Fantasy Draft Series: Metro Divison
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 Metropolitan Division.
FWD 1 Viktor Arvidsson Sean Couturier Alexander Radulov
FWD 2 Andreas Athanasiou Mikael Backlund Ryan Donato
FWD 3 Ryan Hartman Phillip Danault Andrew Shaw
FWD 4 Matthieu Perrault Matthias Janmark Maxime Comtois
D1 Ryan Suter Victor Hedman
D2 Anton Stralman Jakob Chychrun
D3 Michael Stone Michael Del Zotto
G Petr Mrazek Ilya Samsonov
What strikes me most about Carolina is something that plagued them for many years in the late 2000s and early 2010s; a lack of brand name punch. Beyond Victor Hedman, they will likely be relying on great but not superstar players to push their way into the playoff conversation.
This team screams mediocracy. A decent top 4, but outside of that the lack of real scoring depth is something that will haunt them throughout the year. Their goaltending tandem seems like it could provide slightly above league average stats but beyond that not much there. They may not get dominated every night, but they will certainly need to grind their way into the win column.
The biggest standout on this team is Victor Hedman. Now usually that means something but unfortunately, it just drops from there. While there are very good players on this team there are no standouts in any sector. This team has no real potential but will not be a bad team. They will most likely fall short of the playoffs in the final few days of the season.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $41,211,666
Columbus Blue Jackets
FWD 1 Jaden Schwartz Dylan Larkin Patrick Kane
FWD 2 Ryan Dzingel J.T. Miller Kirby Dach
FWD 3 Oskar Lindblom Nick Bonino Kyle Okposo
FWD 4 Antoine Roussel Trevor Lewis William Carrier
D1 Thomas Chabot Cale Makar
D2 Dmitry Orlov Jason Demers
D3 Brett Kulak Ron Hainsey
G Henrik Lundqvist Joonas Korpisalo
This is a wild card type of team, not in the sense that they will be challenging for the wild card (which they might be) but that I have no idea where they will end up. Their back end mixes young dynamism with older and slower partners. Up front, an undeniable first line is followed by a mystery bag of former top scorers, overperformers, and underperformers. This is coupled with a tandem of two current starters who may not be fit for their roles, but could thrive in a tandem-style workload they may receive here.
This team is interesting because I feel like they have a good balance between young and old players which may compliment each other moving forward. It is quite clear that the top line is a killer one, but I think their bottom six could be the deciding factor for this team. There's certainly something there, but it will come down to whether they can produce consistently which has certainly been an issue for some of those players in the past. The goaltending here is a mystery box, Lundqvist is on the tail end of his outstanding career and Korpisalo has struggled to take hold of the starting reigns.
This is a headscratcher team. While the top line is an extreme offensive threat and their first pairing being extremely well off offensively (with makar making strides defensively), their goaltending is being anchored by an ageing great in Lundqvist and a tender who is only now facing his first real starting time; but there is not much else to the rest of the lineup. While this may be a great opportunity for Korpisalo to learn, it won’t help his team this year. This team will just sneak into the playoffs
Cap Hit: Forwards: $48,250,000
New Jersey Devils
FWD 1 Jason Zucker Nathan Mackinnon Alex DeBrincat
FWD 2 Ilya Kovalchuk Jonathan Toews Jordan Eberle
FWD 3 Brenden Lemieux Alex Wennberg Martin Necas
FWD 4 Zach Smith Brian Boyle Sammy Blais
D1 Miro Heiskanen Zdeno Chara
D2 Chris Tanev Travis Hamonic
D3 Marco Scandella Markus Pettersson
G Tuuka Rask Louis Domingue
I believe this to be one of the best squads in the league. While their left wingers could serve to be improved, one of their biggest questions will be how Rask responds to an increased workload. Having handled this workload earlier in his career to mixed results, he is well versed in a 60-70 game workload. That being said, his Vezina-level play in the past couple years was largely due to a reduced workload, where a reliable backup (Anton Khudobin and Jaroslav Halak, respectively) could handle more games. With all due respect to Louis Domingue, he is not that, and it’ll be up to Rask to keep his level of play up as they get deeper into the season, and presumably, the playoffs.
Certainly one of the better teams in this league, I am still left with a few questions after looking at the roster over and over again. The first line is phenomenal, the second line however has the big names, but I am not sure if they will be able to keep up with the games increase in speed and skill. Kovalchuk has fallen out of favour on a lowly LA team but I think he can still be used as a lethal weapon on the powerplay. I do like the defence core, they will certainly be annoying to play against, and Hesikanen may thrive having a steady D partner in Chara. Moving on down, Rask is one of the best in the league, and has proven he can shut down opponents through every round of the playoffs. It will come down to how this team handles his load management, but this team is easily a playoff team, but not sure I would label them as a true cup contender just yet.
By far one of the best teams in the league. With solid scoring throughout the lineup, good defense, and strong goaltending, this team will have to try in order to miss the playoffs. The biggest question will be about load management for Tuuka Rask. While Domingue proved to be a good backup for Andrei Vasilevsky last year, you have to wonder just how much of that was him playing behind a historically great team in the Lightning. Kovalchuk will be another question for this team, while he has proven himself to be just adequate in his return to the NHL, he is playing on a very bad team. Time will tell.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $46,556,666
New York Islanders
FWD 1 Nikolaj Ehlers Jonathan Drouin William Nylander
FWD 2 Ilya Mikheyev Joonas Donskoi Kasperi Kapanen
FWD 3 Miles Wood Chris Tierney Jesper Boqvist
FWD 4 Tim Schaller Jordan Martinook Tyler Pitlick
D1 Ivan Provorov Roman Josi
D2 Shayne Gostisbehere Adam Boqvist
D3 Julius Honka Brenden Dillon
G Ben Bishop Calvin Pickard
This seems to be a well-balanced, dynamic team, poised to make a run at a Cup and recapture the Islanders’ glory. That being said, the question will be in net, as multiple-time Vezina nominee Ben Bishop has thrived in a lesser workload. With Calvin Pickard unlikely to serve as a 1B, he will be relied upon to maintain his elite level of play as the games pile up.
Also, their centre depth is something no team should envy. Montreal tried to convert Drouin to a centre when he arrived, and... Well that didn’t work out (though he’s been fine on the wing). Donskoi isn’t a pure centre either, so puck possession could be their biggest hurdle en route to a playoff position.
There is a really nice balance between young studs and veterans on this squad, especially on the defensive side of things. Provorov and Josi as a top pairing is a scary-good offensive threat that is certainly going to give a lot of teams trouble. The second pairing may be a defensive liability as Gostisbehere is known for his offence, certainly not his defence, and I do not think Boqvist is ready to handle that much responsibility in babysitting. Ben Bishop is a wildcard goaltender and Pickard has been bounced around more times than a ping pong ball, so Bishop will really need to hold down the fort.
I am a really big fan of the defensive squad that this team has assembled. They have a lot of young, talented defensemen and some older team members that should bring a lot of leadership and knowledge to this team. This team’s young players may face late-season adversity, but hopefully it is mitigated by the good balance of veteran players. The goaltending is solid upfront with Bishop, the question is will Pickard be a good back up. He hasn’t played that much in the NHL of late but he was at one point a fine starter for a poor Avalanche squad.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $37,999,866
New York Rangers
FWD 1 Kevin Labanc Matt Duchene Mikko Rantanen
FWD 2 Jake DeBrusk Paul Stastny Nick Suzuki
FWD 3 Patrick Marleau JT Compher Brett Connolly
FWD 4 Ryan Carpenter Valtteri Filppula Matt Martin
D1 Oscar Klefbom John Carlson
D2 Ryan Murray Adam Larsson
D3 Nic Holden Connor Murphy
G Jakob Markstrom Keith Kinkaid
I don’t really know how to describe this team. All their players are bonafide NHL players (which most teams in this exercise cannot say), but it seems as though it came at the price of genuine star power.
Simply put: they are a solid but unspectacular team, I believe this is the makeup of a squad poised for late-season playoff races and either a first round exit or a mid-level first round draft picks. Aside from Rantanen and Carlson, others on the roster will have to overperform their historical output if this team wishes to really compete for the Cup.
This team probably has the best defensive core in the league. With that being said, they really need to be on the top of their game every night if they want to go anywhere. The goaltending is definitely not their strong suit, I think Markstrom is decent (although he is having a very strong year) and Kinkaid is a solid backup but these are not guys who will steal you games very often. This will be a very low scoring team who will have to battle hard to win those one-goal games.
I’m not high on this team. While I like most of their top line, I'm unsure if Labanc will be able to keep up with Rantanen and Duchene. Goaltending is a bit of a question as well - Kinkaid has not been good, but has also been playing behind a slew of terrible teams in recent years. Markstrom has had a breakout year, but with his injuries woes and history of mediocre play may sink this team. Expect them to miss the playoffs by seven or eight points.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $40,676,666
FWD 1 Jake Guenztel Ryan Nugent-Hopkins David Pastrnak
FWD 2 Calle Jarnkrok Ryan Strome Joel Armia
FWD 3 Sven Baertschi Nick Foligno Oliver Bjorkstrand
FWD 4 Nick Cousins Jason Spezza Tomas Vanek
D1 Alex Goligoski Kris Letang
D2 Ian Cole Philippe Myers
D3 Robert Hagg Tony DeAngelo
G Thomas Greiss Jusse Saros
I don’t really know how to read this team. It feels very adequate all the way through the lineup, with all-world scorer David Pastrnak as the lone standout. Adequate seldom wins championships, and this team just does not have the power to muscle its way into the playoffs, let alone seriously compete for a Cup. Their goaltending is VERY dicey, and their defence after Letang is… bad (in my opinion)2. They probably won’t get close to the playoffs.
Greiss went from being a below average goaltender, to winning the Jennings trophy with teammate Robin Lehner (for lowest goals against). Can he continue to put up superb numbers as a starting goaltender? Saros is a great young backup, but it will ultimately come down to Greiss. The defence core is pretty strong, but I don’t see enough upfront to say that this is a playoff team. They will be on the bubble… if that.
An amazing top line with a decent defence core beyond them though the rest of the team is good but not great and not bad, just sort of average (for the NHL that is). The biggest question for me is can Greiss recapture his performance from last year. I think if he can then this team will squeak into a playoff spot but if not, they will be in very big trouble.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $35,679,999
FWD 1 Rickard Rakell Evgeni Malkin James Neal
FWD 2 James van Reimsdyk Tyson Jost Jesper Bratt
FWD 3 Adam Lowry Christian Dvorak Darren Helm
FWD 4 Andrew Ladd Adam Gaudette Rudolph Balcers
D1 Morgan Rielly Colton Parayko
D2 Hampus Lindholm Dante Fabbro
D3 Steven Santini Mark Borowiecki
G Antti Raanta Mackenzie Blackwood
The Penguins finally belong to Evgeni Malkin. Now the only superstar forward in Pittsburgh, Malkin may reflect lovingly on his controversial times alongside Phil Kessel. While Rakell is very good and Neal is seeming to be bouncing back, they simply aren't the level of quality he is accustomed to playing with, which encompasses the entirety of this Pittsburgh team. With a very impressive group of defensemen, they may still compete for a divisional title, but you’d be hard-pressed to pick this squad for a third cup in six years.
Can we say Lafreniere bound? Outside of Malkin and that top 4, there is nothing much here, sorry.
While I don’t think the team is as bad as Paul says, it is a little sparse after Malkin on forwards. That being said, Malkin has a way of becoming even better when he is the only star on the team.Despite this, expect this team to miss the playoffs.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $46,066,944
FWD 1 Max Pacioretty Sam Reinhart Johnny Gaudreau
FWD 2 Patric Hornqvist Casey Middlestadt Anthony Duclair
FWD 3 Victor Olofsson Nic Bjugstad Brendan Smith
FWD 4 Vlad Sobotka Teddy Blueger Vinni Lettieri
D1 Brent Burns Justin Faulk
D2 Erik Gustafsson Olli Maatta
D3 Nick Merkley Cal Foote
G David Rittich Linus Ullmark
This is not a very good roster, but they are deep. Sam Reinhart as first line center may be unorthodox, but this team is three lines deep and has two young good goalies. What is troubling are the lower ends of the lineup, notably the 3rd pairing. Populated by essentially two prospects, if these guys get caved in at 5 on 5, this team may be playing from behind a lot of the time. Nevertheless, most nights they should overcome this, and will likely be in the mix for a playoff spot.
Big fan of this team. Lots of depth throughout the entirety of the forward group and although Reinheart may not be the best choice for first line centre, the rest of the team makes up for that. Reminds me of Nashville’s forwards, always had trouble finding a true number one centre, but the rest of the forwards were solid enough to make up for it. That bottom pair may struggle mightily but then again most teams don't have a stacked bottom pairing anyways, so I am banking on this team to do very well.
Unorthodox is one way to put it Mac, but with underrated goal scorer Max Pacioretty and dynamo Gaudreau on his wings, he’ll probably be fine. This team has some good solid depth throughout the lineup, respectable defensive pairings and two really promising goaltenders, including current Flames starter Dave Rittich. I think this is one of the teams that will have a decent chance to compete for the Stanley Cup.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $35,092,500
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out next week when we release the Atlantic Division!