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L&F Starting Line Up – 2003 NHL Entry Draft Edition

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 which was the Conference Finals Round of our Playoff pool draft! As we head into Game 5 of between Vegas and Montreal, here is a look at the updated standings.

Check out our full rosters here

This week we decided to revisit possibly one of the greatest drafts classes of the modern era. The three of us hopped into the Hot Sauce funded DeLorean and returned to 2003 to draft this week’s starting line up. This one was pretty straight forward, however with so much talent on the board we added in one small twist. We could only draft one player from each round with one exception where we could draft two players from any round of our choice.

Here is this week’s draft board!

PICK 1 – TEAM JON
Clarke MacArthur (LW, RD3)
Eric Staal (C, RD1)
Patrice Bergeron (RW, RD2)
Kyle Quincey (D, RD4)
Shea Weber (D, RD2)
Brian Boucher (G, RD9)

This draft was a lot of fun and being forced to strategically draft based on the round the respective player was drafted in was a nice added twist. With the first overall pick I had to get my favourite player and current Habs captain Shea Weber. Even at the age of 36 I pulled my best Bergevin impression and went and got the infamous man mountain.

Kaveh was snipping the guys I wanted all draft, it was quite rude! After Weber, big Buff and Pavelski were next on my list, both because of their successful careers as well as their draft position value. Kudos to my man for being one step ahead of me but getting to draft Bergeron on the way back is a dream. It did hurt because he and Weber were both 2nd Round picks so I used up my one exception for drafting two players from the same draft. I went with MacArthur next, if injuries didn’t derail his career I honestly think he would have been in the conversation as one of the biggest steals from this draft (and there were a lot as you can tell).

With so much talent in the first round I felt comfortable waiting for my next turn to draft a player at the top of the draft board. Once again I had Getzlaf at the top of my wish list and figured a shift to Fleury would be more than fine. Then Kaveh’s two picks happened and I was left crushed once again. Like I said, with so much talent in the first round, being relegated to drafting Montreal Canadiens legend Eric Staal was a very solid consolation prize. Bergeron has experience playing on the Wing specifically in International Events so he should have a seamless transition to make room for Staal.

Next up I went Kyle Quincey, a solid puck moving Defenceman that had a couple of impressive seasons in the mid part of his career. Playing hypothetical GM/Coach in my own head, I figured that if he had a partner like Weber we may have seen an added dimension to his game. All of that to say that I think Quincey and Weber’s styles would mesh well together and would elevated each others game. I was torn on this pick and I knew that not going with a goalie may leave me in a hole, but I thought the drop off at D was bigger than at Goalie.

As he always does Spence dropped the dagger on me in the final round, crushing my dreams of stealing Jaro Halak at the end of the draft. I begrudgingly took Brian Elliot who has made a fantastic career as a 1-B/back up goalie. He had moments where he looks poised to cement himself as the starting goalie, however he was never able to pick up and run with it. Despite that, he still has good numbers and considering the fact that I perfectly backed myself into a corner I was slightly hand tied.

At the end of the day I am very happy with this team, all five of my players ranked in the top 40 in scoring in this draft class. I have two of the three top scorers along with a top 3 scoring defenseman. Hopefully this will allow me to keep pace with Kaveh and Spence!

PICK 2 – TEAM KAVEH
David Backes (LW, RD2)
Ryan Getzlaf (C, RD1)
Joe Pavelski (RW, RD7)
Jan Hejda (D, RD4)
Dustin Byfuglien (D, RD8)
Marc-André Fleury (G, RD1)

Didn’t know what to expect with this draft, a good draft class with so many top players to choose from. Jon set the pace for me with Weber, a hard hitting, hard working defenseman. After I saw that I went for the same type of player in Dustin Byfuglien. Such a powerful skater, big body and great hitter. He also shows flares of finesse with skill-plays and dekes, just a great all round player. I truly miss watching this guy play.

So I decided to stick with the gritty “hard to play against” type of player after picking Byfuglien. I had to go with Joe Pavelski, a seventh round pick (205 overall). Another player that leaves it all out of the ice. Never quits – even after getting banged up in a previous game, he’s ready to go next game, no problem.

Since I got my round 8 and 7 steals out of the way, I started looking at the first round. Lo and behold Ryan Getzlaf, my reliable gritty center, great in the face off circles. Has the same qualities I was looking for in this draft, fits in perfectly, I see him setting up Pavelski on the powerplay with ease.

Since Spence had taken two players in the first round already I knew that Fleury was gonna be my goalie. Can’t help but say good things about this player, such a competitor. Always has a smile on his face, and still a star in the NHL to this day. He was by far my favorite goalie on my fantasy teams this year (and I had Grubauer on a couple of teams!).

I was looking at Kyle Quincey for this pick but once Jon snagged him, I had to change my plans a bit. So I kept going with the tough and rough theme I had going. David Backes is another player that’s just great in the corner and on the forecheck, helps create a bit of time and space for his fellow linemates. I’m gonna be honest, it was slim pickings for my last defenseman. I went with stay -at-home defenseman Jan Hejda. I can only remember his play in Colorado, he wasn’t the most noticeable guy, but in a good way. Someones gotta stay back while Byfuglien has fun up there.

PICK 3 – TEAM SPENCE
Lee Stempniak (LW, RD5)
Maxim Lapierre (C, RD2)
Corey Perry (RW, RD1)
Tobias Enstrom (D, RD8)
Brent Burns (D, RD1)
Jaroslav Halak (G, RD9)

So despite having a pretty in-depth conversation about this draft and its parameters earlier in the day, I somehow completely spaced on my first two picks and forgot the parameters entirely. This led me to going Brent Burns and Corey Perry 1-2, burning my wildcard pick by doubling down on the first round. Worse, I used that wildcard pick on a winger in a draft that’s lacking Top 6 centre talent outside the first round.

My boneheaded plan was to get Burns first, then take one of Perry and Getzlaf and hope the other fell to me in the next round. This obviously wouldn’t have been allowed as it would’ve been three first round picks, and Kaveh ended up snagging Getzlaf before my next pick anyway. By the time my 3rd and 4th picks came, I was in way over my head. It was too late – all I could do now was lean into the fall. I went Halak-Stempniak, remembering that Lee Stempniak, while often a winger, played some centre throughout his career.

That happened, right?

Apparently not. As my last two picks came up, I decided to double check Stempniak’s stats – usually a step to take before you make the pick. Turns out he took like 250 total draws over his 14 year career, with 32.7% of them won. That’s… that’s not a centre. That’s not a centre at all. But you know who is? Maxim Lapierre! Everyone’s favourite a**hole! Mostly known for his grit, Lapierre had underrated skill and offensive ability tha—

sigh

Alright fine, I took him because I had to! There was nothing left! It was him, Brad Richardson, Kyle Brodziak, Nate Thompson or John Mitchell. So I went with the hometown kid. He’s a solid two way centre that’s gonna get in the opponents head and blah blah blah, defensive hockey and tenacity.

The funny thing is, I actually looked at Pavelski with my second pick before going Perry, and if I had just done that, I would’ve been able to salvage this team. I was on the phone with Kaveh while drafting, and I must’ve said “why the f*ck didn’t I just go Pavelski?!” 20 times after realizing I’d messed up. Actually, that’s not true. Half of those were “why the f*ck did I pick Corey Perry?!”

In the end, it wasn’t meant to be. With my last pick, I went Tobias Enstrom. As a Thrashers fan, I followed him from Day 1, and I remember what a force he was in those early years before he became a well rounded, defence-first, puck moving D for Winnipeg. I was happy to end on that note – I think I probably go this route even if I come in fully prepared, so at least I had a nice way to go out.

I want to make a quick shoutout to Kaveh and Jon for their teams. I love that they both loaded up on guys who are hard to play against. I almost wish I’d left Halak for Jon since my team is clearly weaker than theirs, but Brian Elliott had some shockingly effective stretches in his career, so that ain’t a bad way to go.

Which of the three teams do you think is the best? Be sure to let us know in the comments along with the Line Up you would draft and you could win your chance to join Spence, Kaveh and Jon for a draft one week to see if you can take us down!

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 this week’s episode of the L&F Podcast Spence and Kaveh are joined by Jared Tweedie to discuss the Conference Finals and they make their picks for who they have going to the Stanley Cup Finals!

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