Shameless Highlander Victory Lap
Great race Brian! I won't lie, it feels fantastic to be in the 4-time club with Dan. Collin, I hope to disappoint you and push for 5 as soon as next season, if I can. That said, if it can't me me next year I would be happy to see you, Rob or any other GM who hasn't yet tasted the sweet Jagrmeister of victory to win their first.
The Omnivore win was completely unexpected, though most welcome, it didn't even seem possible until the last few days. I still think I could have taken Brian for the Challenge Cup (and hence my second Triple Crown) as well but for Subban's gooning it up :-) - really, has he every gotten 17 PIM in a game before??.
Last couple of times I prepared one of these pictorals in advance, in both 2009 and 2010, I ended up falling short to both Darrell and Brian so I held off until I knew I had it in hand this time. No sense angering the Hockey Gods. As a result, my morning at work was not as productive as it might have been. C'est la vie.
My plan at the draft was to have one of my FPs compete for the Art Ross, though I must admit that I did not expect that it would be St. Louis who accomplished the feat. Crosby's pre-injury play was amazing but missing a quarter of the season is, unfortunately, par for the course for Sid the Kid. Acquiring St. Louis at the ED proved a vital piece in the run, would like to think he has another one in him but I suspect that he will begin to drop off soon (unless you are interested in trading for him, in which case I have no doubt that his production will hold :-).
My D, coming out of the entry draft was much weaker than I am normally comfortable with and seeing Gardiner, among others, underperforming really hampered me but acquiring Makarov (after a slow start) proved an important piece and Yandle, in the last week in particular, went on a tear. Rinne was a wise investment in net as the "trade Luongo to promote Scnheider" gamble only paid off in the last few weeks once the Predators began to stumble. Matching on Hall proved to be another good call on my part as his 50pts made him the fourth highest contributor to Highlander pts (right behing the FPs and Rinne). My Shadowmen-inspired helicoptor team of Croby, H.Sedin and M.Koivu gave me one of the most potent centers - by design - and Eberle and Burrows game me two thirds of what I wanted on right. I had a surplus of talent on left but probably didn't maximize the trade value of Fleischmann or Marchand. I also did not get as much toughness as I might have hoped for. Still, the Omnivore Baseline gives a good indication of how one's team looks out of the Entry Draft and only Collin and Mike Getta had a higher baseline with only the Edge as significantly higher.
The trade deadline was so different from years past as there were only a few post-deadline weeks to be concerned about. Rob offered me a fantastic, "win the game card" deal but I was unwilling to part with both Barkov and my 1st without getting Schultz back in the deal. Rob, wisely, went and made his deal with Brian and then I watched Kessel go on fire for Brian and I began to quietly curse my arrogance. The last minute deadline deals I made with Cam, Dan and Bob did not cost nearly as much (though I suspect that Orlov, Kreider and Perron will come back to bite me down the road) and getting Mike Green, in particular, was a big part in addressing a long term deficiency in my blue-line corps. The other defensive pick-ups provided alternating production: Doughty got nothing in the last week but 5pts in the two weeks prior. Weber gave me 5pts but only in the last two weeks. Visnovsky gave me two goose eggs but a 4pt week in week 14. Pre-deadline deals to get Richards and Callahan really paid dividends once the Rangers woke up - but it sure was touch and go for a while there.
Anyhow, as always it is a blast being part of the pool - even when I don't have a good season. Thank you all for putting up with my self-serving trade offers, my delayed or erroneous stats and my long-pauses when it is my turn to draft (not to mention my flights of gratuitous self-indulgence, like this post).
My dad's 70th birthday was this past Sunday and I couldn't help but think how lucky I am to have a group of friends like all of you and to have had them for as long as this pool has been around. I know how rare it is to keep in touch with people given the distances involved, the many work and family commitments all conspiring to make maintaining those connections all the more difficult. I would like everyone to know how much I appreciate the effort we all make to stay in the pool and hope you find the connection as rewarding as I do. Enjoy the playoffs, and the NHL entry draft and I look forward to outdrafting, outtrading and outlucking you all again next season.
Doug McLachlan, GM of the Highlanders 4-time (and counting) Predator Cup Champions