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 Pacific Division.
FWD 1 Brady Tkachuk Sebastian Aho Anthony Mantha
FWD 2 Connor Sheary Nicholas Backstrom Sam Bennett
FWD 3 Colton Sissons Sam Steel Nic Petan
FWD 4 Brandon Pirri Ivan Barbashev Jason Pominville
D1 Keith Yandle Brandon Carlo
D2 Jonas Brodin David Savard
D3 Brad Hunt Sami Niku
G Mike Smith Anders Nilsson
Mac: Good thing there is no salary cap because this team would BLOW over (i wrote that before seeing the cap hit below and now i'm embarrassed). Good thing there is no age cap because this team would BLOW over. A good lineup but one that may be subject to a few age-related regressions, they will, at the very least, be a nightmare to play against, with the likes of Wilson, Perry, and Tanev wreaking havoc all along the right boards. If Carey Price can recapture his old form, this team can surprise for a long playoff run.
Paul: This is a win now team if I ever saw one. Majority of these players have maybe a few good years left in them before it begins to go downhill. Luckily though, this team on paper looks to have enough skill in all positions to do so. Hard to bet against Carey Price, and now that he has a well rounded team upfront, one that includes a bunch of jerks on that right side, he will have a fighting shot at a Cup. This, all-around, is a very interesting team.
Steve: While Carey Price has been anything but good this year, it’s hard to bet against him when he has a team that looks incredibly solid upfront. A solid top pairing defense and an outstanding top 6, the LA Kings will be looking to upset a few others in their division. Expect
them to squeak into the playoffs.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $42,441,666
FWD 1 Taylor Hall Tyler Seguin Cam Atkinson
FWD 2 Chris Kreider Kevin Hayes Pavel Buchnevich
FWD 3 Mikkel Boedker Radek Faksa Ryan Strome
FWD 4 Zach Kassian Jay Beagle Marcus Sorensen
D1 Jaccob Slavin Shea Weber
D2 Matt Grzelyck Josh Manson
D3 Deryk Engelland Jonas Siegenthaler
G Carter Hart Scott Darling
Mac: The Yotes have assembled more scoring power than they’ve had in their entire history. That being said, they also have some great defensive gems throughout their lineup, be that Radek Faksa, Jaccob Slavin or Derek Engelland. They will likely be competing for a Cup, but their overall success will hinge on the play of young stud goaltender Carter Hart.
Paul: Goaltending is such a deal breaker for so many teams, and Carter Hart has the potential to become a phenomenal starter. Past success aside, he is still only a 21 year old kid and is bound to face some adversity. The depth this team has will really need to come through and provide some secondary scoring if they want to make a quality playoff run.
Steve: The potential for heartbreak with this team is mighty. Hart is a young up and coming goaltender who could easily skate his way into being a great goaltender, but at this point his potential is unknown. That being said the skaters on this team are fantastic. The top defensive pairing of Weber and Slavin is the perfect picture of power and skill and the top line could compete for the title of best in the league. Expect this team to make the playoffs in a walk if Hart is a league-average goaltender.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $51,842,857
FWD 1 Max Domi Evgeny Kuznetsov Josh Anderson
FWD 2 Eric Haula Jack Hughes Tyler Johnson
FWD 3 Alex Killorn Oskar Sundqvist Zach Aston-Reese
FWD 4 Jason Dickinson Frans Nielsen Dustin Brown
D1 John Klingberg Quinn Hughes
D2 Nik Jensen Calvin De Haan
D3 Mike Reilly Connor Clifton
G Andrei Vasilevskiy Cory Schneider
Mac: They have both Hughes. Unfortunately for Calgary, this drafted team is disbanded after one year, otherwise they would be in a prime position for future success. With a strong forward core and a solid tandem in net (with Cory Schneider more appropriately in the back up position) their defense will be under the microscope. With a dynamic top pair who may be prone to defensive lapses, their underwhelming bottom four will have to step up and lock it down in front of Vasilevskiy.
Paul: This is a team that I can see struggling to score goals, I am not too sold on their forwards. On the bright side, Vasilevskiy is arguably the best goalie in the league and still young enough to improve which is a scary thought. Moving forward this team has some potential with the Hughes brothers, but seem to be like a team in the middle stages of a rebuild. Potential sellers at the deadline for sure.
Steve: The Calgary Hughes, I mean Flames, is a team that will struggle for sure. While Quinn Hughes has had an unbelievably great start to the season, he is still young and untested through a full season. His brother Jack, while highly touted, has not had a great start to the year and has seemed to struggle mightily against NHL opponents early on. There will not be many goals scored by this team, and the defense has a strong 3 players, the other 3 lack much. The goaltending on this team is a strong point as Vasilevskiy is without a doubt the best goaltender in the league. Unfortunately, that is not always enough and I don’t think this team will make it to April.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $42,300,000
FWD 1 Jakob Voracek Blake Wheeler Vladamir Tarasenko
FWD 2 Andreas Johnsson Marcus Johansson Michael Dal Colle
FWD 3 Nick Ritchie Boone Jenner Tomas Jurco
FWD 4 Paul Byron Logan Brown Vitaly Abramov
D1 Jared Spurgeon Jake Gardiner
D2 Colin Miller Eric Johnson
D3 Ryan Graves Ben Hutton
G Brayden Holtby Jonathan Bernier
Mac: A very solid all around team, Edmonton should be in the hunt for a Pacific division title with this squad. I actually think they have six very good defensemen, and great depth down the middle and in net. But those wingers beyond the first line... Could be trouble. Anchored by that great centre group, their wingers will have to outperform their individual histories to launch this team into the upper echelon of this league.
Paul: This is one of the better, more well-rounded teams to be drafted - not a whole lot of star power but some real solid players fill out this roster. The goaltending is very interesting because I think Bernier is a great backup who can manage 1B workload, which is encouraging if Holtby goes on one of his cold streaks. With that being said, Holtby may go through rough patches but he has proven to be a monster when he is on, so I really like this goaltending duo.
Steve: This team looks like it will be a well-oiled machine (I see what you did there Steve - Mac and Paul), there is very little to criticize on any front. A top line of Voracek-Wheeler-Tarasenko is a dangerous combination to contend with and so long as no hiccups in game 7s from Gardiner arise, there should be no doubt that this team will make a deep run.
Cap Hit: Forwards: 49,094,166
FWD 1 Jaime Benn Mark Scheifele Tom Wilson
FWD 2 Danton Heinen Ryan Getzlaf Corey Perry
FWD 3 Brian Gibbons Joe Thorton Brandon Tanev
FWD 4 Colton Sceviour Greg McKegg Carl Grundstrom
D1 Shea Theodore Oliver Ekman-Larsson
D2 Mike Green Henri Jokiharu
D3 Joel Edmunson Braydon Cobrun
G Carey Price Cam Talbot
Mac: Good thing there is no salary cap because this team would BLOW over (i wrote that before seeing the cap hit below and now i'm embarrassed). Good thing there is no age cap because this team would BLOW over. Good lineup but one that may be subject to a few age-related regressions, they will, at the very least, be a nightmare to play against, with the likes of Wilson, Perry, and Tanev wreaking havoc all along the right boards.
Paul: This is a win now team if I ever saw one. Majority of these players have maybe a few good years left in them before it begins to go downhill for them. Luckily though, this team on paper looks to have enough skill in all positions to do so. Hard to bet against Carey Price, and now he is a well rounded team upfront, one that includes a bunch of jerks on that right side. This is a very interesting team.
Steve: While Carey Price has been anything but good this year, it’s hard to bet against him when he has a team that looks incredibly solid upfront. A solid top pairing defense and an outstanding top 6, the LA Kings will be looking to upset a few others in their division. Expect them to squeak into the playoffs
Cap Hit: Forwards: $42,441,666
San Jose Sharks
FWD 1 Evander Kane Bo Horvat Artemi Panarin
FWD 2 Vlad Namestnikov Tyler Bozak Eeli Tolvanen
FWD 3 Kevin Fiala Nolan Patrick Leo Komorov
FWD 4 Tyler Ennis Frederick Gauthier Jeremy Bracco
D1 PK Subban Ryan McDonagh
D2 Filip Hronek Brayden McNabb
D3 Aaron Ness Luke Schenn
G Frederik Andersen Alex Stalock
Mac: This team has the pieces to compete for a Stanley Cup. A pair of top defencemen, a dynamite top line and enviable depth throughout the lineup, they will likely be in the mix with Arizona for tops in the Pacific. They will have to overcome a likely slow October from Frederik Andersen, but otherwise they’ll have their sights set firmly on the Cup, and the standings will reflect that.
Paul: This is a team that can definitely compete for a divisional title, as the composition looks promising. They have a great first line, and lots of scoring depth with skill and speed. Andersen has been nothing short of spectacular throughout the regular season (most years), but fatigue always seems to set in come playoff time. However, Stalock is a solid backup who may be able to lessen Andersen’s load without being a liability. However, outside that top pairing, the defence is weak but Andersen is notorious for standing on his head when facing an absurd amount of shots, and this team has the offensive ability to outscore their problems.
Steve: This team is good. The defense is a little weak after that top pair, but other than that they are very good. Even with weak defense, Pittsburgh has proven it is possible to win a cup with poor defense. With tons of scoring depth, Steady Freddie in net, and a good back up, it looks like this is a team primed to attempt a deep run into the playoffs.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $42,529,523
FWD 1 Kyle Connor Auston Matthews Phil Kessel
FWD 2 Tomas Tatar Adam Henrique Trevor Moore
FWD 3 Scott Laughton Dennis Malgin Connor Brown
FWD 4 Marcus Foligno Noel Acciari Bobby Ryan
D1 Keith Yandle Jacob Trouba
D2 Jonas Brodin David Savard
D3 Brad Hunt Sami Niku
G Mike Smith Anders Nilsson
Mac: TWO LEAFS LEGENDS ON ONE LINE. This team will score, that’s no doubt. Their defense is questionable, both on the blueline and in net. Georgiev is looking to be a potential replacement for King Henrik in real life, but in a make-believe world this is still dicey. I could see this team being like a modern Colorado Avalanche, anchored by one incredible, unbeatable top line. That being said, I expect them not to be modern-DAY Avalanche, but the Colorado team that was the WORST in the cap-era.
Paul: That group of forwards is something special and can do some serious damage. However, they will most likely need to out score their defensive problems. The back end is not too bad, pretty solid all the way through… but their goaltending is a big question mark. Georgiev seems to be holding his own taking on more responsibility, but is he the guy who can steal you games in the playoffs? Maybe. But goaltending will most likely be this team’s downfall.
Steve: TOMAS TATARRRRRRR is not on this teams top line, instead that honour belongs to three special players in Phil Kessel, Auston Matthews, and Kyle Connor. What an amazing line, surrounded with plenty of forward depth and decent top 3 defensemen. The bottom 3 on defense and the goaltending is highly suspect with Georgiev having not proven himself capable of being a starter yet in his young career.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $53,918,524
Vegas Golden Knights
FWD 1 Patrik Laine John Tavares Clayton Keller
FWD 2 Alex Nylander Alex Galchenyuk Josh Leivo
FWD 3 Kyle Clifford Charlie Coyle Emerson Etem
FWD 4 Milan Lucic Cedric Paquette Valentin Zykov
D1 Alex Pietrangelo Cam Fowler
D2 Vince Dunn Carl Gunnarsson
D3 Martin Marincin Ryan Lindgren
G Devan Dubnyk Malcolm Subban
Mac: This is a good team. Deep and balanced, the main weakness this team has is in net. While Dubnyk was a consistently great starter for half a decade, he seems to have lost a step or two this past season. Having not put up a better showing this year, his high level of play may never reach the same heights it had in the mid-2010s. Luckily, this experiment is only for a single year, so if Vegas can get lucky and recapture some of Dubnyk’s older glory, they will be poised for a deep run.
Paul: I don’t think I am as sold on this team as Mac is but by the looks of it, they should be a playoff team. That top line is poised to give opposing team’s goalies nightmares, but outside of that I think they have a lot of average guys. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but guys like Nylander and Galchenyuk have been rather disappointing, but they are young and still have time to turn it around. I am also not sold on Dubnyk at all, he had a couple of amazing years after arriving in Minnesota but he looks like he has reverted back to his old self. That could be because Minnesota is a very bad team but I think he is starting to hit the decline and Subban is not the answer.
Steve: I agree more with Paul than with Mac. They look like a fine team, but there are some valid criticisms that Paul addressed. Nylander and Galchenyuk just don’t have that step that you want a second line to have, they’re more unknowns than anything and that can be a dangerous thing. The good part is, like Paul said, they’re young and will most likely improve. I’m more in on Dubnyk than either of my colleagues above, as I think he will bounce back and be fine behind a team with solid defense like this.
Cap Hit: Forwards: $38,974,166
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out next week when we release the Central Division!