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Media Experts' Mock Draft

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Anatomy of a Fantasy Draft
    Jayson Pharoah
    Sunday September 28, 2008

    I was invited to represent Rotoworld in a media experts fantasy league. We held our draft on Thursday September 25th. It's a 10 team rotisserie league with the following seven offensive stat categories: goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes, power-play points, game winning goals and shots on goal. There are five goaltending stat categories: wins, goals against average, saves, save percentage and shut-outs.

    During the evening of our draft there was a major issue on the subway line so I offered to drive a friend uptown so he could avoid a three hour trip. To make a long story short I got home with 15 minutes to spare...and then my browser started acting up on my laptop. Thankfully, my fiancee was home with her laptop but by then I'm scrambling to get organized and set up a system where I could use two computers, one with my research and the other to run the draft.

    In all of the chaos I was pleasantly surprised to find out, when I entered the draft application, that I got the number two draft choice. In the past I have always selected in the middle of each round, a situation I think is the least advantageous because you can't swing the snaking draft with your selections.

    Before we start, I just want to say that these are all my opinions. Everyone in this draft had their own reasons for selecting who they did. I might have given certain players certain values because I think their teams are better, or I might have seen an upside that someone else didn't agree with. In this column, hopefully, you'll get an idea where players are being taken so you can plan accordingly. Or, I may give you an insight you've never considered.

    Now let's get to the draft results...

    FIRST ROUND

    1. Levy (Bucket of Pucks) - Sidney Crosby (C)
    2. Pharoah (Rotoworld) - Alex Ovechkin (LW)
    3. NHL Full Access - Evgeni Malkin (C)
    4. Edwards (Fantasy Insider Online) - Dany Heatley (LW)
    5. Darryl Houston Smith (Sports Prospect Miner) - Jarome Iginla (RW)
    6. Mock Draft Central - Henrik Zetterberg (LW)
    7. Michael Beasley (Mock Draft Central) - Martin Brodeur (G)
    8. Ryan Bolta (Sportsfix.ca) - Evgeni Nabokov (G)
    9. Tomer Berman (Sportsfix.ca) - Ilya Kovalchuk (LW)
    10. NHL Arena Podcast - Joe Thornton (C)
    My Analysis : Alex Ovechkin is the number one player on my board because of the huge drop in production after the first three left wingers. If Crosby and Malkin both stay healthy they'll likely get more points than Ovechkin but I think OV has the best value because the center position is deep. The drop in production isn't as steep from the #1 ranked center down to the #10 compared to what it's like on the wings. I have Nabokov as my highest ranked goalie over Brodeur so I think Ryan Bolta got the better of the two goalies picked and I think Tomer Berman is taking a big risk on Kovalchuk. Atlanta will not be a good team this year so Kovalchuk will likely be a minus player, plus he won't get as many solid scoring opportunities.

    SECOND ROUND

    11. NHL AP - Pavel Datsyuk (C)
    12. Berman - Henrik Lundqvist (G)
    13. Bolta - Roberto Luongo (G)
    14. Beasley - Marian Hossa (RW)
    15. MDC - Dion Phaneuf (D)
    16. Houston Smith - Vincent Lecavalier (C)
    17. Edwards - Mikka Kiprusoff (G)
    18. NHL FA - Jason Spezza (C)
    19. Pharoah - Marc-Andre Fleury (G)
    20. Levy - Nicklas Lidstrom (D)

    My Analysis : The run on top tier goalies begins. Lundqvist is the number three goalie on my personal board, so that was a good pick. Ryan Bolta went goalie/goalie with his first two picks and ended up getting Roberto Luongo as his second goalie. I think Marc-Andre Fleury has more upside than Luongo because he plays on the Pittsburgh Penguins, so I was happy he made it up to me. With the injury to Sergei Gonchar, Dion Phaneuf is the second best defenceman out there so I was a little surprised he went ahead of Lidstrom. Phaneuf will get you a ton of penalty minutes and still be a solid player across the board, but I think Lidstrom gets more points, power-play points, and his plus rating will be off the charts.

    THIRD ROUND

    21. Levy - Rick Nash (LW)
    22. Pharoah - Daniel Alfredsson (RW)
    23. NHL FA - Marian Gaborik (RW)
    24. Edwards - Martin St. Louis (RW)
    25. Houston Smith - Jean-Sebastien Giguere (G)
    26. MDC - Marty Turco (G)
    27. Beasley - Ryan Getzlaf (C)
    28. Bolta - Olli Jokinen (D)
    29. Berman - Brenden Morrow (LW)
    30. NHL AP - Sergei Gonchar (D)

    Analysis : I had a very tough decision to make. I was surprised that Nash was selected ahead of Alfredsson because I'm still not sold on Columbus and Alfredsson is a safer pick. I was ready to grab Martin St. Louis but then Alfie fell to me and I went with the safer option. I pretty much have the two of them neck and neck for third and fourth right wingers on my board. I think St. Louis has more upside but Alfredsson is safer. I'm very low on Marian Gaborik. I think there's too much drama in Minnesota and the Wild is just not a good offensive team. Giguere went where I thought he would, although I think Price, Osgood and Biron will get better numbers than Turco. I was surprised Ryan Bolta picked Jokinen instead of a winger, but then he was able to get one next round. Sergei Gonchar's shoulder scares me.

    ROUND FOUR

    31. NHL AP - Chris Osgood (G)
    32. Berman - Mike Green (D)
    33. Bolta - Patrick Kane (RW)
    34. Beasley - Zdeno Chara (D)
    35. MDC - Carey Price (G)
    36. Houston Smith - Paul Stastny (C)
    37. Edwards - Dan Boyle (D)
    38. NHL FA - Daniel Sedin (LW)
    39. Pharoah - Mike Richards (C)
    40. Levy - Ryan Miller (G)

    Analysis : Osgood and Green were both good value, considering what had come off the board before them, although I do worry Green is going to be the next Bryan McCabe type one year wonder. Ryan Bolta really lucked out with Patrick Kane still available because it gave him a top five right winger in the fourth round. Great value in that pick. I have Boyle ahead of Chara on my board so I was little surprised with that pick. Price went at the right spot. While I think Paul Stastny is a talented player, I think there were seven better fantasy centers available at that time. I was looking at center this round but was going to ditch that strategy if Daniel Sedin fell to me. However he was scooped up right before my pick so I went with a center who I think is going to have a really great year: Mike Richards. I think Ryan Miler is overrated in many fantasy league drafts and is going too high.

    ROUND FIVE

    41. Levy - Eric Staal (C)
    42. Pharoah - Martin Biron (G)
    43. NHL FA - Thomas Vanek (LW)
    44. Edwards - Marc Savard (C)
    45. Houston Smith - Alexei Kovalev (RW)
    46. MDC - Chris Pronger (D)
    47. Beasley - Brian Rafalski (D)
    48. Bolta - Brian Campbell (D)
    49. Berman - Jonathan Toews (C)
    50. NHL AP - Jason Pominville (RW)

    Analysis : I've heard of people having their draft application crash out but I never had it happen to me...until this draft. My strategy was to take Brian Campbell with this pick but I crashed out of the application and the robot took the next player that happened to be in my queue, which was Martin Biron. I normally just move any players I'm interested in over the next couple of rounds into the queue so I can watch them on my board. Had I had Campbell at the top, I would've gotten him. It just goes to show you, you can't be too meticulous in your draft. I was pretty bummed out by this pick. Although I think Biron will put up better numbers than Turco, I knew I could have grabbed him later on and I think Campbell is going to have a huge year. I was surprised he fell all the way to Ryan Bolta. Lots of great value picks in this round, with the exception of Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. I think they would have been around in the next couple of rounds and there were better players available in terms of value.

    ROUND SIX

    51. NHL AP - Scott Niedermayer (D)
    52. Berman - Nathan Horton (C)
    53. Bolta - Daniel Briere (C)
    54. Beasley - Niklas Backstrom (G)
    55. MDC - Nicklas Backstrom (C)
    56. Houston Smith - Patrice Bergeron (C)
    57. Edwards - Dan Ellis (G)
    58. NHL FA - Corey Perry (RW)
    59. Pharoah - Michael Cammalleri (LW)
    60. Levy - Simon Gagne (LW)

    Analysis : Ryan Bolta made another strong pick grabbing Daniel Briere. Many people still haven't heard that Briere is moving over to the wing on the Flyers' top line, so after a few games, Briere should be eligible to play right wing and grab a ton of points. He probably won't post up the numbers from 2006/07 but he should improve on his 07/08 point total. Having the Backstroms going back to back was good for a laugh. I was a little disappointed I couldn't get Nicklas Backstrom because I have Ovechkin but it really isn't that big of a deal. Two concussion cases went in this round as well. I like to stay clear pf players who are coming back from major concussions. I know Bergeron has looked good in preseason but that's preseason. I'm really high on Mike Cammalleri this season. I think Calgary is a great fit for his skill set and I expect he'll also see time at center giving him flex possibilities further into the season.

    ROUND SEVEN

    61. Levy - Andrei Markov (D)
    62. Pharoah - Ales Hemsky (RW)
    63. NHL FA - Jose Theodore (G)
    64. Edwards - Marek Svatos (RW)
    65. Houston Smith - Alex Tanguay (LW)
    66. MDC - Mathieu Garon (G)
    67. Beasley - Alexander Semin (LW)
    68. Bolta - Patrick Sharp (LW)
    69. Berman - Shane Doan (RW)
    70. NHL AP - Alexander Frolov (LW)

    Analysis : I think Edmonton is going to have a strong year this season and Hemsky may break the 80-point mark this season. For that same reason, I have Garon ahead of Theodore on my board. Garon can steal a lot of wins from shoot outs (he was 9-1 last season in the deciders). Shane Doan is also a great pick. I almost flipped a coin to decide between him and Hemsky. I think Frolov will have a down year.

    ROUND EIGHT

    71. NHL AP - Joe Corvo (D)
    72. Berman - Jay Bouwmeester (D)
    73. Bolta - Brad Richards (C)
    74. Beasley - Derek Roy (C)
    75. MDC - Lubomir Visnovsky (D)
    76. Houston Smith - Tim Thomas (G)
    77. Edwards - Ryane Clowe (LW)
    78. NHL FA - Wade Redden (D)
    79. Pharoah - Sheldon Souray (D)
    80. Levy - Ilya Bryzgalov (G)

    Analysis : Jay Bouwmeester went too high and I think he would have been available after a few more rounds. A great example of how much depth there is at center, Brad Richards and Derek Roy were available in the eighth round. I wanted Lubomir Visnovsky but the Mock Draft Central team grabbed him just before I could. Wade Redden should have a solid year with the Rangers. I was going to select both Visnovsky and Souray on the way back so I grabbed Souray with my pick. I think he has something to prove this year. Bryzgalov was a great late pick. A lot of value with that selection.

    ROUND NINE

    81. Levy - Nikolai Zherdev (RW)
    82. Pharoah - Andrej Meszaros (D)
    83. NHL FA - Bryan McCabe (D)
    84. Edwards - Ed Jovanovski (D)
    85. Houston Smith - Steve Stamkos (C)
    86. MDC - Zach Parise (LW)
    87. Beasley - Miroslav Satan (RW)
    88. Bolta - Tomas Kaberle (D)
    89. Berman - Peter Mueller (C)
    90. NHL AP - Brad Boyes (RW)

    Analysis : Zherdev is risky. He's already been demoted to the second line. I may have reached a little on Meszaros but I needed another blue-liner and he'll quarterback Tampa's power-play. McCabe is a risk and so is Jovanovski because of his health. Stamkos is a nice pick. Satan was a reach and probably could have been had in later rounds. Peter Mueller has a ton of potential and should get a flex wing option as Phoenix is looking at adding him to the top line to play alongside Jokinen.

    ROUND TEN

    91. NHL AP - Sergei Zubov (D)
    92. Berman - Niklas Kronwall (D)
    93. Bolta - Daniel Carcillo (LW)
    94. Beasley - Tomas Vokoun (G)
    95. MDC - Erik Cole (LW)
    96. Houston Smith - Andrei Kostitsyn (LW)
    97. Edwards - Kris Letang (D)
    98. NHL FA - Vesa Toskala (G)
    99. Pharoah - Cristobal Huet (G)
    100. Levy - Milan Hejduk (RW)

    Analysis : Now we're getting into a grey area where you're taking a lot more risk on players. If Zubov can stay healthy this year, he'll be a nice pick at that spot. Kronwall is great, but he plays behind Lidstrom and Rafalski. I think Carcillo is too high because I don't expect him to equal any of the numbers he had last season. Kostitsyn is a very nice sleeper pick. I expect him to improve greatly on his solid numbers from last season. Letang will get Ryan Whitney's minutes until he returns from injury. Toskala will not get many wins, but in the this league he'll rack up saves, and we're not counting losses, so you won't take a hit. I was really happy Huet fell to me at this spot. I was able to package him in a trade after the draft, which I will get into at the end of this column. Hejduk is nearing the end of his career.

    ROUND ELEVIN

    101. Levy - Patrik Elias (LW)
    102. Pharoah - Scott Gomez (C)
    103. NHL FA - Phillippe Boucher (D)
    104. Edwards - Cam Ward (G)
    105. Houston Smith - Brent Seabrook (D)
    106. MDC - Dustin Brown (RW)
    107. Beasley - Brent Burns (D)
    108. Bolta - Martin Gerber (G)
    109. Berman - Ryan Whitney (D)
    110. NHL PA - Markus Naslund (LW)

    Analysis : I was surprised that two of the Rangers' top three forwards went as low as round 11. I finally grabbed my second center, and I think Gomez will have every opportunity to hit the 90-point mark this season. Even if he doesn't, expect, at the very least, 70 points from him. If Dustin Brown can continue his strong play he may also get into the 70's. I wish Ryan Bolta all the best as he deals with the headaches that Martin Gerber causes fantasy owners. Tomer Berman is taking a chance that Ryan Whitney will come back sooner than expected. Markus Naslund is also a very good value pick in this round.

    ROUND TWELVE

    111. NHL PA - Rick DiPietro (G)
    112. Berman - Braydon Coburn (D)
    113. Bolta - Jonathan Cheechoo (RW)
    114. Beasley - Henrik Sedin (C)
    115. MDC - Pavel Kubina (D)
    116. Houston Smith - Shea Weber (D)
    117. Edwards - Jason Arnott (C)
    118. NHL FA - Kevin Bieksa (D)
    119. Pharoah - Kimmo Timonen (D)
    120. Levy - Petr Sykora (RW)

    Analysis : DiPietro still has the Islanders playing in front of him. Henrik Sedin is good value in this round. Pavel Kubina could improve his point totals, now that McCabe is gone. Timonen was my third defenceman.

    ROUND THIRTEEN

    121. Levy - Mathieu Schneider (D)
    122. Pharoah - Jeff Carter (C)
    123. NHL FA - Johan Franzen (C)
    124. Edwards - Joni Pitkanen (D)
    125. Houston Smith - Kyle Okposo (RW)
    126. MDC - Brian Rolston (LW)
    127. Beasley - Chris Kunitz (LW)
    128. Bolta - Anze Kopitar (C)
    129. Berman - Tomas Holmstrom (RW)
    130. NHL FA - Mike Ribeiro (C)

    Analysis : There were still three great centers to choose from heading into this round. I took Carter because he'll see more ice time and has already been promoted to the second line in Philadelphia. Kopitar's minus anchor scared me from taking him and even though Ribeiro had over 80 points and was a plus-21, I'm still not sold on him. Schneider will be a minus player in Atlanta. Okposo is a nice pick but I don't think he'll get as many points as people are predicting.

    ROUND FOURTEEN

    131. NHL AP - Paul Kariya (LW)
    132. Berman - Manny Legace (G)
    133. Bolta - Sean Avery (LW)
    134. Beasley - Milan Michalek (LW)
    135. MDC - Daymond Langkow (C)
    136. Houston Smith - Zach Bogosian (D)
    137. Edwards - Vaclav Prospal (LW)
    138. NHL FA - Jean-Michael Liles (D)
    139. Pharoah - Filip Kuba (D)
    140. Levy - Pascal Leclaire (G)

    Analysis : Manny Legace will likely split time with newly acquired Chris Mason. Michalek and Langkow were good value picks. Bogosian is a risk because he could be sent back to the OHL for one more year, although the Thrashers are very pleased with the maturity he has shown, so he may stick around. Kuba's upside is that he's Ottawa's number one offensive defenseman.

    ROUND FIFTEEN

    141. NHL AP - Patrick Marleau (C)
    142. Pharoah - Michael Ryder (RW)
    143. NHL FA - Jason Blake (LW)
    144. Edwards - Steve Bernier (LW)
    145. Houston Smith - Drew Doughty (D)
    146. MDC - Ty Conklin (G)
    147. Beasley - Dustin Byfuglien (D)
    148. Bolta - Duncan Keith (D)
    149. Berman - Matt Niskanen (D)
    150. NHL AP - Phil Kessel (RW)

    Analysis : It's amazing the difference a year makes. Patrick Marleau falling to the fifteenth round could be a great low risk pick. As could Michael Ryder, who is back with his old coach Claude Julien. Jason Blake will rack up the shots and Steve Bernier is playing with the Sedins. Niskanen is interesting because he was a plus-22 player last season.

    ROUND SIXTEEN

    151. NHL AP - Ron Hainsey (D)
    152. Berman - Sam Gagner (C)
    153. Bolta - Tobias Enstrom (D)
    154. Beasley - Nik Antropov (RW)
    155. MDC - Dennis Wideman (D)
    156. Houston Smith - Milan Lucic (LW)
    157. Edwards - Joe Sakic (C)
    158. NHL FA - Kari Lehtonen (G)
    159. Pharoah - Tomas Plekanec (C)
    160. Levy - J.P. Dumont (RW)

    Analysis : Sam Gagner should have a great season and is an excellent value pick in that spot. Kari Lehtonen is a risk because he is injury prone and the Thrashers will not be good this season. I feel Plekanec is a safe pick in this round because he will still center Montreal's second line. J.P. Dumont has been fairly productive during his last two seasons in Nashville.

    ROUND SEVENTEEN

    161. Levy - Marek Zidlicky (D)
    162. Pharoah - Scott Hartnell (LW)
    163. NHL FA - Joffrey Lupul (RW)
    164. Edwards - Shane O'Brien (D)
    165. Houston Smith - Jonas Hiller (G)
    166. MDC - Mikko Koivu (C)
    167. Beasley - Alex Goligoski (D)
    168. Bolta - Pavol Demitra (C)
    169. Berman - Mike Smith (G)
    170. NHL AP - Peter Budaj (G)

    Analysis : At first I liked the penalty minutes combined with scoring that Hartnell could give me but as soon as the draft ended I dropped him for Fabian Brunnstrom. Darryl Houston Smith picked up Jonas Hiller because he had Giguere. Goligoski is interesting because he's been rumored to be Gonchar's replacement if he doesn't get back into the line-up in time for the regular season.

    MY TEAM

    After the draft I was able to swing a trade with Tomer Berman who needed better goaltending. Now that the smoke has cleared my team looks like this...

    C - Mike Richards
    C - Scott Gomez
    LW - Alex Ovechkin
    LW - Michael Cammalleri
    RW - Daniel Alfredsson
    RW - Ales Hemsky
    D - Mike Green
    D - Sheldon Souray
    D - Filip Kuba
    D - Andrej Meszaros
    G - Marc-Andre Fleury
    G - Martin Biron

    BN - Mike Smith (G)
    BN - Jeff Carter (C)
    BN - Tomas Plekanec (C)
    BN - Michael Ryder (RW)
    BN - Fabian Brunnstrom

    I'm taking a gamble with my defencemen because I drafted guys with question marks, but in my opinion have a big upside. I was really happy to trade for a guy like Mike Green, but I'm a little nervous that he'll pull a Bryan McCabe.

    The Pittsburgh defensive situation may have an adverse effect on Fleury's numbers, but I still think he's worth a top five ranking on my board. I'm happy with Biron as my number two guy, even though I used too high a draft selection to get him because of the computer issues I was having.

    I have nothing for penalty minutes. My strategy is to take a wait and see approach and make the adjustment as the season moves on. I certainly won't win the category but if I can be mid-pack, I would consider it a win because I should be competitive in all of the other categories.

    I hope you've found this run-down and analysis useful. If you have any questions or you'd like to comment on my thoughts, please feel free to email me using the link provided below.

    If you're ever caught between two players, my advice is to draft the one you'd rather cheer for, because unless you're playing for high stakes, there is no point in drafting a team of players you have a hard time rooting for.

    Good luck in your draft.