Sunday, 13 January 2013

Hockey, hockey, hockey!

I know what you're saying, but Matt, "it never really left!"  I, more then most know that.  I play beer league hockey once a week, at least when my schedule allows.  I have been to a handful of junior hockey games this year, and I follow the Prince George Spruce Kings pretty religiously, keeping track of wins, losses and personal stats of all the players.  I spent plenty of time keeping up with the Oilers players and prospects as they plied their trade around the world waiting for Gary and Donald to get together and make the same deal they could have made in the summer.  By the way Donald, I think this means you lose.  All that aside, let's be honest.  When the best players in the world who play in the best league in the world are unable to perform, something is lost.  It's back, and the best talent in the world can once again play together in the best league in the world.  As if I need any more reason to pay attention, I take part in as many fantasy hockey pools and drafts as I can.  This year, the big one is back for it's 3rd edition.  2 years ago I took part and we just circled names on a piece of paper.  Last year, we gathered at a friend's house and had a live draft with about 10 guys.  I finished in an embarassing distant last place, something I have no desire to repeat.  So tonight at 630 I will once again join with a bunch of other dudes and pick this year's version of my team.  One nice thing is that being so incompetent last year gives me a 50% discount for this year.  Last year's fee was $100 but there has been talk of increasing it to $150.  Fine with me, the guy with the discount.  All I have to do is actually pick guys who are playing in the NHL, and not the AHL or the Swiss Elite League, or my personal favorite, the guy who watched most of his team's games from the press box last year.  This is me officially stating for the record that Linus Omark, Michael Frolik, and Ville Leino will not find a place on my team this year.  I'm sure there are a few more that I should avoid from last year, but those are the ones that stick out.  Part of the fun of accepting the last place discount is the heckling and ridicule that come with it.  I remember laying it on thick last year as Roger accepted his discount (my buddy and I had teamed up to win the pool the year before giving me added ammo) and I am more then ready to absorb similar punishment.  As a way of researching, I am going to make some notes in this space below.  For the most part I am going to briefly discuss some of my favorite hockey players and why they will be targets for me tonight.


Elite NHLers

JAMIE BENN (Dallas): One of the only solid picks I made last year, I recieved a few weird looks when I reached way down to grab him in the 3rd round last year.  I have a soft spot for BCHL grads, and Benn is one of the most talented players to ever come through the Junior A circuit.  Dallas added a few more solid forwards in the offseason, so I expect to see another increase in production.

JORDAN EBERLE (Edmonton): For obvious reasons, Eberle is one of my favorite players out there.  The Oilers young talent continues to mature, and the super line of Ebs, Hall and RNH will be together again.  He is likely to be a first round or early second round pick.

TYLER SEGUIN (Boston):  Many are predicting a huge year for this guy who went to Switzerland during the lockout and tore the league to shreds.  Surrounded by plently of talent, and possessing plenty himself, Seguin may make a big jump this year.

ERIC STAAL (Carolina):  It will be interesting to see what kind of an impact his brother's arrival in Carolina might have.  Also, the team added Alex Semin for the year.  It's unknown as to who is playing with who as he and Jordan are both centres, but the powerplay should be interesting.  I'm looking for a bounce back year from Eric.

BOBBY RYAN (Anaheim): After an off year last year it is really hard to predict what might happen with Ryan this time around.  He is still very young, but had a poor year as did a number of his teammates.  The possiblity of him being traded has only added to the intrigue surrounding his value.


Sleepers

James Van Riemsdyk (Toronto)

Braydon Schenn (Philadelphia)

Peter Mueller (Florida)

Nick Backstrom (Washington)

Jordan Staal (Carolina)

Mikko Koivu (Minnesota)

Olli Jokinen (Winnipeg)

Jeff Carter (Los Angeles)

Matt Duchene (Colorado)

Matt Moulson ( New York Islanders)

Jarome Iginla (Calgary)

Jiri Hudler (Calgary)

Huge Breakout Potential

Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado)

Cam Atkinson (Columbus)

Jamie McGinn (Colorado)

David Perron (St. Louis)

Brett Connolly (Tampa Bay)

Don't Give Up On Them

Ray Whitney (Dallas)

Jaromir Jagr (Dallas)

Andy MacDonald (St.Louis)

Teemu Selanne (Anaheim)

Milan Hejduk (Colorado)

Patrik Elias (New Jersey)

Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa)

Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay)

Martin Erat (Nashville)

Rookies!

Nail Yakupov (Edmonton)

Vladimir Tarasenko (St.Louis)

Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida)

Damian Brunner (Detroit)


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