Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Back Where We Belong!

It is early, two days into Week 4, but its nice to see the Blue and White back atop the FunHL standings. Best get this posted before the injury gods strike again and thrust me back into the muck.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Injury Woes

Well the Highlanders are starting to pick it up. Week 3 looks to be a 40+pt week that has me knocking on the door of the Ramapithicines and Severed Heads for the lead - a big improvement from the last couple of weeks lurking in the shallow end of the pool - but now is the time that try men's hearts, injury time.

Sheldon Souray and (according to last night's summary) Bryan Berard are out. Souray's separated shoulder will keep him out at least 3 weeks but probably he's gone until the wiaver draft (in December). Hopefully Berard's groin pull is minor but its always a concern when a player with a long period of inactivity, say all of last year, comes back to play significant minutes.

We'll give Mara and Schubert a chance to prove that they belong and hope that this upcoming week is even better than the last.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Defending the Crown

Well the FunHL Entry Draft was held this past Saturday in Calgary and thanks again to Dan and Celina for hosting. Much appriciated. Celina's mom did the catering and the food was fantastic.

The first question of the draft was whether the Knights Templar would take a new franchise player or not. They did, taking Jason Spezza at center, which left the Highlanders free to take goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff. The Highlander's draft went as follows:

1st round (2nd overall) M.Kippruoff G, best goalie available and, hopefully, providing the comfort level between the pipes such that goaltending is not a concern.
2nd (23rd) P.Kariya LW, last of the elite lefties (only one pick away from getting Gagne but alas, no luck).
3rd (26th) L.Visnovsky D, had him ranked right behind Kaberle so glad to get him - made it through the first wrap-around before having to match Souray so assured of three good D).
4th (47th) S.Souray D, matched a bid from earlier in the the round - about where I figured to match but always hope that you can go two more rounds.
5th (50th) J.Williams RW, while the best left on right I'm a little afraid of this pick.
6th (71st) T.Connolly C, the end of season debate will be Connolly or Drury. I feel Connolly has the higher upside but we will see.
7th (74th) E.Jovanovski D, for a number 4 d-man I'm thrilled.
8th (95th) P.Mara D, a real question mark on D but with good potential.
End of Free Agent Rounds
9th and 10th (98th and 119th) J.Thornton C and C.Pronger D, IMHO the top ranked C and D FPs in the pool.
End of Franchise Player Rounds
11th (122nd) L.Nagy LW, another question mark but one with a lot of untapped upside.
12th (143rd) B.Guerin RW, Bid on Beauchemin on D but end up getting the veteran winger. The available comprables will be G.Murray or M.Ryder when the post-mortem is to be done.
13th (146th) B.Boyes RW, initially drafted what I thought was d-man M.Streit but when it was clear he was listed as a forward went with Boyes but it does take me off of my forward-defensman pattern.
14th (167th) S.Hartnel LW, poached him and am pleased with the potential for the price. Philly spent alot to get him and expect that they will use him.
15th (170th) B.Berard D, potentially my S.Souray steal of the draft or an injury-riddled risk. B.Burns in Min goes at the end of the round and may prove to have been the better call.
16th (191st) D.Stafford RW, moving into the benched players now and Stafford looks like a good option on right though T.Holmstrom may prove to be the better call here.
17th (194th) K.Pilar D, ok this was a gamble that has already blown up - hopefully a replacement can be found without too much cost.
18th (215th) J.Pavelski C, upside is there but really who knows. Hopefully Connolly doesn't get hurt and it never matters - ok, this could be a problem.
19th (218th) R.Vrbata LW, with no obvious d-option I fill out my left wing with a Coyote with upside. Someone has to score in Phoenix, right?
20th (239th) C.Schubert D, saw him good in the preseason and +30 as his +/- last year makes him a potentially playable #8 d-man so I'm not displeased.
21st (242nd) M.Legace G, knowing he would last didn't make my smirk any less. I am convinced that Murray will have St.Louis surprising teams all season long. I don't plan on playing Legace with Kiprusoff as the number one but its a nice security blanket an d at least as credible as Fernandez IMO.
22nd (267th) S.Crosby C, really surprised that he was still available :-) Of course he was promoted from my active list and will probably be the highest pointing second last pick even in the draft.
End of the Restricted Free Agent Rounds
2nd Round of Prospect Draft (16th overall) C.Franson D NSH, the choice on D was between Franson and Kindl and Franson is 6'5" so the choice was pretty easy.
2nd (19th) D.Setaguchi SJ, another saw him good selection but the guy knows how to score and is on the RW so has a better chance to click.
2nd (24th) B.Little ATL, as satisfying as it was to take Little hearing Cam swearing under his breath was the cherry on top.
3rd (25th) J.Hiller G ANA, with Price and Bernier gone Hiller has the best shot at being a regular contributor IMO. Other options included Hulenius in TB, Mason in CLB and Irving in CGY. I'm comfortable with this call.

The strengths are certainly down the middle (with Crosby and Thornton) and on the backend with Kipper between the pipes and as solid a quartet of top-end d-men as anyone else in the league (Pronger, Visnovsky, Souray and Jovanovski). The wing strength drops off very quickly so having some of the drafted potential step up will be key. It will be a good year but like last season a lot of things will have to fall into place to make a repeat a possiblity.