First off: yes, I qualify as an expert. My mom and girlfriend and dog all agree that I am very smart and handsome. So there.
Second off: that was really all I had. I participated in an mock draft with the fine folks over at www.fantasyhockey.com recently. Below are my draft results and my thoughts about the draft, hockey and life in general. For more in depth coverage of this draft and other great info for your fantasy puck needs check out FH.com. Dudes can bring it.
A quick recap of the rules: Scoring categories were: goals, assists, +/-, penalty minutes, power play points, shots on goal, wins, goals against average, save percentage and shutouts. We start two centres, two left wings, two right wings, four defensemen and two goalies. Positions were determined using NHL.com. This is a 12-team snake draft. Yours truly selected 10th in the first round.
Follow the jump for the good stuff. I know you want it.
1.1 - Alexander Ovechkin; 1.2 - Sidney Crosby; 1.3 - Nicklas Backstrom (Caps); 1.4 - Daniel Sedin; 1.5 - Evgeni Malkin; 1.6 - Martin Brodeur; 1.7 - Roberto Luongo; 1.8 - Steven Stamkos; 1.9 - Alexander Semin; 1.10 - Patrick Kane; 1.11 - Dany Heatley; 1.12 - Zach Parise.
Best pick: Parise. I considered Semin, Kane, Heatley and Parise players of comparable value. To grab a guy with 40-goal and 80-90-point potential at one of the scarcest positions with the last pick in the first round is fine work. To be honest, I was hoping Parise would drop back to me after the turn in the second round. If Kovalchuk ends up in Jersey all the better, but Parise doesn't need him to perform. He's a goal, assist, power play, +/- stud, and he's a fine value at 12th overall.
Worst pick: Luongo. I feel like I've said this a thousand times, but Luongo is way more of a name brand than a fantasy stud. Don't get lured into that trap. Taking a goalie in the first round is highly questionable as is, but snapping up Luongo before Ryan Miller is flat out absurd.
My pick: Kane. My strategy coming into this draft was simple: pass on goalie, centre and defense early and nab the best available options at what I deem fairly scarce positions, right and left wing. I was kind of happy to see Semin go before Kane, Heatley and Parise. He's a nice player and all, but I'd take those three over him. I went with Kane because I think he has the most potential of those three for a massive, 100-point campaign. Even a repeat of last year would suffice, though. He's an asset as a goal scorer, one of the league's premier assist men and the entire Chicago power play pretty much runs through him on the half wall. Add in a full season of Marian Hossa and I think there's real potential for an MVP season in there. He even made great strides defensively last season. I also felt RW was a tad shallower than LW, and that was the tipping point between him and Parise, who I had hoped would come back to me in the 2nd round.
2.1 - Ryan Miller; 2.2 - Henrik Lundqvist; 2.3 - Ilya Kovalchuk; 2.4 - Marian Gaborik; 2.5 - Mike Green; 2.6 - Henrik Sedin; 2.7 - Henrik Zetterberg; 2.8 - Martin St. Louis; 2.9 - Anze Kopitar; 2.10 - Joe Thornton; 2.11 - Duncan Keith; 2.12 - Patrick Marleau.
Best pick: Marleau. Some great values in this round. Best pick could easily go to Miller, Green, St. Louis, Keith or Marleau. I'll go with Marleau. I'll go with Miller. Getting the #1 fantasy goalie in the second round after two other netminders were taken? Tough to argue with that.
Worst pick: Zetterberg. It's nitpicky, but I'll go with Zetterberg. Slight reach there on a guy coming off two straight down seasons. I certainly wouldn't grab him before St. Louis is off the board.
My pick: Kovalchuk. Again, my strategy was to get elite options at RW and LW with my first two picks. With RW satisified via Kaner, I decided to take the 2nd LW on my draft board. He might have fallen a bit due to the uncertainty of his contract situation, but he's an immense value in the second round. 40 goals, 80 points, power play stats up the wazoo, solid +/- in the bank.
3.1 - Corey Perry; 3.2 - Drew Doughty; 3.3 - Chris Pronger; 3.4 - Jarome Iginla; 3.5 - Jimmy Howard; 3.6 - Jeff Carter; 3.7 - Bobby Ryan; 3.8 - Tuukka Rask; 3.9 - Brad Richards; 3.10 - Ilya Bryzgalov; 3.11 - Dan Boyle; 3.12 - Andrei Markov.
Best pick: Howard. There's some risk associated with this, and I like that. Howard still hasn't played a full season as a #1 guy, but his 60 game tryout last year (plus playoffs) and the fact that he'll face very little competition for playing time are enough to consider him a safeish top goalie option. He could very well end the season as the top fantasy goalie for 2010-2011.
Worst pick: Richards. Simply way too much talent left at center to take him there.
My pick: Bryzgalov. Coming back from Kane and Kovalchuk at RW, I was crossing my fingers and hoping I could squeeze into the end of the goalie and defense runs. (Squeeze + runs = gross. Sorry guys. I honestly did not mean that.) Boyle was still on the board, but with him, Gonchar, Markov, Chara, Weber, Lidstrom and Enstrom still available I felt a more pressing need to go with a goalie. Bryzgalov is likely due some regression from his 2009-10 numbers, but he should still start 70 games and put up around 30-35 wins with a low goals against and above average save percentage.
4.1 - Eric Staal; 4.2 - Pavel Datsyuk; 4.3 - Marian Hossa; 4.4 - Paul Stastny; 4.5 - Rick Nash; 4.6 - Tobias Enstrom; 4.7 - Zdeno Chara; 4.8 - Michael Cammalleri; 4.9 - Miikka Kiprusoff; 4.10 - Niklas Backstrom; 4.11 - Marc-Andre Fleury; 4.12 - Jonathan Quick.
Best pick: Hossa. Holy hell the first five picks of this round are stacked. All excellent selections. I'll toot my own horn for the first time and go with Hossa, although Nash is right there with him. Staal and Datsyuk and Stastny are nice picks and the elite level players are starting to die out, but I'll take that elite wing over the elite center any day.
Worst pick: Enstrom. He's not the worst player taken in this round, and he's a fine sleeper type going into next season, but to take him ahead of Chara, Lidstrom, Gonchar and Weber is batty. Just batty.
My pick: Hossa. My Bryzgalov pick looks even better considering the goalie run went into full effect a round later. I'm much happier with him in Round 3 than I would have been with any of the guys taken here in Round 4. I had planned on getting a d-man here, but many of the those #1 guys were still on the board and Hossa was too good to pass up. He's a virtual lock for 35-40 goals and 80 points. The only reason he fell this far is because he missed half of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery, but the shoulder seemed fine after he returned. In a full, healthy season alongside Kane/Toews/Sharp and Co. ... he could be scary good. Great value this late.
5.1 - Pekka Rinne.; 5.2 - Alex Burrows; 5.3 - Jaroslav Halak; 5.4 - Ryan Getzlaf; 5.5 - Sergei Gonchar; 5.6 - Johan Franzen; 5.7 - Antero Nittymaki; 5.8 - Ales Hemsky; 5.9 - Craig Anderson; 5.10 - Shea Weber; 5.11 - Vincent Lecavalier; 5.11 - Loui Eriksson.
Best pick: Halak. I like him better than any of those Fourth Round goalies. He's going to play for a better team than Kipper and Nicky Backs (we are very close), and he's a better goalie than MAF and Jon Quick. To wait on that goalie run and end up with Halak after all those other names were pulled first is very fine drafting.
Worst pick: Lecavalier. He's got all-world skill and is surrounded by some incredibly talented players, but he hasn't shown it in two full seasons. This pick is a shot in the dark that he can return to his 90-100 point form of three and four years ago and put his more recent 67 and 70 point efforts behind him. Not a very safe bet, and with the talent still left at center, one I would've waited on.
My pick: Weber. I get my d-man. I was hoping Gonchar would still be there, but Weber's not a bad consolation. With his canon of a slap shot he's a perrenial threat for 15+ goals and will end up somewhere around 50 points. Also, I managed to avoid drafting another wing, so that's a plus.
6.1 - Cam Ward; 6.2 - Taylor Hall; 6.3 - Tomas Vokoun; 6.4 - Jonas Hiller; 6.5 - Marty Turco; 6.6 - Thomas Vanek; 6.7 - Semyon Varlamov; 6.8 - Jason Spezza; 6.9 - Nicklas Lidstrom; 6.10 - Jiri Hudler; 6.11 - Jonathan Toews; 6.12 - Daniel Alfredsson.
Best pick: Lidstrom. Sixth round, elite defenseman. Nick. Lidstrom. Unreal value 81 picks into the draft.
Worst pick: Hudler. No question there. Yes, he's coming back Stateside and he'll have an expanded role on the Red Wings now that he's back ... but we're talking about a guy whose career high is 57 points. He's the worst player taken in this round by far. I wasn't a fan of taking Hall this early, but at least he's got immense upside and he's going to get top line minutes in Edmonton.
My pick: Vokoun. I wanted to grab two good goalies with my first handful of picks. After taking Bryzgalov, who I expect to regress a bit, I felt it necessary to take a safer option. Playing for the Panthers, Vokoun isn't going to be much help win-wise but he's as steady a goalie in the league as far as save percentage and goals against average are concerned. And since he's in the last year of his contract, there's a significant chance he could be traded at some point this year. If he goes to a contender he'll be a top tier option for the rest of the season.
7.1 - Tyler Myers; 7.2 - Carey Price; 7.3 - Chris Stewart; 7.4 - Patrick Sharp; 7.5 - Phil Kessel; 7.6 - Mike Richards; 7.7 - Tomas Kaberle 7.8 - Nathan Horton; 7.9 - Dion Phaneuf; 7.10 - Marc Savard; 7.11 - PK Subban; 7.12 - Mark Streit.
Best pick: Richards. He had a down year last season after 75 and 80 point campaigns. With a full season of Jeff Carter alongside him, I'd bet on the bounceback. He's a fantastic value this late in the draft and has relatively few question marks.
Worst pick: Subban. Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too early. This is a classic case of overvaluing small sample size success. Subban was great in the playoffs last year but he's played exactly TWO regular season NHL games. Seriously. Two! Even if you think he's ready, what's his upside? 40-60 points? Or, to put it another way: Mark Streit? Yeah. Don't do what that guy did.
My pick: Savard. There are no perfect picks anymore. In the seventh round, you're dealing with guys who have issues. After going RW-LW-G-RW-D-G it was time for a center. When I took Vokoun, I was hoping to have my pick of Spezza, Toews, Savard and Mike Richards in R7. No such luck. I was bummed missing out on Toews, who I think will have a very nice season, but Savard's an elite playmaker. With goal scorers like Kovalchuk, Hossa and Weber already on board, Savard pairs well with Kane to give me a pair of elite assist men. His biggest knock is the concussion he suffered last year, but he was able to return to Boston for the playoffs and I'm confident he'll be back to his old self by training camp.
8.1 - Steve Downie; 8.2 - Brian Rafalski; 8.3 - MIkko Koivu; 8.4 - Jason Pominville; 8.5 - John Tavares; 8.6 - Lubomir Visnovsky; 8.7 - Mikael Samuelsson; 8.8 - Kari Lehtonen; 8.9 - Christian Ehrhoff; 8.10 - TJ Oshie; 8.11 - Patrick Elias; 8.12 - Rene Bourque
Best pick: Tavares. This is a speculative pick, but it's getting lateish and I like it. Tavares put up 18 points in his over the last month of 2009-10 and should improve upon his 24 goals and 54 points. In the eighth round it's a gamble but one that could potentially pay huge dividends. Well worth that risk, especially if you've already got a #1 centre in tow.
Worst pick: Bourque. He's scored 20 goals both of the past two seasons, but at this point in the draft there was better talent available. In fact, I'd take most of the next round ahead of Bourque, who isn't going to provide much more than the 27 goals and 58 points he accounted for last year, if he even matches those numbers.
My pick: Koivu. I knew waiting so long on centers that I'd have to grab a couple in quick succession. I was frankly thrilled to land Koivu, who is one of the most underrated players in the league. Last year he set a career high with 71 points and should improve upon that mark in his Age 27 season. Great value this late ... getting Savard and Koivu in Rounds 7 and 8 is exactly why I like to wait on centers. Just such a surplus of talent available.
9.1 - Keith Yandle; 9.2 - Danny Briere; 9.3 - James Neal; 9.4 - Steve Mason; 9.5 - Brian Campbell; 9.6 - Sheldon Souray; 9.7 - Derek Roy; 9.8 - Wojtek Wolski; 9.9 - Kevin Bieksa; 9.10 - Erik Johnson; 9.11 - Erik Karlsson; 9.12 - Andy McDonald
Best pick: Campbell. He's not a goal machine, but he's a good bet for 50 points again. In Round 9 it's tough to argue with that. If Soupy falls this late in your draft because he got Ovechkined last year snap him up and laugh all the way to the bank. Absurd value.
Worst pick: Bieksa. In a word: terrible. Unless you're really, really, really Jonesin for penalty minutes it's absurd to take Bieksa above Johnson or Karlsson. And even then you're better served going for the offensive upside. PIMs can be found with relative ease compared to points and power play contributions.
My pick: Johnson. I would have loved Campbell in this spot, but I'm happy with Johnson. No golf carts+ a clean bill of health + power play time on an up-and-coming team = fantasty success. He's not a top tier option, but it wouldn't shocked if he produced like one.
10.1 - Paul Martin; 10.2 - Michael Leighton; 10.3 - Simon Gagne; 10.4 - Kyle Okposo; 10.5 - Brian Elliott; 10.6 - Dan Ellis; 10.7 - Kyle Beach; 10.8 - Scott Hartnell; 10.9 - Thomas Plekanec; 10.10 - James van Riemsdyk; 10.11 - Niklas Kronwall; 10.12 - Ryan Clowe
Best pick: Gagne. Tooting my own horn again, but rightfully so. When healthy, Gagne's a 40 goal scorer. Obviously that's the question these days, as he's played only 25, 79 and 58 games the past three seasons. There's no reason right now to think he's injured and he just joine a power play unit with Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos. Yay.
Worst pick: Leighton. Some people just can't avoid the shiny.
My pick: Gagne. Health issues aside, he's a second or third round pick. Dropping to me here is an incredible stroke of luck, and it rounds out my wings: Kovalchuk, Kane, Hossa, Gagne. Nasty.
11.1 - David Backes; 11.2 - Brian Gionta; 11.3 - Matt Duchene; 11.4 - Alex Edler; 11.5 - Ryan Kesler; 11.6 - Travis Zajac; 11.7 - Jamie Langenbrunner; 11.8 - Peter Mueller; 11.9 - Kris Versteeg; 11.10 - Jay Bouwmeester; 11.11 - Claude Giroux; 11.12 - David Krejci
Best pick: Kesler. Eric Staal. Pavel Datsyuk. Vinny Lecavalier. Ryan Getzlaf. Jonathan Toews. Mike Richards. Jeff Carter. Jason Spezza. All of those guys scored fewer points than Kesler last year. Take a look at where they were drafted. It's debateable whether or not Kesler can keep that kind of production going forward, but well worth the risk in Round 11.
Worst pick: Langenbrunner. No terrible picks here. Langenbrunner gets the hook mostly by default: all of the other picks were pretty solid and he's got the lowest upside.
My pick: Bouwmeester. Banking on a rebound here. He can't be nearly as bad as last year. Right? Right? Anyone?
12.1 - Jamie McBain; 12.2 - Tyler Ennis; 12.3 - Olli Jokinen; 12.4 - Zach Bogosian; 12.5 - Stephane Robidas; 12.6 - Sean Avery; 12.7 - Jordan Eberle; 12.8 - Marek Zidlicky; 12.9 - Dustin Penner; 12.10 - Jonathan Bernier; 12.11 - Bryan McCabe; 12.12 - Matt Carle
Best pick: Bogosian. Zidlicky was a safer pick, I suppose, but this this late in the draft I'll take Bogosian's upside every single time.
Worst pick: McBain. Just doesn't make any sense. If you wanted to go with a young guy who has upside and is close to NHL ready why not go with Bogosian? Bogosian's really just a more talented, better version of McBain. Name's not as cool, I suppose ...
My pick: Jokinen. Looking for center depth here. I was damn pleased getting Savard so late, but the only reason I did was questions about his health due to a late season concussion last year. I don't see any reason to think he won't be ready to go when camp opens, but Jokinen is nice, cheap insurance. He has been admittedly terrible the past two seasons, but before that he had 89, 91 and 71 points. The talent is still there. It didn't just vanish over night. At least that's the bet I'm willing to throw down in Round 12.
13.1 - Tom Gilbert; 13.2 - Ondrej Pavelec; 13.3 - Tim Connolly; 13.4 - Antti Niemi; 13.5 - Pavel Kubina; 13.6 - Mike Smith; 13.7 - Johnny Boychuk; 13.8 - Joni Pitkanen; 13.9 - Dustin Byfuglien; 13.10 - Alex Goligoski; 13.11 - Jakub Voracek; 13.12 - Ian White
Best pick: Voracek. Immensely talented. The question is when will he put it all together. Voracek reminds me a bit of Ales Hemsky, and I don't see any reason he won't improve upon last year's 16 goals and 50 points. At a position that lacks depth I like the prospect of him providing significant value.
Worst pick: Pavelec. Simply put, better goalies were taken three rounds later.
My pick: Goligoski. Filling out my defense. With Gonchar in Ottawa minutes are up for the taking on Pittsburgh's power play. It remains to be seen who will get the lion's share, but I like Goligoski's chances to snap up points playing with Crosby and Malkin.
14.1 - Jonas Gustavsson; 14.2 - Michael Del Zotto; 14.3 - Martin Havlat; 14.4 - Victor Hedman; 14.5 - Brendan Morrow; 14.6 - Brooks Laich; 14.7 - Mark Giordano; 14.8 - Chris Mason; 14.9 - Kimmo Timonen; 14.10 - John-Michael Liles; 14.11 - Wayne Simmonds; 14.12 - Matthew Lombardi
Best pick: Havlat. Another member of the Wildflying under the radar. When healthy, Havlat's a 30-goal, 70-point talent. That's been an issue in the past, and he's not surrounded by the same amazing cast he had in Chicago, but a bounceback year seems likely. If he falls because of his poor 2009-10 he could be a huge value pick.
Worst pick: Simmonds. Just not enough offensive upside there for me right now.
My pick: Havlat. Too good to pass up. He won't approach his Chicago numbers, but he's a crazy good 5th winger. If he starts off hot, I've got a dandy of a trade chip on wing.
15.1 - Joe Pavelski; 15.2 - Nikita Filatov; 15.3 - Jason Demers; 15.4 - Ryan Smyth; 15.5 - Teemu Selanne; 15.6 - Chris Kunitz; 15.7 - Wade Redden; 15.8 - Andy Greene; 15.9 - Pascal Leclaire; 15.10 - Kurtis Foster; 15.11 - Alexander Frolov; 15.12 - Mike Ribeiro
Best pick: Filatov. Back from Russia, and ready to go. He's a big question mark this year, but there's no questioning his talent. In the right situation he can top 60 points easily.
Worst pick: Redden. Pretty sure this pick was a joke. Or at least I hope so.
My pick: Foster. An interesting player this year. Coming back from a horrific broken leg, Foster put up a career high with 42 points. Problem is, he had 26 of those on the power play with Stamkos and St. Louis. Going from Tampa to Edmonton and playing with some of the worst (albeit highest upside) forwards in the league is going to put a damper on his numbers. If he gets first power play unit time, though, and Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Jordan Eberle et al can arrive early his booming slap shot could provide great late round value. At worst he's a quick cut early in the season for whoever seems to be taking off.
16.1 - David Clarkson; 16.2 - Tim Thomas; 16.3 - Jean-Sebastien Giguere; 16.4 - Bryan Little; 16.5 - Patric Hornqvist; 16.6 - Vinny Prospal; 16.7 - Dennis Seidenberg; 16.8 - David Perron; 16.9 - Shane Doan; 16.10 - Ryan Suter; 16.11 - John Carlson; 16.12 - Stephen Weiss
Best pick: Thomas. Guy was the best goalie in the league two years ago and now he's a 16th round pick. Unreal. It remains to be seen how Thomas and Rask will split starts, and an injury to Rask's anything immediately makes Thomas a top tier option. Fantastic speculating here. Love the Carlson and Hornqvist picks as well, but there can only be one besty.
Worst pick: Weiss. Tough to critisize picks this late, but Weiss gets the nod. Just not enough upside in his profile to justify a pick. Players of his ilk will be all over the waiver wire. I'd much prefer to grab a boom-or-bust player this late.
My pick: Giguere. Depth in goal. I'm inclined to believe the Maple Leafs traded for Giguere to give him a majority of the starts, and say what you will about Toronto but their defense ought to be among the stingiest in the league.