Welcome to getofftheice's Fantasy Draft Series. You might be asking yourself "what is this?", just like my colleagues did when I proposed the idea. Basically, myself and two other writers redrafted every player in the NHL. Think of it this way - every single player enters free agency, and can be taken by any team. Now, this wild-west style of redraft wouldn't work for our purposes, because I have the best Wifi and would steal all the best players (I didn't see an issue?). That's where the draft portion comes in. All 31 teams were randomly ordered, thereby creating our drafting positions. For fairness, we implemented a snake draft system - which is to reverse the drafting order for the following round. For instance, a team that picks 31st (last) in the first round, will pick first in the second round, 31st in the third round, so on and so forth. The teams were then randomly distributed between the three writers, and away we went!
Now, the point of this series was not to simply picture players on teams they don't currently play for. No, it was to test our projection abilities (or lack there of) against the simulation of NHL 20. That means every new roster was created in NHL 20, and simulated for one season to see who was the Stanley Cup Champion. For every team, all three of us provided our opinions on the squad, and tentatively projected where they might end up in the standings. After all the rosters have been revealed, we will publish our post-draft projections for both standings, and major awards. And then, in the grand finale, we will post the results of the simulation, and how we fared. There are points for correct projections (and subsequently a winner), but we will address that later.
As for the rules of the draft:
Salary Cap doesn't exist, so just pick the best player for the 1 year simulation (although we included the cap hit below, just for fun)
You can't draft a player twice (I'M LOOKING AT YOU STEVE, "Oh, Greg McKegg hasn't been drafted yet", HE HAS STEVE, he has two G's... in the last name... but also in the first name... also why.... is he... getting drafted...)
The goal for every team is to win the Cup, and to pretend as though the NHL is folding after this upcoming season, so go all in, ignore prospects (unless their NHL-caliber, of course)
And finally, have fun (we didn't)
Without further ado (and kudos to you if you read all that) here is our version of the Atlantic Division.
A good team upfront that is poised to score a truckload of goals, the obvious concern for this team is in net. Koskinen and Elliot do not inspire confidence in a goaltending tandem, especially behind a defense corps that will really be relying on two defencemen to actually play defence (Dahlin and Benn). Can they outscore their problems? If they can, Boston will find themselves in another deep playoff run.
Mac pretty much summed it up perfectly, the back end is a little troublesome but having a first line of Kucherov and Barzal, Dadanov is no bum either, and they will be relying on that line to produce heavily. There are some real solid depth pieces in the bottom 6 like Niderrieter and McCann, so if they plan on winning, offence and speed will definitely be their weapons of choice.
As is the problem with many teams, the goaltending on this team leaves much to be desired. Koskinen, who is having a decent year, is largely still unknown since starting his NHL career last year and Elliot is well past his prime. While their first line is an offensive juggernaut the rest leaves much to be desired for offense. Expect this team to just miss the playoffs due to no team defense and less than league average goaltending.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $34,213,333
What a top line. Scoring won’t be their issue here, and they also have a great defensive top pair in Muzzin and Pesce. Again, as it seems like it is the case for most teams, goaltending will dictate their success. Martin Jones looks like a shell of his former self, so they may need to rely on back-up extraordinaire Anton Khudobin to move into a prime role.
Draisaitl signed his extension back in 2017 and everyone collectively lost their minds, how could Chiarelli be so dumb in giving him such a big contract after one really good season? Well boy has he proved all the haters wrong, he is arguably one of the most offensively gifted players in this league and will be a big part of this team. Also, it is quite ironic that Draisaitl is now on Buffalo after passing on him in his draft year in order to take Sam Reinheart with the second overall pick (bet they would like to take that back). Playing alongside Boeser and Landeskog certainly helps too. Martin Jones on the other hand… is not good, and has shown time and time again that he is not good. Khudobin on the other hand has proven to be an extremely good backup goalie, even a 1B, but can he take on the starting role? That will be a serious question moving forward for this team.
Scoring should not be an issue, Draisaitl has more than lived up to his contract, what now looks like a steal. The main question we have for this line is if Draisaitl can stay at centre, having spent most of the last few seasons mostly on McDavid’s wing. The defensive pairs on this team are very solid and putting Brannstrom with veteran dman Polak will greatly help develop Brannstrom over the season. Goaltending, the seemingly consistent criticism with these teams, will once again be the test as the play of Jones seems to put this tandem in a fierce competition for the starting job. The expectation based on their forwards and defense is that Buffalo will make the playoffs.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $39,390,596
For the first time in a little while, I believe Detroit will be near the top of the Eastern Conference standings. With fantastic forward depth and a reliable top four on defense, their goaltending tandem of former glory will be key to competing for the Cup. Connor Hellebuyck is in the midst of a bounce back campaign and seems like a reliable bet as a starter, and if James Reimer can recapture his dynamic play as starter of the Maple Leafs, this team would be hard pressed to not be favoured most nights.
I think this is one of my favourite drafted teams, as there is certainly a lot to like here. That first line has all the elements, you have an elite playmaker in Huberdeau who contributed 62 assists last season while also potting 30 goals. Eichel is a young dynamic centre who in the past has had to drive his line by himself. Add a little snarl on that right wing with Gallagher, that is a deadly first line. After that, there are some real good players on lines two and three with some great depth on that bottom line. The top 4 defenseman provide a lot of stability with some offensive prowl while the bottom pair adds some grit. Hellebuyck had a little bit of a down year but he has proven to be a steady young goaltender with the capability of carrying their team deep in the playoffs. I really like the construction of this team (good thing this does not take salary cap into account).
As Paul said it’s a good thing we aren’t taking salary caps into consideration. Otherwise, we would have never seen the beauty of this team. Detroit looks nothing like what we are currently seeing on the ice and instead looks like it could be a real contender. Solid goaltending, solid defensive pairings and true talent upfront. This team is looking to make a deep playoff run pay off, and well, I’m looking forward to seeing just how far they can go.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $54,412,500
Boy this team gave a couple first round picks at the deadline (Goodrow & Pageau). A strong but unspectacular team. Granted, Nate Schmidt’s smile should get them a long way. Should basically be the motto for the Panthers franchise (and even that may be generous considering their entire history). I do think Mark Stone will win an MVP at some point in his career, but this team will likely go as far as John Gibson takes them.
This team’s centre depth is probably one of the better ones around, unfortunately though, outside of Mark Stone (who is easily one of the best wingers in the league), this team is lacking any real threat on either side of the wings. The back end includes a solid top 4 with a very intriguing bottom pair, but it will ultimately come down to squeaking out some one goal wins in my opinion. Gibson will surely keep them in the game almost every night he starts, so it will be up to the offence to get this team into a playoff spot.
A team is only as good as its goalie is a statement that is often said about teams where the goaltender is John Gibson. Not to slander Gibson in any way, he is a fantastic goaltender, he just seems to have a slight problem of ending up on teams that have a lot of difficulties in other areas. While he should do fine while Mark Stone is on the ice, given that he is one of the best defensive forwards in the league, the rest of the time I just wish him the best of luck.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $47,925,000
A nice collection up front (led by all-world pest Marchand) will likely have to bail out some questionable goaltending. Both Carter Hutton and Tristain Jarry are proven backups, and with the latter having flopped in his first season in a larger role, they do not inspire confidence in a strong performance in net.
I genuinely do not know how to feel about this teams, part of me thinks that it has solid depth from top to bottom (excluding the goaltenders), but then I look at it more and think that the depth is old or overrated. That top line can really do some damage but other than that, I am not sure there is much to bank on. The goaltending is also quite interesting because Hutton has stretches where he carries his team to 10 straight wins then completely implodes. I do however like Jarry long term, I think he has some real potential in becoming a solid starter.
I like this top line, there’s a lot of grit and pest in it. I think Marchand, Monahan and Simmonds together are going to show us two things. The first, that goals come easy, and the second? Well, teams are just really not like playing against them. Aside from this line I’m not too fond of this team. While Hutton seems like a very good choice in goaltending, their defense is a little lacklustre and beyond their top line, the forwards are only okay. Like Paul, I’m not sure about this team.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $45,738,518
The Staal's are reunited! Still without third brother Marc, they will be relied upon for goal support outside of a very capable top line. Beyond this, Lehner and Karlsson return to Ottawa older and maybe better? This team, unfortunately, seems destined for bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. Another MVP year from Kopitar may help them squeak into the playoffs, but otherwise it’ll take a village.
I mean that top pairing is real good, but outside of that, there are not a lot of positive things. Lehner may be able to steal some games but this team is littered with depth guys playing in roles much higher than they should be. Looking at some of the other top lines around the league, this one is going to have a tough time producing themselves.
The Ottawa Senators have reacquired… Erik Karlsson. After an ugly departure Karlsson takes up the red and black on a team that’s not as bad as the Senators of last year, but that isn’t a high bar (and they didn’t clear it by all that much). The Karlsson and Ekholm pairing is about the only good thing about this team - and it is really good. Expect this team to miss the playoffs by a wide margin.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $44,520,833
With a rockstar in net and a top line made up of the ultimate underrated players, this team is very top heavy. That being said, their middle six is not the worst, and Leddy and Gudas are formidable second pairing dmen. This team has the depth to make the playoffs, but if they intend on making a deep run, their top guys will have to carry the load.
This reminds me a lot of the real life Tampa Bay team, great first line with a lot of depth that can provide some additional scoring. The top pairing defence is young and skilled while the bottom two pairings include some solid vets (minus Zaitsev who has once again struggled mightily). Rinne? Say no more. I think this team will definitely be competing for a conference title.
This is going to be a good team. Behind one of the best defensive centres in hockey with Barkov, they have solid depth on both forward and defense. This is usually where we go on to criticize the goaltending, but Pekka Rinne is very good. I think this team is going to do very well and probably battle for 2nd or 3rd in their division
Cap Hit: Forwards: $45,475,126
Did you really think Mitch Marner would ever leave Toronto? C’mon now. Think with your brain.
I think this is a very good team. With some great depth at centre and right wing, anchored by none other than Marner himself, this team is very good at every position. Even in net, for those that do not have unwavering confidence in Grubauer as a starter, he has Corey Crawford backing him up. A small but mighty defense will likely be the difference for this team. No one should be worried about a dynamite top pairing of Krug and Girard, but making sure Damon Severson and Adam Pelech live up to their roles will be important for team success.
Boy this team is going to be good down the road, and will certainly make a push for the division title this year too. This team reminds me a little bit of the actual Toronto team, a very young team that is almost a lock for a playoff spot but still has so much potential moving forward. Majority of the forwards are under the age of 25 which is a scary thought. Their defence is not out of this world, but once again, they are young and explosive, and realistically should only get better. For goaltending, I like it. I think Grubauer is starting to come into his own as a number one guy and has shown that he can hold his own. Having a solid vet like Crawford behind him makes this tandem that much better.
I like this team, it’s got fun written all over it (what team that has Mitch Marner on it doesn’t though). I think we’re going to be seeing this young and fast team make a push to win the Stanley Cup. Grubauer has me sold on everything except for how to properly spell his name. With Crawford backing him up/mentoring him, there should be no issues in net for this team. Expect the Toronto Maple Leafs to make a deep playoff run.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $45,182,999
Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoyed this little science experiment of ours, next week we will begin releasing our playoff predictions so stay tuned! Leave us a comment with which team you think has a shot at taking home the cup.