It's Just Fantasy, It's Not the Real Thing


Written on 10/07/2009 by Jim Cerny

Let's get one thing straight, right from the get-go. I play fantasy hockey, but I also have a real life, OK? I'm not sitting in my basement with bloodshot eyes staring for hours upon hours at a computer screen to assess every last statistic out there in order to outwit the other team owners in my league.

That said, I don't like to be embarrassed either. I mean, I do work in hockey, and have been a writer and broadcaster in the National Hockey League for 20 years. So that means I am supposed to come to the table with a semblance of knowledge.

Taking part in a fantasy hockey league is all about the fun, so I am walking a fine line here. It is fun, as long as I don't embarrass myself.

That said, the league I am a part of---which consists of NHL writers and broadcasters from The Fourth Period magazine and web site, both of which I contribute to---held its big draft last night. The best part about it? That we whipped through 16 rounds with eight teams in just about 45 minutes! That's a good start to the season as far as I am concerned.

Since I have this great blogging avenue to share and receive feedback, I'll roll through my 16 picks and see what you think. Keep in mind that this is a head-to-head league with points awarded for goals, assists, points, PIM, plus-minus rating, power play points, shorthanded points, game-winning goals, goaltender wins and losses, goals against average, saves, save percentage, and shutouts.

First Round: I own the fifth pick in the draft, not a bad place to 12 year-old son Ryan is fired up and keeps shouting "Take Lundqvist! Take Lundqvist!"...I try and explain drafting strategy to him, but he wants Henrik Lundqvist...Ovie, Sid, and Malkin gobbled up...I want Ryan Getzlaf for his great combo of points and PIM, as well as strong plus-minus...Zach Parise goes #4, and I do not hesitate selecting Getzlaf (photo above)...welcome to The Broadway Blues Ryan Getzlaf!

Second Round: My Ryan is appeased by the fact that I chose someone named "Ryan" with my first pick, but he still wants me to choose I tell him it's too early to select a goalie, someone takes Evgeni Nabokov with the 7th overall pick...Now I have to explain that everyone has different strategies...he is not amused...I'd like Jeff Carter, but he is gone at start of Round 2, so then I target Mike Green...he's still there...but the guy right in front of me selects Green...time to re-think...I think Ilya Kovalchuk will have a monster season...he's my guy in Round #2.

Third Round: Ok, now I am explaining to Ryan why two more goalies have been chosen, Kiprussof and Backstrom are off the table now...but my son has now latched on to Rick Nash...he's still out there and my pick is coming up!...Ryan and I are in agreement on this one, Nash will be my guy...if only the owner selecting right before hadn't taken him, that Nash, so now I think defenseman or goalie...I am weighing Zdeno Chara or Cam Ward...and Cam Ward is my third round pick...yes, I am hearing it about Lundqvist again, and likely will get drilled by Henrik himself if we ever discuss my drafting strategy one day. I think Lundqvist will have a strong season, but I believe Ward's numbers will be a shade better.

Fourth Round: This is a no-brainer for me...four defensemen have been chosen already, not one of them is named Zdeno Chara...Big Z who was a rook with the Islanders when I was the broadcaster there is now reunited with me on The Broadway Blues!

Fifth Round: Ryan is chewing my ear off because Lundqvist was selected near the end of the 4th round...he is angry, but I am trying to figure out if I want Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, or Mike Richards with my fifth pick...geez, I love Richards, one of my favorite heart-and-soul players to watch, plus he has tremendous numbers...but I can't escape the thought that Joe Thornton is a steal in the 5th round...Big Joe is my man.

Sixth Round: Surpised that Luongo is not taken until the first pick of this round...owners spooked by his poor start maybe?...that's a mistake, he is an absolute steal this late in the for me, though my son has now shifted from the Lundqvist bandwagon to the Brandon Dubinsky bandwagon, I fly a bit under the radar and select Daniel Alfreddson.

Seventh Round: D'oh! first big mistake, at least in my book....I failed to realize that Nicklas Lidstrom was still available when I made my sixth pick...he is gobbled up two selections later...damn!..I go defense again in Round 7 and choose Sheldon Souray, but wish I had Lidstrom.

Eighth Round: Owners are getting a bit creative now that the cores of their teams are in place...David Backes is picked, so, too, is the injured Andrei Markov who will sit on IR for 3 go with Bobby sophomore slump for him...I think he's in for a big year.

Ninth Round: Shoot and double-shoot!...had my eyes on both Chris Ponger and Jay Bouwmeester for this round, but both are snatched son is back in the room and calling for Dubinsky again...I tell him that Dubi might be a good late-round pick, but I also extoll the virtues of Travis Zajac, who I think will have a big season...but in the end, I want points and PIM and plus-minus, so I choose Scott Hartnell.

Tenth Round: I'm thinking second goalie all the way here...I weigh Ray Emery and Steve Mason...Emery will put up wins this year playing in Philly, but I like Mason's all-around game better...Mason's the choice.

Eleventh Round: I sense Ryan is starting to lose focus...he wants me to scroll down to see which player is ranked last on Yahoo's draft board...he tells me that everyone left stinks!...I explain that there are still plenty of good players left, and that we can check for who is last on the board when the draft concludes...I notice while talking with him that several good choices were just made by others...there goes Sergei Gonchar, John Tavares, and Jonathan Toews...hmmmm...thinking defenseman with this pick....shoot, there goes Dennis Wideman...but I think Kimmo Timonen will have nice numbers this year and am glad to select him.

Twelfth Round: OK, here is my first real reach, and maybe I could have waited another round or two...but I have watched Matt Gilroy every day since even before training camp started and am convinced that the 25 year-old rookie is going to be a quality player...Ryan is happy now that a Ranger is on the team.

Thirteenth Round: Yet another round where the selection is easy for me...Alex Burrows is like Scott Hartnell in my book, points, PIM, all of it...that's a quick pick for me.

Fourteenth Round: We are near the homestretch here, and Ryan has bailed on me to go play PS2...owners are taking a bit longer in-between picks, though the team in front of me has taken the full two minutes nearly every round before making a selection...he is either going to win this league or he doesn't know what he's doing...either way, he's a pain in the ass...any way, Steven Stamkos is my pick.

Fifteenth Round: Damn!...I thought I could out-wait everyone and steal an injured Marian Hossa here in the 15th round, but he was just snatched up...this is a spot where you might take a reach...Ryan's "Dubinksy" chant rings in my head...he's going to put up points playing with Gaborik...I also am eyeing Zajac still...I take almost the full two minutes for the first time in this draft before choosing Paul Kariya...a small risk....he is a great player when healthy...can he stay healthy?...we will see...this roster will be fluid with several changes during the year anyway, so why not take a chance on Kariya?

Sixteenth Round: Ryan is back and really wants to know who the final player on the Yahoo draft board is...I tell him to hang in there, one more pick...I need another defenseman...I spend nearly the full two minutes again before selecting Tom Gilbert...not sure I love the selection, but we shall see...changes can always be made.

And in case you are curious, Ryan and I did scroll to the end of the draft board, and what name did we see? Shockingly, that of Jiri Hudler, the former Red Wing who is now playing in Russia!

As for Dubinsky, he went undrafted. I'll keep an eye on him. Zajac, though is off the board.

Ryan still wants to know why I didn't draft Lundqvist, or at least Steve Valiquette! He's not happy with me, and I don't think Valli is either.

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