Mike, the author of the excellent music blog Ear To The Sound, asked me today to join a fantasy hockey league that he has been in for a couple of years. Now, I'm not one to back away from a fantasy hockey league, so I asked for details. I was informed that I was taking over the last-place team from the previous season as the guy who ran the team isn't participating this season. That means I have the first overall pick in the upcoming draft. Bonus for me, right? The problem is that it's a keeper league, so everyone can keep up to five players from their roster from the previous season. Since this team ended up last, I have my work cut out for me. Much like these two gentlemen who had the first overall pick earlier this summer and a fairly terrible team last season, I'll get a chance to draft a pretty good player in that first draft position.
First off, here's the roster I am working with from last season. I'm not convinced that this team is that bad when looking at the roster. It's just that they weren't as good as everyone else. Without further adieu, here is who I am working with:
- Jason Arnott (C - Nashville Predators)
- Eric Belanger (C - Minnesota Wild)
- Rob Blake (D - San Jose Sharks)
- Nigel Dawes (LW - Calgary Flames)
- Tobias Enstrom (D - Atlanta Thrashers)
- Marian Gaborik (RW - New York Rangers)
- Jarome Iginla (RW - Calgary Flames)
- Ed Jovanovski (D - Phoenix Coyotes)
- Chuck Kobasew (RW - Boston Bruins)
- Brooks Laich (C - Washington Capitals)
- Matthew Lombardi (C - Phoenix Coyotes)
- Joni Pitkanen (D - Carolina Hurricanes)
- Daniel Sedin (LW - Vancouver Canucks)
- Eric Staal (C - Carolina Hurricanes)
- Ryan Whitney (D - Anaheim Ducks)
- Miikka Kiprusoff (G - Calgary Flames)
- Pascal Leclaire (G - Ottawa Senators)
Jarome Iginla is a no-brainer. He'll lead the Flames all season long. Miikka Kiprusoff will play a lot of games, and benefit from a stronger, more mobile defence corps in Calgary this season. Fantasy pools are won and lost in goaltending. Eric Staal will undoubtedly lead the Hurricanes in scoring again this season. Daniel Sedin has a fat wallet, but he shouldn't have problems putting up points this season as well.
I'm torn on the fifth player, though. Jason Arnott is a consistent scorer when he's not hurt, but do I want that risk? Do I allow Marian Gaborik to walk despite him being the only guy who can light up Broadway for the Rangers this season? Brooks Laich quietly scored 53 points last season with 24 of those coming on the powerplay. Do I take a chance on Rob Blake or Tobias Enstrom?
Clearly, I need to make a decision on who should be the fifth guy I should keep. I'm leaning towards Arnott or Laich, and Laich has a slight advantage because I don't see Washington taking steps backwards this season. They'll score, and they'll score a lot.
Here's my dilemma, readers, and I want your thoughts.
- Who should I keep as the fifth keeper?
- Remembering that the other teams keep players as well, who should I be looking for with the first overall pick? In this regard, I shouldn't see players like Crosby or Ovechkin suggested, but maybe guys like Joe Pavelski or Bryan Little?
- Should I look at taking a goaltender first overall, like the Islanders, or should that be a mid-round pick?
- Is there any point in selecting John Tavares later in the draft, or does it make more sense to avoid rookies? Evander Kane in Atlanta might be my sleeper, but I like Cody Hodgson in Vancouver too.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!