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L&F Starting Line Ups: NHL Playoffs Round 2

Welcome back to this week’s edition of The L&F Starting Line Ups series! Every week the co-hosts of the Life & Fantasy Podcast, Spence Plamondon and Kaveh Ghidy will face off against Hot Sauce Blogger Jon Eamon in a battle for your votes and affection! We will be drafting weekly line ups based on a specific criteria that pulls inspiration from sports, pop culture and life in general!

Don’t forget to check out last week’s draft where we used Mortal Kombat characters to fill out our starting line ups.

In our first edition of the ‘Starting Line Up’ series, we drafted our starting six from the sixteen teams in Round 1 of the NHL playoffs. Today, we draft from the eight teams that advanced to round two. 

You may remember we had certain criteria – we used real NHL salaries with a cap of $32 million, we had to draft at least one playoff rookie (0GP in playoffs), and we had to draft at least one playoff veteran (50+GP in playoffs). This time around? The shackles were off. Nothing but the salary cap. We also allowed one “keeper” per team: a player you could carry over from Round 1 to Round 2. Initially, we’d planned on allowing two keepers, but sometimes when you smoke pot you forget stuff. Collectively.

Since games started in Round 2 before Round 1 was finished (and before we drafted), we decided to add a scoring quirk: you get to keep the to-date Round 2 stats from your keeper. If you chose not to keep anyone (as Kaveh chose to do), you would be allowed to draft one player who’s to-date Round 2 stats would carry over. 

Make sense? 

It barely did to us either. 

Let’s dive in.

CRITERIA

1. You do not talk about Fight Club.
2. You do not talk about Fight Club.

ROTISSERIE CATEGORIES

  1. Goals
  2. Assists
  3. Power Play Points
  4. Game Winning Goals
  5. Shots
  6. Wins
  7. Saves
  8. Shut Outs

Before diving into this week’s draft, here is s a look at the standings from the First Round!

Round 1 Stats / Standings

Now, to the draft!

PICK 1 – TEAM JON
Nikita Kurcherov (LW, TBL)
Gabriel Landeskog (C, COL)
Mikko Rantanen (RW, COL)
Charlie McAvoy (D, BOS)
Cale Makar (D, COL)
Alex Nedeljkovic (G, CAR)

This draft started with a difficult decision, MacKinnon or Makar? It was too hard to argue against Makar at his contract, and I knew that if I could get lucky, I would be able to get points by association from MacKinnon. This strategic gamble paid off as I was able to get Rantanen and Landeskog back to back at the turn for my 2nd and 3rd picks.

This was only made possible by picking Nedeljkovic first, which honestly was a tough call. I wanted the cap value contract, but I had to really consider whether or not I thought he had the ability to keep pace statistically going up against Tampa. Leading up to the draft, I had Nedeljkovic, Campbell and Sorokin in my cross hairs for cheap, valuable starting goalies. Campbell got Playoff Price’d and Sorokin lost the starting job (for the time being at least) with Varlamov starting Game 2. I knew that if I went heavy contracts first and couldn’t get Ned nor Grubby, I would essentially be f**ked.

So I bit the bullet and decided to take a chance on the how the rest of the draft would play out.

My pre-draft prep had me going Aho/Hedman for my final stack in the draft however Kaveh put that to death real quick by taking MacKinnon 2nd overall; as he should have. Taking Rantanen instead of MacKinnon forced me to look at a different option that is equally as enticing. Kucherov has for the most part been able to keep up with MacKinnon points wise and is an offensive catalyst for arguably the best offensive team left in the playoffs.

McAvoy is also in a similar situation on the back end as he sits 3rd in scoring for defenseman and is the QB of Boston’s first Power Play unit. I was hesitant at first because the Islanders are great at smothering offense, but if Games 1 and 2 are any indication, this series will have more than a 4-3 games to come.

Yet again this round I must say that all three teams are awesome but there were 2 things I wanted shout out:

  1. Kaveh picking Alex Killorn. The hometown boy was on my radar as well, an absolute Playoff performer, got to love the pick.
  2. Spence finishing the draft with exactly $0 left. That is what I call asset management as I leave another ~$1.7M on the board!

PICK 2 – TEAM KAVEH
Nikolaj Ehlers (LW, WIN)
Nathan MacKinnon (C, COL)
Alex Killorn (RW, TBL)
Matt Grzelcyk (D, BOS)
Victor Hedman (D, TBL)
Philipp Grubauer (G, COL)

Because I opted out of keeping one of my players, I had the chance to pick a player and keep his stats for the second round games he played. Easy choice: Nathan MacKinnon. Such a dynamic talent and really showing up in these playoffs, a total game-changer. After Spence finished up his perfection line and Jon had taken the cheapest goalie out there, I decided to go with the next best bang-for-your-buck option: Phillipp Grubauer. At 3.3 million, he was a no brainer.

I was planning on getting a linemate for MacKinnon, but Jon shut that down quick by picking both potential players in Landeskog and Rantanen back to back. I had to pick a player I’ve been tracking since his junior years: Nikolaj Ehlers. He’s got a great compete level, speed for days, and he shoots from anywhere on the ice. Eight shots and two goals in his two games in round one, no small feat in the playoffs where time and space are cut down big time.

After that, I went with someone I’ve been tracking since I was in novice, where I first became aware of him: Alex Killorn. He just always shows up in the playoffs, any team hates playing against him, he plays hard, physical, smart hockey. He seems to be slowly getting better every time he enters the playoffs and it doesn’t hurt that he’s on fire right now.

Speaking of players that are hot, Victor Hedman, who was still available for my first D spot. I had the money to do it and still get a good second D, so this was a no-brainer. With 10 assists already, he’s starting to show that Conn Smythe form from last year. What an unbelievably well rounded player to have on your team. My last (but not least) pick is Matt Grzelcyk. He struggled with injuries all year, but was a staple on the Top PP whenever healthy. Spence and I both loved him the year he had when he was in the lineup. We regularly pumped him on the pod, so it just felt right. Ice time has gone up in the playoffs too, always a plus.

PICK 3 – TEAM SPENCE
Leon Draisaitl (LW, EDM)
Nick Suzuki (C, MTL)
David Pastrnak (RW, BOS)
Rasmus Sandin (D, TOR)
Shea Theodore (D, VGK)
Andrei Vasilevskiy (G, TBL)

Oh my, this was another great one. I love each of our teams, again. Kaveh followed his heart and built such a “Kaveh” team. He drafted his former minor hockey teammate Alex Killorn, who is completely on fire in Tampa. His Grubauer and MacKinnon picks were sick too, and I loved that he snagged Hedman late like that.

Jon once again placed high value on cheap contracts early, a strategy I can’t argue with whatsoever. The Nedeljkovic pick at #1 just has nothing but respect from me. I wouldn’t have gone that way, but Jon knows what he’s doing and the sheer boldness of it made me fall in love with the pick. He held over Makar as well, so he had a ton of money to fill out the rest of his roster, and wow did he ever make that money count. Landy, Rantanen, Kucherov and McAvoy. Wicked team.

I decided to carry over Pastrnak, and with my first two picks I completed the Boston top line by drafting Marchand and Bergeron back to back. All three are signed to six-point-something million a year deals – amazing value. Seeing Jon go Landeskog and Rantanen back to back was sick, and also screwed over Kaveh after he went MacKinnon #1 overall, which was fun. Not that any of us are taking it too seriously. From what I understand, the fist-sized hole in the wall that Kaveh is patching today is completely unrelated.

With about 19 million dedicated to my forwards, it was time to start thinking goalie. I had a brief, momentary freak out when I realized that beyond Ned and Grubauer (taken by Jon and Kaveh respectively at this point), there weren’t any cheap goalies left. I gathered myself – stopped yelling at my cat, splashed water on my face, bit into a whole lemon – and I got to digging.

I looked long and hard at Varlamov (5M) on NYI, but I couldn’t get over the fact that if I went with him, I wouldn’t know for sure that he’d be in nets for the whole series. I guess that’s true of anyone, but with the Isles that change can come without injury. I also didn’t love going against Boston, though I have Isles in 7 in my pool. I ended up deciding to shell out the extra money to get Connor Hellebuyck (6.16M), knowing I’d have to go with at least one D I probably hadn’t planned to. Helle at that price is still wicked value, though. Thrilled to have him.

Those D? First, Neal Pionk, who I honestly thought was still on the Top PP. Morrissey spent the first chunk of the season there before Pionk took over, and I still feel Pionk is the better option. I’m also not an NHL coach, for damn good reason. Either way, I’m a Pionk fan and he’s got 3 points in 4 games so far. Hoping he gets PP production, whatever unit he’s on. Both are strong on the Jets.

My last D? I didn’t WANT to pick him so much as I had to. As I was scouring away and not finding many D I both liked and could afford, Kaveh pointed out to me that Ryan Graves’ cap hit was exactly the amount of space I had left. Like, down to 0 dollars. I had to do it. Graves, who you may know as last year’s best defenceman (based on +/- fine print is for suckers aliens exist) has 5 points in 5 games so far these playoffs, which you could EASILY say is a big overachievement that’s completely unsustainable, to which I would say yeah but f**k you

Be sure to let us know who’s team you think is the best, as well as what roster combination you would create with $32M in cap space. Tune in next week when we draft our starting NHL line up using only players from the 1997-98 NHL season!

As always don’t forget to check out the rest of the Hot Sauce Family and check out our Youtube channel for all our podcasts and videos! In the latest episode of the L&F Podcast the boys discuss Round 1 of the NHL Playoffs, recapping the results from their multiple pools while also previewing Round 2!

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