Sorry for posting so little so far this year, I'll just say things have been weird and leave it at that.
- If you haven't seen Dan's post below, its pretty funny. In a 'car-accident-funny' kind of way. Also, GRAPHS!
- Since the first season of the FUNHL, injuries have played a major role in determining the winner. More than ever I am convinced that you have to stay healthy just to have a shot at the title. It was only a few years back when I lost my top 4-5 picks to injury before the first games of the season were even played. Season over. So along with Dan, lets pour one out for Doug whose Highlanders were operating with pretty much just the bottom half of his roster for most of the year.
- Three years ago Rob made a bold decision to pick two new FPs at the draft. Sadly, this last week saw the final undoing of that rebuild as Rob having already moved on from Tuuka Rask, now finds a way to part with the hockey media's favourite whipping boy, Jonathon Drouin. At the time, taking Drouin had a kind of logic, but it clearly hasn't worked out as an investment for Rob.
- Also, cross your fingers that Burke finds a way to get Drouin to Calgary. He may have sucked for Rob, but he has a very, very, high ceillng.
- I'm probably the only person bugged by this, but there really has been a unified media position on Drouin - that he should 'shut up and play', that he 'isnt doing himself any favours', etc. Now that position may actually be true, but I am not convinced it is. As I understand things, Drouin was unhappy with his ice-time, and usage by the team. He complained about it internally. He eventually made a quiet trade request, and finally his agent went public in a hope it would get things done. The truth is his development path and ice-time is unusual. He is clearly capable of being a top 6 forward in TBay right now. Yzerman though, has leverged his youth against Drouin, keeping him off the PP, giving him bad zone starts, crap linemates, lengthy stints in the AHL, etc. The opposite of how most teams treat their prized pupils. Why? Because it keeps the costs on Drouin lower for the forseeable future. A year delay in when he can hit free agency, poor counting stats for him to negotiate with, etc, this is all about money, and how to pay Drouin as little as possible. By contrast, look at how Calgary handled Sean Monahan - they let him make the team as an 18 year old. Gave him vets to play with. Gradually built up his icetime and confidence, and now that Monahan has had some success, Calgary is going to pay him fairly.
I hope Drouin gets the fresh start that he wants in a place that isn't more interested in nickles and dimes than the bigger picture..
- I feel bad for Brian. Sure he's winning, but he never pulled away from the pack, and now as the season winds down he's slowly being reeled in. Its a slow motion tragedy watching each day as the ground beneath your feet gradually crumbles. Its one thing to lose quick and clean like Dan did when Price went down, but that (like losing your top 2 Cs before Xmas) is relatively painless - the cerebral embolism of the hockey pool world - it pops and its all over, nice, peaceful, and quiet, and you know unequivocally that its time to watch draft boards and collect futures . Its another thing entirely to be hunted down from behind, with the grinding day to day panic that comes from knowing your wounds are mortal, and that you are slowly bleeding out.
- Jagr is leading the Panthers in scoring this year. He's 44. And probably not human.
- The biggest heist of the year hss to be what Calgary got for Kris Russell. Russell, is a modrrately mobile, defensive defender with low offense, but a great character guy, and a willing shot blocker. By any reasonable metric he is a bottom pair defender. Yet Calgary flipped him for; a 2nd (which could become a 1st), a 'B' prospect (2-way C Brett Pollock), and young depth defender Jyrki Jokipakka. IMO that is a massive, massive, overpay. From what I've seen Jokipakka is already as good if not better than Russell, not to mention, bigger, cheaper, and younger, but adding a potential 1st round pick, and throwing in a prospect for Kris Russell is a huge victory.
- Calgary scouts will have 4 picks in the first two rounds. Last year we had a similar plethora of picks and came away with Dougie Hamilton, Rasmus Andersson, and Oliver Kyllington. I can't see us topping that kind of haul, but it will be fun watching them try!
- My own rankings;
I hope we avoid Tkachuk as I have concerns anout how much he is being floated by his linemates (Mathews last year, a stacked high-octane London Knights this year).
I have Puljujarvi ahead of Laine which is not the popular opinion. At the WJC, Puljujarvi was statistically dominating, but scouts fell in love with Laine's size, speed, and elite release. Laine has also carried over his exploits better than Puljujarvi to the Fiinish league (where Laine is averaging 6 shots per game, the next best is just over 3). So why do I still prefer Puljujarvi? In part because he does all the things that Laine doesn't, he uses his speed to break down defenses, whereas Laine uses his to escape them. Laine is a big, strong, blur with a cannon, whereas Puljujarvi is a dancing giant of a possession forward. Puljujarvi is a gifted playmaker, but also capable of scoring goals almost as well as Laine. In truth, Puljujarvi's skillset is the closest to Jagr's I've seen yet in a prospect. If Calgary wins the lottery they should take Mathews, but they should then immediately trade Monahan for the pick necessary to select Puljujarvi. He's going to be an absolute beast.
- If I were the Leafs and they dont win the lottery, I consider trading down to around pick 6 long and hard. A team like Calgary at pick 6 would be drooling over the chance to pick in the top 3, and they have the assets (picks especially) to make a wicked offer. Given there are no high-end centers between 2-6, Toronto takes the deal, slides down a few spots, and selects Nylander the younger to pair with his brother. Calgary takes Puljujarvi.
- Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen. An old fashioned FP trade! I call that a win for both teams, with an edge to Columbus. The Jackets get a player on a cheaper deal, under control for longer, and at a key position they can build around. Any forwards they draft moving forward will have a D corps to play in front of (Jones, Murray, J. Johnson, Werenski, etc.) that will cushion their arrival - something Johansen never had. Nashville has craved a #1C forever, and Johansen fits the bill to a T. Nashville is also in 'win now mode' as key puzzle pieces Rinne and Weber are aging out of their prime. But moving forward Nashville will have a Set Jones sized hole on D that won't be easy to fill, even if Josi and Ellis currently pick up the slack without much effort.
- If I were the Washington Capitals I'd be scared witless that Pittsburgh has gotten its act together over the 2nd half of the season. Crosby is back near the top of the scoring race, Malkin is healthy, Letang is back, the D corps isnt as useless as it was. Even MA Fleury is looking really good. If there is an upset in the East it will be Pitt knocking off Ovie and Co.
- Wow, is Edmonton ever buckets of terrible. Not quite as horrific as last year, but still putrid. My personal hope is that they repeat what they did last year, sending out a handful of picks at the drsft for another busted defense prospect like Griffin Reinhart. Erik Gudbranson in Fla for a 1st and 2nd would be perfect.
- It may seem like a lifetime ago now, but on day 5 the Knights Templar were in 1st place.
- So its coming down to the last few weeks of the season and who is always there to act as my personal roadblock to sucess? F*cking Darrell. It's always Darrell. Always, Darrell. Apparently he is immune to having injuries wreck his season. In a 'bad' year I collect a Herbie, in a bad year for Darrell he finishes 4th.
- I'm going to assume that everyone loves Corey's pool website choice as much as I do (probably more given how few of the features I've used). He put big effort in to making it work for us, and deserves our thanks.
Someone buy that man a beer!