Archive for the 'NHL Re-Draft' Category

Overdue Re-Draft Update

Humpback whale tale

This picture gives you some idea of what I was doing during what’s turned out to be quite a long blogging hiatus. I spent a lovely week on Vancouver Island, looking at whales, bears, sea lions, mountains, and other Vancouver Islandy things. Then I did nothing for a week. But now I’m back at school, so I have plenty of time to blog again.

To summarize the goings-on in Sens land over the last few weeks: Heatley wasn’t traded, despite what you might have heard the other day. No, he’s at camp now, all set to be the team’s hair shirt for the season. Hockey is getting closer and closer. The Sens’ rookies took part in the Leafs-hosted rookie tournament last week (potential goalie of the future Robin Lehner looked impressive by most accounts), and now players both gruntled and disgruntled have arrived in Ottawa to start camp. Check out Silver Seven’s handy post with the training camp roster for more details and don’t forget that the Sens’ first preseason game, against the no-longer-Jacques-Martin-affiliated Florida Panthers, takes place this Tuesday in Halifax at 6pm ET.

Now, some blog business: when last we spoke about the Fake Sens’ progress in the Cycle Like the Sedins NHL Re-Draft, I had just drafted Stephen Weiss in the sixth round to be the team’s second line centre. That was about 10 rounds ago, so here’s a quick look at the players I’ve picked up since then:

7th round, 204th overall: Ryan Whitney (D)

Whitney gets mixed reviews for his defensive game, but he’s got strong offensive skills (23 points in 48 games last season) and he should log a lot of shifts with the Ducks this season as he will likely take some of the icetime that formerly belonged to the departed Chris Pronger. He’s also got great size (6′4″, about 200 lbs.) should he decided at some point that he does want to play a physical type of game. I’d feel comfortable pairing him with a solid player like Seabrook.

8th round, 217th overall: R.J. Umberger (LW)

I’m a big fan of Umberger based mostly on his past playoff performances. He was great for Philadelphia in 2008 (15 points in 17 games) and he was one of the only Blue Jackets to perform well against Detroit in 2009, scoring three of the team’s seven postseason goals. Basically, I think he’s a competitive, gritty player who also has some scoring ability. He should do well on the Fake Sens’ second line with Stephen Weiss, who has a reputation for making his linemates better.  I have Umberger slotted in at left wing, but he can play any forward position.

9th round, 264th overall: Jakub Voracek (RW)

Oh ho, it’s another Blue Jacket! What can I say? I like their team and I think with a few missing pieces filled in (for example, a playmaker like Hemsky to play with Nash and a puckmover like Ryan Whitney) they could be really great. Anyway, Voracek is young (which means woo hoo, cheap!), competitive, and full of potential. He scored 38 points and played 80 games in 2008-2009, which was his rookie season. Read up here on what super Blue Jackets reporter Aaron Portzline has to say about the kid. For one thing, he compares him to a young Ales Hemsky.

10th round, 277th overall: Tim Gleason (D)

It seemed like a good idea to go for a shutdown type of defenseman, and that’s what Gleason is. He hits a lot, he blocks shots quite a lot, can log a lot of icetime, and plays a sound defensive game. Hurricanes fans really like this guy, and he was one of the defensemen invited to the Team USA Olympic camp this summer.

11th round, 324th overall: Luca Sbisa (D)

Though the rookie Sbisa only played 39 NHL games last season, he averaged about 17 minutes of icetime per game and the Flyers were impressed with what they saw from him. He has since been traded to the Ducks (in the Pronger deal) and Anaheim’s management has been saying some pretty positive things about him. They expect him to make the team this season, and maybe even spend some time playing with Scott Niedermayer. That can only lead to good things.

12th round, 337th overall: Nick Foligno (LW)

The first real Sen to become a fake Sen. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a Sens fan and I don’t have to explain why I like Nick Foligno so much. I still will though. He works hard and while he’ll probably never be an offensive superstar in the NHL, every once in a while all that hustle leads to a spectacular goal that makes your jaw drop. He put up 32 points last season and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him top 40 in 2009-2010.

13th round, 384th overall: Mike Fisher (C)

Another real Sen. I know I’ve broken my rule about not taking on bad contracts here, but I had the cap space and the fact is, overpaid as he is, I really like Mike Fisher and his rambunctiousness in this kind of checking line role. As someone who’s being depended on to score a lot, he wouldn’t be my choice. On the third line, I’m very happy with him.

14th round, 397th overall: Kris Russell (D)

After a brief Sens break, the push to take as many Blue Jackets as possible continues. Kris Russell is young (22) and cheap ($0.75 million). He’s also little (5′10″), but I didn’t pick him to be hitting people. I picked him because of his 22 points in 66 games last season and his potential to become a capable offensive defenseman. If you recall, he’s the guy Bryan Murray was supposed to be after when there were all those Spezza to Columbus rumours, but Columbus apparently wouldn’t give him up. Well, in Re-Draft world, Spezza is in Columbus and Russell is a Senator. Along with Rick Nash and half the Blue Jackets’ forward corps. Also, Heatley is nowhere to be seen. BMurr, you’re welcome.

Foligno-Fisher-Shannon: Reunited and it feels so good!
Foligno-Fisher-Shannon: Reunited and it feels so good!

15th round, 444th overall: Ryan Shannon (RW)

And now you see the final piece in my plan when I drafted Foligno and Fisher: yes, it was my goal all along to re-create the fabulous FFS line that was so effective at times for the Sens last season. Teeny tiny Ryan Shannon had 20 points in 35 games with Ottawa last season and maybe I’m overly optimistic but I see those numbers going up this year.

16th round, 457th overall: Brian Boucher (G)

There was a bit of a run on backup goalies, it seemed, so I thought I should probably pick one up. Boucher has played capably for the Sharks the last two seasons and, as half of Philadelphia’s goaltending tandem this season, he’s one Ray Emery flipout away from getting a fair bit of playing time behind what should be a pretty outstanding team. (Not that I think Ray Emery will flip out.) At age 32, Boucher is our team’s elder statesman.

So, that’s where we stand. As always, you can check out the depth chart here. Needs still to be addressed include a sixth defenseman, the fourth line, and our three reserve players, with $17 million in cap space still remaining. Any thoughts?

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Re-Draft Update

Finishing up the school term has left me not much time for blogging lately, so I have not one, not two, but three rounds of draft picks to fill you in on from the NHL Re-Draft. Without further ado:

4th round, 97th overall: Brent Seabrook (D)

I thought it was about time the team had someone other than Cam Ward minding its own end, so I decided to go for a top pairing defenceman. Brent Seabrook has been earning a lot of praise (and an invitation to the Canadian Olympic camp) for his performance on the Blackhawks’ top defensive unit, and at a cap hit of $3.5 million I thought he’d be a good fit. He’s mostly known for his solid defensive play, but he’s also said to be a good passer with at least some offensive potential. His 26 points last season would have put him second among Sens’ defencemen.

5th round, 144th overall: Derick Brassard (C)

As you may know, I watched a lot of Blue Jackets games last season. If Derick Brassard hadn’t hurt himself (in a fight!) after 31 games, I think he’d have given his teammate Steve Mason a run for his Calder Trophy. Brassard is very young (only 21) and very inexperienced (only 48 career NHL games), but he’s got a ton of potential and, apparently, the will to live up to it. Plus, the upside of youth and inexperience is, of course, a cheap contract: we get him for just $1.247 million fake dollars. I really like the idea of a first line of Nash-Brassard-Hemsky. C’est aussi sûrement important pour les Sénateurs d’avoir un joueur qui parle français, et Brassard, qui est né à Hull, remplit ce rôle.*

6th round, 157th overall: Stephen Weiss (C)

You know what would be nice? If the Sens had a real second line centre, and if that second line centre made only $3.1 million. I love Mike Fisher as much as the next person who watched the 07 playoff run, but 32 points for $4.2 million? Really? Weiss led the Panthers in scoring last season with 61 points and has the reputation for being a player who makes his linemates better. Some Panthers fans view him as a future team captain. I believe he played on their first line last season, so I’d also view him as an alternative first liner for the Fake Sens in the obviously highly unlike event that Brassard should hit a sophomore slump.

So, we now have six players. I like the way the team is shaping up. I went into this process without much of a strategy but as I’ve gone through the lists of players trying to decide who to pick, I’ve noticed a few factors that make me add guys to my list, and a few that make me back away. The first thing is the contract. I don’t want any overblown dead weight contracts on this team. This has been a huge strike against most guys making over $5 million (because the really good ones were snapped up right away, and the ones left now are the totally super crappy ones anyway). The Fake Sens are also turning out to be quite a young team: so far, our oldest player is Stephen Weiss, who is just 26. This is partly a coincidence because the first three guys I drafted all happened to be 25. But since then youth has become a big part of the team’s identity in my mind.

My next pick is a long way off at 204 (pick 171 — Mattias Ohlund to Atlanta — is the most recent as I write this). Until then, you can as always follow along over at Cycle Like the Sedins. If anyone out there is looking to keep track of the Fake Sens’ roster and cap information, I have made this very beautiful depth chart page for your reference.

Re-Draft Horror: An Apology

I have the unpleasant duty of informing you that Daniel Alfredsson, who should be a Senator For Life even in the Fake NHL, was drafted in the third round by …

… the Anaheim Ducks.

Yes. It’s true. I feel terrible. I really dropped the ball here, and I apologize in advance for any nightmares you might have about Alfie wearing Ducks colours.

*I apologize if my French was offensively bad too.

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Re-Draft Round Three

The third spot on the Fake Sens’ roster has been filled. This round, I opted to go for another forward because I was concerned about all the playmaker-types getting snapped up before my next pick. That might come back to bite me later if I end up with a no-name defence, but hopefully not.

Anyway, the newest member of my Ottawa Senators is Ales Hemsky!

Hemsky with Nash
Hemsky and Nash: Ottawa’s new offensive super duo?

My first thought was to pick a playmaking centre — I was actually hoping I might snag Jason Spezza; however, that ship sailed (to Columbus) a long time ago — but when I saw that Hemsky was still available at a very palatable cap hit of $4.1 million I thought, why not a playmaking winger? Hemsky, who led the Oilers in scoring last season despite missing 10 games, is an extremely talented, creative player, and my hope is that he might complement Rick Nash on the first line. While Nash has the size and skill to score those amazing goals on his own, he’s never really had an NHL linemate with Hemsky’s skill to help set him up. If the two work well together (and I can get a good centre to play with them), I can’t see any reason why Nash shouldn’t score 50 goals.

My next pick comes up at the seventh spot in round four. Depending on how things go between now and then, I’ll either go for a #1 centre or a #1 defenceman. As always, please feel free to share your opinions on the direction of the Fake Sens in the comments! If you’re curious about the progress of the Re-Draft, Double Edged Sabres has a regularly updated page of results. Also check out Cycle Like the Sedins’ One Stop Source for Re-Drafting GMs post.

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Round Two Brings a Goalie

Cam Ward

With my second pick in the NHL Re-Draft, I decided to try and give the Sens some long-needed stability in goal in the form of Cam Ward. Why Cam Ward? Well,

  • He hasn’t had a lot of trouble with injuries in his career. No offense, Pascal Leclaire, but the fake Sens wanted someone who could probably be counted on to play about 60 games per season. (And now that I’ve said that, he’ll probably get hurt this year. Sorry Canes fans.)
  • Playoff experience. As you can see, he’s won the Cup. He was also pretty much a machine for the Canes in the 2009 playoffs. He gives me confidence.
  • Salary. I looked at the list of goalies still available, and my decision came down to Ward or Ryan Miller. (I just don’t trust Marc-Andre Fleury.) When I realized Ward’s cap hit is a very reasonable $2.667 million, compared to Miller’s $6.25 million, I felt the choice was obvious. Also, this is the last year of Ward’s contract so he’s bound to play well.
  • Age. Have you ever wondered why Ward looks so young? In fact it’s because he’s technically still a child: having been born on February 29, 1984, he’s only celebrated his birthday six times. If he can play this well at such a young age, imagine him when he actually becomes draft eligible.

At some point I’m going to follow Double Edged Sabres’ lead and make a depth chart of the fake Sens. For now, our team consists of only Ward and Rick Nash. Good building blocks, I hope. It’ll be a while before I pick again, so where do I go next? What would your strategy be?

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The Ottawa Senators Select …

I check my email when I got to work this morning and discovered it was my turn to pick in the Cycle Like the Sedins NHL Re-Draft. Naturally, I postponed all work so I could devote some time to coming up with the best possible choice for my Sens team.

There were several factors to take into account: this is a 30-team fantasy draft, and while the draft order snakes so I do get to pick again in the #36 slot, it’s going to be a long time between my second and third picks. I therefore wanted to pick a player I felt could carry a significant load for my team, just in case I’m not able to draft ideal players to complement him later on. We are also working within the constraints of the NHL salary cap, so that’s an important factor.

In the end I was torn between using my first pick to take a great forward or a great goalie. While it’s obviously very important to have reliable talent in goal (ask the real Sens about that one), I believe it’s also very risky to depend on any goalie to be reliable (again, ask the real Sens). With Henrik Lundqvist, Roberto Luongo, and Martin Brodeur already gone, there weren’t any goalies I felt strongly enough about taking with my first pick left.

So, I settled on a forward. That forward is … drumroll please …

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