Locked Out League - WTF? Edition

Ok, so in the last update I bragged about the fact that the Skywalkers were finally more or less healthy and ready to compete with the top teams.


Last night the Basketball Gods decided to mock me.

First, Andrei Kirilenko is one of my all-time favourite players. He's a renowned stat-stuffer, having on many occasions posted 5 or more in five categories; pts, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks - AND his number is 47 (making him the ultra-cool 'AK47'), AND to top it off his wife publicly declared that it was OK for Andrei to have sex with other women while on the road. So yeah, all in all, everything you want to be in a basketball player. Well after picking up Kirilenko off the waiver wire and having him perform at an above average rate for my bye week, I was chuffed to get AK47 into my active lineup against Bob. Cue the mysterious 'back spasms' and a no-show for his Wednesday game. Arrgh.

Then when checking out the Raptors vs. Memphis tilt I discovered that Andrea Bargnani (the Anti-Kirilenko - the only thing Bargs can do well is shoot, and inefficiently at that - which for an athletic and quick 7footer is about as bizarre as it gets, but I digress) has a 'sore ankle' and wouldn't be playing. Negative Awesome.

But the real kicker?

Boston vs. Brooklyn erupted into a mini-brawl when Kris Humphries put a hard foul on Kevin Garnett. Which should be awesome for me, because I have neither Humphries nor Garnett! Except that the '3rd man in' was my franchise player and assist machine Rajon Rondo, and the one player tabbed by the refs for ejection in Brooklyn was not Humphries, but Skywalker SF Gerald Wallace.

To top it all off, JR Smith (another waiver wire pickup, and the worst player I dressed this week), fould himself out of his game in like 18 minutes, but not before posting a Corey Milne like -1 stat line for the evening. Thanks JR. We won't be renewing your contract.

To review, two undiscovered injuries, two players ejected for a brawl that neither were direct participants in, and 5th player posting a negative score. Ladies and gentleman, your Lethbridge Skywalkers!

Please. Kill. Me.


Locked Out League Update

Hello my fellow B-Ballers!

If you've read the recent e-mails I sent out you'll know I solved the problems with out league schedule. Please confirm that your team is scheduled for 5 bye weeks over the 19 week season.

As a side note, making 7 teams fit into a 19 week schedule was 72 flavours of hell. But it's done, and we're all good now.

The Goodfellas, 3-0

Currently leading the league with a pristine 3-0 record. The GF's are built around a devastating set of big men; Duncan, Horford, Gasol, Aldridge and Bosh, and complimented by the supreme offensive abilities of Kevin Durant (did Darrell just beat everybody at the draft in a basketball pool?). He's getting very solid production out of a pair of Indiana guards; Hill and George, and is deep enough throughout the roster that there doesn't appear to be a real weakness.

For the record, I hate you Darrell. Not just dislike, but that wake-up-in-a-cold-sweat-screaming-hatred. Just thought you should know.

ThunderBay Murderball, 2-0

LeBron, LeBron and more LeBron. Healthy doses of Carmelo Anthony (who for some reason hit the Murderball bench), Kobe Bryant (who has been nothing short of off-the-hook to start the year) and the mysteriously effective play of Anderson Vareajao (whose scoring averages are still coasting on his record huge first week game). The other unexpectedly strong contributor is Phoenix PG Goran Dragic. The team recently added one of the league's best rebounder/scorers in Zach Randolph to their bench, and outside a few weak spots (Matin Gortat I'm looking at you), have a very strong team.

Fun note about Zach 'Z-Bo' Randolph. He's a 6'9" PF in Memphis, and is widely regarded as one of the least athletic players in the NBA, and despite this he remains a very effective post player. The joke being that he can't jump over a piece of paper. Never has a player been so slow, and so rooted to the floor yet also been so effective as big Z-Bo. If you get a chance to watch a Memphis game, check out how Z-Bo handles himself without possessing a lick of jumping ability.

The Calgary Ball-Bearings, 2-0

The third undefeated team in the LOL, the BB's are built around a pair of PG's who have been very good so far. Deron Williams was picked ahead of LeBron in the draft, and so far, hasn't lived up to that lofty standard - but he has been very good and shows signs that he could be even better once the Brooklyn Nets get on a roll. The other PG who has been working hard is Jrue Holiday - and his stats at the moment are even better than Deron Williams. The BB's front court of bigs; Howard, Noah and Jefferson has been doing some heavy lifting as well (though Noah should really be moved off the bench to be more effective). Third strong PG Ray Felton has been good enough so far that he is proving more productive than some higher drafted players on the roster.

The Chumfeeders:, 1-1

Some strange coaching decisions from the Great White's subsidiary, namely that they haven't made any. The 'non displaced fracture of his tibia' Steve Nash continues to dress, as does the on-again-off-again injured Brazillian behemoth Nene (fun fact, his name is 'Nene Hilario', but he has dropped the 'Hilario' and goes with just 'Nene' - which means 'baby'. Which is IMO simply hilario!)

Having defeated the Skywalkers the Chumfeeders dropped their next game and went into a bye week,  but Week 4 has them getting pounded with the league's lowest total so far. A trade (they need one or more bigs for one or more their 7 point guards), and/or a waiver pick up (Brooks Lopez would be a nice fit), along with some actual coaching decisions will address the issues they face.

The Flatlanders, 1-2

Chris Paul has been good, but not yet transcendental for them, and while Paul Pierce has been above average, few others on the team have been. One of the big surprises has been the contributions of rookies Anthony Davis and Damian Lilliard. Davis has filled in admirably at centre, while Lilliard has been nothing short of lights out for the team at PG. The two of them should finish 1-2 in the rookie of the year race, and could form the foundation of the team in years to come. The biggest concern is that their dominant center Andrew Bynum has yet to play a game, and is already hurt badly enough that he may not return till some time in the new year. Finding a gem or two off the waiver wire, or making a big trade are probably key elements for the Flaties to survive until the playoffs.

The Crapshooters, 0-3

James Harden has been nothing short of a revelation for the team, and is currently their best player by miles. The bearded one has been a dominant force at shooting guard and should make his first team All-Star appearance this year. Dwayne Wade has also been good, but not as good as their offensively gifted power center Greg Monroe. Marc Gasol is also playing well at pivot (giving the team good flexibility to make a trade), and the teams biggest surprise (other than Harden blossoming into an offensive terror) is the play of Kemba Walker at shooting guard, and Grevis Vasquez at point guard. Both guys are playing way above expectations (in particular Vasquez has been nearly elite). The team has a number of average or below average producers (Aaron Alfalo I'm looking at you), that they have to figure out a way to bench or get rid of, but the upshot is that the team is much better than their record indicates. Look for an upswing, especially if Wade kicks his game into overdrive, and Harden stays at the same elite level he has started off at.

The SkyWalkers, 0-3

There is no mystery as to why this team has struggled so much out of the gate. Here is a list of the injured players the SkyWalkers have suffered with through the first three weeks;


Which, is to be blunt, too many injuries to field a healthy squad each week. Hence the relentless pounding that the SW's have suffered through. That said, Nowitzki is now gone and replaced by SW favourite Andrei Kirilenko, and Ginobli was waived to bring on Raptors back-up PG Jose Calderon, and Love, Rondo, Walker and Lowry are back healthy. The result? The team is scoring at a comparable rate to the league leaders - albeit during a bye week when it doesn't count. With a more or less healthy squad, the SkyWalkers hope to turn the season around.


LOL News and Notes

Here is my first update on what I intend to be an ongoing FUNHL style set of notes regarding the NBA pool;

Brian and Doug both expressed some desire to have a better sense of how everybody's roster 'really' looks for fantasy purposes. I put together the review (the post below), but there is (as expected) more detail that could be conveyed. While I may be our league's 'expert', I am not actually an expert - I just play one on Tv - so take any and all comments with a large grain of salt.

As of right now, I'd suggest the following players are the 'FP's for each team (and remember, we each get 3 keepers for next year), and I list them in order of strongest to weakest;

Calgary Chumfeeders: Westbrook-PG Okc, Irving-PG Clev, Curry-SG/PG GS

Edmonton Flatlanders: Paul-PG Lac, Bynum-C Pha, Davis-PF/C Nor

Calgary Crapshooters: Wade-SG Mia, Harden-SG Hou, Smith-PF Atl

Thunderbay Murderball: James-SF Mia, Anthony-SF NY, Ellis-PG/SG Mil

Calgary Goodfellas: Durant-SF Okc, Gasol-PF/C Lak, Ibaka-C/PF Okc

Calgary Ball-Bearings: Williams-PG Bkn, Howard-C Lak, Milsap-PF Uta

Lethbridge Skywalkers: Love-PF/C Min, Rondo-PG Bos, Rose-PG Chi

Remember too that the way franchise players work in the LOL is different than in the FUNHL. At the end of every year you simply get to pick three guys to keep for next season from your roster, so you aren't necessarily taking a guy you will 'build' your team around in the future, you can simply protect the three best guys you have. That said, some players (Durant, James, etc.), are simply so awesome you can be fairly certain they will never appear in the draft again unless badly hurt (ala Derrick Rose). Age and long term plannning therefore play less of a role than it would in the FUNHL.

Another question I recieved was about 'strategies' for setting up your roster.

Let's consider for a moment Dan's team which is constructed in an unusual way, in that he has 7 players who can play point guard (Westbrook, Curry, Irving, Nash, Jennings, Parker and Teague). Of those 7, only Stephen Curry has eligibility at another position (SG), so you'd think at first glance that Dan should be in some trouble fielding an active roster. However, because of how the league works, you MUST dress at least one player eligible at PG, but you also have three other slots (G, and 3 UTIL slots) where Dan can dress PGs - so at any given time he could be playing 5 players as PG, and Stephen Curry (who has dual status) at SG. Where Dan is going to run into problems (IMO) is that he only has 4 Big men (Garnett-PF/C, Ilyasova-SF/PF, Nene-C/PF, and Brand-PF) to cover the PF and C slots, and of those four guys, he is currently using Ilyasova at SF (though he could put Luol Deng-SF there instead of at 'F'). As I mentioned in the draft review, my gut instinct is that the lopsided nature of his roster will present problems for him - mostly because the big men he drafted are also high injury risk players, but also because as big men go none of them are really elite, and he MUST play at least one C and one PF at all times (he can play a SF at in his 'F' slot).

One other note on the Chumfeeders is that one key to fielding a competitive roster is that he has a couple of players that qualify at multiple positions; Ilyasova can be a SF or PF, and Curry gets duo status as PG and SG. This gives him enough flexibility to move guys around so he can consistently play his best guys. A player like Tyreke Evans (on Bob's team) who has status at PG/SG/SF creates even more flexibility.

Perhaps a better example of a team with roster strategy issues is my own Skywalker team. I noticed that a number of injured players were lower in the autodraft rankings than I would have had them because they were expected to miss time. Knowing I had three bench slots, I moved several of these players up in my rankings thinking I might land some value from them by simply waiting for them to get healthy while playing other players who would move to the bench once my injured guys got back. Unfortunately I ended up drafting ALL of these guys (Love, Nowitzki, Ginobli, Wall, Rubio) and as a result I had more injured guys than my bench could hold, and I was forced to dress two injured guys (Ginobli and Nowitzki), effectively giving Dan a two player advantage in week 1 vs my team. Since nobody is going to trade me a healthy productive player for a long term injury guy like Wall, or even a shorter term injured player like Nowitzki, and because I couldn't part with Love outside of a gun being put to my head, my only solution was to use the waiver wire to refill my roster. Despite the fact that Wall is likely going to be an average or well above average PG when he returns, and even though I have mad love for Ricky Rubio, I had to let both go. In their place I selected Toronto's back up PG Calderon, and the massively injured (6 months at least) Derrick Rose. Calderon will dress next week so at least I will get some points from him, and Rose will take a seat on the bench next to my other injured guys with the hope he heals faster than expected. I still have a massive problem with injuries, but Ginobli is only DTD, so I should be able to dress a full roster for week 2. My 'strategy' (such as it is) is to ride out the early part of the season praying to the NBA gods I don't lose anymore players, while simultaneously praying that my injured guys heal fast.

The fact is that there is no 'best' way to handle one's roster. Dan's team is stocked with PG's and that may or may not create issues for him. I'm gambling on the return of injured players giving me a boost as the season wears on, teams like the Ball-Bearings and Goodfellas are loaded with quality big men, and Bob's team is top heavy with elite talent (James, Anthony), but patchwork everywhere else.

Here are some ESPN features you should probably explore how to use;

- The waiver wire; all undrafted/waived players go onto the waiver wire. To make an adjustment to your roster, go to: 'My Team', and then 'Add Player'. You will be given the list of available players likely sorted by current fantasy stats (though not by our specific criteria). I believe injured players have an asterisk, so make sure you check their status before adding them to your team. Once you have selected a player to Add, you will be taken to your roster page where it will ask you which player you are going to drop to make room for the new player, and after selecting the player to be dropped you will be asked to confirm the exchange. However, this exchange is still not necessarily happening! The waiver wire does not run on 'first come first serve' but gives preference (I believe) to teams lower in the standings. So two or more teams may be making a claim for a particular player, and you should be aware that your bid for their services may not necessarily be accepted. Further, it makes you wait a few days before resolving the claim - I made my claim on Calderon prior to week one starting, but I didn't get confirmation he would be on my roster till after the week started.

- My favourite feature is the 'Scoreboard'. Just click the 'Scoreboard' tab and you will get a list of who is playing who in a given week (our 'Games' last a week just like in the FUNHL when calculating the Challenge Cup), if the NBA games have already started for the evening click on 'Full Box Score', you will get a roster list for both your team and the team you are playing against, as well as notations for which of your players are actively in games. The cool part is this; it updates your fantasy score LIVE. This is pure pool crack. The other night I watched the Raptors game on TV and after every bucket, steal, rebound, or score by Bargnani and Lowry I watched my fantasy score for them update only a second or two later.

Here are some of the top performers/stories of the week:

- James Harden was traded days before our autodraft from Oklahoma City (a powerhouse of a team) to the Houston Rockets (an average team). In OKC he was the 6th man, the first guy off the bench who got to play against the oppositions 2nd stringers, and presumably outscore them. At this job he was fantastic, and he was the league's 6th man of the year. The trade however makes him the Rockets undisputed best player - and in his first game as a Rocket he delivered for them in spades by putting up the following stat line: 37pts, 12 assists, 6 rebs, 4 steals and 1 blk, for a total of 66 fantasy points. Before we go handing Harden the MVP trophy we should keep in mind that it was against a relatively inferior team that he put up this monster stat line - but still. I'd say its safe to say Harden likes being the #1 option in Houston just fine thank you.

- Anderson Varejao. I had mentioned this briefly in the review post, but the big Brazillian had an absolutely monster evening against the Washington Wizards. His fantasy line; 9pts, 23 rebs, 9 assists (and some fouls) for a total of 47 points. This is not the kind of stat line one should expect him from every night (or ever again), and it shows how small sample sizes can skew league scoring.

- Steve Nash. The Lakers were supposed to be a finely tuned offensive machine under the direction of Nash, but it has been anything but the case. Nash has been frankly terrible so far. Why? The coach of the Lakers has instituted the 'Princeton Offense'. Which is mind blowing frankly. The Princeton offense was designed by a coach in....you guessed it, Princeton, to account for the fact that his Ivy League team had few big men, and wasn't able to recruit the best athletes. It relies heavily on perimeter ball movement and three point shots. I can't think of a worse offensive system for the talent laden Lakers to use. The Lakers have two AMAZING big men in Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, a great defensive forward in Meta World Peace and two Hall of Fame caliber guards (albeit aging) in Nash and Bryant. The very last thing they should be doing is the Princeton offense. Nash's strength is a fast paced, high octane offense that runs on a speedy transition game after turnovers, and in a half court offense (the offense you use when the defense is 'set') built around pick and rolls. In a pick and roll the big man, for the Lakers this would be either Gasol or Howard, sets a pick for Nash so Nash can get a lane into the paint. The big man then 'rolls' off the pick he just set towards the basket himself giving Nash the options of; taking it right to the rim himself for a layup, dishing off to the rolling big man on the way to the rim, stopping suddenly mid drive to rise up for a shot (making it a pick and 'pop'), or dishing to one of the other players on the floor who are now open because coverage has to collapse on Nash. Howard and Gasol are phenomenally skilled big men. Howard in particular is built like a tank and with his absurd leaping ability can bull his way to the rim for easy dunks, while Gasol has the length and skill to finish himself, or pass it out to make another play. The pick and roll should be the Laker's bread and butter play almost every time down the floor. However, the Princeton offense does not use the Pick and Roll or Pick and Pop. Hence, Nash's numbers are ridiculously low, and Laker fans everywhere are screaming for the coach to be fired immediately - which he should be.

- Pity the poor Ball-Bearings. Their team is currently the highest scoring in our league - but they have a 'bye' week this week and as such all that offense is being wasted.

My goal is to make this league as exciting as possible, and to turn everyone into Basketball junkies (a tall order, I know), so as always, feel free to send me your questions and comments.



Locked Out League - Draft Review

Thanks to all the GMs who chose to participate, here is my review of the rosters that we auto-drafted;

The Calgary Ball-Bearings (Mike B)

PG: Deron Williams-Bkn
SG: Wesley Matthews-Por
SF: Rudy Gay-Mem
PF: Paul Milsap-Uta
C: Al Jefferson-Uta
G: Jrue Holiday-Phi (PG)
F: Ryan Anderson-Nor (PF)
Util: Dwight Howard-Lak (C)
Util: Joakim Noah-Chi (C)
Util: Tyson Chandler-NY (C)
Bench: Raymond Felton-NY (PG)
Bench: Ray Allen-Mia (SG)
Bench: Kris Humphries-Bkn (PF)

Deron Williams is one of the elite pass-first PG's in the league - at least he was two years ago, as last year he put up decidedly tepid numbers on a weak squad that required him to be its scorer more than it's facilitator. Brooklyn brought in a bunch of guys to be offensive weapons though, so he has a chance to return to his best role.The Ball-Bearings could have had LeBron James instead, so Williams had better be an All-Star out of the gate. Wesley Matthews could be an average shooting guard, but more likely won't as Portland is in the middle of a retooling - and SG will be a weakness for the team as a result. Rudy Gay is one of my least favourite players, but his fantasy numbers are decent for a small forward and he should be average or even slightly better for the position. Milsap is a beast who will collect rebounds and score in the paint at will. Jefferson, his compadre in Utah is very similar, and the two together could help crush opposing teams on the boards. Jrue Holiday is an average point guard on what is a bad team. As such he will likely be asked to score more, pass less, and this could depress his value. Ryan Anderson is the new breed of 'stretch four' (4 being the power forward position), a big man who can sift out to the three point line and hit long bombs. He's going to get lots of burn in New Orleans. Howard is simply a monster at center and in-arguably should start ahead of Jefferson (not that it matters in our pool), the only concern being a back that has been 'tweaked' and could cost him games now and then. Will be unstoppable on the pick and roll with Nash in LA. Noah is a defense first center who might average a low double double (Rebs and Pts) night in and night out. Ditto for Tyson Chandler. Ray Felton is a well below average point guard whose thankless job will be to throw passes into Carmelo Anthony from whom they will never return. Ray Allen was once an elite 2 Guard, but is playing out the string for a strong Miami team. He'll be the 4th or 5th offensive option, typically from the corner where he will be asked to hit open 3's after Wade and LeBron destroy the defensive coverage. Humphries is a nice value pick as he could post better numbers than Ryan Anderson, including rebounds.

Team to watch: Utah (Milsap, Jefferson)

Verdict: Overloaded at center (Jefferson, Howard, Chandler, Noah), and weak at shooting guard and small forward, with a potential weakness at point guard if Williams is anything less than elite. Should trade one of their many big men for guard or a wing.

The Calgary Crapshooters (Brian)

PG: Mike Conley-Mem
SG: Dwayne Wade-Mia
SF: Danny Granger-Ind
PF: Josh Smith-Atl
C: Marc Gasol-Mem
G: James Harden-Hou (SG)
F: Carlos Boozer-Chi (PF)
Util: Greg Monroe-Det (C)
Util: Roy Hibbert-Ind (C)
Util: Aaron Aflalo-Orl (SG)
Bench: Gordon Hayward-Orl (SG/SF)
Bench: JaVale McGee-Den (C)
Bench: Darren Collison-Dal (PG)

Mike Conley should be an average or even slightly above average facilitator for Memphis. Dwayne Wade is one of the elite shooting guards and could lead the league in scoring - but is almost never healthy enough to do so because of the reckless way he throws himself into the big men guarding the rim. Lots of hard miles on Wade already, he showed some signs of breaking down in last years playoffs (allowing James to take over), and might see his minutes/role cut back some to preserve his health. Danny Granger is an above average small forward who suffers from bad knees. Josh Smith is an elite power forward capable of stuffing the stat sheet in Atlanta, with the only question about him being how dialed in he will be playing for a mediocre team. Lots of highlight dunks forthcoming from Smith. Marc Gasol is a classic center, standing 7ft tall, he rebounds very well and scores from in close as expected. Meat and potatoes, he should be average or better. James Harden was the league's 'Sixth man of the Year' coming off the bench in OKC, but now he will be the starting shooting guard in Houston on a massive new contract. More minutes on the floor, more responsibilities, but against the other teams best defenders - call it even, but Harden could surprise and become an elite 2 Guard. Houston is sure hoping so. Boozer is an average or better power forward who has drawn the ire of Bulls fans for some indifferent play. Given the Bulls are missing their franchise point guard for the forseeable future, Boozer may decide to mail it in - and get himself traded elsewhere. Monroe is a future fantasy beast in Detroit, and could move up to become one of the elite centers in the game. However, his defense needs a lot of work, and he's going to be playing with a rookie at PF next to him. Expect some great nights and some not so great nights as Detroit takes its time developing him. Roy Hibbert is the classic NBA center (like Marc Gasol), counted on more for his defensive abilities than offense, he'll clean the glass for rebounds, and act as a 3rd option on Indiana's offense. Against smaller teams Hibbert will struggle, as he is 'slow' down the court (to put it mildly), but against another team with a true center he could produce huge benefits. Aflalo, Hayward and Collison are negligible talents who likely all could be waiver bait at some point. JaVale McGee is a real coin flip. He has multi-million dollar talent and size, but a $.50cent head. His brain cramps on the floor are becoming legendary. The Nuke LaLoosh of the NBA.

Team to watch: Memphis Grizzlies (Conley, Gasol)

The Verdict: Very strong shooting guard situation (Wade, Harden), but point guard and especially small forward are weaknesses. A weak set of bench players could also be an issue if injuries hit. Should try and trade Harden in a 2 for 1 deal that brings in a SF and PG, and then pray Wade stays healthy all year.

ThunderBay Murderball (Bob)

PG: Goran Dragic-Phx
SG: Jason Terry-Bos
SF: LeBron James-Mia
PF: Anderson Varejao-Cle
C: Martin Gortat-Phx
G: Monta Ellis-Mil (PG)
F: Carmelo Anthony-NY (SF)
Util: Tyreke Evans-Sac (PG/SG/SF)
Util: Brook Lopez-Bkn (C)
Util: Marcus Thornton-Sac (SG)
Bench: Kobe Bryant-LA (SG)
Bench: Amare Stoudemire-NY (PF/C)
Bench: Lou Williams-Atl (PG)

Goran Dragic has been a career 2nd unit point guard (first behind Nash in Phx then behind Lowry in Houston), and struggles against 1st unit guys. Factor in that Phoenix is a terrible team, and I see bad things for Dragic. Cool name though. Jason 'the Jet' Terry jumped ship (or was unceremoniously dumped depending on who you talk to) from the Mavericks and signed in Boston to replace the departing Ray Allen. He could get hot in spurts, but his days as a fantasy starter are long over. LeBron James is not just the best basketball player in the world, he's taking a run at Jordan for best ever. He can play All-star caliber ball at any position from point guard to power forward, and he can guard all five positions with lock-down defense. Only Magic Johnson has ever had a skill-set like LeBron's, and LeBron has more raw power/ferocity than Magic. Anderson Varejao is a big Brazillian center whose main offensive weapon is the put-back-dunk. Excels mostly at rebounding and playing with a high motor, he'd be the first big-man off the bench on a strong team (note: he absolutely destroyed the abysmal Washington Wizards tonight with 23 rebounds, 9assists, and 8 points last I checked - a stat line that had him outscoring LeBron for Murderball - sell high Bob!). Martin Gortat is similar to Vareajo except he has less offensive ability, much less hair, and plays in the perpetual nightmare of futility that is Phoenix. Monta Ellis is a wannabe Allen Iverson, a sparkplug of a point guard who thinks that shooting more often is the solution to all his problems. Will post above average points, below average assists (for a PG) and a negligible number of rebounds. Will be second in the league in death threats from team mates (behind Kobe). Carmelo Anthony is all that is wrong with the NBA. He's got fantastic size and skill for the SF position, but insists on taking a high volume of low percentage shots, refuses to pass to team mates, rebounds when he feels like it, and kills his coaches by refusing to adapt his game in any way to anyone else. He could also lead the league in scoring. Tyreke Evans could be 'LeBron-lite'. He's got the size and skill to play and defend multiple positions, and his talent level is through the roof. He doesn't have LeBron's otherworldly power though, and it isn't clear that he has figured everything out mentally yet, but I can't see Dragic holding onto the PG spot in Murderball's starting rotation if Evans even scrapes the surface of his abilities. Brook Lopez is kind of a disaster. He doesn't rebound well for a big, doesn't defend worth a damn, can't pass to save his life, and has only a rudimentary offensive game. He does have a voice like cookie monster though - so he has that going for him. I literally know nothing about Marcus Thornton other than the Sacramento Kings are a terrible team (except for Tyreke Evans - and the jury is out on him) - so I suspect he's a future waiver guy. Kobe 'Anal-Rapist' Bryant is my least favourite player in the league, but there is no way on Earth he should be on the bench. Playing on a weak Lakers squad last year he went into full 'f*ck you' mode and decided to take every shot he could from just about everywhere on the floor - and screw his team mates. He very nearly won the scoring title. The truth is though he is on his last legs, his knees are just not able to get him the lift he once had (he goes to Switzerland to have some high end very hush hush 'procedure' done on them in the off-seasons now), his once mercurial speed is now gone, and he simply he can't blow by guys on the way to the rack at all. That said, with Howard and Gasol operating down low, and Nash orchestrating open looks for him, he might have another very good year in him. Even with cyborg knees and a new cast of stars that will cut into his ball-hoggery, Kobe should dress ahead of Terry. Amare Stoudemire simply hasn't been the same player since two microsurgeries on his knees and his departure from Steve Nash. He's a terrible defender, a horrific compliment to Melo in NY (neither ever gives up the ball, neither defends, and neither gives a damn about anything but his own shot - they deserve each other), and he's already injured and missing time. Lou Williams was underrated in Cleveland when he played there, and will be underrated in Atlanta. He's an average to slightly below average PG capable of making his team better, but never has the flashy scoring stats of his better known brethren.

Team to watch: The Knicks (Anthony and Stoudemire), a cyclotron of stars constantly threatening to spiral out of control and meltdown completely in the most 'Melo'-dramatic way.

The Verdict: Probably the team to beat. Kobe and Melo are classic me-first, high-volume shooters spearheaded by the otherworldly all-round dominating talent of LeBron. The rest of the team might be a little patchwork (in particular finding a way to hide the still-twitching corpses of Gortat, Stoudemire and Dragic would help), but Murderball looks to be my favourite right now.

The Calgary Goodfellas (Darrell)

PG: Isaiah Thomas-Sac
SG: Paul George-Ind
SF: Kevin Durant-Okc
PF: Lamarcus Aldridge
C: Pau Gasol-Lak
G: Nicolas Batum-Por (SF/SG)
F: Serge Ibaka-Okc (C/PF)
Util: Al Horford-Atl (C/PF)
Util: Chris Bosh-Mi (PF/C)
Util: Tim Duncan-SA (PF/C)
Bench: Klay Thompson-GS (SG)
Bench: OJ Mayo-Dal (SG)
Bench: Mo Williams-Uta (PG)

Isaiah Thomas is a well below average PG, but may well dress given the lack of talent at that position on the Goodfellas.  Paul George emerged last year as the heir apparent to Danny Granger at SF for Indiana, and with Granger's knees failing him again, he won't have to split minutes with the vet as often - could really blossom as a result. Kevin Durant won't ever out rebound or get more assists than LeBron, but he's the one guy who should outscore him with raw offense. The 6'10" swingman is lethal from any distance, has freakish athletic ability for someone his size, and will be given the chance to shoot himself out of any minor slumps. His speed and length make him all but unguardable as he can blow by big men with ease, and shoot over top smaller defenders with impunity. He's also just beginning to reach the ceiling of his talent. Aldridge is the prototype powerforward, and should average close to a 20pts-10rebs over the year, making him a borderline all-star. Unfortunately the Trailblazers are kind of a mess, and he may be overworked, or just get tired of losing and check out. Pau Gasol was the best player on the last Lakers championship team (despite what Kobe says), and as a high skill big man who can score, rebound and make plays he's almost in a league of his own. He'll have to share the rock more with Howard and Nash around, and the offense won't flow through him in the post anymore, so the huge upside might not be there anymore. Nicolas Batum has had good stats in small sample sizes for two years running and could be prepped to step up and take a bigger role in Portland. That said, he reminds me a lot of former Phoneix Sun (and fellow Frenchman) Boris Diaw - in that he does a lot of things well, but no one thing at an elite level. Serge Ibaka won't score like his team mate Durant (and really, nobody does), but he will do all the dirty work like set hard picks, rebound, block shots, and slam put back dunks on those rare Durant misses. Al Horford is an average to better than average center on a borderline very good team that somehow finds a way to implode every year. An all round solid guy who would start at pivot for most LOL teams. Chris Bosh is at best the third offensive option in Miami, and that suits him fine. Gone are the days he would average 20+pts and 10+ rebounds a year, but he gives the Heat a legitimate down-low option offensively when needed, and an underrated defensive presence against opposing big men (it's no accident that Miami struggled the most in last years playoffs when Bosh was hurt). Tim Duncan is widely regarded as the greatest powerforward of all-time, but father time is catching up with him. He's now getting by on experience, guile, intelligence and a repetoire of offensive moves honed by years of experience - but the offense no longer starts with the ball going into him at the low post, and he's ok with that. Expect the gradual decline of his hall of fame career to continue. OJ Mayo is like a new Porsche, it goes fast, looks great, but seems to have strange breakdowns at the worst possible time until you realize you can't trust it to get you to the grocery store on a daily basis. If he can find his game in Dallas, he could surprise, but nothing so far suggests that he can keep his car on the road. Mo Williams is a jack-it-up-first point guard who doesn't score well enough to justify that he can't pass a damn. Injury filler at best. I have no idea who Klay Thompson is, but he plays in Golden State, and they are a complete mess.

Team to watch: Oklahoma City (Durant, Ibaka). Makes me sick. Portland (Batum, Aldridge). Ok, now I feel a little better.

The Verdict: Achilles heel is point guard as Isaiah Thomas is nobodies idea of a starter - except for Sacramento and they blow donkey gonads. Shooting guard will also be a weakness unless Batum really takes a step forward, and I have to say I doubt it. The good news is that the Goodfellas have an obvious superstar in Durant, and a slew of quality bigs around him (Aldridge, Horford, Ibaka, Gasol, Bosh, Duncan). Trading one or more of the bigs for a guard or two would make them solid top to bottom.

The Flatlanders (Doug)

PG: Chris Paul-LAC
SG: Ty Lawson-Den
SF: Paul Pierce-Bos
PF: Anthony Davis-Nor
C: DeMarcus Cousins-Sac
G: Eric Gordon-Nor (SG)
F: David Lee-GS (PF/C)
Util: Danilo Galinari-Den (SF/PF)
Util: Jeremy Lin-Hou (PG)
Util: Keneth Fareid-Den (PF)
Bench: Andrew Bynum-Phi (C)
Bench: Damian Lillard-Por (PG)
Bench: Brandon Knight-Det (PG)

Chris Paul is the NBA's best point guard, and the setup man for the Clippers 'Lob City' attack. Equally capable of setting up or scoring almost at will. Only downside is that he has ongoing knee issues that will inevitably cost him games over the course of a long season. Ty Lawson is an efficient and above average point guard playing on the uptempo offense in Denver - a bit under the radar, but he's arguably better than many of his better known peers. Pierce is taking the last laps of a hall of fame career in Boston, and while his game hasn't eroded noticeably that much just yet, he's clearly on the downside. Anthony Davis is a raw rookie expected to bolster the NBA owned Hornets (they are the NBA's version of the Coyotes). It's a bit much to expect average numbers from a rookie, especially a big man, but Davis has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone. DeMarcus Cousins is a young beast of a center the Kings are building their attack around. Already a rebounding machine, he has off-the-court question marks that may inhibit him reaching his full potential. And he plays in Sacramento, a team that typically fellates ungulates. Eric Gordon is a long shot to produce legit numbers given he is on the rebuilding Hornets, but he might be an average shooting guard if things fall into place. David Lee could be a surprising stat-stuffer at center, as he flies way under the radar, but reliably scores and rebounds well for a big. Galinari will lose floor time to new arrival Iguodala unless he gets his consistency issues ironed out. He can be a game dominator one night and invisible for the next five. Jeremy Lin was last years darling in New York after the undrafted kid had a quarter season of amazing performances before he got hurt and Melo got his coach fired. Lured to Houston in the off-season to be their starter, Lin will have to prove he can handle the duties. Kenneth Fareid is a human pogo-stick in the mold of Dennis Rodman - expect more rebounds and hustle than points. Andrew Bynum is the lynch pin. Blessed with mammoth size and skill, he's a classic power center who should dominate the paint at both ends of the floor. Bynum spent years on the Lakers learning his craft (trained by none other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) since he was drafted as a teenager. He's also struggled with a less than ideal attitude towards teamwork, and the frequent injuries that come from carrying such a massive frame. If Bynum stays healthy and flourishes in Philly, the Flatlanders could have a legit franchise center. Damian Lillard is a rookie, and historically even good rookies are below average. Plus (or really, 'minus'), Lillard is in Portland. Brandon Knight is a PG stuck behind Jrue Holiday and Rodney Stuckey in Detroit, and as such he'll have to really prove he is worth the burn or ride the pine.

Teams to watch: New Orleans (Davis, Gordon), and Denver (Lawson, Galinari, Fareid)

The Verdict:: While they are a bit weak at powerforward (Davis should not be starting), the team is loaded with future potential with only Pierce really on the down side of his career. That said, they require that Bynum not miss much time, that Paul's knees hold up, and that a number of young players really blossom into true stars (Lin, Gordon, Galinari, Cousins, or Fareid) for things to work out.

The Chumfeeders (Dan)

PG: Russell Westbrook-Okc
SG: Stephen Curry-GS
SF: Irsan Ilysova-Min
PF: Kevin Garnett-Bos
C: Nene-Wsh
G: Kyrie Irving-Cle (PG)
F: Luol Deng-Chi (SF)
Util: Steve Nash-Lak (PG)
Util: Brandon Jennings-Min (PG)
Util: Tony Parker-SA (PG)
Bench: Jeff Teague-Atl (PG)
Bench: Kevin Martin-Okc (SG)
Bench: Elton Brand-Dal (PF)

Westbrook is one of the new breed of lightning fast facilitators that man the point. Blessed with ridiculous speed and scoring ability he's a terrific compliment to Durant in OKC. If he has a downside its that his assist numbers are muted by his tendency to look for his own shot - but it's a tiny quibble. Stephen Curry is really a shooting guard trapped in a point guard's body, he doesn't rack up big assist numbers because (like Monta Ellis) he'd rather try the high difficulty circus shot than make the extra pass. Irsan Ilysova is a bit below average for a small forward starter across the board, and the team doesn't have anyone better who might replace him should he struggle. Kevin Garnett is staring at the downside of a fabulous career as dominant power forward, unrepentant bully, and borderline lunatic. He plays more at center now than in the past, and he requires more rest for his aching knees, so a below average to poor set of stats for him is likely. Nene can be a solid defensive center who accumulates rebounds and blocks with the best, but has no real offensive tools outside of 3ft from the basket. And he's hurt already. Kyrie Irving is in the Westbrook mold of PG, but with better passing and less rebounding. He's a blazing speed merchant that Cleveland will build around moving forward. Luol Deng is a utility knife forward who can score, rebound, assist, and defend at an average level. Nash is still ridiculously skilled as a pass-first point guard, and he has a whole host of weapons he can dish off to now in LA. That said, he's 38 and has spinal stenosis, so at some point, the music will stop and the party is going to end. Brandon Jennings is the top point guard in Milwaukee, which is like being the best french kisser in a world where nobody has lips. Tony Parker is now entering the elder-statesman stage of his career, but with Duncan's decline the offense now runs through Parker's hands more than ever before, and he could produce near career numbers. Jeff Teague is the backup PG in Atlanta, and will have to fight see the floor for big minutes. Kevin Martin's jump to OKC could be good for him, or it could blow up in his face. He plays essentially the same position as Durant, so the natural thing is to have Martin come off the bench and feed against lower level defenders, but Martin is nowhere near the defender that Harden was, doesn't rebound well for his position, and isn't a gifted passer. If he doesn't score, he may not have a role. Elton Brand is a road-block of a power center (albeit undersized), who is no longer the fearsome physical presence he was as a younger man, and getting progressively gimpier. He'll be the designated backup to Disco Dirk in Dallas when Nowitzki is healthy.

Teams to watch: Oklahoma City (Westbrook, Martin). Milwaukee (Ilyasova, Jennings)

The Verdict: Approaching 'horror show' territory at the big men positions of PF and C (Garnett, Brand, and Nene are all well past their prime and breaking down frequently), with no fewer than 7 point guards (Westbrook, Curry, Irving, Nash, Parker, Jennings, Teague) to offer as trade bait. Small forward could also use an upgrade as Deng is merely 'good', and Ilyasova is best described as 'serviceable'.

The Skywalkers (Cameron)

PG: Rajon Rondo-Bos
SG: Joe Johnson-Bkn
SF: Andre Iguodala-Den
PF: Gerald Wallace-Bkn
C: Andrea Bargnani-Tor
G: Evan Turner-Phi (SG/SF)
F: Blake Griffin-Lac (PF)
Util: Dirk Nowitzki-Dal (PF)
Util: Kyle Lowry-Tor (PG)
Util: Manu Ginobli-SA (SG)
Bench: Kevin Love-Min (PF/C)
Bench: John Wall-Wsh (PG)*
Bench: Ricky Rubio-Min (PG)*

Rajon Rondo is a one of-a-kind point guard. He's super athletic, and is an elite rebounder for his position, he can bull his way to the rim and finish with authority, he's a lock down defender who makes other point guards miserable, and he is a fantastic playmaker with elite passing ability. He also has what can kindly be described as a 'broken' jump shot - limiting his ability to score from mid-long range. Of all the players in the league Rondo is the one with the best chance of having more triple doubles (pts/assists/rebounds) than LeBron. Joe Johnson is a classical shooting guard who can score from everywhere, possesses elite athleticism, and has no conscience. In Brooklyn he'll have an elite point guard passing him the ball, and a general level of complimentary talent around him that could see him post his best numbers since the 7 seconds or less seasons in Phoenix. Andre Iguodala is above average at everything for his position, but lacks the elite scoring ability to make him a household name. A 'stat stuffer', he gets rebounds, steals, assists and plays lock-down defense, but won't have the gaudy offensive game that makes all-star ballots - a quiet superstar. Gerald Wallace is an Adonis statue in basketball shorts. A few seasons back he had a legitimate breakthrough season with big numbers across the board, but when his team started to falter (he was in Charlotte), so did his intensity. Now in Brooklyn with Williams and Johnson, Wallace will have the running mates to keep him interested in performing at a high level. Bargnani is something of an enigma, blessed with a 7ft frame, decent athleticism, and unlimited shooting range, he has all the tools to be an offensive force of nature ala Dirk Nowitzki. However, his defense is borderline terrible, and his rebounding virtually non-existent. That said, for 13 games last year Bargnani's light finally went on. His offense was efficient and productive, suddenly he cared about his defense, and he collected more than just a couple of rebounds a game. Then he got hurt, and by the time he returned the Raps were out of the playoffs and dialing it all back. Regardless of whether that 13 game Bargs returns, he'll provide solid (if inefficient) offensive production if nothing else. Evan Turner is the reason that Philly felt they could afford to trade Iguodala to Denver. In many ways Turner is Iggy-lite, being below average or average across the board. With more floor time coming now that Iggy is out of the way, Turner will have a chance to improve. Blake Griffin is the finisher for the Clipper's 'Lob City' attack. A 6'10" powerforward with elite jumping ability, he is a pure dunking machine capable of hammering down on even the most elite defenders (google 'Griffin Perkins dunk' to see what I mean). Strong offensive production and rebounding numbers are expected, along with a perpetual place on the evening highlight reel. Dirk Nowitzki is a 7ft German scoring machine. The addition of a fade-away jumper to his arsenal has made him all but unguardable. That said, he's now 34 and the injuries are starting to pile up - and he'll miss at least a few weeks to start the season (he also has the worst taste in girlfriends ever - google that too). Kyle Lowry is about the league average for a point guard across the board, and will have the chance to develop further in Toronto. Ginobli is still a threat to put up all-star shooting guard numbers every night, along with added rebounds and assists, but the balding one is starting to lose more and more time to injury. If he can stay healthy he's a starting caliber SG, its just that he is no longer healthy for a whole season. Kevin Love is the teams 'win the game card'. Not blessed with outstanding athleticism, Love has made himself into the best powerforward in the game. His range goes well out beyond the 3pt line, he's the best rebounder in the game (he had a 30 rebound game last season), collects better than the average number of assists for a PF, etc. He's a statistical freak. He also broke his arm in the off-season and will miss at least 4weeks to recover. John Wall is a former first overall pick by Washington in the 'warp speed' mold of point guard. He'd be a decent bet to be a franchise caliber guard in the future, but is on a totally crap team, and is currently hurt for a significant period of time. Ricky Rubio is the most exciting PG in the game in terms of creativity. His assists border on blasphemous the way they toy with physics. Like Rondo his jump shot isn't a strength, and like Wall he's recovering from a knee injury.

Update: The Skywalkers waived John Wall and Ricky Rubio and have made claims on two other players, Jose Calderon in Toronto (the backup to Lowry), and Derrick Rose (the former MVP of the league is recovering from knee surgery and will miss most if not all the year). Calderon will sit on the bench and act as injury filler, while Rose (the prototype of warp speed PG that Wall, Irving, Westbrook, etc. are in the mold of) will project as a future franchise player for next season regardless of if he plays this year.

Teams to watch: Brooklyn (Johnson, Wallace), Toronto (Lowry, Bargnani)

The Verdict: A strong team core (Rondo, Johnson, Wallace) that could be pushed to an elite level with the return to health of some injured players (Love, Nowitzki, Ginobli, and eventually Rose).


NHL Lockout continues ad nauseum and ad infinitum

Oct 23

League of Shadows Memo

NHL and the NHLPA can't split ~3.3 Billion dollars in revenue 50/50

A framework most likely exists.

Greed on both sides exists.

Bettman is now ?proudly? running his 3rd lockout since he took over.  He doesn't care - he gets paid regardless...as does Fehr in the midst of his NHL lockout.

Owners and players are both losers in this debacle - though hard to say that the pure hockey fans or the new hockey fans are not the biggest losers.

I want stay positive and predict November 15th resolution and games start Dec. 1 and the Winter Classic is saved in a truncated 60 game season.

But no.

Coke Bets will be taken by us that fog from crystal ball is lifting and NO SEASON.

Thoughts and take the bet or agree and don't.



FUNHL News and Notes

Hi Everyone,

Just two major topics for this posting, PAR, and Prospects. Here we go;


Way back when I had more time on my hands than common-sense in my head I spent a few off-season summers trying to solve the ancient riddle of 'how do we compare players across positions?' My first attempts at this were terrible, but eventually I settled on a mathematical process where I ranked all the players by position, and then ran a calculation that would compare the expected offense vs the average player of that position.

Intuitively this seemed to make sense, but in practical terms the results were very counter intuitive. For example, in every year I ran that process it would produce a list of players (hooray!) but that list would have a massively disproportionate number of defensemen at the top (uh oh). It would literally tell me that I should be spending my first six picks of the draft on defensemen and ignore all other positions till that what was done.

Needless to say these were the drafts where by the 3rd round I was muttering out loud 'my list is lying to me'. Not my finest hours at the draft table to be sure.

Since then I had settled on a more laissez-faire approach, players are broken out by position, and then ranked internally to see if they are a FUNHL 1st liner, 2nd liner, etc. with an easy to assess highlighting of how many others were at the same position so I can best judge whether I am able to get a player of similar caliber by waiting. I can't complain about this process much since it won me a Cup, but I still wondered if there were a way to rank and compare a goaltender vs a center vs a D-man in a way that made sense.

Enter Fantasy Football. Turns out this problem of ranking across positions is a problem for Football as well. How do you compare selecting a quarterback vs a team's defense? (fantasy football pools don't split out defensive players, though wow, it would be awesome if they did), or determine which of a gazillion potential running backs is best to be taken and when?

The solution? Points Above Replacement.

Rank all players by their position and sorth them by last years stats (I'll use RW as an example). The key is to determine who the WORST player you might conceivably dress at RW is (i.e. who is the 48th best RW), and this becomes the 'replacement' level player. In this case it would have been Tuormo Rutuu for 34 points. To figure out a players PAR then, you would take his stats (say Kessel with 82 points, the top RW from last year) and subtract the replacement level player (34pts) to get Kessel's PAR = 48pts. Once you do this for every position you can then compare across positions to see which players have the greatest impact vs the guy you can find at the end of your bench or off the waiver wire.

I ran the PAR for my own player projections and it gives a VERY intuitive result. The best player in the league? Malkin. 2nd best? Crosby. Karlsson's huge offensive season put him in the top 5 (but not first overall!), and it shows where a run on D-men should take place, which two goaltenders should go in the first, etc.

I'm sold on it, but you can decide for yourself once those of you interested have had a chance to do your own projections.

The second thing I wanted to do was to review who I thought were the top prospects for our upcoming Prospect Draft. I have had several long conversations with Bob, have read through all the profiles on Hockey Prospects, Hockey Prospectus, and Dobber (and others), and come up with what I think is a pretty fair grasp of how things will look (which is still very probably wrong, but there you go).

The first thing I should say is that unlike last year, this year we have a VERY deep prospect pool to select from. Not sure why this is the case, but I have more top-end guys in this draft than in the last two combined. Just how it goes I guess.

1st Overall: Galchenyuk-C Mtl

It makes way too much sense. He was the top forward in the NHL ED who has yet to be picked (Brian has Yakupov already), he is a pure offensive weapon, the team has holes he can fill sooner rather than later, and he was even a candidate to go 1st overall. That said, he missed most of last year with injury, but is otherwise the obvious guy to take at #1.

2. Justin Schultz-D Edm

Former Ducks 2nd rnd pick is NHL ready, has a spot waiting for him, and is already well developed as a prospect - he could play right away for a FUNHL defense.

3. Seth Jones-D USNTDP

Compares to Larry Robinson, a huge, physical and mobile defender who can run a powerplay and log massive minutes.

I rank the above as 1-2-3, and honestly expect Rob (who has the first three picks) to consider taking all of them (in some order). The represent the best overager (Schultz), the best underager (Jones), and the best of this years NHL ED (Galchenyuk). He can cover all his bases right off the hop.

For the rest I won't assign a specific ranking, because preferences (how old a prospect is, team they play for, style of play, etc.) don't make for clear favourites. Any of these guys could go in just about any order once you scoop the above three off the top.

Charlie Coyle-R Min

A big strapping powerforward with oodles of offensive ability. Downside is that suddenly the wing position just got crowded in Minny, and he may be broken in more slowly. Plus, it's Minnesota, a place prospects normally go to die.

Roman Cervenka-C Cgy

Brought over from the KHL to jumpstart Calgary's offense, he's a tad undersized, but at 26 is way more mature as a player than anyone else you might select. Upside is similar to the PV's use of Plekanec, downside is he might not even be in the league after one season. Low risk, high reward makes him a likely first rounder.

Calle Jarnkrok-C Det

Somewhere in a lab in Sweden (probably in Ornskoldsvik) Red Wing scientists continue their efforts to create a Zetterberg/Datsyuk hybrid. Jarnkrok is the latest result. Downside is you may have to wait a few years for him to arrive. 

Derek Pouliot-D Pit

Lots of offensive defensemen this year, but Pouliot will get special attention because he plays in Pittsburgh. Biggest issue is the number of quality prospects the Penguins already have on D (Despres, Maata, Morrow, etc.)

Morgan Reilly-D Tor

Two red-flags for Reilly, he missed most of the year with knee injury, and he's a tad undersized (and he's a Leaf, but whatever). That said, he has sick skating ability and looks like a future powerplay QB. Is he the next Brian Leetch, or the next Drake Berehowsky?

Damien Brunner-R

The overseas scoring ace signed a deal with Detroit in the off-season and will likely be given an ample shot at the 3rd line and 2nd unit PP. Rumours of his having been hatched from a pod in Ornskoldsvik by Red Wing scientists cannot be confirmed.

Peter Holland-C Ana

A big strapping scoring pivot that Anaheim has been handling with kid gloves by stashing him in the AHL rather than rushing him to the bigs. On the slow track, but has prototype skills.

Mark Stone-C Ott

Canada's best forward at the WJC, Stone lead the team in scoring, and flashed a Brett Hull like skill-set, including a below average skating stride that may prevent him from making an impact at the NHL level.

Nathan Beaulieu-D Mtl

An offensive defenseman in junior, Beaulieu has a wide range of scoring abilities and with Montreal's thin blue-line (Rafael Diaz? Really?),  Beaulieu could get a shot sooner rather than later.

Cody Ceci-D Ott

One of the seemingly endless supply of offensive defensemen in this years NHL ED, Ceci was one of the few who went injury free. Bonus points for getting drafted by his hometown team.

Griffin Reinhart-D NYI

Prototype #1 defenseman with size, skating ability and all-round game, he was a high pick and went to a team that desperately needs to develop an elite defender. The bad news is that his offensive ceiling may not be that of a Pouliot, or Reilly (on the other hand, it well may), but his circumstances are all but ideal for making an impact sooner rather than later. Bonus points for his excellent playoff performance.

Ty Rattie-R StL

 The Blues may have found the modern version of Darcy Tucker, or Pat Verbeek. Rattie is an agitating winger with loads of skill, but its an open question as to how well his skills will translate at the next level given his size.

Andrei Loktionov-C LA

Played a strong two way game for the Monarchs the last two years and flashed enough skill to be considered a likely 2nd line center when he hits his prime. Unfortunately, there is a sick logjam of guys ahead of him on the Kings (Kopitar, Richards, Carter, Stoll).

The Panther Pivots:

Nick Bjugstad-C, Quinton Howden-C, Grimaldi-C

Bjugstand and Howden are large framed guys with good offensive ability who will likely compete for the slot behind Huberdeau as the Panthers develop. Unless the uber-Dwarf Grimaldi snatches it away from them. Either Howden or Bjugstad could bust out and be a grinder, but if Grimaldi busts he will be the AHL's or Europe's top scorer for a decade. 

The Next Ones:

Monahan-C OHL
Barkov-C SEL
Shinkaruk-L WHL

Jones is the Pronger clone, Monahan and Barkov skill pivots with size, Shinkaruk is the smurfy burner, and Lazar is the longshot.  Pick your (slow acting) poison.

The 5 Dwarves:

Cory Conacher-L TBay
Teuvo Tervainen-C Chi
Johnny Gaudreau-L Cgy
Hunter Shinkaruk-F WHL
Rocco Grimaldi-C Flo

Conacher has already had a solid AHL season as an offensive weapon, and looks close to making the Bolts where he'll have Martin StLouis around to mentor him. Tervainen is Chicago's most recent 1st round pick, he has loads of skill and speed, but is a lightweight and less likely to be ready for at least another year, and maybe more. Gaudreau was Calgary's 4th round pick a year ago, he was a ppg in college hockey as a rookie and looks to have already covered the bet for where he was drafted. He's further away than Conacher or Tervainen, but could have as much upside as either. Hunter Shinkaruk is a scoring dynamo in the Dub, and is angling for a high spot in next years draft. Grimaldi is the smallest of the 5 in stature (5'6"), but may well be the heaviest as he has a thick frame (ala Theo Fleury back in the day). He'd be closer to making the Panthers but lost the entire season to injury. Downside is he is a compulsive twitter-holic and a Tebow fanatic, unless you like those things in which case, he's your guy. Highest ceiling is Shinkaruk. Most ready is Conacher. Most likely to succeed in the medium term is Tervainen. Most entertaining might be Grimaldi, and most fun to have as a prospect (because he is a Flame) is definitely Gaudreau.

The Flames Cupboard

Since Phaneuf, the best prospects from the Flames have been serious question marks until Sven Baertschi came along - a long drought. But Feaster's drafting has been paying off and there appear to be a handful of potential offensive performers coming down the pipe;

Johnny Gaudreau (see above) -L
Mark Jankowski-C 
Mark Ferland-L 
Max Reinhart-C
Roman Cervenka (see above)-C
Markus Granlund-L

Gaudreau is the smurf I mentioned above, and Cervenka has already been discussed. Jankowski was the 'didn't see that coming' 1st rounder from this year. He destroyed inferior competition at a Canadian High School after sprouting 5 inches in a little over a year. He's highly skilled, but is a pencil and badly needs to pack on weight and prove himself against his peers. Boom or bust, he's a project and he's at Providence this coming year. Ferland is from the Rick Tocchet school of how to make friends and win bar fights. In his draft year he wasn't considered a steal when taken, but he exploded last year on the top line with Stone and Rattie in Brandon, and flashed unexpected scoring ability while also being an all-round mean son-of-a-gun. Off-season assault charge only adds to his allure. Probably has the lowest floor of all the Flames prospects, but he already looks to be on a better track than Greg Nemisz. Reinhart is being groomed as a 2nd/3rd line center, so his ceiling isn't terribly high, but he also looks to be a sure-fire NHLer, and with his high IQ could surprise. Granlund is a bit of a wild card and the least attractive of the bunch IMO. He's got decent size (over 6'ft), great bloodlines (Michael's brother), and a very solid offensive resume. The downsides are that his totals may have been floated upward by playing with uber-skilled Michael, and his performance at prospect camp showed a preference for staying around the perimeter. Cervenka is the only one I'd guarantee gets picked, but any or all of these Flames could be taken.


The Bible is OUT!

Well, now time to check lists...

Eric Staal FP Shadowmen now LW!


Rick Nash FP now LW
Zetterberg=C FP

Giroux = C


St.Louis is now LW FP

more later

we got set a location for ED2012 IN cALGARY soon

for sat. oct 6th 11am mst...



Birthday Wishes to Bladerunner GM

As the old man in the group I always like it when Brian has his birthday as then we have the same age in years. Since we are no longer draft elligable, months are insignificant and even changes in the year are often discouraged rather than discussed.

Happy Birthday Brian.

I will buy you a beer when I am in Calgary next month.


2012-13 Hockey New top 600

This now expanded listing is now out. Unfortuneately it is so early that some of the key July moves did not make the issue.


NHL Crazy...

Weber front-loaded offer sheet signed....Philly to pay 110 million over ?10-14 years (can't remember now)

If Nashville does NOT match by Wed., they will get  one or two active players from the Flyer roster and 4 1st round draft picks as compensation

I say don't match...

Nash to NYR

Anisimov, Dubinsky, Tim Erixon and 2013 1st rnd pick.to CLB

We waited that long for that!?  WTF? or rather lol.

Parise and Suter to MIN at close to 200 million combined.

I say Parise and Suter never win the Stanley Cup and MIN doesn't even the playoffs next year

Hasek come back at 47?  not yet...

Owners are poor and players are greedy...really - and the NHL booming profits must be an accounting error...



Big signings

Free agents Zach Parise, Ryan Suter sign with Minnesota Wild - ESPN

How about that turn of events? Anyone see BOTH of them going to the Wild? What else does Minn need to be a contender now - goaltending? And who gets sloppy seconds with Semin and Carle? And have we really made progress with the Salary Cap if it means contracts like Suter and Parise lasting 13 years?

Other news
- Jagr signs in Big D, which seems to me a bit surprising given their track record in the past as far as team structure is concerned.
- Sullivan signs with desert dogs - too little too late? Or trying to fill the Whitney void?
- Coyotes Maclean in ICU after cardiac collapse
- What happens to Shea Weber now?

Food for thought...


Who will be more valuable?  Schultz or Yakopov?



Fun night out on Wednesday - congrats again to Dan on winning the Predator Cup!    Collin has sworn that it will be his this year, and was throwing out major trade offers ... oh oh.

As per the email that Dan sent out to everyone - here is the 2012 Entry Draft order:

1. Great Whites
2. Ramapithicines
3. Personal Vendetta
4. Bladerunners
5. Barbarians
6. Shadowmen
7. Edge
8. Highlanders
9. Severed Heads
10. Knights Templar
11. Scourge
12. Wolves


4 For the Hall

TSN has the story.

Congrats to Burnaby Joe (from a tribe where they only communicate by way of wrist shots); Adam Oates (nice day, HHoF and Coach of a legit Cup contender in the Capitals); Matts Sundin (would have been here sooner but he refused to waive my no trade, #good2baleaf); and long overdue congrats to Pavel Bure, the Russian Rocket.


ON June 22 the NHL Entry Draft will occur .  Usually we celebrate the triumph of the victor (Dan of the Great Whites) collecting his record 4th Predator!  

I guess we hail Chris of the Scourge with his back-to-back Omnivores (second GM to do it)

MORE importantly it is the SLOT SELECTION day with the Crown Royal Twisted Bag of Fate!

Therefore we need ALL the GMs to submit their ED slot preferences!  ASAP!

Send to the blog or reply to my email about this event.

Thank you,

BC for the DC
The "K" of KLM dies at 52...RIP  Comrade Krutov

Vladimir Krutov, one of the first Soviet players to skate in the NHL and a member of the famed "KLM" line, has died at the age of 52.
Krutov died Wednesday, according to the Russian Hockey Federation, and no cause of death was given.
The Vancouver Canucks made Krutov a 12th-round pick (No. 238) in the 1986 NHL Draft and he came over to North America for the 1989-90 season. Krutov registered 11 goals and 34 points in 61 games for the Canucks and then played the remainder of his career in Switzerland and Sweden.
His best years came playing for the Soviet national team, where he teamed with linemates and future NHL stars Igor Larionov and Sergei Makarov. The trio won Olympic gold in 1984 and 1988 after the heartbreak of losing to the United States' "Miracle On Ice" team at Lake Placid in 1980. At the 1988 Games, he led the Olympics in goals (six), assists (nine) and points (15).
"Volodya was such a dependable and steadfast man that I would have gone anywhere with him -- to war, to espionage, into peril. There are fewer and fewer guys like him in every generation of hockey players," federation president and former Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretyak told the Sport-Express newspaper.
He won 11 Russian Super League titles, and five World Championship gold medals (1981, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1989). At the 1987 Worlds, he set tournament-highs with seven goals and 14 points in nine games and was named the tournament's best forward. He also won that award at the 1986 tournament.
courtesy the NHL network...

My question - Were they most dominant lines ever?






Final, and much delayed, Omnivore Stats Confirming Scourge Win

Congrats to the Scourge for a back-to-back win on the Omnivore and a good run by the Shadowmen and Severed Heads.






FUNHL News and Notes

- Well the NHL playoffs are in full swing, and with a quarter finals featuring the Rangers, Devils, Kings and Coyotes I find that I really could care less.

Of the four teams I guess I have the most interest in LA and the Devils, but neither team is playing a style of game that I find anything remotely like 'watchable'.

That said, Kovalchuk is worth the price of admission. Nobody is bitching about his contract now.

One pundit on the morning radio sports show said they should change the name of the NHL playoffs to 'Goaltender' - but I think that almost misses the point. The trap is back with a vengeance, and teams are blocking 30+ shots a game each. At least we had the batshit insane Philly - Pittsburgh series to start things off. How crazy was that first round matchup? Giroux still leads the playoffs in scoring despite not having played a game since the second round.

How low has my interest dropped? I've been more invested in the Oklahoma City Thunder than any of the teams remaining in the NHL playoffs, and I have much more hate for the Heat than I do for the normally loathsome Rangers. (My prediction; OKC vs Indiana in the finals, with OKC taking it in 6 - the Thunder's best four players; Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka and Harden are the superior core, with Durant being all but unstoppable offensively. That said, the OKC will have to face the NBA's version of the trap in San Antonio next and that will likely be a tougher matchup for them than whoever eventually comes out of the East).

How to fix things? My first choice is to do what Bob Gainey suggested, make it a penalty for players to leave their feet to block a shot (i.e. no dropping to one knee or lying in front of the shot). Instantly offense would increase as more shots, and more screened shots get through to the goaltender.

- The Flames have signed this guy Roman Czervenka out of the KHL to an entry level contract, which is just an awesome move. The Flames are incredibly thin for talented pivots, and while Jokinen has rehabbed his career to become a very decent #2 center, he no longer has the offensive ability to drive things forward. Czervenka had some great stats playing with Jagr the last few years, but he also has very decent stats playing without him (over a ppg in the KHL playoffs). Undrafted originally because he was so slightly built (roughly 140lbs in his draft year), he has packed on some weight (180+) and flashed enough skill to be a potential scoring line component in the NHL. The value of this signing is that it costs the Flames nothing but cap space (which because it includes bonuses is triple what Czervenka will actually claim in salary - unless he wins a series of major awards like the Hart and Art Ross - in which case, Boo Yaa!).

- Speaking of Jagr, I expect him to resign in Philly and continue to act as Giroux's wingman of choice. His early season stats were excellent until about half way through when he had his annual groin injury-DTD period after which he dipped statistically. Still deeply weird to see him in a Flyers jersey.

-Interesting prospect draft coming up as a number of teams don't need to pick any (Brian, Mike G), while several only need one (Chris, Collin, Darrell). Perhaps not coincidentally, this looks by my estimation to be a rather weak year overall for prospects, in part because this year has already been picked over at the top end (Yakupov, Forsberg, Grigorenko, and Murray). 

Bladerunners - Promotions: Benn, Subban. Need: 0

Great Whites - Promotions: 0, Need: 4

Ramapithicines - Promotions: Neal, Wilson, Del Zotto. Need: 3

Highlanders - Promotions: Fleischmann, Eberle, Carlson, McBain. Need: 1

The Edge - Promotions: Duchene, The Nuge, Kulikov: Need: 2

Barbarians - Promotions: 0, Need: 4

Personal Vendetta - Cuts: Boychuk Kindl, Promotions: Kane, Plecanek, Need: 1

Knights Templar - Cuts: McLeod, Zucarello, Horak/Omark, Promotions: 0, Need: 0

Wolves - Cuts: Kadri, Schroeder, Promotions: Kulemin, Anisimov, Need: 4

Scourge - Promotions: Neidereitter, Myers, Need: 2

Severed Heads - Promotions: 0, Need: 4

Shadowmen - Cuts: Pulkinnen, Josefson, Promotions: 0, Need: 7

- Speaking of Murray, the Oilers brass (Lowe/Tambellini) may have been too cute by half in having Murray join the WC roster for Canada. He looked way over his head playing against NHL caliber players, and appeared to be in full panic mode the entire time. If nothing else though, it probably made choosing Yakupov all that much more obvious for them. He's now considered the clear front runner head and shoulders above the rest of the field.

- Bob and I also discussed the top probable FP possibilities (in no particular order);

Free Agents
Claude Giroux
Patrick Kane
Jonathon Quick
Anze Kopitar
John Tavares

Restricted Free Agents
Erik Karlsson
Drew Doughty
Alex Pietrangelo
Taylor Hall

Previous candidates still hanging around:
D. Sedin
H. Sedin
Ryan Getzlaf

Last but not least, you should notice that the banner of the blog has been changed to reflect the Price-Green combination that Dan didn't even really bother to use for his Predator Cup win. 




Ugly GM#3 OT Winner PHX v CHI

Will not talk about the Torres KABOOM! on Hossa...except going out on a stretcher brought back memories for me...

Regardless, That OT goal was extra bad with sad and ugly on top

Gm#4Winner - NSH v DET

What is Detroit doing?


2012 Playoff Pool - Entry fee= $10

Hi guys, just like last year please send me a list of your player pics

20 Forwards
8 Defencemen
2 Goalies

Goalies get 1 point for win, 2 points for OT win, and 0 for loss (OT or regulation). Additionally they get 2 points for a shutout (eg. 1 point for win, 1 point for shutout). In case of OT Shutout max points equals 3.

Goals and assists are 1 point each.

You cannot pick more than five players (F,D,G) for any one team. You must pick one rookie on your team, you can pick more if you wish but please designate the rookie to fill that position as he will get double points...added twist to pool.

Please submit your teams by Saturday at noon MST at the very latest.

Entry fee this year will be $10.00 because of the recession and further if you want to enter more than one team it allows you to spend double!

Please submit your teams as soon as possible, I will try and get stats out to you on a weekly basis and I will be posting everyone's teams as soon as I can (most likely this Sunday).

So guys pick your teams wisely and I look forward to your submissions.


Corrected Baseline

Hey all,

Subject to Doug's confirmation, and comparison to final standings to calculate the Omnivore, these are the numbers I get for the Omnivore post-ED baseline with accurate goalie stats!


Playoffs - RND 1 Predictions

First Round Matchups
1) NYR vs. 8) OTT 1) VAN vs. 8) LA
2) BOS vs. 7) WSH 2) STL vs. 7) SJ
3) FLA vs. 6) NJ 3) PHX vs. 6) CHI
4) PIT vs. 5) PHI 4) NSH vs. 5) DET

In the East

OTT upsets NYR in 6gms
WSH upsets BST in 6gms
NJ sweeps FLA
PIT beat PHI IN 5gms

In the West
VAN gets LA in 7gms
SJ gets by STL in 7gms
PHX beats CHI in 6gms
NSH beats DET in 5gms

Predictions from bob

Congrats Dan!

Why does it happpen? Because it happens - Roll the Bones...

"Jack - Relax
Gotta kick some Gluteus Max
It's Parallax,
The small gets big - It's a Rig
It's Action - Reaction
And some random interaction
Who's to say there's a little abstraction
It doesn't matter bow -
Because He's Number One!"

"Don't go folding
Lady Luck is Golden
She favours the Bold
And that's Cold
The night plays a thousand Saxophones
So get out there (and Rock)
And Roll the Bones!"

A little abbreviated chorus to Dan and the Great Whites from Rush's "Roll the Bones" and What a draft, Some Fortune in the ED, WD1 and WD2 and some auspicious trades to seal the deal...Yup, this may be Bob's unofficial congratulations but you grabbed 1st and wouldn't let go...Well done on Predator Cup 4 especially with Green FP -MIA and Price -FP STRUGGLES THE LAST 1/3 of the season with the problems in Montreal...

Alas...Always next year!

SOWinner by Kane leaves Howard Aghast

Kane's SO winner dooms a PHX-CHI 1st RND match-up

Malkin hits 50

Art Ross Winner, Malkin hits 50 goals...

Stamkos hits 60 goals

Stamkos joins the elite 19 in the 60-goal club, first player since Ovie's 65 goals...


Week 27 Stats - As of Tuesday's Games: Great Whites Maintain Lead in Predator; Barbarians Take Early Lead in Challenger


NHL Trophies

Hart Trophy

Who should win the Hart Trophy?

Claude Giroux
Henrik Lundqvist
Evgeni Malkin (to go along with his Art Ross)
Steven Stamkos (to go along with his Richard Trophy)
Ilya Kovalchuk

Vezina Trophy

Will anyone pick against Henrik Lundqivst for the Vezina?

Who should win the Vezina Trophy?

Brian Elliott
Henrik Lundqvist
Jonathan Quick
Pekka Rinne

Jack Adams

The Blues went from 6-7-0 to winning the Central Division under Ken Hitchcock.

Who should win the Jack Adams Award?

Ken Hitchcock
Dave Tippett
John Tortorella
Barry Trotz
Alain Vigneault
Dan Blysma

Calder Trophy

Does the No. 1 pick in the draft deserve to take home some hardware?

Who should win the Calder Trophy?

Justin Faulk
Adam Henrique
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Gabriel Landeskog
Matt Read

Norris Trophy

Will Shea Weber win his first Norris Trophy this season?

Who should win the Norris Trophy?

Brian Campbell
Zdeno Chara
Erik Karlsson
Alex Pietrangelo
Shea Weber

Selke Trophy

Which way will you go when picking the best two-way forward?

Who should win the Selke Trophy?

David Backes
Patrice Bergeron
Anze Kopitar
Jordan Staal


Mike Gillis
Dave Tallon
Brian Burke
David Chiralli
David Poile

Thoughts? Vote here and write in votes are good too...

Who comes out of the East?


Who comes out of the West?







Week 25 Stats

Thanks again to Dan for pulling the stats for me, to Brian for doing unofficial stats, to Bob for posting the line-ups and to Sid for helping the Highlanders pull away from the basement.