Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone! I really hope that the technical problems didn't put too much of a damper on your enjoyment of the draft. I know that I have been able to do it a whole lot faster than what we had seen this year, but some things just were not going the right way. Of course, thanks for the patience of the three/four online guys... you guys must really wanted to be there, if you're going to take the time out of your out-of-town holiday to spend it with us and Brian, you're a champ of the online selection process, but you've had lots of practice, so far... keep up the good work!
It's a 25-team league this year, which is awesome! Sure, it's two less than last year, but the overall scope of the pool may have improved, thanks to a few less goalies getting picked up and thinning out the talent pool. A warm welcome to a couple new faces, Marcie and Marcin, both joining the draft for the first time, hope you guys really enjoy yourselves.
So, thanks to the World Cup of Hockey, the schedule has been compacted a week and it is starting a little later than usual, which was the cause of most of the scheduling problems for the draft, as it were. It didn't help us at all, as we all would prefer to have most of the team rosters set before we all sit down and draft, which is why the draft landed on the long weekend, unfortunately. It was still a good turnout, which is fantastic.
Instead of a 27-week season, which is the norm, it is a 26-week season and I usually like to split this season up into thirds, so we have the Waiver Drafts in even segments, but this year won't be the case. Since a lot of people are in a hurry to move their players early on in the season, the first segment will be the shortest of the three, so I will conduct the first Waiver Draft in Week Eight this season and I will be e-mailing reminders to everyone about that and updating the blog accordingly.
Also, if there are injuries leading up to opening night, teams will have until puck drop (5pm on Wednesday night) to swap out an injured player for a healthy player and be 100% healthy for the start of the year. You're not going to get a great player, but if it is a long-term injury, you could be in better shape.
Next up, we have the three mini-games, as selected by the wheel at the conclusion of the draft and they are as follows: the PIM pool, the goalie survivor pool and an outdoor games pool. There is no rookie pool this year, much to the chagrin of some, but the wheel wanted what it wanted and that's what we've got this year.
We all know about the PIM pool, the most combined penalty minutes in the season from your team is the winner. According to the draft numbers, Kristy & Don are the early favourites for this mini-game, as their team combined for 612 minutes in penalties last season, followed closely by Cam at 601 minutes. The all-rookie setup of Scott's team didn't register much of anything last season, so they are at the bottom of this list, coming in at 217 minutes in penalties.
Last year's champ, Derek B., finished the year at 762 minutes in penalties and made a few changes through the season to achieve that number. The record has been set!
The goalie survivor pool is a fun pool, I think and makes for good writing on the blog... every team starts in the survivor pool and in order to stay in the pool, your goalies must register at least one win, in the Monday to Sunday week. Having one starting goalie is good, having two is great! Having none... well, you're not paying attention to this one.
One of this year's departures, Allan, won his money back last year with the best goaltending setups in the pool, which included Ben Bishop of the Lightning and included a Waiver Draft swap of Jeff Zatkoff of the Penguins for Connor Hellebuyck of the Jets mid-season, and his team never faltered all season, registering at least a win in all 27 weeks.
It looks like Cam and Kristy & Don are aiming for mini-games here as well, as they have the best goalie tandems, based on last year's points, out of the draft. Cam's two goalies, Marc-Andre Fleury and Roberto Luongo, while the pool's first duo has Jonathan Quick and Semyon Varlamov (again!), both putting up good arguments for the mini-game.
Finally, the outdoor games pool... this one is fairly straight-forward. The NHL will have four outdoor games this year, starting with the Heritage Classic in Winnipeg here soon, the Centennial Classic in Toronto, the Winter Classic in St. Louis and then the Stadium Series game in Pittsburgh. The cumulative amount of points from your team in these games, from the Oilers, Jets, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Blackhawks, Blues, Flyers and/or Penguins, will win. This one will be decided at the end of February, so that's kind of neat too.
Now, the relationship of mini-games to the Waiver Draft was contentious last season, as the move to change strategic focus in the hockey pool caused quite the stir last season and it shifted the competitive balance to a point that was deemed unfair. So, with that being said, a rule change has been instituted for the Waiver Draft... any player dropped will not be made available until the start of the next round.
The idea for this will at least allow the basement dwelling teams a shot at strategically dropped players ahead of the winning teams, if they so choose to stay in the race, instead of move towards the mini-games.
As for the prize money, I am still going to work through the year's budget and then determine what our prizes will be, I should have something by early next week. I am still waiting on a number of teams to pay, it is $60 this year, for those who have forgotten... but I have also put a PAID/NOT PAID spot on your team page, as a gentle reminder.
Have fun everyone... let me know if you have any questions or any player moves before the season starts!