Welcome back to this week’s edition of The L&F Starting Line Up 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 along with special guest Jared Tweedie (who looks to be a new permanent fixture!) 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 we return to the hockey world after an incredibly enjoyable stretch in the pop culture world! This week we will be drafting players exclusively from the recent UFA class which provided a lot of talent, and interesting signings during Free Agent Frenzy.
- You do not talk about Fight Club
- Only draft players who were 2021 UFA’s
- Must draft one RFA and one 25 and under player (can draft both with one player)
Simple right?! Without further ado here is the resulting draft board.
PICK 1 – TEAM JARED
LW – Alex Ovechkin
C – Gabriel Landeskog
RW – Nick Foligno
LD – Rasmus Dahlin
RD – Tyson Barrie
G – Jaroslav Halak
First overall, I went with Ovi for the simple fact that I’m Canadian and want him as far away from the Olympics as possible. Also need that strong gritty winger that knows how to put the puck in the back of net. Doesn’t hurt that his energy has the ability to infect a team in a positive way.
Went with Gabe Landeskog next due to his great size and strength on the puck, another great leader to have on the team he has an edge about him that is hard to find and simply cant be taught to a player so he was a must grab for sure.
In Nick Foligno, I added to the group of grizzled vets up front. We needed a guy who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work down low, in the corners and can play on the PK as well as join the top guys on the powerplay if needed. Nick the ex-Leaf was a must draft for me. The former captain of Columbus has the character and mold to fit and lead this team to victory.
Needed another right handed shot that has the threat to score from the blue-line, I think Tyson Barrie may struggle on the defense side, but that’s not why I took him. Love how much of threat he is on offense for the PP we need that extra bit of threat from the left hand side to maybe free up Ovi when he’s not getting his shot off.
A Swedish delight that was a must-have, Rasmus Dahlin has size, speed and a ton of skill. His potential is still far from being reached and he will only get better. At the end of the year he finally got the green light, and if that is any sign to come of how the team can play when he’s being well coached, then we are all in for better days moving forward.
In nets, I went Jaro Halak after giving Freddy Andersen a long look. Never doubt or lose faith in Mr. Halak. He’s a goalie I always look to in fantasy, so while it may have hurt to not draft Freddy, I felt I had to go with the guy who’s never let me down in the past. As a Leafs fan… that kinda took Andersen off the table. I’m hoping Jaro shows the same solid poise he had as a Bruins back-up. In Halak we trust.
PICK 2 – TEAM KAVEH
LW – Mike Hoffman
C – Ryan Getzlaf
RW – Jaden Schwartz
LD – Cale Makar
RD – David Savard
G – Philipp Grubauer
A lot of interesting free agents this year that can help teams in all different ways, whether it be on the powerplay or helping out on the back end, reflected pretty well with all the teams drafted.
With the Great 8 off the board and not tempting me I decided to get my RFA pick and my under 25 pick out of the way. “Get two birds stoned at once” as Ricky from the Trailer Park Boys would say. Not only did I get that out of the way, I also got one of the best skating and dynamic defenseman in the league, and he just keeps getting better.
I wanted to lock in my goalie for my second pick and there’s no better man for the job than Grubauer for me. He played so well with Colorado last year. You can always rely on Gruby, it’s gonna be a unique challenge with him signing in Seattle. We’re gonna see what he’s made of. I think he’s up for it. Time will tell.
Now that my back end had a solid foundation, I decided to get myself a player that could score. So I decided to get myself some Mike Hoffman, a shooter to the core. If you need some secondary scoring, he’s your guy, put him on the powerplay for best results.
Jaden Schwartz is just a player that I’m always keeping an eye on, he has the ability to turn his game on in an instant. When he’s healthy and at the top of his game, he can compete with the best of them. Another player that also has some scoring in him, another good attribute to have.
I locked up my defensive pairing with David Savard. He’s not known for his high offensive output but he will definitely hold down the fort no problem. Good physical presence in front of the net and he can be seen jumping into the play when need be and not looking too out of place. A bigger role now in Montreal, curious to see how he adjusts.
All I was missing was a centre. It wasn’t the most talented pool to choose from, so I decided to go with Ryan Getzlaf. Good ol’ reliable Getzlaf, no nonsense, hardworking centreman, pretty good at dishing the puck as well. Late in his career, I think he still has a couple of alright seasons left in the tank.
PICK 3 – TEAM SPENCE
LW – Tomas Tatar
C – Phillip Danault
RW – Andrei Svechnikov
LD – Alex Goligoski
RD – Dougie Hamilton
G – Tukka Rask
Cool UFA class to choose from this year. There are solid options at each position, and with the RFA twist and under 25 wrinkle, we had a nice pool of talent pick from.
With Cale Makar gone, I had to go Andrei Svechnikov with my first pick. I looked long and hard at Rasmus Dahlin, but as of right now, I’m confident Svechnikov is the way to go. After Jon’s back to backs, I was pleasantly surprised to see Dougie Hamilton still there, which made my decision an easy one.
After that, with Kaveh snagging Grubauer, it was time to look for a goalie. It was Rask and then everyone else, so I decided on Rask. Here’s hoping he doesn’t retire. Following Rask, I took the top centre off the board in Phillip Danault. He doesn’t have high end offence in him, but I had a plan – one that came to fruition with my pick in the next round, Tomas Tatar. With 2/3rds of the Tatar-Danault-Gallagher line that was dominant at driving play in Montreal for the last few seasons, I feel I can get the most out of Danault offensively. Replacing Gallagher with Svechnikov hopefully buoys that even more.
With my last pick, I was looking for a reliable Left Defenceman to pair with Dougie Hamilton. I considered Ryan Suter but at the end of the day, I just feel like Alex Goligoski is the kinda guy you want riding on Dougie’s shotgun. He’s still a minute muncher despite his advancing age, and he plays a steady, consistent, defensively sound game with solid puck moving skills to boot.
PICK 4 – TEAM JON
LW – Taylor Hall
C – Alex Wennberg
RW – Brandon Saad
LD – Jonas Brodin
RD – Connor Timmins
G – Igor Shesterkin
It was a long weekend here in Alberta which I was not aware of but I couldn’t delay the celebrations for this draft. My first mistake was suggesting a draft that requires lots of intelligence, however I loved the talent available and there are some very good teams here. At the top I had to address the goaltending position. I knew there were more than enough options, but for anyone who knows me knows that I an enamored by Igor Shesterkin and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to draft him.
My next pick was a false start as I misunderstood the RFA rule and took Kaprizov, after reneging the pick I took a look at each position and the UFA depth at Left Defense was mildly concerning to me. Jonas Brodin was my favourite of the bunch as a very sound defensemen that can do a little bit of everything. This gave me flexibility on the Right.
During my next back-to-backs I decided to go after two of the top winger targets on the market in Taylor Hall and Brandon Saad. Both can easily reach the 20-25+ goal plateau, and Hall is not that far removed from his Hart winning season and should see a massive bounce back season this year. Saad has been a consistent and reliable goal scorer who has been the perfect compliment to a line with superstars like Toews, Landeskog, etc.
On the final turn I had to draft a Center and the guy I had my eye on the whole time managed to slip to me. After pulling an absolute bone headed move passing on Landy because I accidently scratched him off my list, Alex Wennberg was my next top candidate. Took a chance that he would fly under the radar, but he is another guy that would have had close to a 25 goal season in a full season. Line him up between two high scoring wingers and I think you see an even higher goal total, not to mention just an elevated point total in general.
With the final pick I went with a technicality in Connor Timmins who was a 10.2(C) RFA, however by being traded to the Arizona Coyotes, Timmins became a UFA. I think he is a great young defender who was lost in the shuffle in Colorado’s ridiculous depth on defense. This upcoming season may not be his full coming out party, but he is not far away and when he finally reaches the point where he is good enough to play next to Chychrun, the two will form a very good pairing.
Be sure to let us know who’s team you think is the best, as well as what South Park characters you would use to create your ultimate NHL starting line up! Leave your line up in the comments for your chance to join us for an upcoming draft to test your wit, knowledge and patience.
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 Weekly Sauce Terry and Alex the Intern are joined by The Hockey Expert Marco D’Amico to talk the Habs offseason, Shea Weber, Logan Mailloux and Marc Bergevin.