Monday, April 09, 2018

Week Twenty-Seven Newsletter, Year End Edition

Another NHL season has come and gone!  How did we all let 27 weeks fly by so quickly?  It just seems like a few weeks ago, we convened and drafted our teams.  I dare say, it was a pretty exciting year until just after the second Waiver Draft and then it sort of got a little bit out of control up at the top of the standings.  Nevertheless, we saw some good hockey this season, some great story lines and some that were flat out unbelievable.

Like most year end Newsletters, I'll finish off the week and then I will kick into the annual awards.

Two players finished up the last week of the season with 8 points each, Jamie Benn of the Stars and Ryan Miller of the Ducks, but as we have all grown to know and love... the first tie-breaker is goals scored.

Despite the Stars having been eliminated from playoff contention a while ago, that wasn't going to stop Benn and is ability to flat out score goals.  The 28-year old was absolutely dynamite in the final week of the season, scoring a hat trick against the Sharks on Tuesday, added a goal and an assist against the Ducks on Friday and then topped it all off with another hat trick on Saturday against the Kings.  He went through California and practically surfed his way to this final Player of the Week nod.

Overall, Benn's season was pretty good, finishing 29th among all players in pool scoring with 36 goals and 79 points in all 82 games for Dallas.  That would have had him as an early 2nd round pick in this year's draft.  Unfortunately, he wasn't one of 40 players in the top 100 in pool scoring that finished at over a point-per-game pace, but he was damn close.

For Eric, Benn was his 2nd round draft pick, 44th overall, so there was pretty good value in that pick, almost to the point of a bargain pick.  Sadly, that's where the good news stops, as he went very forward-oriented, but it didn't pay off, like the teams that we'll be highlighting later on in this post.

Eric's team also came away with the sweep of the top weekly honours, winning the Mover & Shaker for Week Twenty-Seven, his second nod in the last six weeks, but it wasn't quite enough to get his team to the equator, although it finished damn close, 14th place.  Eric's team had 39 points in the final week and I'm sure a few of those money chasing teams were looking for this sort of week to finish off the season.

So, besides having the Player of the Week on his side, Eric's team was also blessed with Kyle Connor of the Jets, who finished with 6 points in a very good season, and Evgenii Dadonov of the Panthers and Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks, who each had 5 points.  Only two players on his active roster failed to get any points and those two were on the shelf with injuries for the better part of the week.  I would say that it was a pretty productive last week for Eric's side.

But yes, unfortunately, it wasn't enough for his team to finish in the top half of the standings.  Still, his team did come in 3rd place a year ago, so I don't think he could be too disappointed.

Eric had the 7th pick overall this year and he opted to go with the forward route in his strategy at the draft, using his first four picks up front, before taking a couple of defensemen and not taking a goalie until the 9th round.  Only four of his picks finished higher in the rankings than their pick position and his best bargain pick this season was the Jets rookie, Connor, seen pictured above, taken 307th and ranked 97th.

With that strategy being said, Eric's team finished 3rd in forward points, 20th in defensemen points and 24th in goalie points.  There just wasn't enough support from the back end or maybe, the forwards were not quite good enough, to help his team get too much further up.  It's all about how you spin the luck.

You never really want to see a first year team finish down in the basement of the pool, because you want them back year-after-year, but after Steve showed up to the Olympics pool, I think we might have him back before too long, I'm sure.  Unfortunately for his side, his last place team in the standings, also earned the last Basement Dweller nod of the season too, finishing with only 12 points, unable to catch Scott's team at the very end of the season.

Steve's team found the 25th spot in Week Sixteen and never really looked up from there.  It was a long finish to the year and not even 1st pick in the Week Eighteen Waiver Draft could help his side out.

I am not prepared to look up the number of times this happened, but I don't think it's very many... Steve's team finished last overall with the 1st pick overall in the draft and also having the best player in the hockey pool, coincidentally, the same player, another thing we'll touch on here shortly.  I am not sure that has ever happened before.

Here's hoping that this first year was a good learning curve for Steve and that he comes back with a vengeance next year!

The debate continues to rage on in the media about the Hart Trophy and whether or not it should be awarded to a player that didn't see his team into the playoffs and that's a pretty good discussion at the end of the day.  Thankfully, the hockey pool is far more cut and dry and the MVP award goes to the best player in the hockey pool, no matter if his team finishes in the money or dead last in the standings.

Yes, the 1st pick overall in the hockey pool draft this year, Connor McDavid, came from a ways back to edge Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning by 2 points, 108 to 106, to take his first hockey pool MVP honour.  McDavid did win the Art Ross last year, but didn't have the season that Braden Holtby of the Capitals had and fell short of the pool MVP nod then.

It has been somewhat of a curse to have the 1st pick overall in the hockey pool draft, as it gets really difficult to see a lot of those other 1st round and 2nd round players go, before you get to see your 2nd pick.  This could have very well have been the case for Steve, the pool's newbie (or one of), as he likely wasn't prepared for such a high pick.  He got the best player, but it wasn't his season overall.

Only one name gets to go on the trophy and for the very few of us, it does get to happen multiple times.  Stuart's team is now one of those teams that has his name on more than once, even if some of our members believe that the first year needed an asterisk beside his name.  Stuart's team absolutely dominated the third segment of the season, finishing with 320 points in the last nine weeks and no one's team could possibly catch-up.

The trophy is off to the engraver's today and his season total of 790 points will be added to the wall, forever emblazoned on the historic bobblehead we carry around from year-to-year.

Stuart's team was also one of those teams that was all about the forwards first.  His team had the 2nd overall pick and he was still able to pick up both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, #2 and #49 overall.  How did we let that happen?  His team was also fortunate enough to have one of the biggest bargain picks in Islanders rookie Mathew Barzal, who was taken 349th overall and finished the season 19th in scoring.

And then, let's not forget about the massive stroke of luck he had in the Waiver Draft, dropping Louis Domingue and picking up Keith Kinkaid, who was the new saviour in New Jersey this season.  I think this guy was ridiculously lucky and we all had the chance to shut that down.  I blame all of us more than his luck.

Just a quick note about the hockey pool prize money, I am expecting to collect the last couple fees in the next day or two, Wes and Cam still haven't paid in full yet.  Once the money has been collected, I will sort that all out.  There have been years, where I think I have covered a few people and have forgotten about it and that will happen no more!  All the prize money is safe and sound... well, the money that I have collected, it just needs to be completed.

Looking back, I don't think I actually did a prize money post, but since we're 25 teams at $60 a head, it will be exactly the same as last year's prizes.  Stuart will collect $750 for 1st place, Benson will collect $300 for 2nd place and Dale B. gets $120 for 3rd place.  There is also $60 for the three mini-games, which will be highlighted below and only $150 for my fees, which include the website hosting, trophy engraving and all of the interac e-transfers this year.

Congratulations to all of our overall pool winners, let's recap how the mini-games shook out!

The goalie survivor pool is still one of my favourite mini-games of all-time and I'm glad that it came back for another year.  It's the first time that this mini-game finished as a tie, as Grant's duo of Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer of the Capitals, went toe-to-toe with Wilton's combo of Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning and then the Waiver Draft swapped Chad Johnson of the Sabres for Malcolm Subban of the Golden Knights.  Looking back, it is somewhat of an incredible coincidence, that these two teams couldn't find wins in Week Sixteen, but that's just how it all shakes out.  They will split the entry fee, each getting $30 for their troubles... $20 if they both decide to enter the playoff pool too.

The most volatile statistics in the hockey pool, plus/minus, was the subject of another mini-game and that one told a pretty good story as well.  Steve's last place team in the overall standings, was having a great year in this statistic and he even tried to pad his lead with a couple of good plus/minus moves at the Week Eighteen swap.  That wasn't to be.  Five of the last nine weeks of the season, his team was a combined minus and couldn't find its way back.

This race finished off fairly strong, as Dale B. finished atop of the standings with a +95 rating this season, followed closely by Clayton's team, which was +82, thanks to a +15 final week, falling just short of the money.  Dale B.'s total now goes up to $180 of take home money, which is a great season, following a pool win the year previous.

This year-end Newsletter does seem to be a shit party on Steve's team, but fear not all!  Steve's team was indeed good at something!

Between Connor McDavid of the Oilers and Johnny Gaudreau of the Flames, Steve's side was able to capture the scoring title in this year's All-Star festivities in Tampa Bay, winning his money back, thanks to 7 points (in total) from these two players.  You get your money back, Steve... I hope it was worth all the ripping!

Since it's really easy to keep track of, I did also keep track of penalty minutes again this year.  I do like this statistic as a mini-game, but the wheel didn't seem to agree with me this season.

Nevertheless, Wes' team was the goon side of the season, finishing with a pool-high of 577 minutes in penalties, 62 minutes better than Neil's team at the end of the year.

The rookie pool was another good mini-game of the past, one that a few teams tried to possibly peg their season on during the year.  There were a good number of fine young freshmen out there, so this would have made for a good mini-game this year, if there was any money on it.

Sadly, the last minute surge of rookie points that Chris had in the last week of the season, vaulting him up to top spot in the mini-game, won't be paying him out this year.  His team's 123 points was better than Clayton's 120 points and he can thank Alex DeBrincat of the Blackhawks, Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Blue Jackets, Adrian Kempe of the Kings and Thomas Chabot of the Senators for this honour.


It was pointed out to me, that Tony's team, which picked 25th in the opening round of the draft (and then had the next pick in the 2nd round), exceeded most of his own goals and expectations, beating Kristy & Don by 34 points.  That was just pointed out to me... at random?

As a collective, the pool amassed 15,985 points out of the grand total of 22,893 available to us from all 985 players that stepped foot on the ice for a shift.  That's not too bad for a pool that only has 350 players maximum at any given time, when there are a maximum 713 active players on most rosters (before the trade deadline).

Last season, there were 20,755 points available to us in the hockey pool and the 14,719 and I think before looking at those numbers, I would have definitely said that this was a more exciting year for points, just on how the games were being played and I'm glad the numbers are there to prove it.

See you all in the playoffs, I hope!

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