So I had the draft for my first ever keeper hockey pool this past weekend.
It was a lot of fun, and the draft went faster than I thought. The nine owners all picked 22 players. We have five draft picks for the next two years. We can make trades for players or draft picks. At the end of the season, we need to get our roster down to 15 players plus two rookies (so 17 maximum). We then do the five round draft to get back up to 22, and repeat the season again. Goals and assists are worth a point, a goalie win is worth two and a shutout is an extra three.
We knew the draft order going in. I was going to be picking #2. So I came up with a strategy, one that I quickly got rid of.
So here are the results and thought process behind each of my picks.
Round 1, #2 overall: Evgeni Malkin
After Alexander Ovechkin went first overall, my next pick was pretty simple. I wanted Malkin over linemate Sidney Crosby because Crosby has shown a tendency to be more prone to injuries. So far, my strategy is sound.
Round 2, #17 overall: Evgeni Nabokov
No, my strategy was not to pick all players with the first name Evgeni. My original strategy was to pick three high-powered offensive players. I had thought that after the big three forwards, the top six goalies and star defenceman Mike Green would be gone before my pick. That would mean I would get three players who could get 90 points minimum a season, and would try to draft a Carey Price or Ray Emery later on. However, when Nabokov fell to me, I had to jump on it. The Sharks are a powerhouse team. Nabokov is going to get me points simply because of the team in front of him. I had him pegged to be one of the top three goalies gone, so I was pretty pleased to get him at this point.
Round 3, #20 overall: Nicklas Backstrom (the goalie)
Here’s a goalie that last year started 71 games, won 37 and had eight shutouts. That’s 98 points. He was easily the best goalie left, so I decided to go with two goalies early and worry about my offence in later rounds. If I’m going to screw up my strategy, I may as well go full-blast.
Round 4, #35 overall: Sergei Gonchar
I wanted to start bolstering my defence, because this position goes downhill quickly (or so I thought would happen). Gonchar missed a bunch of time last year, but I am confident he can put up at least 70 points manning a powerplay that includes Malkin and Crosby.
Round 5, #38 overall: Alexander Semin
I realize he’s only played 63 and 62 games the previous two years, but he’s cracked 70 points twice, including last year’s 79. Playing with Ovechkin is going to get him points. If he plays the full schedule, he should have no problem finishing with 100 points.
Round 6, #53 overall: Marian Gaborik
It was at this point I took some ribbing from the guys, especially Paul. My last three picks averaged about 35 games played last year. I’m confident Gaborik can turn it around with the Rangers though, especially since the Eastern conference isn’t as hard hitting as the West.
Round 7, #56 overall: Mike Cammalleri
My first Hab! Hoping he continues his upswing, and gets 40 goals and 80 points. It’ll make Habs games more exciting.
(Side note: I was considering Carey Price here, but I thought he’d slip down to me to the next pick, and I already had two goalies, so I felt I still had to concentrate on offence. Nick chose him right after my pick.).
Round 8, #71 overall: Duncan Keith
I had only one defenceman at this point, so I felt I had to start getting some for that position. Looking back, there were better options available. I’m disappointed with this one.
Round 9, #74 overall: Erik Karlsson
It sucks that I have to pick a Senator, but Karlsson filled a lot of holes for me here. He counts as a rookie, gives me a young player (which is coveted in this league) and counts as another defenceman. Plus, he’s expected to be the Sens top offensive d-man this year. This was my favourite pick of the draft so far.
Round 10, #89 overall: Derick Brassard
The guy is 22 years old, had 25 points in 31 games before getting injured last year and will be playing with Rick Nash for the next five years. This is my favourite pick of the draft since Erik Karlsson (sorry Erik, poolies are a fickle bunch).
Round 11, #92 overall: Alexei Kovalev
Another Sens player. I must be losing my mind. But Kovalev has a lot of upside. A highly skilled player looking to bounce back after a bad year last year. I can see him getting 40 goals and 85 points, or 22 goals and 49 points. He’s either going to suck and I’ll be happy that Sens are overpaying but sad he sucks in my pool, or he’s going to play great and I’ll be happy he’s getting me points in the pool but sad because the Sens made a smart free agent signing. This pick is going to stress me out all season. Maybe it’s time to trade him already.
Round 12, #107 overall: Jonas Gustavsson
My third goalie, but this is more of a pick for the future. He’ll be the Leafs #1 guy by November, but I expect him to really bloom in a few years, when this young team all matures.
Round 13, #110 overall: Scott Niedermayer
I still needed defenceman who can get me points. And with Chris Pronger gone to Philly, that means more offensive possibilities for Niedermayer. Plus, since I’ll have to drop guys at the end of the season, if he decides to retire, it’s an easy decision to drop him. It’s a win-win for me.
Round 14, #125 overall: Blake Wheeler
I don’t want to sing his praises too much because he’s a Bruin, but he had 45 points as a rookie, is 23 years old and should be taking Phil Kessel’s spot on the #1 line with Marc Savard. If he gets 15 points a game just against the Sens and sucks the rest of the year, I’ll be happy.
Round 15, #128 overall: Marty Turco
Okay, okay, I know. He’s my fourth goalie. But he’s insurance in case one of my top two get injured. Plus, under our rules, he’s still good for 75 points (his total from last year, which was an off-year for him). The other bonus is that there are other owners who drafted only two goalies. Turco gives me trade bait as the season wears on.
Round 16, #143 overall: David Booth
A young Florida Panther who has seen his ice time, goals and assists increase every season he’s been in the league.
Round 17, #146 overall: Evander Kane
Let me get this straight. Kane has made the Thrashers starting lineup, and will be on one of the top two lines, unlessMaxim Afinogenov signs, in which case Kane is on the third line. Does this make any sense to any one? And doesn’t this explain perfectly why the Thrashers are such a bad team?
Round 18, #161 overall: Stephen Weiss
The set-up man for Booth, and both play on the top line. If the Panthers can get a little more scoring help, I expect big things from these two.
Round 19, #164 overall: Rob Blake
Manning the point in San Jose (along with Dan Boyle). Despite the fact he’s 92 years old, he still had 45 points last year. A guy who is in another keeper pool won last season with two of his defencemen doing worse. In fact, Blake would have been the top scoring defenceman on two other teams in that same league (including Matt, who has a team in this league). Definitely a steal.
Sidenote: Blake would have outscored a total of 48 of 65 defencemen in that league, but no one wants him because he’s too old. Sometimes keeper pool owners focus too much on getting youth for the future, and not enough on actually winning in the present.
Round 20, #179 overall: Mathieu Schneider
See my plan here? Get lots of old defenceman who will get me points to win it all this year, and balance it out with youth up front for the future. Defenceman take a while to develop and get points, so I’d rather get an experience guy at that position than a young guy who probably won’t do anything for five years (*cough Jack Johnson *cough). I’d rather have Schenider here, than say a Zach Bogosian in the 10th round, Alex Goligoski in the 12th round or Duncan Keith in the 8th round.
Round 21, #182 overall: Brian Gionta
Another Hab to cheer for! Plus, a #1 line player whose upside is 80 points. At #182 overall? No wonder I’m going to win this pool.
Round 22, #197 overall: Teemu Selanne
See my reasoning for Scott Niedermeyer. Old guy, may retire (makes for an easy drop) who could see a revitalized season playing with one of his best friends (Saku Koivu). Can be a point per game player still.
What to expect from this team?
So my strategy is pretty simple. Except for a few young guys, I tried to get players that will win me the pool this year. The rest of my lineup is solid, with a good mix of young (Kane), moderate (Booth), old (Kovalev) and ancient (my entire defensive line). The defence will have to be replaced over the next few seasons, but I expect this team to be a contender for first place this year.