Mock Draft Series
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Here’s the continuation of my picks (rounds 9 through 16) from the mock draft that Iain and I took part in.
9.13 (125) D Tomas Kaberle, TOR – As I look around at my opponents’ rosters, one thing is becoming quite clear: literally everyone in this pool (aside from my prepared self of course) is in need of starting defensemen, and a defenseman draft party (DDP for short) is about to bust out. A quick peak at the top of my queue shows G Mike Smith and RW Claude Giroux. Well, team Jeff still has only one starting goalie, and he’ll probably take one with his pair of simultaneous picks here, but in my discussions with fellow fantasy hockey junkies, I’ve noticed that very few people are predicting good things for Tampa Bay this year. And with that DDP about to break out, I can afford to leave Giroux out there for a little while longer. Tomas Kaberle is the top d-man in my queue, and he’ll be the power play quarterback on a Leafs’ team that ranked 8th in goals last year. That’s good enough for me – let the party begin.
10.02 (128) G Mike Smith, TB – As I was saying, few are fans of the Lightning’s chances this year. I, however, am a part of that few. The Lightning drafted arguably the best young defenseman in the world this past summer in Victor Hedman. They’ve also signed former all-stars Alex Tanguay and Mattias Ohlund. Slap all that together with a monster breakout year from Steven Stamkos, and they’re playoff bound. Mike Smith should start a minimum of 60 games if healthy, and I plan on reaping the rewards.
11.13 (153) D Cam Barker, CHI – Sure enough, the DDP is on and in full force – 15 of the last 21 picks have been defensemen, and let me tell you, most of them have been less than quality. With three of my four defensemen already accounted for, I can afford to leave this talent-scarce party early. Cam Barker has been on the rise the past couple years , and I’d be more than happy to have the 3rd overall pick from the 2004 entry draft as my fourth d-man.
12.02 (156) RW Claude Giroux, PHI – I’m pretty sure I just got a “who” from someone, but I think it came from the same guy who drafted Brooks Orpik in the 9th round (must be a Pens fan). Believe me, all hockey fans will know Claude Giroux’s name after this season, and you might not be so lucky if you leave him out there as long as I did. I think 60 points would be a disappointment from the 21 year old this season – he’s that good.
13.13 (181) C Tim Connolly, BUF – This just further proves the cardinal rule of hockey pool drafts: leave your centres until the end. There are so many that it came as no surprise to see names like Connolly, Weiss, and Kesler still out there in the 13th round. Even Mikko Koivu went just six picks ago, and if he had slipped down to me, I’m not sure I would’ve even needed to make my last 3 picks to ensure myself a winning team. If you’re not afraid to gamble and have the bench space for another centre, Connolly is a fantastic option. He’s a definite stud starter when healthy, though the odds he laces ‘em up for all 82 games is about a million to one. Bottom line, he’s a point-per-gamer when he plays, and knowing his injury risks, I’m comfortable drafting a bench centre with one of my later picks to have ready when Connolly inevitably goes down. Besides, you wouldn’t believe the depth remaining at the position.
14.02 (184) LW Paul Kariya, STL – Kariya? Now that’s taking it back to the nineties, but again, he’s a bench player who I can play on nights when Heatley’s off or when Frolov’s just off his game. And he’s tearing it up in preseason, even if he is playing on a surgically repaired hip. Let’s put it this way – I’d rather take a chance on a fragile, producing veteran at this point than waste the pick on a potential-loaded rookie. The rookie also has the potential to get sent back down to the minors, play third or fourth line minutes, or just plain flop. For this season, I’ll take Kariya over a Cody Hodgson or a Nikita Filatov any day of the week.
15.13 (209) RW Bryan Little, ATL – How does a 21 year old who broke out for 31 goals last season get left until the 209th pick? Don’t ask. I’m literally speechless… Okay, I have to write something. Considering the success he had last year, this would be the fantasy football equivalent of DeAngelo Williams being picked somewhere in the hundreds – it just wouldn’t happen. I wouldn’t expect to get Little this late in your draft, but hey, you never know.
16.02 (212) C Sam Gagner, EDM – Not too shabby for a back-up centre. The human highlight reel went off for 21 points in his final 20 games last season and that sits fine with me, especially considering that back-up goaltenders Ty Conklin and Dwayne Roloson were among the many lackluster players that were selected this round.
So at the end of the mock, my starting lineup looks a little something like this:
|C Jason Spezza||C Tim Connolly|
|LW Dany Heatley||LW Alexander Frolov|
|RW Bobby Ryan||RW Claude Giroux|
|D Mike Green||D Andrei Markov||D Tomas Kaberle||D Cam Barker|
|G Semyon Varlamov||G Jonas Hiller|
With the following players comprising my bench:
|C Sam Gagner||LW Paul Kariya||RW Bryan Little||G Mike Smith|
Not bad for 13th spot, huh? Iain and I plan to weight our teams against each other at each quartile of this year’s regular season to see how they’re progressing. Which team do you prefer so far? Place your vote and reasons in the comments.