Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Draft like the pros, Part III

Just like last year, and the year before, I participated again in James Mirtle's super-deep Blogger Invitational fantasy draft this past weekend, one that includes a huge list of blogger know-it-alls. Dr. Mirtle, Matt of BoA, Puck Daddy, the Forechecker, Spector, Chris! of CiO, Kent of Five Hole Fanatics, Japers Rink, Pension Plan Puppets, Islanders Army, and even PJ of Sharkspage all took 2 1/2 hours of our Saturdays to prove once again the nerdly depth of our hockey knowledge.

All told, it was 18 teams each drafting 20 players -- a grand total of 360, 60% of the NHL's available positions. And if you think that's deep, this year represents a step backwards! The previous two years, this league has been played with 20 teams. On a general level, though, the rules are the same as before (head-to-head):

Positions: C x3, LW x2, RW x2, F x2, D x4, Util, G x2, BN x4, IR x4
Categories: G, A, +/-, PIM, PPG, PPA, GWG, SOG, W, GAA, SV, SV%, SHO

There are a few twists, though. One, it cost me money this year, which theoretically I could win back, but I'm not banking on that. Two, it promises to cost me money next year, too, because I'm allowed to keep two players for next year's team. Personally I feel like I'm a shell of a fantasy player; I managed to go this whole offseason without even seeing a fantasy guide. Still, without revealing too much about "who was available", here's how I managed this year, with some draft notes below:

Rd - Pick - Player
1 - 4 - Evgeni Malkin, C PIT
2 - 33 - Thomas Vanek, LW BUF
3 - 40 - Ryan Miller, G BUF
4 - 69 - Peter Mueller, C PHX
5 - 76 - Simon Gagne, LW PHI
6 - 105 - Teemu Selanne, RW ANA
7 - 112 - Manny Legace, G STL
8 - 141 - Drew Stafford, RW BUF
9 - 148 - Chris Kunitz, LW ANA
10 - 177 - Jiri Hudler, RW DET
11 - 184 - Jason Labarbera, G LAK
12 - 213 - Sergei Samsonov, LW CAR
13 - 220 - Joni Pitkanen, D CAR
14 - 249 - Brendan Morrison, C ANA
15 - 256 - Douglas Murray, D SJS
16 - 285 - Devin Setoguchi, RW SJS
17 - 292 - Shane O'Brien, D TBL
18 - 321 - Loui Eriksson, LW DAL
19 - 328 - Nathan Gerbe, C BUF
20 - 357 - Steve Montador, D ANA

C - Malkin, Mueller, Morrison, Gerbe
LW - Vanek, Gagne, Kunitz, Samsonov, Eriksson
RW - Selanne, Stafford, Hudler, Setoguchi
D - Pitkanen, Murray, O'Brien, Montador
G - Miller, Legace, Labarbera
One thing to stress about this league is the scarcity and importance of goaltenders. Each year some team realizes too late that goaltending decides a lot of standings points in this league, and with "saves" as a category, the need for starters is pretty critical (though it's only a 2 GP minimum). If you do the math, 18 teams means there's not enough starters in the league so that each team can get two. While my trio of Miller, Legace, and Labarbera may not seem overwhelming, the fact that it may represent three starters could prove huge for the Battlebots.

In terms of forwards, Mirtle's league has enough F and Util spots that it's not too important to worry about specific Yahoo! positions -- as long as there is some balance among the positions it's not too hard to get nearly everyone's GP in. Still, I tried to keep a focus of getting many of my scorers from the east, even though it's a conference I don't follow very well. I just went on the basic tenet that goals are easier to score in the east, and hoped for the best. I got a few light remarks on my picks of Simon Gagne and Drew Stafford, and probably I deserve them, but overall I was happy that none of my picks were openly mocked.

I went awfully light on defensemen, as I tend to do in this league (my first year I only drafted three defensemen). I think at the rate that players disappear off this draft board, it's better to focus picks on goaltending and scoring forwards, but we'll see. I can say that I wasn't the only person to wait until the 13th round to select a defenseman. I should point out that a lot of this advice pertains specifically to this league: in general I still value goaltending very highly but I'm more liberal picking defensemen. And generally in Yahoo! leagues I do pay more attention to LW/RW/C distinctions.

I will just add a general note that it's very cool to do a Yahoo! draft with Puck Daddy, and not only for his mid-draft banter. It's actually quite hilarious to have a Yahoo! employee, who has nothing to do with the fantasy technology at all, to yell at when things go wrong. Also, you can give him stupid orders. "Puck Daddy, tell the boys upstairs to give Peter Mueller LW eligibility, pronto!"

Anyways, I'm always a sucker for the BoC. I ended up with 4 Ducks, 2 Sharks, a King, a Star, and a Coyote. That brings my 3-year Mirtle draft total to 12 Ducks, 10 Sharks, 10 Kings, 2 Stars, and 2 Coyotes. I don't claim to be any master draft schemer (O'Brien's here for that), but it has landed me a 4th and an 8th finish out of a mean 20 the last two years. Oh yeah, that reminds me, here's PJ's team:
Rd - Pick - Player
1 - 2 - Evgeni Nabokov, G SJS
2 - 34 - Brian Rafalski, D DET
3 - 38 - Ilya Bryzgalov, G PHX
4 - 71 - Dan Boyle, D SJS
5 - 74 - Patrick Marleau, C SJS
6 - 107 - Ryane Clowe, LW SJS
7 - 110 - Dustin Brown, RW LAK
8 - 143 - Marco Sturm, LW BOS
9 - 147 - Jochen Hecht, C BUF
10 - 179 - Radim Vrbata, RW TBL
11 - 182 - Tomas Holmstrom, RW DET
12 - 215 - Tobias Enstrom, D ATL
13 - 218 - Nikolai Khabibulin, G CHI
14 - 251 - Matt Cullen, C CAR
15 - 254 - Christian Ehrhoff, D SJS
16 - 287 - Jonas Hiller, G ANA
17 - 290 - Niklas Hagman, LW TOR
18 - 323 - James Wisniewski, D CHI
19 - 327 - Brooks Laich, C WSH
20 - 359 - Steve Sullivan, RW NSH

C - Marleau, Hecht, Cullen, Laich
LW - Clowe, Sturm, Hagman
RW - Brown, Vrbata, Holmstrom, Sullivan
D - Rafalski, Boyle, Enstrom, Ehrhoff, Wisniewski
G - Nabokov, Bryzgalov, Khabibulin, Hiller
Now there's some BoC pride (whoa, and some pride for crazy Russian goalies, too!). Way to go, PJ.


Cheechew said...

at least you have your 2 keepers..Malkin and Mueller will lead team Sleek for the next 10 years

brokeyard said...

I'm in a 20 team, 28 players-per-team league. I laugh at your so called "deep" draft.

I think the only guy we have in common is Ryan Miller.

As far as Ducks go, I landed Scott Niedermayer, Ryan Getzlaf, and Franky Beauchemin.

brokeyard said...

Oh and I forgot I have Jonas Hiller too.

Kind of weird when I look at my starting goalies (we have 2 starting goalies - 3 total) and see that their names are Miller and Hiller. Confuses me.

Earl Sleek said...

Damn, brokeyard, that is impressive! Who were your bottom three choices, just for reference?

...their names are Miller and Hiller. Confuses me.

I nearly wrote a post last year playing around with that, except in reference to Drew Miller and Jonas Hiller.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, it's been 2+ years blogging, and I believe that this entry fee is the first actual spending that Earl Sleek (the blog alias) has done. Thanks for all the free shit, Blogger!

RudyKelly said...

What are you talking about, Blogger charges $10 a post. And you have to pay your roommate for tax purposes. Jeez, Earl, I thought you were good at computer stuff.

Earl Sleek said...

Blogger charges $10 a post. And you have to pay your roommate for tax purposes.

Hm, according to my Blogger CBA, Blogger gets a fixed percentage of my revenues (cost certainty, baby!), but it wouldn't be the first CBA I've glossed over (and dammit, probably not the last).

brokeyard said...

I guess i miscounted... there were 30 rounds in my Draft, even though I double-checked before and counted 28... now I don't know how that happened since there's clearly 30.

Last 3 choices:

28 - Chad LaRose, LW
29 - Hal Gill, D
30 - Adam Burish, RW

I dropped Burish to waivers and picked up Mike Grier.

I wasn't all great though, as my Round 9 pick went to Jagr, who I thought had decided to keep playing for the Rangers for some reason (I blame your lack of Rangers coverage) so I blew that one pretty hard.

brokeyard said...

Also, mine is a "Keeper" league as well, except have to keep 10 players instead of just 2. 9 skaters and 1 goalie or 8 skaters and 2 goalies.

Earl Sleek said...

(I blame your lack of Rangers coverage)

Hey, I'm starting to blame myself for not writing enough posts about how to count from 28 to 30 :)

They should name your league, "The last league in the history of the world that's still drafting Hal Gill". Still, looks pretty darn daunting.

brokeyard said...

Apparently, according to ESPN's "Own %", 4.8% of leagues have Hal Gill.

LaRose is better though... a whopping 0.1% of leagues draft him.

PJ Swenson said...

Solid D, and solid goaltending even though I did pick a few of the wrong goalies.

Cullen already is sitting out games, which brings back his previous injury issues. More people have been critical about Vrbata than positive, but who else do they have, and at least he will set the table for Stamkos. Hecht, Sturm, Brown are all solid second tier point producing guys. Took Clowe and Marleau a little early, but both might skate on a top line with Thornton, and both will have either Boyle or Blake on the blueline, or both. Hagman had a career year, may or may not pan out in Toronto, but Ron Wilson will give him loads of ice time and Hagman will give 100% effort night in and night out.

Rafalski and Enstrom, along with Boyle, will put up some points from the blueline and on the PP. Ehrhoff has a shot at a top d-pair with Boyle, and no one else was going to select him because of last season's totals.

Even though I made a number of mistakes choosing the goalies, Nabokov will put up huge numbers, and Bryzgalov will play behind a young but improved team. Dropped Khabibulin for Sabourin, who is good for at least 15-20 starts, maybe a touch more.

Not too bad, better than being autodrafted last year. Bryzgalov for Vezina. You heard it here first.