Monday, April 11, 2016

Week Twenty-Seven Newsletter, Year End Edition

I don't know about your, but those 27 weeks just flew by.

Yes, we're all done another NHL regular season and now we have the final tallies in for all the players on all the teams in all the various categories.  But before we get to the year-end features, let's have a peek at the week that was and go through all of the motions.

It has been quite sometime since John Tavares has been named the Player of the Week in the hockey pool, the last time being Week Fifteen in the 2014 season, so well over two years ago.  Tavares and the Islanders are playoff-bound and it will be on the captain's shoulders to guide this team as far as it can go.  If the last week of the season was a good indication, he was more than capable of doing that.

Tavares played in four of the five games scheduled for the Islanders in the week, where he was able to register 4 goals and 9 points.  He started off with a goal and 2 assists against the Lightning, another goal and 2 assists against the Capitals, a goal and an assist against the Rangers and then one more goal against the Sabres on Saturday.

It wasn't an amazing season for Tavares, but by no means was it a bad season.  The 25-year old finished the year 28th in pool scoring with 33 goals and 70 points in 78 games in Brooklyn, which by our pool count this year, would have made him the opening pick in the 2nd round of our draft, if it was redone by the scoring standings.  Last season, the Islanders captain finished 8th overall in pool scoring, so you can obviously say that it was somewhat of a down year for him.

For Eric, it was a bit of a disappointing year, because he had picked Tavares with the 5th overall selection, which made him into somewhat of a bust pick.  In order to have been 5th overall, where Martin Jones of the Sharks finished, he would have needed 16 more points and if that was to have happened, Eric would have been in the money conversation, as I wrote up this blog post.

Eric's first season in the hockey pool wasn't exactly a bust, as his team really made that push for the money spots, capturing the final Mover & Shaker award and falling 10 points short of 3rd place.  His team's 38 points was tied for the best week of the season, as John P. had 38 points as well in Week Seven, and Eric's team jumped up from 7th to 4th in the final week of the year.  That's a pretty good push, considering the teams he had to pass to get there.

Eric's team finished the season with three Mover & Shakers, which is a pretty good debut to the pool.  It already has him tied for 21st overall in total number of M&S nods all-time, in the eight years of this pool being active on the website.

His good week stems from having the Player of the Week nod, plus a guy like Dustin Byfuglien of the Jets, who finished with 5 points as well.  Ryan Johansen of the Predators, Milan Lucic of the Kings and Thomas Greiss of the Islanders were also key contributors this week, all finishing with 4 points a piece.

Only three of his active players failed to register points in the week, one was due to illness, the other due to being a healthy scratch and the other was actually ice cold in the production category.  Still, 11 of 14 players picking up points was a good thing.

Eric's team certainly finished the season on a high note, as his peak position was his final spot in the standings, at 4th place.  He made some positive moves in both Waiver Drafts, as all three of his pick-ups were positive in points and penalty minutes, so his team was able to take those moves and slowly move up from the midpoint of the pool, whereabouts he got started this year.

Thanks for joining the pool, Eric... hopefully, you had a good time!

Honestly, I haven't really done a count of the career Basement Dweller nods that each team has had, I'm sure that sort of dubious distinction wouldn't go over well.  Dale B., however, gets that dubious distinction of landing the last Basement Dweller nod of the season, as the legs fell out from underneath his team in the last week of the year, finishing with only 12 points in the week.

If there was a silver lining to that, it was that his team was so far ahead of 16th place, that he wasn't going to fall out of his 15th place position, where he finishes the year.  He had finished the last three weeks in that position and wasn't going to give that up, if only just barely.

Dale's team was led by Scott Hartnell of the Blue Jackets this week, finishing with one-third of his points, 4 points, while Andre Burakovsky of the Capitals and David Krejci of the Bruins each had 2 points a piece.

The real disappointment for Dale was that his team got off to a rocket of a start to the year, up in 1st place in Week Two, touched it again at the end of Week Seven, but the wheels really started to come off in Week Eleven and the downward spiral dropped him down to his eventual finishing spot of 15th.  A tough pill to swallow by the end of it all.

Now, we come to all the year-end good stuff.  The money prizes and the trophy, which I will get all engraved and ready for our new champion, to which we all know who it is by now, but will get the big reveal down at the bottom.

We'll start with the mini-games and then move down to the real money, really giving this post a sense of dramatic fashion, right?

The first of the three mini-games to officially be decided was the goalie survivor pool, which was technically done after Week Seventeen, when Jeremy's goalies couldn't quite get the job done before the All-Star break, while Allan's two goalies, Ben Bishop of the Lightning and Connor Hellebuyck of the Jets, were able to get one win between the two of them, before all the stars went to Nashville for their little soiree.

Allan could also throw in a few thanks to Penguins' back-up goalie, Jeff Zatkoff, who was on his roster for the first nine weeks of the year, before being dropped for Hellebuyck, which was a pretty good move in the end... for this pool, I mean.  Hellebuyck was sent down to the minors around the NHL trade deadline and wasn't seen afterwards, really leaving a hole in Allan's roster.

Nevertheless, in what probably is Allan's last draft, he comes away with his money back, as a mini-game winner.

When a guy drafts the likes of Connor McDavid, Artemi Panarin, Robby Fabbri and Joni Ortio at the draft, in their first 14 picks this season, you would have thought that this guy had one of those picks right at the time. In fact, three out of those four picks were dynamite picks, as Ryan had huge success with the likes of Panarin and Fabbri, while McDavid's long-term injury may have cost him the money, in the overall sense, but was certainly more than enough to dominate the likes of this rookie pool.

Congratulations, Ryan... your rookies set a record that will be hard to match, with 170 freshman points.

Maybe the most exciting, certainly, the most controversial, of the three mini-games this season was the PIM pool, which rubbed a few people the wrong way, when the Waiver Draft became a tipping point of contention.  When Wes' team fell out of money contention early, he decided to drop a healthy Jeff Carter to goon it up, since Carter wasn't the guy who was going to do it himself.  That gave Kristy & Don a free pass to get up from 19th place to having a shot at the money... one they almost capitalized on.  Let's also not forget, Wes dropped Logan Couture of the Sharks, who was on the verge of being healthy again, for his first goon.  Couture ended up on Jeremy's team... and well... see below.

Wes wasn't alone in this competition, but Derek & Dan, they dropped hurt players or legitimately cold players to exercise their Waiver Draft rights and goon it up and they did okay.  It wasn't until the Week Nineteen Waiver Draft, when they thought they were out of it, that they found it was quite the opposite.  They did a slight upgrade with one pick and then opted to upgrade their goalie.

That worked.  Well, the duo's numbers were staggering in the third segment of the season, met only by the even more staggering number of injuries that Wes' team suffered after the start of Week Nineteen.  Wes' team finished the year with six key players on the shelf, from the end of February on.

Derek & Dan's team dominated the third segment, accumulating more minutes in penalties, in that segment alone, than 11 teams did all year.  That domination saw their team finish with 762 PIM in total, taking 1st place by 115 minutes.  What a huge year from another pool debut.

As for mini-games next year, we'll likely be incorporating some new wrinkles into the selection process of these games and there is also some talk that the Waiver Draft may be modified to keep the integrity of the competition intact.  Stay tuned!

PhotobucketNow, we come to the big money!  3rd place was a good race by the end of the year, but when Brian's team really caught fire, back in Week Nineteen, his team went from 10th place to 3rd place in a matter of four weeks.  Brian's best picks this season were Jamie Benn of the Stars, Johnny Gaudreau of the Flames, Mark Scheifele of the Jets, Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Capitals, Elias Lindholm of the Hurricanes and Brad Marchand of the Bruins.  All of which were bargain picks in the draft this year.  Congratulations on your $125 Canadian.

Brenda & Seward had a taste of 1st place, a few times this season, and their last came at the end of Week Twenty-Two, but after that, they couldn't finish a week any closer than 4 points away from 1st place, losing the title by 6 points in the end.  Still, it was a great push, which they can thank their bargain picks for, which included: Jonathan Quick of the Kings, Filip Forsberg of the Predators, Derrick Brassard of the Rangers, Marcus Johansson of the Capitals, Adam Henrique of the Devils, Frans Nielsen of the Islanders, Zdeno Chara of the Bruins and Matt Beleskey of the Bruins.  For your efforts, $325 is all yours!

Finally, in 1st place... a stunning pool debut, as Jeremy walked in, sat at a table all alone in a darkened corner of the Voodoo Lounge basement and picked himself a winner.  No distractions, no bums bringing him down and just pure unadulterated hockey pool picking thought.  661 points was the winning total this season, which was actually higher than the result of our 2014 pool with three less teams in it.  That's some good picking.

Jeremy's team finished 5th in goals scored, 3rd in wins, avoided the rookies, 11th in PIM, 6th in forward points, 8th in defenseman points, 6th in goalie points, 3rd in skater games played and 9th in goalie minutes.

Well, in terms of bargain picks, Jeremy's team did incredibly well.  Only four players, out of the 14 he originally drafted, scored below their draft position and he dropped two of them in Week Nine.  His best pick of the draft, in terms of biggest bargain, was Reilly Smith of the Panthers, who finished 160 places better than his draft position, thanks to a 50-point year.

Jeremy's take in this win is a pool-high, $800!  Congratulations!  The trophy will be engraved and given to you for the Summer soon!

After the year of the goalie, there was a lot of hesitation not to take a goalie in the 1st round of the draft this year and then when you take into account some of the off-ice issues and storylines that were going along, it didn't come as a huge surprise that our Most Valuable Player in the hockey pool draft was taken in the 3rd round.  I do want to make it abundantly clear, every team passed up on Patrick Kane twice before John Swan took him to start the 3rd round.

Kane was one of two players to finish the season with more than 100 points in the pool and the first skater to do so since Evgeni Malkin did it in the 2012 season.

Unfortunately, the season that John S. had did not reverberate from the choosing of this year's MVP, because he also had the chance to take the 2015 MVP, Montreal goalie Carey Price, with the 1st overall pick, but that move blew up in his face in December, when Price went down for the count for the rest of the year.  Still, he went from one MVP to another in one year, but his team still finished 17th in the standings.

Does Kane immediately make it to the top of your list for next season or do you like the goalie options first?  That runner-up, Braden Holtby of the Capitals, he finished 2nd in both 2015 and 2016.  How's that for consistency?

That was a pretty good year, when it was all said and done.  It was a pretty good race throughout for a good portion of the season, but by the time the third segment rolled around, teams were pretty well decided in the neighbourhood that they were going to be finishing in.  I thought the mini-games were a decent success, something that we might tinker with to make it more interesting next year and with a greater number of teams joining the pool, it really kept the competition to a high level.

Of course, if this pool continues to grow, which it may or may not, there could be some changes made to the system, I know that there is a call for taking only one goalie per pool team, but that will be a decision that will be made at the draft in September.

I would like to thank everyone again for coming out this year.  I know I only get to speak to most of you three times in the year (the draft and two Waiver Drafts), but I hope for all of you, that you'll gear up for another exciting year in 2017.  There's no question that there is a lot of talent available in the NHL for a lot of pool teams, so I would encourage you to invite another person in, I can certainly accommodate more people who enjoy a fun and easy draft.

Congratulations again to all of our winners, including those who got their money back.  Don't forget, the Playoff Pool is now live, you can check out the sheet here.  Stay tuned to the blog all Summer long, I'll be keeping an eye on team rosters at the Entry Draft and the Free Agent Frenzy and we'll also be publishing more details about next season's draft before too long.


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