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Starting Line Up – Conference Finals

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!

This week’s draft was a continuation of our playoff pool as we drafted from the four remaining teams competing in the Conference Finals. Yes we know it may not be the official name this year but it is to us so back off!

We used real NHL salaries with a cap of $32 million ceiling for all six players. No keepers this time around so it was wide open!

Make sense? 

It barely did to us either. 

Let’s dive in.


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


  1. Goals (G)
  2. Assists (A)
  3. Power Play Points (PPP)
  4. Game Winning Goals (GWG)
  5. Shots (S)
  6. Wins (W)
  7. Saves (SV)
  8. Shut Outs (SO)

Before diving into this week’s draft, here is s a look at the standings from Rounds One and Two.

Totals include Scoring from Conference Finals

Now, to this week’s draft!

Nikita Kurcherov (LW, TBL)
Nick Suzuki (C, MTL)
Anthony Beauvillier (RW, NYI)
Shea Theodore (D, VGK)
Erik Gustafsson (D, MTL)
Marc-André Fleury (G, VGK)

I call this one my “Vaccine Draft”. Got my first shot of Moderna Saturday and went on my merry way, not feeling a thing. My head hit the pillow that night like “Pfft, no side effects for this guy.”

Then I woke up the next morning.

Feeling like hammered sh*t, I postponed the release of the L&F pod (editing was out of the question), and chilled in bed, killing time waiting for this draft. I didn’t have much of a strategy, but having the first overall pick made it an easy start: Nikita Kucherov. No explanation needed.

Once it came back around to me, I went Beauvillier and Marc-André Fleury with my first back-to-back picks. Beauvillier was a pretty easy choice; he’s dirt cheap and putting up a point per game these playoffs. Fleury was tougher. I looked at the goalies available and knew given the salaries of Price and Vasi, I’d be wise not to let the draft decide who to take for me. Fleury just made the most sense to me, but it was tough to go against the Habs. I ended up reasoning that since I’d gone Habs in 7 in my playoff pool, I could hedge my bet with Fleury in this one.

After that, both Jon and Kaveh altered my plans. Jon took Hedman, and I would soon realize that would have a bigger impact than expected. Kaveh went Caufield, which didn’t mess me up so much as it directed me to Nick Suzuki. Honestly, Suzuki makes sense as the better pick in a bunch of ways, but I guess we both just have a good feeling about Caufield this round. He’s also the more “fun” pick of the two.

After Suzuki, it was time to find D – and to come to the realization that I would’ve needed Hedman for this to be a great team. Ah, well. Wasn’t meant to be. With all four teams’ capfriendly pages open and about 12.5 million left to spend on my two D, I scoured the remaining players to find that… my money wasn’t good for what I’d hoped. This is where my lack of planning bit me a bit. I went Shea Theodore first – despite the lower than expected production so far, I still saw him as the best offensive talent available on the back end at that point.

Then I had to wait for the last pick in the draft to take my last D, and Kaveh went ahead and snagged the guy I probably would’ve gone with if given the chance: Mikhail Sergachev. This left me with about 7.3 million to spend on guys like Nick Leddy, Jeff Petry and Alec Martinez. Not scrubs by any means, and I looked long and hard at Jeff Petry, but in the end, I wasn’t comfortable taking him with the injury factor. I also had this weird, nagging voice in the back of my head that had been pestering me for the last few rounds. What was it saying? Aside from “burn things”, it was saying “Erik Gustafsson”.

It’s a silly pick, and there’s plenty of potential for this to backfire – the Knights outmatch the Habs so substantially that I could see him being sent to the press box to avoid being a defensive liability – but he’s also helped to spark the Habs power play, and I think if they’re going to beat the Knights, that power play is gonna need to be producing. Gustafsson for the win baby.

Kyle Palmieri (LW, NYI)
Brayden Point (C, TBL)
Corey Perry (RW, MTL)
Noah Dobson (D, NYI)
Victor Hedman (D, TBL)
Andrei Vasilevskiy (G, TBL)

So I will say two things about this draft:

1. I came in with a ‘plan’ and managed to execute it to about 75% perfection
2. DO NOT golf and draft

Coming into the draft my strategy was to get Kyle Palmieri and two ELCs/Vet minimum contracts. I had Noah Dobson and Caufield as my top two targets. This would allow me to take on one of the three big goalie contracts and still give me the Cap space to go after the big contracts like Kucherov and Hedman. However, Spence immediately threw a wrench into the plan by drafting Kucherov first overall. The draft coincided with me teeing off on Hole 1 so seeing my top target gone was not the start I needed. Neither was topping my tee shot but here we are.

I was forced to collect myself in two scenarios but it was the first pick/hit so lots of time to get back on track. I decided not to lose out on my value contract so I drafted Palmieri right away to give myself options. On the way back I contemplated a few options but ultimately went with the value contract option yet again. Dobson is playing on an ELC and is currently tied for fourth in points among defenceman still in the playoffs. He plays on the Islanders first PP unit and entered the Conference Finals on a 3 game point streak with 4 assists, including 2 on the PP. So while I may have lost the 1st hole, at least I got two of the guys I wanted so it evens out for now.

Hole 2 we have a long Par 3 (196 yards) center pin tucked just behind he edge on a bunker that lines the entire left side of the green. Tee shot takes off in a straight line for the sand but comes up short of the bunker. Come back to the cart and I see that I’m on the clock on Hedman is available so you know what, best of a bad situation. Chip and a 2 putt to save bogey and the tie.

With Hedman and a bogey, I’m in a good space mentally for a long Par 4 (450). Hit my driver 250ish down the middle, giving myself a shot at getting on the green in two. Putting this in my head was my first mistake, the second was picking up my phone to see that Kaveh drafted Caufield. I’m slightly rattled but this drive is keeping my spirits up, so I channel my frustration into getting on the green.

Natrually I top the s**t out of it and the ball rolls 10 yards. This is where things go downhill, primarily for the golf game.

My third shot rolls up onto the front of the green leaving me with a 40+ foot putt up hill that slops to the right. “Alright Jon keep it together”. Back in the cart I look over the available players and see Brayden Point, no brainer pick for me, and it helps offset the disappointment of missing out on Kucherov. I tried to use this to motivate myself which didn’t work at all. First putt is killed by the uphill. Second putt is a complete overcompensation and sails past the hole, leaving me with an 8-9 foot putt for the double. Third putt has a great line, good weight and of course it lips out. Picked up the triple and all rational thinking and composure is completely gone.

Back to the cart to see that I’m on the clock, and just from the pre-draft strategy I figured I had to get myself a value contract. With Caufield long gone, and Spence taking Suzuki, I decide to grab the legend, Corey Perry. After the Perry pick Kaveh was quick with his final two picks so I closed out my draft with Vasilevskiy. With the draft over I was very happy with my team, and then I look at my remaining Cap Space, $3.9M. My brain immediately does the math and realizes I could’ve afforded Toffoli.

My next three shots, Driver into fescue, fescue into water, drop shot into the sand. I proceeded to throw that ball into the water too, it was a bad day to be a golf ball. The good news is the course had a great beer selection! My lack of golf skills aside I love my team and full credit to Kaveh and Spence for continuously dropping the dagger on me each round, I should know better than to wait on players by now.

Conference Finals Draft

Max Pacioretty (LW, VGK)
Jonathan Marchessault (C, VGK)
Cole Caufield (RW, MTL)
Mikhail Sergachev (D, TBL)
Alexander Romanov (D, MTL)
Semyon Varlamov (G, NYI)

Gotta start by saying that this is probably my favorite team to date because it pushed me to pick players from Montreal and Vegas, two teams that I’ve really enjoyed watching these playoffs. I started off with a bonafide goal scorer in Pacioretty. He’s been getting better and better each game since he came back from injury this postseason. I combined that with the great play of Jonathan Marchessault, who’s so tenacious on the puck. He plays with so much passion and with that I got a great duo for my top two forwards.

For my third and fourth pick I needed to go with a goalie, Spence had just drafted Fleury and he was my first goalie I was looking at, so I went with Varlamov. I’ve liked this guy since he was in Colorado, and he seems to have found a new level in his game these past two seasons with the Islanders. I was very happy to pick Cole Caufield as my next pick, so dynamic on the ice, having a great playoff, just been impressing me at every turn. Hasn’t scored in the playoffs yet either, hoping for him to maybe start producing there. Feels like he’s building up to something here.

For my last two picks I made a conscious decision to go with youth after snagging Caufield from Spence. I needed two defensemen and went with Mikhail Sergachev and Alexander Romanov, two great skating defencemen. Sergachev had a bigger role this year in Tampa, powerplay and all, had him all year in our money league. Really becoming the defenceman we thought he would be here in Montreal. That’s why I went with Romanov, I saw so much of Sergachev in him, puck skill-wise and in their skating. This kid has so much potential, and it’s going to be very easy to root for him if he stays in the lineup.

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! On this week’s episode of the Life & Fantasy Podcast Spence and Kaveh are going by Jared Tweedie as the three break down the Second Round of the Stanley Cup and give their predictions for the Conference Finals.

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