It was a warm late August night when we got a head start on the 2014-15 campaign by conducting our first Rotoworld Mock Draft. As is the case every season, I (Ryan Dadoun) formed a Yahoo! league with the other Rotoworld writers and stuck with the default categories, rules, and positional setup to make it as relevant as possible to the largest number of fantasy owners. This time around though there was a twist: I reached out to people on Twitter to join us.
The other Rotoworld writers were Jimmy Hascup, Corey Abbott, Brian Rosenbaum, Michael Finewax, and James O'Brien while our guests from Twitter were S. Walker, Paul C, Marcus Aurellius, and Blaine. We followed the standard snake draft format, so James received both the 10th and 11th picks.
Below is the entirety of our draft, with commentary from me in between each round. At the end I’ve included short write-ups from our guests on how they felt the draft went.
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1.1 Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh - C) (S. Walker)
1.2 Steve Stamkos (Tampa Bay - C) (Jimmy Hascup)
1.3 Corey Perry (Anaheim - RW) (Paul C)
1.4 Alex Ovechkin (Washington - RW) (Corey Abbott)
1.5 Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh - C,RW) (Brian Rosenbaum)
1.6 Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim - C) (Marcus Aurellius)
1.7 Tuukka Rask (Boston - G) (Michael Finewax)
1.8 Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers - G) (Ryan Dadoun)
1.9 John Tavares (Islanders - C) (Blaine)
1.10 Patrick Kane (Chicago - C,RW) (James O'Brien)
The first round of the draft didn’t bring any major surprises and it would be concerning if it had. It is interesting to see Malkin slip to fifth, but that’s completely justifiable given his injury history. Michael and I started the run on goaltenders, which is pretty typical of us. I can count on one hand the number of goaltenders I view as both elite and a safe bet going into this season and the mid-to-late portion of the first round is an ideal time to scoop one of them up.
2.11 Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles - G)
2.12 Tyler Seguin (Dallas - C,RW)
2.13 Claude Giroux (Philadelphia - C,RW)
2.14 P.K. Subban (Montreal - D)
2.15 Jamie Benn (Dallas - LW)
2.16 Erik Karlsson (Ottawa - D)
2.17 Carey Price (Montreal - G)
2.18 Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles - C)
2.19 Shea Weber (Nashville - D)
2.20 Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus - G)
With Rask and Lundqvist gone, the rush to grab the other top-tier goaltenders commenced. I was very happy to get Giroux, who I regard as a dark horse for the Art Ross Trophy, in the second round. Meanwhile, Michael and Brian scooped up the two best defensemen in the league. In my opinion, there’s a meaningful drop off after Subban and Karlsson, so it’s not surprising to see one go quickly after the other.
3.21 Phil Kessel (Toronto - RW)
3.22 Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay - G)
3.23 Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh - G)
3.24 Patrick Sharp (Chicago - C,LW)
3.25 Corey Crawford (Chicago - G)
3.26 Jonathan Toews (Chicago - C)
3.27 Zach Parise (Minnesota - LW)
3.28 Taylor Hall (Edmonton - C,LW)
3.29 Max Pacioretty (Montreal - LW)
3.30 Logan Couture (San Jose - C,LW)
There were a couple interesting picks in this round. Walker took Kessel with the 31st pick overall, which I think is great value. Kessel tends to get brushed aside, but he’s not only one of the best goal scorers in the league, he’s one of the most reliable. Jimmy’s pick of Bishop is on the risky side, but I like it because Tampa Bay has the offense to allow him to rack up the wins and if he can perform like he did last season then he’ll be providing great value for the 32nd slot. Also, with a lot of the safer options gone, Jimmy was in a position where he needed to grab a goalie sooner rather than later.
4.31 Antti Niemi (San Jose - G)
4.32 Kari Lehtonen (Dallas - G)
4.33 Duncan Keith (Chicago - D)
4.34 Matt Duchene (Colorado - C,LW)
4.35 Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado - C,RW)
4.36 Daniel Sedin (Vancouver - LW)
4.37 Semyon Varlamov (Colorado - G)
4.38 Joe Pavelski (San Jose - C,LW)
4.39 Jason Spezza (Dallas - C)
4.40 Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit - C,LW)
I really like Brian’s pick of Daniel Sedin in the fourth round. Obviously, he’s coming off of a terrible season, but with John Tortorella gone, I think he could have a 70-80 point season. I’m similarly positive on Walker’s selection of Datsyuk with the 40th overall pick. He’s an injury risk, which is likely why he slipped as low as he did, but like Sedin, he has 70-80 point potential. Both are gambles to be sure, but ones that could pay off nicely.
5.41 David Backes (St. Louis - C,RW)
5.42 Cory Schneider (New Jersey - G)
5.43 Drew Doughty (Los Angeles - D)
5.44 Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado - LW)
5.45 Kyle Okposo (Islanders - RW)
5.46 Pekka Rinne (Nashville - G)
5.47 Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis - D)
5.48 Chris Kunitz (Pittsburgh - LW)
5.49 Patrick Marleau (San Jose - C,LW)
5.50 Kris Letang (Pittsburgh- D)
I was extremely happy to get Kunitz late in the fifth round. The guy had 35 goals and 68 points in 78 games last season and he should put up similar numbers in 2014-15 given that he’ll continue to play with Crosby. Even still, I was eyeballing Schneider until Jimmy took him. I don’t expect his wins to be too impressive playing for the Devils, but his GAA and save percentage should be among the best in the league.
6.51 Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg - RW,D)
6.52 Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay - D)
6.53 Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit - C,LW)
6.54 Milan Lucic (Boston - LW)
6.55 James Neal (Nashville - LW,RW)
6.56 Zdeno Chara (Boston - D)
6.57 Nicklas Backstrom (Washington - C)
6.58 Jimmy Howard (Detroit - G)
6.59 Martin St. Louis (Rangers - RW)
6.60 Rick Nash (Rangers - LW,RW)
James’ pick of Byfuglien to start the sixth round stands out to me. He’s got defenseman eligibility, but he might end up playing as a forward, which will only help his fantasy value. Even as a defenseman though, he can bring you 50-60 points and a little more than a penalty minute per game. His plus/minus isn’t great, but from a fantasy perspective, I’d argue he’s one of the most unvalued players in the game.
7.61 Keith Yandle (Arizona- D)
7.62 Ryan Johansen (Columbus - C,RW)
7.63 James van Riemsdyk (Toronto - LW)
7.64 Wayne Simmonds (Philadelphia - RW)
7.65 Jeff Skinner (Carolina - LW,RW)
7.66 Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Arizona - D)
7.67 Mike Smith (Arizona - G)
7.68 Jordan Eberle (Edmonton - RW)
7.69 Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg - RW)
7.70 Bobby Ryan (Ottawa - LW,RW)
I find the fact that Johansen slipped to the seventh round (62nd overall) pretty interesting. I get why: He’s only had one good season and while he’s talented, that doesn’t guarantee success. Still, you’re talking about a guy that had 33 goals, 63 points, and 43 penalty minutes at the age of 21. I’m not saying that fantasy owners should take him higher than we did, but I do think that Jimmy should be pleased that he got him at this stage of the draft.
8.71 Marian Hossa (Chicago - RW)
8.72 Jakub Voracek (Philadelphia - RW)
8.73 Niklas Kronwall (Detroit - D)
8.74 Patric Hornqvist (Pittsburgh - RW)
8.75 Jeff Carter (Los Angeles - C,RW)
8.76 Braden Holtby (Washington - G)
8.77 Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis - D)
8.78 Thomas Vanek (Minnesota - LW,RW)
8.79 Ryan Kesler (Anaheim - C,RW)
8.80 Steve Mason (Philadelphia - G)
Michael grabbing Hornqvist in the middle of the eighth round was a pretty nice move. Like Kunitz, Hornqvist should benefit from playing alongside either Crosby or Malkin. Keep in mind, he scored 22 goals and 31 assists in 76 games in Nashville when he had very little to work with, so the potential for him to get a substantial production boost out of the move is there.
9.81 Alexander Steen (St. Louis - C,LW)
9.82 Brandon Dubinsky (Columbus - C,LW)
9.83 Ryan Suter (Minnesota - D)
9.84 Ryan McDonagh (Rangers - D)
9.85 Joe Thornton (San Jose - C)
9.86 Mark Giordano (Calgary - D)
9.87 Patrice Bergeron (Boston - C)
9.88 Torey Krug (Boston - D)
9.89 David Krejci (Boston - C)
9.90 Evander Kane (Winnipeg - LW)
Thornton was a nice grab for Brian at this stage of the draft. If you look at my team, you’ll see that I don’t draft a single player that has only C-eligibility and that wasn’t accidental. In my opinion, great C are a dime a dozen in fantasy leagues, so I’d much rather pursue guys that give me more flexibility. That being said, Thornton has recorded at least 70 points in 10 straight season (not including the lockout shortened campaign) and while he’s 35, he’s good track record from a health perspective too. Even if he’s exclusively a center, he’s well worth the mid-round pick.
10.91 Henrik Sedin (Vancouver - C)
10.92 James Wisniewski (Columbus - D)
10.93 Roberto Luongo (Florida - G)
10.94 Radim Vrbata (Vancouver - RW)
10.95 Brian Elliott (St. Louis - G)
10.96 Brent Burns (San Jose - RW,D)
10.97 Loui Eriksson (Boston - LW,RW)
10.98 T.J. Oshie (St. Louis - C,RW)
10.99 Dan Boyle (Rangers - D)
10.100 Mike Green (Washington - D)
Eriksson is a very nice mid-round value pick. I think his struggles last season were partially due to his concussion problems and partially because Boston’s depth kept his playing time down. His health remains a concern, but he’ll have an opportunity to play on Boston’s top line this season now that Iginla’s gone and that should work out nicely for him.
11.101 Brent Seabrook (Chicago- D)
11.102 Chris Kreider (Rangers - LW)
11.103 Christian Ehrhoff (Pittsburgh - D)
11.104 Ryan O'Reilly (Colorado - C,LW)
11.105 Marian Gaborik (Los Angeles - RW)
11.106 Matt Niskanen (Washington - D)
11.107 Dougie Hamilton (Boston- D)
11.108 Scott Hartnell (Columbus - LW)
11.109 Jaroslav Halak (Islanders - G)
11.110 Jarome Iginla (Colorado - RW)
There are a few picks that stand out to me in this round. First off, Paul should be pleased to have gotten Ehrhoff in the 11th round. The move from the offensively dead Sabres to Pittsburgh should bolster him in terms of points and plus/minus. I think he’s very unrated this season. Brian’s pick of Gaborik is nice too. He’s a huge injury threat, but he fit in nicely in Los Angeles and if he does stay healthy, then he’ll be a steal. Finally, I’m really happy with my pick of Hartnell. I believe he’s got the potential to get 30 goals, 60 points, and 100 or so PIM in Columbus.
12.111 Alexander Semin (Carolina - LW,RW)
12.112 Eric Staal (Carolina - C)
12.113 Dion Phaneuf (Toronto - D)
12.114 Tyson Barrie (Colorado - D)
12.115 Brandon Saad (Chicago - LW,RW)
12.116 Alex Goligoski (Dallas - D)
12.117 Cam Fowler (Anaheim - D)
12.118 Jonathan Bernier (Toronto - G)
12.119 Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg - D)
12.120 Jonathan Drouin (Tampa Bay - LW)
Staal was one player who slipped very far in our draft compared to the Yahoo! rankings. At the time of writing, Yahoo has him listed at 36 in the o-rank and he typically gets taken around the 41st pick. He was the 122nd selection for us. For what it’s worth, I think he’ll bounce back after his somewhat rough 2013-14 campaign, but I personally kept passing on him because there’s just so many great players out there with center eligibility. I still credit Blaine for taking him when he did though. This late into the draft, it’s hard to say no to Staal, even if he can only play center.
13.121 Jack Johnson (Columbus - D)
13.122 Jake Muzzin (Los Angeles - D)
13.123 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton - C)
13.124 Jason Garrison (Tampa Bay - D)
13.125 Paul Stastny (St. Louis - C)
13.126 Seth Jones (Nashville - D)
13.127 Ryan Miller (Vancouver - G)
13.128 Evgeny Kuznetsov (Washington - C,LW)
13.129 Brian Campbell (Florida - D)
13.130 Andrei Markov (Montreal - D)
We’re at the point of the draft where the largely unproven young players with a lot of upside get scooped up. Trouba and Drouin were taken at the end of the last round and it’s not surprising that Jones and Kuznetsov followed shortly after them. I like Paul C’s pick of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins amid all of that. Nugent-Hopkins had a strong rookie campaign that he hasn’t been able to live up to, but he also hasn’t collapsed. After recording 56 points last season, I think he’s prime for a breakout in his fourth campaign.
14.131 Kyle Turris (Ottawa - C)
14.132 John Carlson (Washington - D)
14.133 Anton Khudobin (Carolina - G)
14.134 Brad Richards (Chicago - C,LW)
14.135 Brad Marchand (Boston - LW)
14.136 Andrew Ladd (Winnipeg - LW)
14.137 Mikael Granlund (Minnesota - C)
14.138 Justin Faulk (Carolina - D)
14.139 Bryan Little (Winnipeg - C,RW)
14.140 Mark Streit (Philadelphia - D)
Michael’s choice of Brad Richards stands out to me in this round. He’s seen his stock decline significantly from his point-per-game days in Tampa Bay and Dallas, but he’s got a great opportunity to play alongside Patrick Kane in Chicago. He’s more than worth taking a chance on with the 144th pick.
15.141 Matt Moulson (Buffalo - LW)
15.142 Valeri Nichushkin (Dallas - RW)
15.143 Tomas Hertl (San Jose - LW)
15.144 Patrick Maroon (Anaheim - LW)
15.145 John Gibson (Anaheim- G)
15.146 Gustav Nyquist (Detroit - C,RW)
15.147 Jason Pominville (Minnesota - RW)
15.148 Tobias Enstrom (Winnipeg - D)
15.149 Jonas Hiller (Calgary - G)
15.150 Justin Williams (Los Angles - RW)
There were plenty of speculative picks in this round. I did find it interesting that Nyquist slipped to the 156th overall pick. I don’t think it’s wrong that he did, but I figured someone would have been swept up by his hot 2013-14 campaign sooner. I suspect that he will likely go significantly earlier in other leagues, but I strong urge that you bet on him regressing after he scored 28 goals and 48 points in 57 games last season.
16.151 Alexander Edler (Vancouver - D)
16.152 Nazem Kadri (Toronto - C)
16.153 Nail Yakupov (Edm - RW)
16.154 Erik Johnson (Colorado - D)
16.155 Radko Gudas (Tampa Bay - D)
16.156 Ales Hemsky (Dallas - RW)
16.157 Alex Stalock (San Jose - G)
16.158 Ryan Callahan (Tampa Bay - RW)
16.159 Mats Zuccarello (Rangers - LW)
16.160 Nathan Horton (Columbus - RW)
Not everyone does this, but I like to swing for the fences with my last round pick. My logic is that if my big gamble pays off then great, if not, it barely matters. If you have to drop your last round pick for a free agent later, it won’t sink your team. That’s why I took Yakupov. Do I think he’s going to put everything together this season after all the problems he had in 2013-14? I doubt it, but he’s got incredible upside and on the off-chance he comes in training camp with a different mindset and carries that into the regular season, I want to be the guy that’s already holding onto him.
Thoughts from the Twitter followers:
Blaine - Of my team in general, like the offense (especially Tavares/Seguin). Might need to trade some of it for help on defense or in other categories. I feel like my goaltending is average; not great but won't kill my team. Of the draft in general, someone laughed at my Wheeler pick and I'd like to laugh at them at the end of the season. On a more serious note, it was, as always, frustrating seeing some players I wanted taken right before my pick (I'm looking at Ryan and Michael). All in all, I feel pretty good about my team. Its offense will hopefully make up for my defensive ineptitude.
Paul C – I had the third overall pick in the mock draft. I had a big dilemma on my hand when Corey Perry and Evgeni Malkin were both sitting there. I decided to go with Corey Perry because I felt he was the more consistent player. I was able to get Anze Kopitar at the end of the second and Marc-Andre Fleury in the third. Fleury was the top goalie in my mind on the board and I feel you need a good number one goaltender to be competitive. Fleury was solid last season and plays for a team where he will get plenty of wins. I was able to fill my number 2 center spot with Joe Pavelski and added my number one defenseman in the fifth round by drafting Drew Doughty. The remaining players I drafted by round were Jimmy Howard, JVR, Thomas Vanek, Ryan Suter, T.J. Oshie, Christian Ehrhoff, Johnathan Bernier, RNH, Justin Faulk, Tomas Hertl and Ryan Callahan. I feel like I drafted a solid team that will compete in every category. The one category that I may struggle in would be penalty minutes. The draft was a fun experience. Seemed like everyone drafted well. I would like to thank Ryan for the invite to mock.
Marcus Aurellius – I found this group was a bit more willing to go further down the board than the leagues I've drafted with recently. Very intelligent picks though. With where I was situated, right in the middle of the pack, I ended up with a load of talented forwards. When I was confident I was in a good position to address my D and G needs, I did so, but from round 6 on it was lot of "best player available" mentality. With what I ended up with, I would love to do some wheeling and dealing with this team to try and bolster any weaknesses, and be able to free up space and help out a rival manager. There weren't a ton of surprises. If anything, I reached a bit on 2 picks with Seth Jones and Radko Gudas (I got attached to Gudas as a player the last 2 seasons, and it had me smiling with my last pick). In any case, it was a lot of fun and gets my mind in Ranking and Mock Draft mode.
Note: Marcus also was very pleased that he got Rinne in the fifth round and felt that Elliott in the 10th round was a huge steal.
S. Walker – Having Sidney Crosby instantly makes me a contender right? Absolutely! He contributes so much to so many categories! What’s not to love? But I like a whole lot more about my squad than just the kid from Cole Harbour! Literally every single forward could score 20+ goals for me on this team, with a few even have 30-40 goal potential. However, since this team is predominately offensively minded, they will struggle in the plus/minus category, and the PIM category. My personal opinion is that plus/minus is really hard to draft for, so I don’t even take it into account when I draft. I think I have a legit chance to compete for 8 out of 10 categories though. I am happy with my draft, and I don’t think I would have changed anything.