Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Highlanders' Draft Recap and Review

The puck drops tonight so it is time to do an assessment of how the draft went. Where things went right - and where they went very, very wrong. The answer to both questions won't turly be known until April but what's the fun in that.

Here is my, hopelessly biased and self-serving take on the FunHL Entry Draft, 2009. A single * indicates a matched RFA bid and a double ** indicates a successful RFA poach.

Round 1 Draft Order
Highlanders C R.Getzlaf ANA
Personal Vendetta C P.Datsyuk DET
Knights Templar LW Z.Parise NJ FP
Great Whites RW D.Alfredsson OTT
Edge D A.Markov MTL
Ramapithicines LW A.Semin WAS
Wolves D D.Phaneuf CGY FP*
Lost Boys C M.Savard BOS
Bladerunners LW D.Sedin VAN
Shadowmen C V.Lecavalier TB
Scourge D D.Boyle SJ
Severed Heads C E.Malkin PIT FP*

My Pick - Getzlaf has points and toughness and would otherwise be an FP (ask Mike). With Crosby, I've solidified my center and have addressed part of my TG issue.

Best Value Pick - I think that Bob snagging Lecavalier at #10 is insane, I understand it but suspect that a few GMs will regret letting him go by them come April.

WTF? - All the picks here are good, it is the first round, but is Semin's upside worth this injury risk?

Round 2 Draft Order

Severed Heads RW D.Briere PHI
Scourge D S.Gonchar PIT
Shadowmen C H.Sedin VAN
Bladerunners D B.Rafalski DET
Lost Boys G Thomas BOS
Wolves D Weber NSH**
Ramapithicines RW Gaborik NYR
Edge G Nabokov SJ
Great Whites LW Vanek BUF*
Knights Templar RW Perry ANA FP*
Personal Vendetta LW B.Morrow DAL
Highlanders D S.Niedermayer ANA

My Pick - Given a wrap-around position I decided that I would try and alternate between forward and d-man. Niedermayer was NOT at the top of my list but while I feel I've given up a few points (Striet was my option) I feel more confidence in Nieds.

Best Value Pick - Lots of good ones here, to be sure, but really love how Collin was able to take Nabokov a full round after I had predicted Collin taking him.

WTF? - While Gaborik is an obvious injury risk and it is always odd to take one's top goalie based on his back-up as Richard didin taking Thomas but my eyebrows were most raised by Cam's pick of Briere at pick #13. Seems a reach to me and an odd selection

Round 3 Draft Order

Highlanders RW A.Hemsky EDM
Personal Vendetta RW S.Doan PHX
Knights Templar G M.Kiprusoff CGY
Great Whites RW B.Boyes STL
Edge RW B.Gionta MTL
Ramapithicines C O.Jokinen CGY
Wolves RW N.Antropov ATL*
Lost Boys LW M.Cammaleri MTL
Bladerunners LW P.Marleau SJ
Shadowmen C M.Ribiero DAL
Scourge C J.Carter PHI*
Severed Heads C M.Richards PHI*

My Pick - The three names were Hemsky, Doan and Boyes. Doan's toughness was tough to pass on but in the end I went with the youngest and, IMO, the one with the most upside. Unshackled from MacT's coaching should be worth 5-10 more pts - I hope.

Best Value Pick - Still lots of good options to choose from but I like Chris' match on Carter, Bob's pick of Ribiero and Cam's pick of Richards. They will all be within 5 pts of each other come April.

WTF? - I have so little confidence in the Edge's selection of the Smurf, Gionta. It is simply my personal bias, to be sure, but I much prefer the match on Havlat in the following round and might have gone elsewhere with my pick.

Round 4 Draft Order

Severed Heads D K.Timonen PHI
Scourge LW S.Gagne PHI
Shadowmen LW A.Kovalev OTT
Bladerunners C D.Roy BUF
Lost Boys RW D.Brown LA**
Wolves C S.Gomez MTL
Ramapithicines D M.StreitNYI
Edge RW M.Havlat MIN*
Great Whites D B.Campbell CHI
Knights Templar C A.Kopitar LA*
Personal Vendetta LW A.Frolov LA
Highlanders D T.Kaberle TOR

My Pick - Corey and Dan started to walk down my d-man list so went with a normally reliable Kaberle. Hope that last season's injury was a one-off. Obvious comparisons will be to Souray, Bouwmeester and Kronwall.

Best Value Pick - While I may have my doubts, the numbers will say that Corey's selection of Streit was the steal here. From the "well somebody has to get points here" strategy, the flirtation with 60pts only needs a slight improvement of the Islander PP to become a reality.

WTF? - Cam picking Timonen. Look, he's a solid d-man but I think he would have still been there at his next wrap-around and the list of d-men selected after will be interesting to compare with Timonen's numbers in April. Indeed, this pick may look bad long before then.

Round 5 Draft Order

Highlanders LW P.Kariya STL
Personal Vendetta D S.Souray EDM
Knights Templar D J.Bouwmeester CGY
Great Whites D N.Kronwall DET
Edge LW J-P.Dumont NSH
Ramapithicines G S.Mason CLB
Wolves LW R.Whitney CAR
Lost Boys C M.Koivu MIN*
Bladerunners D R.Whitney ANA*
Shadowmen LW S.Kozlov ATL**
Scourge RW T.Selanne ANA
Severed Heads LW S.Hartnell PHI*

My Pick - Perhaps going to the well one too many times with Kariya but I thought he looked so good in STL prior to the injury that it was hard for me to pass him up at this point. It's not the years, it's the miles but if the new bionic hips hold up like he says they are - then he could prove to be a steal.

Best Value Pick - Cam matching on S.Hartnell was a no brainer given his combination of offense and offensiveness, scary part is that he is still getting better.

WTF? - Really can't say there is an obviously suspect call here, if pressed I would question whether Selanne might not have slipped a bit further.

Round 6 Draft Order

Severed Heads D C.Letang PIT
Scourge D D.Wideman BOS
Shadowmen D K.Bieksa VAN
Bladerunners D L.Visnovsky EDM
Lost Boys C D.Krejci BOS
Wolves LW A.McDonald STL
Ramapithicines LW K.Huselius CLB
Edge D M.Zidlicky MIN
Great Whites LW M.Michalek OTT*
Knights Templar LW M.Lucic BOS*
Personal Vendetta D R.Suter NSH*
Highlanders D D.Keith CHI

My Pick - The last of the top-end d-men are dropping off the table fast so I get Keith - my list had Burns, Jovocop and Corvo as other options but like the high EV vs PP pt totals.

Best Value Pick - Think that Chris taking Wideman was great hear. Last year I undervalued him and really regretted it.

WTF? - Well with Wideman, Visnovsky and others still on the board Cam's selection of Chris Letang seems awfully early. I love his game and love his PP teammates. Like Cam, I think he has a great future but this isn't the prospect draft or even the rfa rounds - this was a round or two too early.

Round 7 Draft Order

Highlanders RW P-M.Bouchard MIN
Personal Vendetta G N.Backstrom MIN
Knights Templar LW J.Franzen DET*
Great Whites D A.Edler VAN*
Edge C D.Backes STL
Ramapithicines D B.Burns MIN
Wolves RW M.Ryder BOS
Lost Boys RW M.Hejduk COL
Bladerunners D T.Gilbert EDM*
Shadowmen D E.Jovanovski PHX
Scourge D C.Barker CHI*
Severed Heads RW M.Knuble WAS**

My Pick - The comparable for me was Horton or Bouchard. Went with the dash over the crash in the hopes that unshackled from the trap first, score second attitude may help him more than Horton.

Best Value Pick - I really like Corey's selection of Burns here.

WTF? - No obvious bad calls here but I must say that I think that N.Backstrom's life post-trap will be a lot more challengeing that before the coaching change.

Round 8 Draft Order

Severed Heads D R.Blake SJ**
Scourge LW P.Sharp CHI
Shadowmen RW N.Horton FLA
Bladerunners D A.Gologoski PIT*
Lost Boys LW D.Booth FLA
Wolves LW C.Kunitz PIT
Ramapithicines D J.Corvo CAR
Edge D S.O'Brien** VAN
Great Whites RW J.Langenbrunner NJ
Knights Templar D J-M.Liles COL
Personal Vendetta C B.Richards DALCorvo
Highlanders RW S.Sullivan NSH

My Pick - Sullivan is a much bigger injury risk than I would have liked but if he can get 65 pts, it will be a good call.

Best Value Pick - I like Chris' pick of Sharp here and Rob's pick of Kunitz.

WTF? - I think Brian should have walked away from Gologoski's bid here, if the match would have preserved his RFA status that would have been one thing but there is a lot of risk that his pts last year were boosted by Gonchar's injury and with the Pens picking up Skoula (post draft) those fears seem justified.

Round 9-10 Draft Order

Highlanders C S.Crosby PIT FP
Personal Vendetta D N.Lidstrom DET FP
Knights Templar D F.Beauchamin TOR
Great Whites C E.Staal FP
Edge LW A.Ovechkin WAS FP
Ramapithicines D Z.Chara Bos FP
Wolves C J.Pavelski SJ
Lost Boys LW I.Kovalchuk ATL FP
Bladerunners RW J.Iginla CGY FP
Shadowmen G R.Luongo VAN FP
Scourge G H.Lundqvist NYR FP
Severed Heads D F.Kuba OTT*

Severed Heads LW D.Heatley SJ FP
Scourge C J.Spezza OTT FP
Shadowmen RW M.St.Louis TB FP
Bladerunners RW M.Hossa CHI FP
Lost Boys RW R.Nash CLB FP
Wolves D C.Pronger PHI FP
Ramapithicines LW A.Tanguay TB FP
Edge C J.Thornton SJ FP
Great Whites G M.Turco DAL FP
Knights Templar D B.Coburn PHI
Personal Vendetta C H.Zetterberg DET FP
Highlanders G M.Brodeur FP

My FPs - Crosby and Brodeur are both in the top two of their position and that usually is a pretty good thing.

Best FP pair - Love my two but Collin's Ovie and Jumbo Joe combo would tempt me. Watch Thornton's numbers jump this year with Heatley at his side.

WTF? - Kuba only makes sense, IMO, because Cam already has Karlsson. Wrong reason to take anyone in the FA rounds.

Round 11 Draft Order - from here on in all picks are RFAs

Highlanders LW D.Carcillo PHI
Personal Vendetta RW A.Ponikerovsky TOR
Knights Templar C R.Kesler VAN
Great Whites D J.Oduya NJ
Edge C S.Weiss FLA
Ramapithicines D J.Spacek MTL*
Wolves D J.Wisniewski ANA
Lost Boys D P.Kubina ATL*
Bladerunners D K.Ballard FLA
Shadowmen RW A.Burrows VAN*
Scourge RW R.Clowe SJ
Severed Heads G C.Ward CAR

My Pick - Lots and lots of PIMs. Could he crack 300? He certainly is in the right organization. Update: Right NHL organization but maybe not right FunHL organization as I traded him to the Great Whites before season started (another thing to review post-season).

Best Value Pick - I like Ward here, a lot.

WTF? - Matching on Spacek? Really? I don't think I would have done that.

Round 12 Draft Order

Severed Heads D J.Pitkannen CAR
Scourge C P.Elias NJ
Shadowmen LW S.Avery NYR
Bladerunners LW S.Ott DAL
Lost Boys RW T.Ruutu CAR*
Wolves RW B.Guerin PIT
Ramapithicines D K.Quincey COL
Edge LW J.Blake TOR
Great Whites LW M.Erat NSH
Knights Templar C J.Arnott NSH
Personal Vendetta LW R.Smyth LA**
Highlanders D B.McCabe FLA

My Pick - Reserve toughness (update, following my Carcillo trade this becomes needed toughness) and reasonable pts at this point in the draft.

Best Value Pick - Chris taking Elias may prove to be a real steal, especially as an RFA.

WTF? - Have to think that Corey reached a little on Quincey.

Round 13 Draft Order

Highlanders C P.O'Sullivan EDM
Personal Vendetta RW P.Sykora MIN
Knights Templar RW C.Neil OTT
Great Whites D M.Niskanen DAL
Edge D M-E.Vlasic SJ
Ramapithicines C Lombardi PHX
Wolves D B.Seabrook CHI*
Lost Boys C T.Zajac NJ
Bladerunners RW D.Stafford BUF
Shadowmen D D.Grebeshkov EDM
Scourge R D.Clarkson NJ*
Severed Heads C D.Langkow CGY

My Pick - O'Sullivan was tearing it up in the preseason and the expectation is that he ends up on a line with Hemsky.

Best Value Pick - I really like Neil here, but wonder if Mike will be able to fit him in on a good right wing once Kane (and I believe Little) are promoted.

WTF? - Lombardi and Langkow? I'm reminded of a line from the Simpsons - "You are smarter than you look. Or... our best testing indicates." Well Lombardi and Langkow are what they are, which is ok in the NHL but they really are not going to get any better, which is bad in the FunHL. And after Phoenix picked up Robert Lang (post draft) and Calgary sent Langkow to Abbotsford, these selections look even worse.

Round 14 Draft Order

Severed Heads D C.Campoli OTT
Scourge D T.Enstrom ATL
Shadowmen LW V.Prospal NYR
Bladerunners D P.Mara MTL
Lost Boys G M-A.Fleury PIT**
Wolves D M.Roszival NYR
Ramapithicines LW M.Sturm BOS
Edge R C.Stillman FLA
Great Whites LW A.Kostitsyn MTL
Knights Templar D K.Johnsson MIN
Personal Vendetta D C.Ehrhoff VAN*
Highlanders G S.Varlamov WAS

My Pick - If I have to play my back-up goalie then I have some problems but if there was someone out there who might be able to surplant someone else's starter - well the hope is that Varlamov is that guy.

Best Value Pick - I slam Cam a lot here, and it's fun, but Campoli is a fantastic pick at this point in the draft. Way, way, way better than Kuba btw. See, couldn't resist. I feel bad.

WTF? - You couldn't find a lefie better than Sturm? I think you had a brain cramp or something because I can find several. How about the next one taken (Kostitsyn).

Round 15 Draft Order

Highlanders LW J.Lupul ANA
Personal Vendetta D P.Martin NJ*
Knights Templar D M.Hunwick BOS
Great Whites D W.Mitchell VAN
Edge LW R.Bourque CGY
Ramapithicines RW R.Callahan NYR
Wolves D M.Ohlund TB*
Lost Boys D S.Montador BUF
Bladerunners RW A.Cogliano EDM
Shadowmen D K.Yandle PHX*
Scourge D R.Hainsey ATL*
Severed Heads C P.Bergeron**

My Pick - Can you really go home again? That is the question with this pick. Lupul is back with the only team that was able to get the most out of him. I'm hoping that he is back on the top line and recaptures some of that old magic.

Best Value Pick - Speaking for my heart, I have a soft spot for Bergeron and see ppg potential here. Good pick Cam.

WTF? - Brain here, Bergeron has ppg potential - sure - the question is how many games does he have in him before he breaks for good. Bergeron makes a great center for Briere, sure, but it should tell you something that even Corey "Blue Cross" Milne gave Bergeron a pass. Hope I'm wrong here but Bergeron is one hit away from a retirement press conference.

Round 16 Draft Order

Severed Heads LW C.Versteeg CHI
Scourge LW A.Ladd CHI
Shadowmen D F.Tyutin CLB*
Bladerunners LW R.Malone*
Lost Boys LW E.Cole CAR
Wolves D S.Salo VAN*
Ramapithicines G C.Mason STL
Edge C C.Drury NYR
Great Whites D V.Koistinen FLA
Knights Templar D M.Carle PHI*
Personal Vendetta LW T.Bertuzzi DET
Highlanders LW W.Wolski COL

My Pick - It better be a very lucrative contract year for Wolski, the word "bust" is starting to settle in.

Best Value Pick - Love the Versteeg pick here and it is underlined by Ladd going right after, IMO.

WTF? - Lest it look like I can't turn a critical eye towards myself, let's return to Wolski. Isn't this really a case of closing the barn door after the left-wing horses have all fled. Soft player, soft pick.

Round 17 Draft Order

Highlanders D A.Meszaros TB
Personal Vendetta D W.Redden NYR
Knights Te mplar C S.Horcoff EDM*
Great Whites G P.Rinnie NSH
Edge D A.Colliacovo STL
Ramapithicines C T.Connolly BUF*
Wolves G J-S.Giguere ANA
Lost Boys D C.Rivet BUF*
Bladerunners G R.Miller BUF*
Shadowmen D C.Schneider VAN
Scourge C Grabovski TOR
Severed Heads RW J.Cheechoo OTT

My Pick - Meszaros suffered from an injured shoulder and placement in Tampa. The shoulder is healed and, perhaps, so is Tampa. If so, he should return to flirting with 40pts.

Best Value Pick - Like Rinnie here (the other rookie of the year goalie) but will go with Colliacovo in StLouis, he could be scary good if he can stay healthy.

WTF? - Darrell. Redden. Put a fork in him.

Round 18 Draft Order

Severed Heads G R.Emery PHI
Scourge RW M.Samuelsson VAN
Shadowmen D D.Morris BOS
Bladerunners C B.Laich WAS
Lost Boys D Giordano CGY
Wolves G J.Hiller ANA (promoted, from hereafter +)
Ramapithicines RW Afinogenov ATL+
Edge D T.Daley DAL
Great Whites C Bolland CHI
Knights Templar RW Moss CGY
Personal Vendetta D T.Poti WAS
Highlanders C V.Fillpulla DET

My Pick - Is Fillpulla ready for a breakout? If he is, I hope to be the one taking advantage of it.

Best Value Pick - Cam taking Ray Emery is fantastic here, if Russia straightenend him out he could be scary good behind that defense.

WTF? - Moss? Homer call.

Round 19 Draft Order

Highlanders D J.Ericsson DET
Personal Vendetta RW J.Williams DET
Knights Templar RW S.Walker CAR
Great Whites D S.Eminger** ANA
Edge RW C.Kobasew BOS
Ramapithicines D J.Johnson LA+
Wolves C P.Mueller PHX+
Lost Boys D S.Hamhuis NSH
Bladerunners C R.Peverley ATL
Shadowmen G T.Vokoun FLA
Scourge D S.Robidas DAL
Severed Heads LW P.Demitra VAN

My Pick - Is this the year Ericsson makes the team and goes to town? Probably not but he looks the part, doesn't he?

Best Value Pick - I know it is off his own prospect list but you have to like Jack Johnson here.

WTF?- Peverly is going back to the AHL, should have taken White.

Round 20 - 22 Draft Order

Severed Heads RW R.Kessel TOR+ / D Sbisa ANA / D Murphy NJ+
Scourge LW S.Samsonov CAR / G Anderson COL / D Foster TB
Shadowmen C S.Koivu ANA*/ D Boynton ANA / RW Okposo NYI+
Bladerunners D Gervais NYI / G Quick LA / C Backstrom WAS+
Lost Boys D R.Hamrlik MTL* / D B.Lee OTT+ / D Vishnevski DAL+
Wolves RW L.Erikkson DAL+ / LW Frolik FLA+ / C J.Toews CHI+
Ramapithicines D E.Johnson STL+ / C Brassard CLB+ / RW Pominville BUF+
Edge D Z.Michalek PHX / D Girardi NYR / G M.Smith TB
Great Whites RW J.Boll CLB / C P.Statsny COL+ / C J.Staal PIT+
Knights Templar G J.Lehtinen ATL / D A.Sekera BUF / LW B.Ryan ANA+
Personal Vendetta C T.White ATL / D M.Staal NYR+ / G J.Harding MIN+
Highlanders D M.Komisarek TOR / RW M.Svatos COL / D M.Green WAS+

My last 3 picks - Komisarek is reserve toughness (now traded to Dan). Svatos is more from the well of Wolski, soft player in a contract year. Green is a flyer but he looks to have some potential.

Best Value Pick - Backstrom is nice but of the picks that anyone could have had here, I like potential that Samsonov has to become a dressable player.

WTF? - At this point in the draft, this is unfair but fate has dealt a blow to Lee already as the Sens have sent him back down to the AHL.

There you go. See you in April with the white-out to correct my mistakes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Highlanders' Week One Line-up

The Highlanders’ GM really wanted to say that I had a blast on Saturday with the draft and getting to see everyone (including Rob – that was fantastic) and am looking forward to seeing everyone again soon.

Cam, sorry you could not make it up but I completely understand why and hope everything goes smoothly with the birth.In the hopes that when we hook up next summer it will be to return some Predator and Challenge Cup hardware to my currently empty hands, here is the Highlander’s week one line-up.

First Challenge Cup game is against the dreaded Shadowmen. Now, drop the puck!

(Before the line-up deadline Dan and I consumate a trade.)

Wolski-COL RFA

Getzlaf-ANA tg
Filppula-DET RFA
O'Sullivan-EDM RFA

Svatos-COL RFA

S.Niedermayer ANA
McCabe-FLA RFA tg
Ericsson-DET RFA
Meszaros-TB RFA
Niskanen-DAL RFA

benchVarlamov-WSH RFA

Tough Guys
C Getzlaf-ANA

Gagner-C EDM (P3)
Voracek-R CBS (P3)
Bernier-G LA (P3)
Caputi-R PIT (P2)
Purcell-R LA (P2)
Radulov-R NSH (P1)
Del Zotto-D NYR (P1)
McBain-D CAR (P1)

Draft Picks
plus none 2010
minus 1st,2nd 2010

The Highlanders Look To Win It All This Season

Shamelessly reprinted from the FunHL Blog.

Last season the all-powerful predictive power of the Hockey Pool magazines correctly presaged that the Personal Vendetta would hoist the Predator Cup - (Well McKeen's predicted a Vendetta win while the Score predicted the Scourge and the Hockey News predicted the Edge?!) - so who now can doubt the uncanny powers of the Mystic Order of Hockey Pool Sages...

While there may have been confusion and doubt in last season's predictions this year the Hockey Gods foretell but one outcome and one race - the Highlanders will win a narrow victory over the Bladerunners, reprising their most recent win in 2007. The Herbivore will go to the Lost Boys (according to both the Hockey News and McKeen's) or the Wolves (according to the Score).

The table is based on the consensus of the predicted rankings according to three usual guide magazines: the Hockey News Ultimate Pool Guide, the Score Sports Forcaster and McKeen's Pool Guide. The individual predictions do not include any accomodation for tough guys, +/- players, injuries, astute coaching decisions, expert trading of players, prospects or draft picks or even (in the case of McKeen's, who are now alone in not providing these) goaltending stats. It does assume that you will use the highest predicted pointing line-up based on each guide's point predictions as of draft day.

Please package my Predator Cup in the double-strength bubble-wrap that I usually wrap Sidney Crosby in every night and ship same to the City of Champions c/o Not Worth The Paper They Are Written On Enterprises, corner of Vanity Way and Ego Lane.