The first picks get first stars, looking at next first picks, the Dobber Expert’s League draft and more..
I know it is only preseason, but after the summer it sure feels like prime hockey season. Drafts are happening, pre-season scrambles in keeper leagues, actual hockey being played on the ice, barely-NHL hockey being read into far too much,
Cro McDavid and Eichel making people look silly… It’s preseason!
Let’s start with McEichel, because it won’t be long before they slip completely from prospect status.
I’ll keep it quick: McDavid is an all-star, Eichel isn’t far behind.
McDavid said he was a bit nervous, and he didn’t have any crazy plays. So a bit of a down game, with only two assists and the first star. Guess that’s OK for his preseason debut. The thing to pay attention to is that he was skating mainly with Hall and Purcell, a trio that is reportedly likely to stick for the start of the season.
In terms of fantasy value, the thing to watch is whether Purcell can hold down that slot or whether Yakupov will move up to complete the First Overall Line. Has any other team had three first overall picks on one line before? Even regardless of whether they were drafted by that team.
Eichel, on the other hand scored a breakaway shorthanded game-winning goal, an assist, first star of the night, and he made an NHL defenseman look like a fool. They say he
For those who care about such things, Eichel isn’t wearing his preferred number (15) until he makes the team. It is a discussion for another day as to whether you want your players to always be mature and stoic, but Eichel has that in spades. He isn’t letting himself get too far ahead of himself, and he didn’t even celebrate after the aforementioned goal.
Jared Spurgeon getting spun around by a move that doesn’t even really get tried at the NHL level:
Eichel will likely start with Girgensons and Moulsons, which isn’t a bad combo but it definitely isn’t O’Reilly and Kane. There is a chance he starts slow, and maybe you can get him for a more reasonable price a month or two into the season as opposed to at the high draft-day prices… At least for one year leagues.
I don’t know if there is much of a chance though:
One player you will be hearing about a lot more in the next while is Auston Matthews. The likely top pick of 2016, he has decided to move to Switzerland and play for Mark Crawford. He scored his first goal in his first game with the Zurich Lions, was a staple on the top line, and put seven shots on net. Not bad. Many scouts think that he would have been the third pick in this year’s draft if he were born just a bit earlier.
Jesse Puljujarvi hasn’t gotten off to such a great start. So far, he has just one goal in five games. He is getting looks on the top line, but thanks to some in-game benchings he is averaging less than 14 minutes a game.
A Finnish star that broke out at last year’s World Juniors, he is still projected as an almost guaranteed top-three pick at this year’s draft. He is playing in a tougher league than Matthews, his team isn’t as good as Matthews within that league, and he is eight months younger than Matthews.
For an excellent recap of prospect tournaments, look no further than our own Kevin LeBlanc here.
Time for a quick update on two of my three leagues (the third, a Champion’s League that I squeaked into with a third place Dobber Experts finish hasn’t started yet).
First of all, the Dobber Experts League draft was yesterday. The league expanded from 11 to 13 of the top fantasy minds on the site (plus me). I will be hard pressed to repeat after a very middling draft. I figured that I would try to not outsmart myself, and stick to Fantasy Hockey Geek for the most part, especially since I hadn’t been focussed on one-year league prep until right before the draft. Fantasy Hockey Geek is an incredible resource, and I’m happy with my first few picks using their Draft Guru.
I selected seventh overall, which isn’t where I like to be. I wanted to be further from the turn, and it turned out that being Daoust really sucks as he stole a few players from me right before I was going to take them.
First round (seventh overall): Carey Price!
I was surprised, a little bit, to see the consensus best goaltender fall to seventh. The same thing happened last year in this league where I took Rask eighth overall, and while that didn’t work out with quite as many wins as I thought, the saves made up for it.
Price should be a lock for a ton of wins, saves, and a pretty good GAA.
Second round (20th): Jonathan Quick
I really wasn’t expecting to go goalie-goalie, especially in a league like this where there are two counting stats to one saves stat. I was thinking about Byfuglien, but Daoust settled that for me and I really like Quick to start a ton of games and get a ton of saves with a stellar GAA. Sounds like I’m repeating myself. If I can catch that magical third goalie, the Hammond or Dubnyk, I think I could come close to maxing on the goalie categories.
Third (33rd): Oliver Ekman-Larsson
A player that plays insanely hard minutes and has done so well in them while still putting up lots of points, I think OEL is still underrated. He provides contributions to every category we count. After seeing all the quality defense left on the board later, and my scrambling to get scoring, I think OEL might have been a questionable pick in foresight.
Fourth (46th): David Backes
Consistently one of the top multi-cat players out there. A bit risky, as he could regress this year, but I think we will see more of the same from him at least this year. I was really really hoping for Nicklas Backstrom, but Daoust stole him from me.
Fifth (59th): Keith Yandle
Taken soon after Hedmen and Doughty, I’m comfortable with Yandle here. He contributes to every category, and didn’t do as bad in New York as most seem to think. I think he clicks in New York this year. If he doesn’t, this would be a pretty big miss.
Sixth (72nd): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
The McDavid hype is strong, but there is room for two number-one centers on a team. Without being hard-matched by opposing team’s top pairings, I think RNH actually could take a step forward this year. Finally, I take someone purely for scoring.
Seventh (85th): Patrick Marleau
I think this is pretty good value for the old vet. People are really down on San Jose this year, but I still think Marleau will get his.
Eighth (98th): Jack Johnson
Milan Lucic was stolen from me by Daoust. Common theme. Johsnon isn’t terrible, but not who I wanted there.
Ninth (111th): David Perron
I think Perron will stick on one of the top two lines and is one pick I’ll be liking by season’s end.
Tenth (124th): Craig Smith
Again. Both of the players I had queued up were taken from me (Hossa and O’Reilly) and yes, Eric Daoust was once again the culprit.
Now I could use some more scoring, but I actually don’t mind my team so far in this draft. The best goaltending out there, lots of grit and shots.. Things are good.
Then Fantasy Hockey Geek crashes. I scrambled, my notes were sparse, and it was generally a bad time. Eventually it came back online, and I scrambled to update the Draft Guru and export the list as a CSV then it went out again a bit later for even longer … That second one directly resulted in me panicking and drafting Brandon Pirri a a couple others little earlier than I wanted to.
The lesson to learn: Have a backup plan. Export the FHG list as a CSV. Come into your draft with your personal ranking of each position, even if that ranking isn’t much different from whatever resource you are using. On draft day, you really really don’t want to have to rely on Yahoo rankings and frantic searches.
Most of my favourite picks in the second half of the draft came in the odd rounds for whatever reason: Cody Franson in the 13th, Jonathan Drouin in the 15th, Nino Neiderreiter in the 17th being the main ones.
I think that Steve Laidlaw, reigning champion, and Temek, community all-star probably have the strongest teams out of the gate, but who knows what will happen in-season.
Speaking of FHG, I’ve been lucky enough to beta test a new feature from them, and it is so, so, so good. It helped me a ton in my cap league, especially when preparing for my re-entry draft. Can’t wait for everyone else to get access to it.
I just made the most painful trade of my career in that league. I traded Nail Yakupov for Adam Lowry and a third round Amateur picks (~35th overall).
Earlier, I mentioned Yakupov above as someone whose career would be the most affected by McDavid; I think it is equally easy to see him flourishing in his fourth season and playing on a line with McDavid and Hall.. Or he drowns on the third line and finishes with maybe 30 points.
His underlying numbers are pretty terrible, he doesn’t drive play, he has a grand total of 46 assists in 192 NHL games. He is also a former first overall pick with gamebreaking talent.
Does he turn into a sniper flanking McDavid, or does he fade into irrelevance as a third liner with a decent shot?
I couldn’t wait to find out. After acquiring Malkin and Subban, I was so close to the cap that I couldn’t keep him, and Adam Lowry was the best player I could find. Yeah, Yakupov got me a player who scored 23 points last season and is on Winnipeg’s third line. That sounds worse than it is; two of my team’s main weaknesses are hits and faceoffs, and Lowry should provide north of 400 FOW, as well as a ton of hits.
All of this comes from the LW position and at less than a million dollars (1.6 million cheaper than Yak). So Lowry is the perfect fit for my team, and any offensive jump this year from the 22 year old who scored three points in four playoff games is gravy.
I really can’t decide where Yakupov’s career is going to go from here, but I’ll definitely be watching this year.
- Robinson: 2020 NHL Draft Rankings - April 2020
- Prospect Ramblings: Comparing 2020 NHL Draft Rankings Published 15 Months Apart
- 2021 NHL Draft: 15 Months Out
- Prospect Ramblings: What to Expect from Graduating Prospects
- March 2020 PNHLe Report
- March NHL Draft Report: Where We Go From Here
- Interview: 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Veeti Miettinen
- Prospect Ramblings: Raw Observations from a QMJHL Season Cut Short