As the season winds down in the NHL, it’s also means the end of my first season as an owner in a keeper pool league. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=evgeni+malkin&iid=8210773″ src=”0/2/b/c/Boston_Bruins_v_3030.jpg?adImageId=11297567&imageId=8210773″ width=”234″ height=”277″ /]
It’s been an interesting year, to be sure. There were 18 trades made, and I was involved in six of those, making me one of the more active general managers. Others decided to play a more passive role, making only one trade. Some general managers did everything they could to win this year, while others built for the future.
I fell into the future-building group. Once I realized there were a couple of people doing everything they could to win it all, I knew I had the opportunity to improve my team for the future.
And I think I succeeded. Looking at my team in comparison to others, I think it’s the best one right now. There’s probably only a couple of other people who might say that about their team, but I think mine is the team that has more potential.
I traded most of my older players, picked up some studs, moved up in the draft, and overall got better. Not too bad.
Here’s a look on how each position stacks up from what I had after the draft to now.
Forwards [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=Steven+Stamkos&iid=7929668″ src=”f/1/6/f/Tampa_Bay_Lightning_d293.jpg?adImageId=11297507&imageId=7929668″ width=”234″ height=”337″ /]
Forwards (then): Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Semin, Marian Gaborik, Mike Cammalleri, Derick Brassard, Alexei Kovalev, Blake Wheeler, David Booth, Evander Kane, Stephen Weiss, Brian Gionta, Teemu Selanne
Forwards (now): Malkin, Semin, Cammalleri, Kovalev, Wheeler, Booth, Kane, Gionta, Selanne, Steven Stamkos, Patrice Bergeron, Derek Roy, Matt Duchene
My top eight is much better now than what it was back in October. Back then I was relying on Gaborik staying healthy, Kovalev to be rejuvenated, Brassard to keep up a point-per-game pace for a season and some young players to have super seasons.
Now, my top eight has changed dramatically, and I have probably the best starting eight players of any of the keeper pool teams (only the top eight count in the standings for us). If everything goes well, I’ll have Malkin, Stamkos, Semin, Kane, Duchene, Cammalleri, Bergeron and Roy. All those players are capable of having at least 70-plus point seasons. A few of them should be able to crack 100 points every year for the next 10 years.
As well, my other forwards are young and good. Booth and Wheeler could be capable of having 60-point seasons.
I think my offensive is much better now than what it was seven months ago.
Defencemen [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=Ryan+Suter&iid=8119922″ src=”f/f/4/1/Nashville_Predators_v_8cd1.jpg?adImageId=11297518&imageId=8119922″ width=”234″ height=”322″ /]
Defencemen (then): Sergei Gonchar, Duncan Keith, Erik Karlsson, Scott Niedermayer, Rob Blake, Mathieu Schneider
Defencemen (now): Ryan Suter, Kyle Quincy, Joni Pitkanen, Kris Russell, Carlo Colaiacovo, Blake, Schneider
I got rid of a stud player in Keith, and traded a top prospect in Karlsson. But Keith helped me land a stud back in another position, and I don’t think Karlsson will be that great a player.
I also got younger, as I no longer have Gonchar or Niedermayer, and I plan on dropping Blake and Schneider.
I also have some good sleeper picks that I hope to pick up the draft to improve this position. Tyler Myers is available, as is Michael Del Zotto, Marc Staal and others. Not to mention rookies that haven’t made the big club yet. I’m pretty confident I’ll find someone to replace Keith.
But for now, I would have to give the nod to my d-men from October, mainly because of Duncan Keith.
Goalies [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=carey+price&iid=7901625″ src=”6/2/0/e/Montreal_Canadiens_v_ee28.jpg?adImageId=11297536&imageId=7901625″ width=”234″ height=”165″ /]
Goalies (then): Evgeni Nabokov, Nicklas Backstrom, Jonas Gustavsson, Marty Turco
Goalies (now): Gustavsson, Turco, Carey Price, Steve Mason
It’s funny that I have Marty Turco, because I actually traded him away earlier in the season. But I got him back in a deal that landed me superstars such as Stamkos and Duchene.
It may look like my team is worse off, but Backstrom isn’t having the greatest year, and is 32 years old. He’s probably only got the starting job with the Wild for another year or so, especially if the Wild miss the playoffs again next season. Nabakov is a stud, but benefits from playing for a great team in San Jose and is also 34 years old. He’s an unrestricted free agent this year, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be back next season. What’s to stop him from signing a huge contract to play in Atlanta for the next few years, especially since the Thrashers don’t have a #1 goalie and have about $30 million in cap space? And if the Sharks lose in the first round again, they probably would be looking to make sweeping changes anyways.
Son in essence, I traded two older goalies with more upside now whose futures are uncertain for two young potential franchise goalies with more upside down the road. Carey Price is 22 years old. Steve Mason is 21. Both of them will be given every opportunity to be the next Martin Brodeur. And that bodes well for my team.
As well, I hope to pick up one more goalie in the draft. There are some great free agents ready to be picked up, such as Craig Anderson, Tomas Vokoun, Jaroslav Halak and Jimmy Howard.
Even though my team looks to finish fifth this year, I think this squad is the best in the league going forward. I’m missing one more great goalie, and one more stud defencemen. But I think this team will be a dominating one about three or four years from now.
My strategy this summer is pretty simple. I may try to improve this team through a trade or two, but really it’s all systems go until the draft. If I can get one more goalie, two more solid defencemen and a couple of young forwards, I’ll be pretty happy.
Besides the trades and trying to get better with players, I also improved in the draft. I managed to move up from the fifth round to the fourth round this year, and picked up a first rounder next year.
Right now, I’m sitting in fifth place. I’m actually hoping to finish sixth, as there’s a better chance of getting the first overall pick in our draft next September. If I was lucky enough to land one of the top two picks, that would set me up great for the next few years. In fact, I’d probably trade that top-two pick if I got it if the right offer came along.
So overall, even though I’ll probably finish fifth, I think my first year as a keeper pool general manager was a success.