Yes, THN had an office fantasy draft

Matt Larkin
Crosby-blog

Any office pool puts plenty of pride – and often a few bucks – at stake. But how much more do you want it when you work for the Hockey News? A lot. Waiting until after the final NHL roster cuts, like any good hockey rag should, we held our 2013-14 THN fantasy draft today. Ten GMs participated, each picking 14 players.

The format: points only, no set positions required.

The draft order:

1.    Jason Kay, THN editor in chief
2.    Ryan Kennedy, THN associate senior writer
3.    Scott Carefoot, THN digital product manager
4.    Adam Proteau, THN columnist/writer
5.    Brian Richardson, TV Guide listings reporter
6.    Matt Larkin, THN copy editor/video host, a.k.a. ME
7.    Justin Polce, TV Guide listings reporter
8.    Rory Boylen, THN web editor
9.    Brian Costello, THN senior editor
10.  Shea Berencsi, THN graphic designer

The draft:

draft photo

A notable takeaway for each team in the draft:

1. A lot has to go right for the big boss, Mr. Kay. He’s asking for healthy seasons from Jason Spezza, Marian Gaborik and Jeff Skinner. That’s like asking Louie Anderson to lay off the Wendy’s baconators.

2. Ryan Kennedy had one of the stronger drafts, combining the money-in-the-bank skill of Steven Stamkos and James Neal with high-upside, medium-risk picks like Nazem Kadri, Jonathan Huberdeau and Justin Schultz. This is a high-floor, high-ceiling team.

3. Scott Carefoot sputtered a bit early, often picking guys who were already chosen (at least Adam Proteau had an excuse, as he picked over the phone). But Scott came on strong late with sexy sleepers like Marcus Johansson and Damien Brunner. He may get the last laugh.

4. Adam’s love affair with Logan Couture extended from real life and THN’s pages to the draft, where he nabbed San Jose’s breakout star.

5. Brian Richardson may have nabbed three top-10 scorers with his first three picks. Me likey. Joffrey Lupul and his chronically bad back, er, shoulder, er, skeleton in the fifth? Not so much.

6. I had John Tavares and Taylor Hall ranked in my top seven players, so I was shocked to get both of them. Does everyone else know something I don’t?

7. Apparently they show hockey on television. TV Guide guy Justin Polce was on fire with early picks like Patrick Kane, Matt Duchene and Jamie Benn, regularly snaking my queue.

8. If this were 2005-06, Rory Boylen’s top three of Eric Staal, Henrik Sedin and Joe Thornton would’ve been the envy of the league.

9. Brian Costello’s draft was nicely tailored for the format, which is extremely important. Points-only means it doesn’t matter if a guy is soft, doesn’t shoot enough or never fights. All that matters is the ‘PTS’ column and that’s why players like Martin St-Louis, Jason Pominville and Mike Ribeiro were wise grabs for our senior editor.

10. Graphic designer Shea Berencsi went from strong starter – Jonathan Toews, Phil Kessel, Bobby Ryan, Max Pacioretty – to cautionary tale. In a points league that doesn’t require players at certain positions, very few defensemen should be drafted. Duncan Keith needs a Norris Trophy-caliber effort for 55 points, whereas a banger like Wayne Simmonds is a lock for 45. Simmonds went undrafted, Keith went to Shea in round 9.

It looks like a four-horse race between Team Kennedy, Team Polce, Team Costello and Team Me, but what do I really know? As Ryan Kennedy always says at the office, “that’s why they play the games.”