September 25, 2008
It's a great Internet tradition that dates back to late April, 2008: the Roto Arcade preseason mock draft. Having mocked football and basketball on ridiculously early dates, the Yahoo! experts displayed some rare plate discipline and allowed camps to open before breaking out the hockey mock.
The rules remain the same: six experts draft for two teams each, picking back-to-back and justifying their selections in writing to the delight of commenters everywhere. We anticipate drafting for five rounds or until one of the six stops replying on the email thread. For the purpose of ridiculing picks, please assume default league settings.
Daniel Sedin, Vancouver LW – Round 4, Pick 1 (37). Number 22's slipping stats last season were largely attributed to Alain Vigneault breaking up the twins in an attempt to increase team scoring. After that experiment failed, Vigneault has vowed to keep the brothers together this year. There is nothing flashy to his game but expect Daniel to return to a point-per-game pace again. (Tony Huang).
Thomas Vanek, Buffalo LW – Round 4, Pick 2 (38).
Vanek is one of the few forwards with the talent needed to break the 50-goal barrier. While nobody has doubted his talent, his consistency has constantly been questioned. From the GM that gave you Briere, Drury, Campbell and Dumont, Vanek was the only one resigned to a superstar contract. Put that together with 23 goals scored after the All-Star game (34 games) and you have a monster fantasy forward ready to reclaim fantasy stardom. (Huang).
Chris Pronger, Anaheim D – Round 4, Pick 3 (39). Continuing with my theme of loading up on elite fantasy d-men early, Pronger remains one of the best. He sees monster minutes alongside fellow stud Scott Niedermayer, and is extremely solid in both the scoring and PIM departments. Points-wise he took a step back last year (43 in 72 games), but playing half a season without Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne will have that effect. I'm expecting him to bounce back to his usual 55-60 point production this year. (Mark McLarney).
Brian Campbell, Chicago D – Round 4, Pick 4 (40). Campbell ranked second among NHL defensemen with 54 assists last season and tied for third in points with 62. He now joins a young Chicago team with a ton of firepower, and will lead the rush for guys like Kane, Toews, Havlat and Sharp. He instantly assumes the role of No. 1 offensive d-man and should easily be able to maintain his recent level of production. (McLarney).
Ryan Miller, Buffalo G – Round 4, Pick 5 (41). The low shutout count and save percentage worry me – Miller is no superstar – but he's still an every-night guy on a team that has playoff designs. I refuse to pay a target price on Miller, but this is a slot where I can accept him in good conscience. I also don't like to play chicken with No. 1 goalies too much – if this franchise didn't get one now, I'm afraid what might be left a round later. (Scott Pianowski).
Dan Boyle, San Jose D – Round 4, Pick 6 (42). He's healthy, getting a much-needed change of scenery, and headed for a winter of fun on the Joe Thornton power play. Boyle's got some extra motivation driving him as well; the breakup with the Lightning was a messy one. I'll be stunned if he doesn't have a huge year, mostly for himself and his team, but also as a farewell kiss-off to Tampa Bay management. (Pianow).
Alexander Frolov, Los Angeles LW – Round 4, Pick 7 (43). Yes, this pick is an overdraft but I believe you need at least one strong left winger to effectively compete in a 12-team Yahoo! league. Frolov is underrated when it comes to plus-minus and I think he's poised for a 35-goal, 80-point season. I debated between Frolov, Simon Gagne and Alexander Semin. In the end, Gagne's concussion recovery was too big a risk and Semin is a one-zone wonder. (Janet Eagleson).
Eric Staal, Carolina C – Round 4, Pick 8 (44). Again, the best player still on the board – I should never have been able to get this guy in the last half of round four. He's on the cusp of absolute greatness this year and a 42-goal, 95-point stanza is in his crosshairs. This squad – with Staal, Ryan Getzlaf and Henrik Zetterberg – has arguably the best offensive trio of any team thus far. And doesn't offense win fantasy leagues? After goaltending (and my Brodeur), that is. (Eagleson).
Sergei Gonchar, Pittsburgh D – Round 4, Pick 9 (45). In a head-to-head league you can make a case for ignoring defensemen, instead loading up on surplus forwards to ensure near capacity at your F positions every night. Not so in rotisserie leagues with position limits. Defensemen matter here so I'm jumping into the rush, albeit with some hesitation given Gonchar's recent injury. (Matt Romig).
Mike Richards, Philadelphia C – Round 4, Pick 10 (46). Richards' breakthrough season included 75 points in 73 regular season games and seven goals in 17 games in the playoffs. With Simon Gagne healthy (knock on wood) there are plenty of forward assets on board to keep both Richards and teammate Danny Briere happy. I've already drafted a center for this team, but I couldn't pass here on the 90-point upside with a healthy side order of grit. (Mig).
Anze Kopitar , Los Angeles C – Round 4, Pick 11 (47). Evidently, we live in a world where Alexander Frolov gets selected before Anze. I’m fine with that, obviously. He had 32 goals and 77 points last season, with some monster power-play stats. Sky’s the limit. (Greg Wyshynski).
Andrei Markov, Montreal D – Round 4, Pick 12 (48). He had 58 points last season and has had 32 points on the power play in each of the last two seasons. His penalty minutes are average, and his plus/minus is poo-poo; we’ll assume one of those categories corrects itself this season. (Puck Daddy).