from Colorado Avalanche, via Edmonton): Karlis Skrastins
16-24 (474) – St. Louis Blues (Acquired from Philadelphia): Anssi Salmela
16-25 (475) – New York Islanders: Mathieu Schneider
16-26 (476) – Chicago Blackhawks: Matt Bradley
16-27 (477) – Dallas Stars: Bryce Salvador
16-28 (478) – Tampa Bay Lightning: Brad Lukowich
16-29 (479) – Vancouver Canucks: Travis Moen
16-30 (480) – Calgary Flames: Bruno Gervais

Aimless whining about NHL ’10

September 18, 2009

Look, there’s plenty to like about NHL ’10. EA Sports added some nice features and the game feels (generally) more authentic than ever. In fact, despite my misgivings I’ll probably play a few games tonight.

Still, there are some serious issues that make me glad that I didn’t end up spending a full $60 on the game (since I was able to trade in games at Gamestop). In some ways, the series takes one step forward and two step backwards. Here’s a random collection of thoughts.

  • The post-whistle shtick is really obnoxious, especially online. It would be interesting if the rough stuff truly carried over during the game or wasn’t something that happened after every whistle. Instead, all it does is needlessly slow the game down to a screeching halt.
(And when you consider the game’s nearly constant slowdown aka frame rate drops, every slowdown is another tablespoon of salt in your wounds)
Besides, it was more fun just to mindlessly bash people after the whistle. Hopefully EA patches this in the update so online games stop feeling longer than a game of Madden.
  • Many people had issues with an unintentional penalty that often happened in NHL ’09. Sometimes you would receive an interference call because the game assumed you were going for a hit when you were actually attempting a one-timer.
Yet, they replaced that unintentional penalty flaw with a different unintentional penalty flaw. Now, if you don’t pin someone against the boards at the right time the game thinks you want to start a fight since both actions share the same button.
In that case, the other person may not choose to fight (giving them a powerplay) or you might get an instigator penalty (giving them a powerplay). Couldn’t EA commit the “start a fight” motion to the select button to avoid confusion and unintended penalties? Bah.
  • The neutral zone passing in this game (and much of the quick passes “into space”) can be downright horrific at times. I tried to make reasonable breakout passes and they would speed senselessly to an icing violation frequently.
Generally, EA’s solution to people scoring a lot of one-timer goals was to force passes into the most inane spots. I’ve tried to pass diagonally down and right and the game would force the past off the boards … which was diagonally up and to the left. The exact opposite of my input.
Few things bother me more than a game “fixing” design flaws by making controls less intuitive and reliable.
  • Is it too much to ask for icon passing or being able to switch to the exact player you want? Sometimes I feel most comfortable playing defense with a forward, but the game assumes that I want to go for checks constantly and therefore only allows me to use a defenseman at crucial times.
This forces me into situations of potential domestic violence, but thankfully there is no wife or dog around to feel the sting of my fits.

I can often realte to Sleek’s duck when it comes to unintended penalties in NHL ‘10

  • The teammate AI could still use some work. If the game is going to hang you out to dry by curbing much of the passing accuracy, then it hurts that much more when a player skates far out of your zone when you’re under durress. That can be VERY frustrating.
But, on the bright side:
  • Despite the unintended penalties, I think the board play is pretty fun. It allows you to stage a much more effective forecheck and also gives you a little more time to set up a cycle game. (Shocking that I’d find that appealing, right?)
  • It seems like EA’s done a solid job of cutting down on some of the more insufferable glitches from ’09. I stopped playing online a while with the last update, since the game devolved into an exploit war.

Good game, but after two quantam leaps from 07 to 08 to 09, this year’s game lacks a “wow” factor and has some serious drawbacks. Hopefully the game will get a serious repair, because right now I will probably not play it online very often (although I’m more likely to play the EASHL than standard team vs. team games).
If you have NHL ’09 and a tight budget, I’d say wait a bit or just rent NHL ’10. I’m sure EA will smooth over some of the rough edges, but right now I’m frustrated with the game as often as I am delighted.
Still, I’m glad I have it and probably will feel better about it once I get used to the tweaks and changes. What are your thoughts on the game so far? Do you share my frustrations? Are there some problems I haven’t discovered or failed to mention? Or should I just rub some dirt on it and enjoy the game for what it is?
Feel free to share your thoughts on NHL ’10 in the comments.

CLS Fantasy Guide Part 5: Questions to ask yourself, the universe

September 16, 2009

I came here in peace, seeking gold and slaves. But you have treated me like an intruder. Maybe it is not me who is the intruder but you.

Now that most of the “heavy lifting” is done, let’s finish the main posts (I’ll probably put together an all-in-one post to make it easier to navigate the information) with a more philosophical, open-ended piece. The Things You Should Ask Yourself

1. Which positions are emphasized and deemphasized in this draft?

The answer to this question is not always the same.
But there are some general rules.
For instance, Centers are the “Joe Montanas” of hockey. They’re the blond haired, blue eyed poster children whom everyone wishes they could be. As such, the pivot spot is pretty much constantly overloaded with top-notch talent.

In leagues where all forwards are classified as simply “F” (instead of positions like C, LW, RW) that won’t matter. But in the Yahoo! leagues and many others, it pays off to draft equally talented wingers early in drafts because those ranks tend to dry up mighty quickly.

It gets really interesting when you throw in D and goalies, however…
2. Goalies: overrated or a precious resource?
Ideally, you can end up with an elite goalie without having to expend a highly valuable top 2-3 round pick.
But if you’re not so lucky, you have to ask yourself: “Settle for rapidly declining goaltenders just to get someone or live dangerously?” My general rule with biting the bullet on goalies: if there isn’t a great forward or D around and there’s a goalie you really want is available then go ahead.*

3. How important are defensemen?
When you consider that a hockey team dresses 6 defensemen to two goalies, it’s surprising that there might be even less elite defensive players from a fantays perspective.

Mike Green? The Drew Brees of fantasy hockey in that he could, conceivably, be a first round pick. Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Gonchar, Andrei Markov, Zdeno Chara, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Dan Boyle, Dion Phaneuf and a handful of others can make a difference.

So it’s all about how many D spots there are in your league. **
Ultimately, though, it’s more important to make strong forward and goalie decisions.
4. Was that guy a fluke? Wasn’t that guy a star just last year?
Obviously a full season cannot necessarily be a complete mirage, but when you’re making crucial picks it’s better to stick with guys who can keep producing big numbers. Am I saying that Steve Mason, Pekka Rinne and a host of other splashy young players will be busts next season? Not necessarily.
But it’s probably wise to go with stable, un-sexy picks instead. Evgeni Nabokov is more likely to be worth a high pick, even if he’s not going to blow you away or make you look brilliant for choosing him.

It’s also important to remember how injuries can affect numbers. Brenden Morrow and Paul Stastny should have much better seasons, but you probably already knew that. However, what you might forget is that with their renewed playing time, another player has to suffer.

So don’t be surprised if Loui Ericcson and James Neal fail to break through further than last season. It’s because their captain is back.
5. Injuries matter
Marian Hossa could miss up to 30 games. Marian Gaborik is made of paper mache. Kari Lehtonen is affectionately known as “Splodey-Groin” (or took up the torch from Peter Forsberg).
In general, it doesn’t pay to make big injury risks.
6. Finally, go with your gut
This is still your team and don’t forget that even the best experts (and idiots like me) are human beings and have our own prejudices. If a ranking doesn’t add up or you think Guy #30 could have a much bigger year than Guy #10, then so be it.
All this hogwash is just for fun. Might as well put your own stamp on it.
* Really though, keep in mind the fact that there really are only so many special goalies. As a general rule, always go for a guy who has a track record of success, a good team in front of him and – if possible -a crummy backup.

** For instance, I felt pressured to draft more D in the ESPN league because there were 5 D spots (to 9 forward and 2 goalies) and PPG, PIM and Average Time on Ice were categories that made a good offensive D more valuable.

Roll your eyes: It’s my fantasy team(s)!

September 14, 2009

No one cares about other people’s fantasy hockey teams, but since I’m writing up these fantasy hockey guides I figure it makes sense to air my dirty drafting laundry.

For the record, I plan on having three fantasy hockey teams. To some that is excessive, but drafting is fun. So we’ll see if I can limit myself to three. (Sad, I know.)

Team 1: ESPN league
Skater Categories: G, A, PPG, +/-, SOG, PIM, Average Time on Ice
Goalie Categories: W, SV% and GAA

Goalie importance: 30% of stat categories, so not excessive
Defense importance: 5 D spots, ATOI make defense slightly more important than usual
Winger vs. C importance: Not that much since it uses “F” instead of C,LW,RW … unfortunately I didn’t realize that was the case (d’oh!)

Scattered Thoughts: Being used to Yahoo!, the ESPN draft format felt a little clunky to me. I think it’s easier to navigate Yahoo’s system and set real-time lists of people you can keep an eye on (making it simpler to keep track of your sleepers). It also kind of bugged me that ESPN’s stat categories seemed less flexible. (no FW, no extra points category, PPG instead of PPP? Hmph.)
That’s not to say ESPN’s format is terrible, I simply prefer Yahoo at this point.
ANYWAY, here’s my team. I picked #6 in a 10-team draft, so that means I was in basically the same general middle area each round.
1. Zach Parise
2. Dany Heatley
3. Mike Richards (panic pick … was devestated that Ilya Kovalchuk almost made it back to me in the third. Fuck!)
4. Henrik Lundqvist
5. Alex Semin
6. Mark Streit
7. Duncan “Yo Yo” Keith
8. Daniel Alfredsson
9. Teemu Selanne
10. Shane Doan
11. Niklas Kronwall
12. Daniel Briere
13. Marty Turco
14. Ales Hemsky
15. Brian Rolston
16. Steve Ott
17. Alex Frolov
18. J-S Giguere
19. Shane O’Brien
20. Brad Richards
21. Ilya Bryzgalov
22. M.E. Vlasic

Feelings about my team: For some reason, I always pick poorly in the first round. Maybe it’s a panic situation or maybe I’m better at finding value later in a draft.
I don’t think Parise’s the fourth best player in the league, but he just seems to do a lot well. He takes a shit load of shots (3rd in the NHL last year), scores a lot of goals and should maintain a nice plus/minus. The real jewel, I’d say, is Dany Heatley. Although it was a toss-up between Heater and Kovalchuk and I wonder if the combination of negative public sentiment and low ESPN ranking might have allowed me to grab Heatley in the third round if I instead would have nabbed Kovie.
Meh, either way, I was pondering Heatley in the first round so it’s still a nice move.
Vlasic was a great last pick in my opinion, since he might get some of the PP time vacating San Jose since Ehr-head is gone. There are certain situational picks (Briere, Frolov, Hemsky, Brad RICHards, Kronwall and Doan) where it almost appeared as if I had no choice but to select them.
Pretty happy with my goaltending overall, because Lundqvist is steady and I expect Marty Turco to have a respectable bounce back year. Giguere is the wild card both in fantasy hockey and … the other fantasy hockey league so my hope is that Sleek’s impressions are just of a guy having a bad day a few weeks before any of this matters, not clarification that there is a fork sticking out of Giggy’s back.
While I was unable to get champion PIM man/general knucklehead Daniel Carcillo, it’s my hope that Steve Ott and Shane “No Relation” O’Brien can make my fake team competitive in affecting their real-life teams negatively.*
* – I kind of like PIM as a fantasy hockey stat, but it IS fucked up to root for a guy to make a dumb mistake. Then again, someone has to root for Todd Bertuzzi, right?
Anyway, I feel like my team will win by quantity over quality. By goals, PPG, +/- perhaps, SOG and being reasonably competitive in the other categories from week-to-week.
Thoughts? Think I’m a fraud? (Don’t worry, this won’t be on the front page very long …)

CLS Fantasy Guide Part 4: Contract Years

September 14, 2009

Kovalchuk will be able to afford even better kilts once he gets another contract

Although it is not the #1 factor in selecting a player, my general rule is: when in doubt, draft a guy who will go into the season with the undeniable motivation of filthy, sweaty gobs of money. With that in mind, here is a list of THE MOST NOTABLE players whose contracts will expire after this season.

(For a full list go to, click on free agents and the click on “Expiry Year: 2010” and “Free Agent Type: ALL”.)

Ilya Kovalchuk
Marc Savard
Nicklas Lidstrom
Evgeni Nabokov
Sergei Gonchar
Patrick Marleau
Marty Turco
Alex Frolov
Alex Tanguay
Paul Kariya
Vyacheslav Kozlov
Ray Whitney
Olli Jokinen
(and more)


Nicklas Backstrom (Forward)
Patrick Kane
Jonathan Toews
Alex Semin
Bobby Ryan
Cam Ward
Carey Price
Ryan Kesler
Peter Mueller
Erik Johnson
Duncan Keith
Braydon Coburn
Devin Setoguchi
Kris Letang
Matt Niskanen
James Neal
Blake Wheeler
(and more)