Oct 062011
 
Phil Kessel, NHL All-Star Draft

Photo credit: ESPN

Here in the halls of Canucks Hockey Blog, mixed in with an unbridled love for the home town team, is a certain amount of friendly rivalry.

What better way to exploit this rivalry than with a fantasy hockey pool. And what better way to create filler content entertain our readers for our website than by writing about it online. CHB Grand Poobah* J.J. agreed, and he created a pool for us over at Yahoo.

The 2011-12 CHB Hockey Pool is rotisserie-based and features 16 scoring categories: goals, assists, points, plus/minus, penalty minutes, powerplay goals, powerplay points, shorthanded goals, shorthanded points, game-winning goals, shots on goal, faceoffs won, wins, goals against average, saves and shutouts.

The pool winner will receive… well, we’re still figuring that out. However, there is a push for the loser of the pool to be kicked off the site permanently. Reader suggestions for prizes are also welcome.

We’ll update you regularly on the latest pool standings, and give your favourite CHB’ers a place to vent about their pool teams.

To kick things off, we held our draft this week. Read on to see the makeup of our teams and our initial pool thoughts. Teams are listed in the reverse order they selected.

*I am contractually required to call J.J. by this name any time I reference him in a column.

8. The Hamhuis Ballards (J.J.)

Team: Roberto Luongo (Van – G);Nicklas Backstrom (Was – C); Jonathan Toews (Chi – C); Henrik Zetterberg (Det – C,LW); Thomas Vanek (Buf – LW); Ryane Clowe (SJ – LW,RW); Corey Crawford (Chi – G); Lubomir Visnovsky (Anh – D); Christian Ehrhoff (Buf – D); Joe Pavelski (SJ – C,RW); Ryan Callahan (NYR – RW); Alexander Edler (Van – D); Brandon Dubinsky (NYR – C,LW); Brent Seabrook (Chi – D); Drew Stafford (Buf – RW); Jaroslav Halak (StL – G)

J.J.’s Thoughts: Things I learned while participating in the inaugural CHB writers’ hockey pool:

  1. “How I Met Your Mother” has rebounded nicely after a pretty meh season 5; and
  2. There are only two reasons to watch “2 Broke Girls” and they both belong to Kat Dennings.

I scheduled the draft during Monday night primetime, and yes, my attention shifted constantly between the TV, my PC and all 107 pages of Dobber Hockey’s Fantasy Guide. And yes, I know I sound like I’m making excuses for drafting Roberto Luongo with my first pick and three players from my hated Blackhawks and two Sharks later on.

Truth be told though, I’m pretty okay with my picks. I’m counting on Corey Crawford to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke, on Ryan Callahan and Alex Edler to have a breakout seasons, on Jaroslav Halak to bounce back, and on Henrik Zetterberg to remain healthy. If they do that, I should be contending in every statistical category in this league.

Plus, I see Lizz’s team has Henrik Sedin, Alex Burrows, Brendan Morrow and a bunch of kids; Clay’s team has Ilya Kovalchuk, Martin Havlat, Marian Hossa and Vincent Lecavalier, all of whom would have been great picks 3 years ago; and I’m still not sure if Tom using his first pick to draft Sid the Kid, who he can place on IR right away, is genius or madness or both.

7. 2 Sedins 0 Cups (Tom)

Team: Sidney Crosby (Pit – C); Pavel Datsyuk (Det – C,LW); Ryan Getzlaf (Anh – C); Claude Giroux (Phi – C,RW); Marc-Andre Fleury (Pit – G); Jonathan Quick (LA – G); Loui Eriksson (Dal – LW,RW); Dustin Brown (LA – LW,RW); Derek Roy (Buf – C); Dany Heatley (Min – RW); James Neal (Pit – LW) Jaromir Jagr (Phi – RW); Dion Phaneuf (Tor – D); Mark Streit (NYI – D); Tyler Myers (Buf – D); Mark Giordano (Cgy – D)

Tom’s Thoughts: First of all, I thought rotisserie was a type of chicken. I had to get J.J. to explain to me what that meant for pool scoring. Speaking of scoring, 16 categories are a bit much. I mean, if we’re going to be this exhaustive, why don’t we just go all in and include categories like number of phone numbers acquired at the Roxy, or number of puck bunny Twitter followers (Patrick Kane goes first overall in that category)?

As for my actual draft, well, I didn’t want Sidney Crosby, considering he’s one hit away from becoming just another forgotten Tim Horton’s pitchman, but I couldn’t pass him up in the first round. Otherwise…well actually I can’t tell you if my team’s any good, because I don’t have an algorithm to analyze how I did across 16 freaking categories.

Unlike my colleagues I waited on goalies and defence, since in an 8-team pool both positions are incredibly deep. I also looked for positional flexibility early, to give me options with my lineup.

Best/Worst Draft: I like a lot of Clayton’s roster (Mr. Haiku), particularly the scoring depth. Ed’s (Church’s Chiggins) team is also pretty strong. I think J.J. (The Hamhuis Ballards) got caught up looking at all the stats that weren’t scoring related. His team doesn’t look all that dynamic. Or handsome, for that matter.

Best/Worst Pick: James van Riemsdyk in the 15th round (Ed), Ilya Kovalchuk in the 6th (Clayton) and Mike Ribiero in the 14th (Chris) were steals. Alex Burrows in the 5th (Lizz) was way early and Ryan Whitney in the 14th (Matt) was high for a d-man with injury issues. But for me the kicker was Matt drafting Steve Mason to be his third goalie. First of all why do you (or anyone else in this pool) need three goalies? Secondly, Matt have you seen Steve Mason play the last few years? Good god.

6. Church’s Chiggins (Ed)

Team: Evgeni Malkin (Pit – C,RW); Henrik Lundqvist (NYR – G); Mike Green (Was – D); Patrick Kane (Chi – RW); Patrick Marleau (SJ – C,LW);  John Tavares (NYI – C); Patrick Sharp (Chi – C,LW); Alexander Semin (Was – LW,RW); Brent Burns (SJ – D); Matt Duchene (Col – C); Logan Couture (SJ – C); Jonas Hiller (Anh – G); Niklas Kronwall (Det – D); John Carlson (Was – D); James van Riemsdyk (Phi – LW); Martin Brodeur (NJ – G)

Ed’s Thoughts: I like the team I drafted even though I think I could’ve made a couple of better choices.   My philosophy has always been to try to draft the best player available when my pick is up which meant I filled up on forwards after picking Mike Green. I missed Shea Weber and a couple others but when WJHC American hero John Carlson is my 4th defenseman, that’s not bad.  Green and Carlson should be manning the point on the Washington PP with Ovie, Backstrom and Semin up front so I’m looking forward to that.

Looking at my roster, success depends on young players like Matt Duchene, John Tavares and Logan Couture continuing to develop into NHL stars.  I think Duchene and Tavares will top 80 points a piece as the primary offensive weapon on their respective teams.  I also hope JVR remembers how he played in the playoffs and earns that big payday he got from the Flyers.

My only real concern with this roster is health as I have several players that aren’t known for their durability in recent years. I’m also happy with the fact that I got four players with dual position eligibility. It looks like some of the others in the league also recognized how valuable this flexibility is with a limited number of games to be played.

Best/Worst Draft: I don’t know if anyone lost the draft.  Chris (Goose is my Wingman) didn’t draft a 4th defenseman so maybe him. Overall, everyone looks like they have solid teams.  Even teams with supposed weaknesses at certain positions make up for it elsewhere.

Best/Worst Pick: I didn’t particularly think Henrik (Lizz) was a very good first overall pick in this league since goals are weighted heavier and we get points for shots.  In any league where shots are counted, I’m almost sure Ovechkin or Daniel would be a better pick.

5. Kesler is my Homeboy (Caylie)

Team: Corey Perry (Anh – RW); Martin St. Louis (TB – RW); Antti Niemi (SJ – G); Joe Thornton (SJ – C); Rick Nash (Cls – LW,RW); Nicklas Lidstrom (Det – D); Miikka Kiprusoff (Cgy – G); Keith Yandle (Pho – D); Teemu Selanne (Anh – RW); Danny Briere (Phi – C,RW); Jamie Benn (Dal – LW); Tobias Enstrom (Wpg – D); Michael Cammalleri (Mon – LW); Tomas Kaberle (Car – D); Tomas Plekanec (Mon – C); Mikhail Grabovski (Tor – C)

Caylie’s Thoughts: After taking 8 minutes to realize I wasn’t signed in and therefore couldn’t access the draft, I finally logged in and found myself pleasantly surprised. My first two auto-draft picks were Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry and mini-mouse Martin St. Louis. Looking at the final results it’s obvious to me that I have the best team, while the others… well I guess they have some decent picks. Why do I have the best team you ask? Well, I have the perfect mixture of snipers and all-around players… and let’s be honest I have to go in with a positive attitude and not think about defeat.

With the season just around the corner I am beyond excited about what the Canucks have to offer this year as well as the trash-talking and complaining, about the group pool, that will come from some of CHB’s finest. Game on everyone!

Best/Worst Pick: Considering my username is Kesler is my Homeboy, I was devastated to see Goose is my Wingman (Chris) snatch him up before I had the chance. Another shocker came when Mr. Haiku (Clay) became the first person to pick a Boston Bruins player, Tim Thomas to be exact (I hear all the Luongo fans gasping). With the memories and wounds of June 15th still fresh in everyone’s mind, it was a tough pick to accept.

4. Goose is my Wingman (Chris)

Team: Steven Stamkos (TB – C);  Bobby Ryan (Anh – LW); Jarome Iginla (Cgy – RW); Tomas Vokoun (Was – G); Brad Richards (NYR – C); Shea Weber (Nsh – D); Ryan Kesler (Van – C); Dustin Byfuglien (Wpg – RW,D); Zdeno Chara (Bos – D); Jimmy Howard (Det – G); Phil Kessel (Tor – RW); Paul Stastny (Col – C); Erik Karlsson (Ott – D); Mike Ribeiro (Dal – C); Scott Hartnell (Phi – LW); Kari Lehtonen (Dal – G)

Chris’s Thoughts: Having fulfilled Operation Autopilot in the CHB draft, I’m pretty stoked about my results – who wouldn’t be after successfully drafting Byfuglien?  Really, the only pick I’m skeptical about is Kessel as I forgot that he plays in Toronto.. and.. well.. he plays in Toronto.  I’ve got Kesler, Stamkos, Weber, Chara.. heck.. while other teams went for the O, I decided the blueline was the route to success.  And because I’m a believer that in the CHB pool that if “you’re not first, you’re worst” I drafted the player that as closely resembles Ricky Bobby – Bobby Ryan.  How can I lose? EXactly.

3. Mr. Haiku (Clay)

Team: Daniel Sedin (Van – LW); Ryan Miller (Buf – G); Anze Kopitar (LA – C); Tim Thomas (Bos – G); Kris Letang (Pit – D); Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ – LW,RW); Jeff Skinner (Car – C,RW); Dan Boyle (SJ – D); Vincent Lecavalier (TB – C); Martin Havlat (SJ – RW); Alex Pietrangelo (StL – D); Marian Hossa (Chi – RW); Johan Franzen (Det – LW,RW); Tyler Ennis (Buf – C,LW); Ryan Suter (Nsh – D); Dwayne Roloson (TB – G)

Clay’s Thoughts: Just like my Ultimate Canucks Haiku video helped us win the Ultimate Canucks Family back in 2007, I fully expect Mr. Haiku to win the coveted title of CHB Hockey Pool Champ. The strength of my team is on the back-end, with proven netminders Thomas, Miller and Roloson.  I am fiercely loyal to Thomas and Miller – they, along with Luongo and Bryzgalov helped me win another keeper pool last season.  I expect a bounce-back year for Miller.  As for Roloson, as long as Tampa Bay scores more than he lets in, I’ll get plenty of wins from him (but likely few shutouts).

My defence is relatively young and are all guys that can move the puck. My forwards are generally older (except for Skinner, Kopitar and Ennis) and might be the weakest part of my team.

The Homer Effect was in full play in this pool. Not surprisingly, five of the eight team names have a Canucks player or reference in it. Lizz was picking with her heart over her head as she has 3 Canucks and one ex-Canuck. Four poolsters don’t have a Canuck:  Ed, Matt, Tom and Caylie.

Best/Worst Draft: I think Matt’s team is really strong – I really like his goalies and his forwards. I think Chris’ team isn’t that strong, perhaps because he was on auto-draft.

Best/Worst Pick: I found the last round quite fascinating - five goalies of the eight picks. I like these sleeper picks:  Dubinsky by J.J. in the 13th, Streit by Tom in the 14th, and van Riemsdyk by Ed in the 15th.

2. Hossa’s Samosas (Matt)

Team: Alex Ovechkin (Was – LW); Ilya Bryzgalov (Phi – G); Carey Price (Mon – G); Zach Parise (NJ – LW); Jeff Carter (Cls – C,RW); Mike Richards (LA – C); David Backes (StL – RW); Marian Gaborik (NYR – RW); Duncan Keith (Chi – D); Milan Lucic (Bos – LW); Chris Stewart (StL – RW); Alex Goligoski (Dal – D); Patrice Bergeron (Bos – C); Ryan Whitney (Edm – D); Jack Johnson (LA – D); Steve Mason (Cls – G)

Matt’s Thoughts: Normally I’m the kind of person that will pick skill over will, but in a rotisserie league I had to draft with other stats categories in mind (PIMs, faceoff wins). Therefore I went all out and had to pick up some players I wouldn’t normally take (at least early) in a fantasy draft like Milan Lucic (PIMs) and Patrice Bergeron (FOW). Defensively, I was hoping to draft another two-way blueliner but alas I’ll have to make due with Alex Goligoski as my number two.

Best/Worst Draft:  Without tooting my own horn too much, I think my team is well-balanced in all of the stats categories. But outside of my own team, I’m really digging Ed’s team (Church’s Chiggins). Evgeni Malkin will have an MVP-like season, and his team is very good offensively (he didn’t address the PIMs category like I did, however). Chris (Goose is my Wingman) picked a lot of players from teams expected to struggle, which could hurt him in the special teams and plus-minus stats categories.

Best/Worst Pick: I took the gigantic gamble of taking Marian Gaborik in the 8th round (63rd overall) when no one else wanted that risk. If Gaborik can get to the 40-goal plateau alongside Brad Richards, I’ll look like a genius. Regrettably, I wish I passed on taking goalies in the 2nd and 3rd rounds (Bryzgalov and Price), as there were still very good goalies available midway through the draft, including Jaroslav Halak (taken 121st).

1. Burrows Buddy (Lizz)

Team: Henrik Sedin (Van – C); Eric Staal (Car – C); Pekka Rinne (Nsh – G); Drew Doughty (LA – D); Alexandre Burrows (Van – LW); Taylor Hall (Edm – LW); Michael Grabner (NYI – RW); Cam Fowler (Anh – D); P.K. Subban (Mon – D); Kevin Bieksa (Van – D); Cam Ward (Car – G); Jordan Staal (Pit – C,LW); Andrew Ladd (Wpg – LW); Erik Cole (Mon – LW,RW); Brenden Morrow (Dal – LW); Brandon Sutter (Car – C)

Lizz’s Thoughts: Clearly my team will win, since I picked it, and I only pick winners. I have some brother power happening, and with some rookie luck that’s all I need. I like my team, I got the goalie I wanted with Rinne, and I’m glad I picked up a Sedin and the Staal brothers. I probably picked Burrows way too early, but I don’t even care.

Best/Worst Draft: I did like the looks of Chris’s team, but then he picked up Byfuglien, and there’s just no recovering from that. He’ll sink faster than a fatty drunk boater. So I’m going to have to split it between Matt and Ed for second place.

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