Fantasy Draft Series: Central Division

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 Central Division.


Chicago Blackhawks


FWD 1 Roope Hintz Brayden Point Mike Hoffman

FWD 2 Andre Burakovsky Cody Eakin Jayce Hawryluk

FWD 3 Zach Sanford Travis Zajac Pat Maroon

FWD 4 Dimytro Timashov Nic Shore Loui Eriksson


D1 Dougie Hamilton Justin Schultz

D2 Esa Lindell Trevor Van Riemsdyk

D3 Matt Hunwick Timothy Liljegren


Starter Backup

G Marc-Andre Fleury Semyon Varlamov



Mac

With a solid group on the back end and tandem in net, scoring will be the biggest question for Chicago. From their second line down, they don’t inspire much confidence in filling the net, and will have to rely on stout defensive efforts to enter into the playoff conversation.


Paul

What they lack upfront, they certainly make up for on the defensive side of things. Hamilton has proven to be a real offensive threat the last year and a half and can provide the team with some extra firepower. Moving down the defensive pairings, things look pretty good this year and moving forward. Fleury and Varlamov, go look at their stats so far this year. Ya, enough said.


Steve

Upfront this is a one-line team, Point and Hoffman may combine for more than 50% of the teams’ offense, but that may be enough with their stalwart defensive pairings and outstanding goaltending tandem. Expect Chicago to squeak into the playoffs in the first or second wildcard spot.



Cap Hit: Forwards: $36,317,736

Defence: $22,463,333

Goalies: $12,000,000

Total: $70,781,069



Colorado Avalanche


FWD 1 Kyle Palmieri Connor McDavid Timo Meier

FWD 2 Ondrej Kase Nick Schmaltz Filip Zadina

FWD 3 Robby Fabbri Sean Kuraly Matt Calvert

FWD 4 Zemgus Girgensons Derrick Brassard John Hayden


D1 Tyson Barrie Ryan Ellis

D2 Roberto Bortuzzo Mark Pysyk

D3 Connor Carrick Jan Rutta


Starter Backup

G Matt Murray Curtis McElhinney



Mac

This is a sneaky good team. For the first time in his career, McDavid will have more than one player of support. A solid top six and competitive bottom, questions may come from their defence, beyond their top pair. Are any of the bottom four players capable of playing adequate second pairing minutes? That is the question this team will face en route to a potential division title.


Paul

I mean, you can’t really go wrong with a team that has McDavid on it. So I mean there is that. Outside of McDavid though, this team has some good depth that can certainly provide some excellent secondary scoring. Their goaltending situation is a fascinating one to me, having Murray is quite good despite facing a little bit of consistency issues the past year and a bit. Having a guy like McElhinney behind him I think gives Murray a little bit of a safety net which could ultimately benefit both guys between the pipes.


Steve

An incredibly solid team that on first look over only has one slight weakness. With a top defensive pairing of Barrie and Ellis, it is unsure whether the other two pairings will be able to keep up and add enough scoring depth. This may not hamper the team through as they have a literal cheat code in Connor McDavid who will be playing with by far the best team of his young NHL career. Expect this team to walk into the playoffs



Cap Hit: Forwards: $41,069,167

Defence: $18,658,333

Goalies: $5,050,000

Total: $64,777,500




Dallas Stars


FWD 1 Alex Ovechkin Pierre-Luc Dubois Elias Lindholm

FWD 2 Brock Nelson Nazem Kadri Jakob Silfverberg

FWD 3 Matt Nieto Carl Soderberg Craig Smith

FWD 4 Pontus Aberg Pavel Zacha Joel Farabee


D1 Zach Werenski Rasmus Ristolainen

D2 Jay Bouwmeester Matt Niskanen

D3 John Moore Dyan Demelo


Starter Backup

G Sergei Bobrovsky Ryan Miller



Mac

With great depth at forward and a solid pair in net, their confusing defensive core will make or break this team. An offensive pair in Werenski and Ristolainen leaves A LOT to be desired in defensive acumen, which may be balanced out by Bouwmeester and Niskanen? This team may be better served by shaking up their top four, pairing elite offensive talent with a defensively sound partner. Otherwise, they’ll be destined for failure, and will inevitably be called out by the owner for playing like horsesh-- NOO PAUL I WANT TO FINISH MY THOUGHT..AFSF STOP PULLING ME..S FROM THE KEYBOARD.DSMG


Horse hooves. Playing like horse hooves.


Paul

I mean Mac kind of hit it on the head here (before the end). Offence: pretty sound, great top line and some solid supporting cast. Defence: Not all that bad, but definitely needs to switch up the pairings here to balance it out (unless Babcock is the coach here then that ain't happening). In net, Miller has been great in the backup position so it will ultimately come down to which year Bobrovsky decides to have as he flip flops between Vezina candidate one year, to league average the next.


Steve

With a strong group of top 6 forwards, questionable bottom 6 and interesting defensive pairings, the real question for the Dallas Stars is going to come in the form of goaltending. Miller has long since passed his prime days as the undisputed starter for Team USA at the Olympics. So the question lies with Bobrovsky, which bob-version is the team going to get? Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, or what-ever-the-hell he is now with Florida. Bobrovsky will determine how far this team goes.



Cap Hit: Forwards: $46,082,628

Defence: $23,050,000

Goalies: $11,125,000

Total: $80,257,628



Minnesota Wild


FWD 1 Filip Forsberg Sidney Crosby Andrei Svechnikov

FWD 2 Cody Glass Brayden Schenn Lawson Crouse

FWD 3 Zach Hyman Joakim Nordstrom Kole Sherwood

FWD 4 Jimmy Vesey Jacob De la Rose Matt Read


D1 Aaron Ekblad Neal Pionk

D2 Michal Kempny Travis Dermott

D3 Nic Hjalmarsson Rasmus Sandin


Starter Backup

G Thatcher Demko Casey Desmith



Mac

That is one hell of a top line. I think both those players would be fantastic running mates with Crosby, and the rest of the skater group is well balanced and deep.

But goalies. Demko has had an incredible start to the season, but he is still so young, and is he ready to assume a full-fledged starter role? I really don’t think so, and unless DeSmith can handle a starter’s workload, I see this team having to score their way out of their problems.


Paul

Well they have Crosby, so already their playoff hopes are alive. In all honesty, I think this team could make a push for a wildcard spot but the depth is either not really there or are just too young. Moving forward though, this team is going to be deadly. Their goaltending tandem is super young, which may cost them right now, but I think Demko has the potential to be a stud and DeSmith backing him up for the foreseeable future looks real good. 11 players on this team are aged 25 and under, 7 of which are 23 and under - the future looks good.


Steve

This is a young team, and it looks like this young team is in good hands, with being led by Sid the Kid and all. An incredibly solid defense corps and extremely good top 6, the only issue comes on the back of their young goaltending tandem. Will Demko and DeSmith be able to save this team from whatever offensive woes (if any) they come into? Only time (and the EA Sports gods) will tell.



Cap Hit: Forwards: $30,966,110

Defence: $19,757,500

Goalies: $2,300,000

Total: $53,023,610



Nashville Predators


FWD 1 Matthew Tkachuk Steven Stamkos Reilly Smith

FWD 2 Michael Grabner Jesperi Kotkaniemi Bryan Rust

FWD 3 Drake Caggulia Ryan Poehling Kappo Kakko

FWD 4 Brock McGinn Pierre-Edouard Bellmare Ryan Reaves


D1 Alexander Edler Seth Jones

D2 Mike Matheson Brandon Montour

D3 Tyler Myers Greg Pateryn


Starter Backup

G Darcy Kuemper Craig Anderson



Mac

With Kuemper’s incredible 2018-2019 season, any worries about his capabilities as a full fledged starter should be quelled (as goaltending is voodoo anyway). Their top line is bolstered by Rust’s sudden ascent to MVP level play. That being said, they have an incredibly young collection of forwards with Poehling, Kotkaniemi and Kakko, they will be relying on their in-season progression to push for a divisional playoff spot.


Paul

This team is going to experience a lot of growing pains, the majority of these players are 25 and under. With some great young talent that will lead the way in Tkachuk, Kotkaniemi, Poehling and Kakko the future certainly looks bright. With that being said, the surrounding cast may be able to help these kids grow and they can certainly push for a playoff spot if Kuemper continues his Vezina candidate like play (and stays healthy).


Steve

Development is the key to success for any young player, and it will be the key to success for at least 3 or 4 of the players on this team, and maybe the team as a whole. The goaltending is very solid and I like the defense as well, I’m just unsure if the goal-scoring will be there. Weird to say for a team that has Steven Stamkos, but there’s just not much there with regards to their forward depth.



Cap Hit: Forwards: $38,300,000

Defence: $22,591,389

Goalies: $6,600,000

Total: $67,491,389




St. Louis Blues


FWD 1 Jeff Skinner Ryan O’Reilly Josh Bailey

FWD 2 Brandon Perlini Ryan Johansen Yanni Gourde

FWD 3 Anthony Beauvillier Lars Eller Brian Little

FWD 4 Anders Bjork Derek Ryan Cal Clutterbuck


D1 Mikhael Sergachev Mark Giordano

D2 Scott Mayfield Brady Skeji

D3 Devon Toews Dmitri Kulikov


Starter Backup

G Jordan Binnington Jack Campbell



Mac

A great team through and through, they don’t truly have a defined superstar. O’Reilly is coming of a dream season which included a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe, and Giordano had one of the best age 35+ season of all time, but like the real St. Louis, this team will go as far as Binnington takes them. They have the talent to go far, but it also wouldn't be shocking if they were sunk by unreliable goaltending. This team is either all in or all out.


Paul

Solid from top to bottom. Without sounding too repetitive, Mac pretty much nailed this one: they will be real contenders as long as Binnington continues his Cinderella story.


Steve

I’m not too hot on this team’s defense beyond their top pair. Sergachev has emerged as a good young player and let’s hope he can handle those top-line minutes. With a really decently solid forwards corps, their glaring hole really is the bottom four of their defence. When it comes down to it though, Paul and Mac are right, we will see just how far Binnington will take this team.



Cap Hit: Forwards: $51,557,457

Defence: $19,377,499

Goalies: $5,075,000

Total: $76,009,956




Winnipeg Jets


FWD 1 Travis Konecny Patrice Bergeron David Perron

FWD 2 Robert Thomas Claude Giroux Chris Wagner

FWD 3 Taro Hirose Mika Zibanijad Warren Foegele

FWD 4 Ryan Johnston Adrian Kempe Luke Kunin


D1 TJ Brodie Travis Sanheim

D2 Marc-Edouard Vlasic Oliver Kylington

D3 Ryan Braun Andreas Borgman


Starter Backup

G Jaroslav Halak Jonathan Quick



Mac

Wow this team sold out other positions for their forwards. More specifically their centres. With easily some of the best centre depth in the league, the Jets may struggle to find offense from their wings. This team really feels like a current Edmonton Oilers, with three great centres and… that’s about it. The Jets also have Konecny and Thomas to help out, but this will be the furthest thing from a scoring-by-committee forward group. I believe the main question will be can Halak take a starter’s workload? He’s proven incredible in a tandem position, but the starter is still dicey with his history.


Paul

Completely opposite to the previous team (Washington), this is by far the best centre depth in the league, my goodness. The wingers consist of a lot of young talent, and playing alongside those centres, I think they will be ok. On the back end, the D core is nothing special - has a solid D paired with young guys hopefully balances everything out. The question mark will be goaltending, I think here we have a 1A-1B situation where you end up splitting games 50/50. Halak has shown during his time in Boston that he can handle around 40% of the workload, and I think Quick will do much better in a sheltered role like that. This team could go far as long as their goalies can keep them in games.


Steve

The Jets have, without a doubt, the best centre depth in the league, and that alone will probably make them a good team. Konecny and Perron with Bergeron will be a dynamite line, and the rest of the centres (Giroux, etc) will be able to drive their lines into the offensive zone as well. With decent defense, this team’s struggles will most likely come from their goaltending. Quick is not what he used to be and there is no certainty that Halak can maintain a starter role. This team will definitely make the playoffs, but I’m unsure for how long they will be able to outscore their opponents.



Cap Hit: Forwards: $37,740,833

Defence: $20,131,233

Goalies: $8,550,000

Total: $66,422,066



Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out next week when we release the Metropolitan Division!



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