With the NHL set to kick off just eight days from now, many die-hard hockey fans are quickly filling up fantasy leagues.
The other night I participated in my first draft of the year with a few buddies of mine, despite coughing up all sorts of stuff. Isn’t being sick great? Anyway, it is a 14-team league, eight player keeper league. Below, I will provide the entire draft, while analyzing the first round. Some picks that others made were against my personal rankings, but there will always be disagreements.
So sit back, relax and good luck in 2013!
1) Team Vail- Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins: No surprise here. Malkin, who led the league in points (109) last season, was also the Hart Trophy winner. No doubt that he is the number one ranked player in fantasy. Expect him to be on the second line with goal-scoring forward James Neal this year, resulting in tons of points.
2) Team Derr- Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins: Yes, I may despise the Penguins, but there is no denying that as of right now, Crosby is the best player in hockey. I mean, in just 22 games last season, he still managed eight goals and 29 assists. His line will likely consist of Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz, two players he has great chemistry with. And besides, he is Sid the Kid.
3) Team Flynn- Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning: The purest goal scorer in all of hockey, Stamkos is a no-brainer top three pick. The reigning scoring leader from a year ago (60 goals) Stammer is favored to do it again, and is very focused for 2013. Even in a 48-game season, I wouldn’t be surprised if Stamkos netted 60 goals again. Okay, maybe not that much, but he’s a stud.
4) Team Pfeifer- Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers: Did you really expect anything less from me? When I saw that I had the 4th pick, I was very pleased, knowing that Giroux would be there for me. He is coming off a breakout season, posting 93 total points. The Flyers soon-to-be captain is a rare breed of talent, and will again be on a line with Scott Hartnell. With his combination of passing ability and scoring, expect G to be at the top of the leaderboards in points.
5) Team Aiello- Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators: Karlsson was the first defenseman drafted, and for good reason. The top ranked D-man produced a ridiculous 78 points in 2011-12, including a plus 16. He is already one of the best defensemen in hockey at just 22-years old. With the amount of shots he takes (261 last year) expect him to have a great chance to continue to put up numbers.
6) Team Hlywiak- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers: This pick was a bit of a surprise here, as RNH wasn’t ranked anywhere near his company above. However, this owner decided to go with him. He probably figured he will hold tremendous value in keeper formats, which is true. Still, despite his raw talent and young supporting cast around him, I surely wouldn’t have drafted him this high.
7) Team Robbins- Rick Nash, New York Rangers: There is a ton of excitement surround Nash from fantasy land this year. First of all, he is now on an absolute powerhouse of a team in the Rangers. The best part is that he’ll be on the same line with arguably the best passer in hockey, Brad Richards. If Nash can put up 30-goal seasons, and the occasional 40 or more, I cannot wait to see what he will do in the Big Apple.
8) Team Call- Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: Can’t go wrong with the great eight, right? Despite being a bit overlooked lately, Ovechkin is still one of the best players in the game and should definitely be drafted in the top 10. Rust isn’t an issue, as he had 40 points in 31 games in the KHL.
9) Team Moyer- John Tavares, New York Islanders: Tavares has emerged into elite territory and he is only 21-years old. That’s right, he is just 21 and already heading into his fourth season. We haven’t even seen this kid’s ceiling yet. He is an offensive machine, totaling 81 points last year. With the right pieces around him, I wouldn’t be surprised if he made a run at the Art Ross.
10) Team Wright- Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks: Toews is one of the best young talents in all of hockey. He has all the talent around him to produce big point totals, but is also one of the top faceoff men in all of hockey, which factors in to many fantasy leagues. Like Tavares, Toews hasn’t even hit his prime yet. Watch out!
11) Team Breece- Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks: Perry is the number one fantasy RW, with the potential to net 50 plus goals at any time (see 2011). For at least one more year, he will be again paired with Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf on one of the best first lines in hockey. His 60 points from last year was a bit upsetting, but he’s still an elite goal scorer and a highly coveted fantasy option.
12) Team Pavorsky- Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks: While last season wasn’t the greatest year from Sedin, his level of consistency is too impressive to ignore. Prior to last year, Sedin had eclipsed 70 points for six straight years. He is a terrific passer, can score when given the opportunity, and has the best chemistry with his twin brother.
13) Team Oettinger- Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild: Parise would have been a star fantasy player if he didn’t land in Minnesota. But he did, and that makes his fantasy appeal even better. He is also a great setup man, and his gritty, hustling play style keeps plays alive, resulting in fantasy points. It also helps when you’ll be teaming up with a combination of guys such as Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu all year long.
14) Team Hathcock- Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: Finally, the first goalie of the first round comes with the last pick. This owner went goalie heavy, as he would take Henrik Lundqvist with the very next pick. It’s safe to say that these two goalies are the best in fantasy, and play on great teams, which only helps the cause.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy football/hockey columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.