Sunday, April 23, 2017

Pool Worthy Players in the 2017 Season

Well, since there isn't any playoff pool on the site this year, my off-season gets to start right away and it's a light load, up until the draft lottery, which happens next weekend.  Once the draft order is settled, I will begin my annual Pool Outlook, a pre-off-season look at all of the teams, as they are eliminated from the playoffs, piecing together my mock entry draft at the same time.

What you're going to see on these posts is the term, "pool worthy," which pretty well stands for a player of his position, who scored enough in the season to rank within the top number of players taken at that position, multiplied by the number of teams in last season's pool.  For example, as the pool is setup, we take eight forwards, four defensemen and a couple of goalies and in the 2017 draft, we had 25 teams, therefore, we're looking for the top 200 forwards, top 100 defensemen and top 50 goalies to be pool worthy.  You have to love easy math!

The hockey pool MVP was Washington's Braden Holtby, who finished with 102 points on the season and it was a good year for goalies, as five of the top 10 overall scorers were coming out from the crease.  Cam Talbot of the Oilers, Sergei Bobrovsky of the Blue Jackets, Tuukka Rask of the Bruins and Devan Dubnyk of the Wild rounded out the top five, which went down to 90 points on the year.

Six more goalies were ranked within the top 25 players, which means 11 goalies would have been 1st round picks in this year's draft, redone for the new scoring numbers, which is well below the 18 goalies taken in the 1st round, back in October.

50th spot among the goalies, officially belongs to Jacob Markstrom of the Canucks, who finished with 20 points, tied with two others, but had the most wins of the three goalies at 10.  I guess I could give the extra nods to Michael Hutchinson of the Jets and Jonathan Quick of the Kings, who were the other two goalies with 20 points, but this pool's tie-breakers starts with wins for goalies and the more shutouts you get, the lower you go.

There's no question that Connor McDavid of the Oilers has lived up to his billing, as soon as year number two.  McDavid was tops of all skaters, rounding out to the 100-point plateau in the final game of the season and he was worthy of the 2nd overall pick in this year's draft.  With five goalies taking the first half of the top 10 in overall scoring, the other five were forwards, rounded out by Sidney Crosby of the Penguins, Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks, Nicklas Backstrom of the Capitals and Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning.  Kucherov finished with 40 goals and 85 points this season, rounding out the top 10.

The forwards made up the better part of the top 25, as eight more forwards brings the position's total up to 13 players, starting with Brad Marchand of the Bruins and finishing with Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins, down at 72 points.  It wasn't a bad year for forwards at all, but from 1st to 25th, it was a 30-point difference, but it is in those mid-to-late round picks where you make that up with a blend of luck and homework.

The last of the pool worthy forwards, 200th overall, was down at 10 goals and 29 points this season, where Joel Ward of the Sharks and Brendan Gallagher of the Canadiens finished, Ward playing 14 more games than Gallagher as well.  I value games played more than points per game, because of the ability to stay healthy gives more chances than someone who is liable to get hurt more often.

In a pool of 25 teams this past season, it is still quite something that a defenseman can make it into 1st round consideration and that's just what Brent Burns of the Sharks did this year.  Burns played in all 82 games for San Jose, scoring 29 goals and 76 points, ranking him 15th overall in pool scoring,

There were two 2nd round picks from the blueline in pool scoring in Victor Hedman of the Lightning and Erik Karlsson of the Senators, then Kevin Shattenkirk of the Capitals was worthy of the 3rd round, followed by Duncan Keith of the Blackhawks, Dustin Byfuglien of the Jets, Justin Schultz of the Penguins and Torey Krug of the Bruins, all solid enough for a 4th round pick.  Schultz and Krug each finished with 51 points in the season, all of the above could benefit from a higher draft pick next season, because of the drop off in points, when you get deeper into the position.

Josh Manson of the Ducks, Brian Campbell of the Blackhawks and Chris Wideman of the Senators all finished with 5 goals and 17 points this season, ranking 99th to 101st, rounding out the pool worthy players on the blueline.  The difference from the top to the bottom is quite great, so if you can boost your blueline with at least one top 10 defenseman, you should be in great shape for the year.

Of course, these are only guidelines at best, because of the potential changes for next season.  Who knows how many teams will return for the draft, it could be more than 25 it could be less than 25 and let's not forget... the Vegas Golden Knights will be in and adding a bit more flavour to each position, especially the goalies.  Stay tuned for the Outlooks, we'll have some fun with all 31 teams, just as soon as we know the draft order for the entry draft next weekend.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Could the Shootout Be a Mini-Game Next Season?



1st and 2nd place in the hockey pool this year was separated by only 7 points this year and the two teams swapped spots in the last week of the regular season, Dale B. cruised past Brian to take the title and get his name on the trophy.  Brian was watching the title slip away from his grasp last week and asked in the middle of the week, whether or not shootout goals counted and no, of course they don't.  Does anyone like the shootout?

I miss the good ol' fashioned tie to finish up games, not the skills competition to decide games.  Nevertheless, it may make for an interesting mini-game next season, since the NHL does post shootout numbers.  How would those numbers look this season, if it were a mini-game?

First, it's important to note that team numbers published would be with the 14-player team they finished with, this would include the numbers from players they dropped and it would include goals scored before they were activated on their team.

If shootout goals were the only point in this mini-game, then we'd have a 4-way tie for 1st place, as Benson, Dale B., Scott and Stuart's teams all racked up 14 shootout goals in the season.  By this computation, Brian's hope that shootout goals would have counted, Dale would have actually pulled away.

Now, if we added game-deciding goals, John S. would jump to the top of the heap, as his team had 13 shootout goals in the season and out of those, nine were game-deciders, lifting his total to 22 points, 1 point better than both Benson and Dale B., who only had 7 game-deciders.

All 25 teams in the hockey pool saw some action in the shootout, but some way more than others.  Benson and Dale B. had the most shots in the shootout in the season, both teams finished with 40 shots taken, while Grant and Jeremy were at the opposite end of the spectrum, with only 9 shots among their team.

What if we did the goalies as well?  Just looking at the data, it would be neat to have saves minus goals allowed for them.  Eric and Brian's goalies saw the most shots this season in the shootout, both taking 47, while Brenda & Seward's followed closely with 46 shots, Stacey C.'s saw 43 shots and Marcie's team saw 40 shots this year.  Stacey C.'s team only allowed 7 goals out his team's 43 shots, giving him 36 saves and 29 points to lead the way.  Brenda & Seward was 36 saves against 10 goals for 26 points to be 2nd place.

Kristy & Don's lack of goaltending starts, albeit not last place in that category, didn't see their goalies get to the shootout very often.  Jonathan Quick of the Kings and Juuse Saros of the Predators only saw one shootout each, five shots in total and 3 goals and 2 saves for 1 point, when it was all said and done.

Hold the phone!  Jeremy's team saw 22 shots in the shootout, 11 goals and 11 saves, which would have made him last place in this game, with no points.

The shooters and the goalies could each make a pretty good mini-game next season, but for Brian, it likely wasn't enough to win him the hockey pool, if it was a statistic worth counting in the overall totals.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week Twenty-Six Newsletter, Year End Edition



Well, in reviewing last year's post for the year-end, I had said that the 27 weeks of the 2016 season flew right by, but it seemed even faster this year and not just because there was one less week to the season.  I would have to say that the lack of a great pool team for myself and the fact that the Canucks were terrible this year, it really made the year fly by through indifference.  Ha ha ha.  Okay, first things first, we'll review the week that was the last week of the season and then we'll go over the prizes!



It's not uncommon to have two goalies tie for the Player of the Week nod, but it is certainly rare to have two goalies tied at 9 points in a week, because that would also take an assist to get done and that's really something.  And as you can see, our Player of the Week, for the final week of the season, is Jaroslav Halak of the Islanders.

Halak registered one more win than Craig Anderson of the Senators, going 4-0-0 with an assist, as the Islanders tried their best to win their way into a playoff spot, but they didn't have their fate in their own hands in the last week of the season.  They needed a lot of help, which didn't come.

Well, can you believe that Halak spent the better part of the season in the minors?  It will be interesting to see what happens with the Slovak keeper in the off-season, as he does have one more year on his current NHL deal.

Wins against Buffalo, Nashville, Carolina and New Jersey in week wasn't the most difficult schedule that I've ever seen ever (understatement!), but he was good enough to play in all four games this week and that brought his overall totals up to 12 wins, 2 shutouts and an assist, giving him 29 points in 28 games this season, ranking him 298th overall in pool scoring.  It was too little, too late for Troy, who was gooning it up all year, more than anything else.

The theme of too little,  too late comes to mind with the Mover & Shaker, although Clayton did move up one spot in the standings, thanks to his team's 37-point week, going up from 14th to 13th, right in the middle of the 25-team pool, making it neither a good or a bad year... just mediocre, at best.

The best skater in the pool during the week was actually Edmonton's Oscar Klefbom, who finished with 7 points, leading Clayton's team to the weekly honour.  Complimenting the Oilers defender in the week was Brayden Point of the Lightning and Henrik Sedin of the Canucks, each finishing with 6 points each, while James Van Riemsdyk of the Maple Leafs had 5 points to finish off the regular season.

I wish I counted, but I don't think there were very many weeks where there were a Mover & Shaker nod without points from the crease, as the last week of the season, both Jacob Markstrom of the Canucks and Michal Neuvirth of the Flyers were dealing with injury and neither were available to play at any point.

Clayton's team had to rely heavily on its forwards and defense and up front, his team ranked 4th in the pool in scoring, while his blueline was just alright, ranking 10th.  Those rankings just couldn't make up for being dead last in goalie points, with 26, 19 points worse than 24th and 145 points behind 1st in the pool (Mike).  13th place in the pool is just about right then.

The team that Clayton's team passed, needed to be the Basement Dweller, if his team was going to drop in the standings, and the collapse of Cam's team was made complete by an 11-point effort, his team's second 11-point effort in two weeks.

The injury to Roberto Luongo and the decision to go with Matt Murray, instead of Marc-Andre Fleury, in Pittsburgh was the leading causes for his team's collapse.  But an underwhelming blueline couldn't make up for his goaltending problems, while the scoring in Columbus seemed to dry up after they clinched their playoff spot as well.

Unfortunately, the third segment was not kind to Cam at all, as his team ranked 24th, ahead of only Troy's goon squad, picking up 175 points from the start of Week Eighteen, nearly 100 points worse than the best team in the segment, belonging to Eric (271).

Well, we've adequately looked at the week that was, so let's move on to the season that was.

In the 2016 season, Braden Holtby was the bridesmaid to the MVP nod in the hockey pool, losing out to Patrick Kane, 106-103, but that wasn't going to deter Jeremy from taking the Washington Capitals starting goalie with the 1st overall pick in this year's draft.  And talk about paying off!  Holtby edged out Connor McDavid for the nod this season, finishing 102-100 in the overall scoring race and taking his first MVP honour.



By my count, there were 984 players to take to the ice, skaters and goalies, in the regular season, so there was a lot to choose from with the 1st overall pick, but Jeremy did it right with his, but that isn't to say he did very well with the rest of his picks.

Holtby appeared in 63 games for the Capitals, picking up 42 wins, 9 shutouts and no offensive points, finishing with 102 points in total.  That was actually a point less than his 2016 season, but it was certainly good enough for top spot this year.

With McDavid finishing in 2nd in pool scoring, it actually made the first two picks in the draft accurate, as Stacey C. managed to snag the Oilers front man on his proxy team.

PhotobucketSo, let's get to it then!  The prize money, what we've all been playing for this year.

It has to be heartbreaking for Brian's team, coming into the final week with a 3-point advantage on Dale B.'s team, only to fall short, as Dale's team took off in the final week.  Dale's team was 10 points better than Brian's in the final week of the season and Dale finishes on top, 7 points better, taking home the $750 1st prize and he'll get his name engraved onto the trophy for all to see and revere!  You know, when I get the trophy back from our previous champ, Jeremy.

It's not a bad haul though for Brian, he still will see $300 Canadian dollars sent to the land down under, electronically, for his 2nd place finish.  This makes back-to-back years, where our good friend from Australia has finished in the money in this pool, making me wonder what's wrong with us Canadians?

The race for 3rd was also a very good one, but Eric's reign for the bronze medal wasn't challenged as one might of hoped for dramatic effect, as his team was good in the final week of the season, wrapping up the spot with a 31-point week, which was 11 points better than Marcie's team, his closest competitor.  For his efforts, Eric doubled his money, picking up $120 for the final money spot.

A hearty congratulations to our three money winners in the overall standings!

The final day of play was an absolute dud, when it came to the penalty minute pool, as neither Marcie or Troy really registered much of anything in the 10 games on the schedule, so it was a cake walk to the finish line for Marcie's team.

Troy's goon effort fell 39 minutes short, trying to close up a 102-minute gap at the start of the third segment.  The minutes were just not there in the end and Marcie's team earned the $60 mini-game prize, just by being themselves.

The goalie survivor pool is definitely a fun mini-game to watch, as it pits each team's goalies up against each other on a weekly basis, trying to just pick up one win to stay alive.  This season was much better than the 2016 season, as Stacey M. and John S. went all the way to Week Twenty-Three before we had ourselves a winner and with Pekka Rinne of the Predators and Antti Raanta of the Rangers, Stacey's team was best in the mini-game and it earned her side the $60 entry fee back.

The wheel of mini-games also chose the Outdoor Games option for the last competition outside of the overall standings and it was supposed to give a little bit more meaning to those outdoor spectacles that the NHL likes to put on year after year now.  The NHL had four outdoor games in total, a Heritage Classic in Winnipeg, the Centennial Classic in Toronto, the Winter Classic in St. Louis and then the Stadium Series game in Pittsburgh.  All four were pretty decent games and with the added incentive to watch with the hockey pool, it was a bit more fun... mission accomplished!

But Marcie's team capitalized on the first game of the four, as Cam Talbot was the hero of this pool, earning the shutout for the Oilers against the Jets and her team cruised to victory in this pool as well.  The 4 points from the shutout helped to give her team 6 points in total, which was good enough for top spot, which sounds kind of lame, but it worked.

Two mini-games for Marcie means that she takes home $120 in total, just as good as taking 3rd place in the pool.

And this is it!  Another regular season in the books and that's it from me this year.  No playoff pool this season, I just am not feeling the need and there hasn't been a lot of inquiries into a playoff pool, so I don't think interest is quite there either.  A spring to getting outside and then watching the odd game here and there will be so much better than sitting in front of a computer.

But not to worry!  The draft will be back next season, I don't think anyone will want to miss out on the first season with the Vegas Golden Knights.  Another NHL team means we'll have two more active goalies to pick up, including another number one, which should make things interesting.  Stay tuned to the blog through the Summer, as I will post happenings in the Summer, including my roster outlooks in the weeks to come.

Thanks again to everyone for playing this year!  It's been a blast as always... you know, except for my team being so mediocre!  Congratulations to our money winners, your cheques are in the mail.  Ha!

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Goalie Announcements (Apr 9)

It's the last day of the regular season and we still have so much left to play for... well, the players in the games do for us, anyways.  10 games are on the docket, starting in the mid-afternoon for us and the money is getting all set aside for divvying out in the next few days.

Dale B. holds a 2-point lead heading into the last day's worth of action and he might get some goalie action, to help defend his lead, while Brian isn't projected to have any.

It is fairly safe to assume that Brian's lead of 12 points over 3rd place may be dented, but it won't be overcome on Sunday, as Eric likely won't have the firepower to do so.  Eric's team has a 3-point advantage on Marcie's team, which is in far more dangerous territory, while Ryan's team fell off and sits 10 points back and Brenda & Seward are 11 points back.  For the latter two, it would take one hell of a Hail Mary to get the job done, but that's why we play the game.

Cory Schneider (Stuart) versus Jimmy Howard (Benson)
It's the last game at Joe Louis Arena today and the goalie match-up is a good one, on paper.  The Greenley brothers will go head-to-head in this one, Stuart's team trailing Benson's by 8 points at the start of play.

For money sakes, Dale B. will have Frans Nielsen going in this game, as there should be no expectation of scratches on the Detroit side today.  Brenda & Seward will have Kyle Palmieri looking to play spoiler on the celebration in Detroit today.

Linus Ullmark (N/A) versus Andrei Vasilevskiy (Ryan)
The first possible money start on the day goes in Tampa Bay, as we know the Lightning will give one more start to their new number one goalie, Vasilevskiy.  He gets the Sabres for the last start of the season, which appears to be a kind gift, as Buffalo has been reeling to finish the season and they will also start their back-up today in response.

Dale will have Ryan O'Reilly as a possibility for the Sabres tonight, while Brian could have Nikita Kucherov at the other side, a good head-to-head match-up, which leans towards the Tampa forward.  Ryan would likely prefer a shutout today from his goalie, but if Brian Gionta can post a hat-trick in a loss, I'm sure he'd be okay with it all.

Mike Condon (Stacey C.) versus Thomas Greiss (Dale B.)
With Jaroslav Halak getting the start on Saturday, it should be Thomas Greiss going on Sunday, as they try to finish a playoff-less season off strong.  The Senators, on the other side, are going to be resting some bodies, including Craig Anderson, so they will be a shell of a usual team, which bodes well for Greiss and the Islanders.

It doesn't sound like Erik Karlsson will play for Dale today, which is a huge loss, especially when Brian will have Andrew Ladd and Chris Wideman going in this game.  Eric should have Dion Phaneuf in the Sens' lineup, while Ryan will be without Travis Hamonic to injury.

Calvin Pickard (Derek B.) versus Jake Allen (Mike)
The St. Louis Blues are keeping their number one guy sharp heading into the playoffs and he gets a confidence boost by playing the Colorado Avalanche this evening, who will try and go out strong with Pickard in net.  No money to speak of in this game from the goalie's perspective.

Brian has the only player among the top two teams here in Gabriel Landeskog, while Eric has the only other money player among the top five or six teams in Jaden Schwartz.  This has real potential for Eric to help lock up 3rd place, given his scorer playing against a porous defense.

Joonas Korpisalo (N/A) versus Curtis McElhinney (N/A)
It's a battle of the back-ups in Toronto with the Blue Jackets in town.  The injury to Frederik Andersen is likely a moot point, after the team clinched their spot last night, but he won't even dress, thanks to his upper-body injury, leaving Brian high and dry for a start here.

It wouldn't be surprising in the Leafs started scratching guys as well tonight, like Dale's Mitch Marner, but that still remains to be seen.  Brian won't have Zach Werenski on his side, as the rookie defender is still injured.  Brandon Saad is a possibility for Eric, while Marcie has three Leafs going in Jake Gardiner, Nikita Zaitsev and Connor Brown.  Brenda & Seward also have Tyler Bozak on Toronto's side, who is also a candidate for rest, if needed.

Tristan Jarry (N/A) versus Antti Raanta (Stacey M.)
The Penguins and Rangers don't have much to play for at all here and there's a fine chance that we'll see lots of scratches, including the starting goalies, as it is expected that rookie Tristan Jarry, who is on the trip, could get a start for Pittsburgh, while Raanta gets the call for the Rangers.

Dale should have Trevor Daley playing for the Penguins tonight, as he continues to come back from injury, while J.T. Miller should be going for the Rangers, as he doesn't rank high enough on the totem pole to get a rest tonight.  It's very likely that Ryan misses another game with Mats Zuccarello as a healthy scratch.  Brenda & Seward could have some firepower tonight, but why risk either Sidney Crosby or Chris Kreider?  We'll see how that goes.

Eddie Lack (N/A) versus Anthony Stolarz (N/A)
Brian gets robbed of a final start from the Hurricanes, as his goalie, Cam Ward, started on Saturday night.  Brenda & Seward also don't get a start from the home side, leaving this game as a moot point from the crease.

The player that kept Dale's team in the lead last night, Jeff Skinner, will likely go again to finish off the season strong.  Eric should get a final game out of Justin Faulk, while Ryan should have Jaccob Slavin on the same side.  Brenda & Seward should get a game out of Brandon Manning on the Philly side, but that's about it.

James Reimer (Eric) versus Braden Holtby (Jeremy)
It turned out that Philipp Grubauer was the start on the first half of back-to-back games, which leaves Braden Holtby for the Panthers today, giving Eric's money chances a good run today, as he will have James Reimer in net one more time for the Panthers to finish the season.

Brian holds the only player among the top two teams in this game as well, in Florida defenseman Michael Matheson, who has 17 points in 80 games this season.  Not only does Eric have a goalie starting, he might have Justin Williams playing on the other side as well.  Marcie has one of each in this one, Vincent Trocheck and T.J. Oshie, while Ryan has his top two players, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, possibly playing, but they could sit, just as easily.  Don't forget about Brenda & Seward, they have three potential players in Reilly Smith and Jason Demers for Florida and Marcus Johansson for the Capitals.

Ben Bishop (Dale C.) versus Jonathan Bernier (Eric)
With the Kings going yesterday afternoon, it should be a no-brainer that Bishop gets the call tonight, but that's still unconfirmed.  The Ducks were one of two teams that didn't go yesterday, but there is some thought that Bernier will get the nod, but the Ducks may still want to warm up John Gibson, who missed some considerable time with his lower-body injury.  Lots of arguments going both ways, but either way, it's a money game.

If Gibson doesn't play, Dale will give the green light to Tyler Toffoli on the other side, hoping for a big finish to his season.  Marcie is the only other money team to have a skater going in this game in Ryan Kesler, who may or may not get the night off, saving him for the playoffs.

Richard Bachman (N/A) versus Laurent Brossoit (N/A)
With both teams playing in Vancouver last night, I can't see either team playing the same goalie on back-to-back nights.  Indeed, the Oilers confirmed that Brossoit will get the call in their home finale, still trying to win the division, but the Canucks don't have anything to play for and it just wouldn't be worth throwing Ryan Miller into the fray, unless there was some other motivation.

The last game of the season isn't without intrigue.  Dale has Leon Draisaitl, while Brian has Adam Larsson on his side, these two could certainly hit the scoresheet at any time, making this game very interesting.  Marcie will have Patrick Maroon in for the Oilers as well, while Brenda & Seward expect to only have Daniel Sedin in the Canucks lineup tonight.

That's it.  That's the final preview of the year!  Let's have a good and exciting finish to the season!