Mammoth Review: Preparing to Draft

Hey folks, Matt Riegler here stoked to be entering season two as the Minnesota Mammoths GM and thankful to Chris for allowing me an opportunity to take part in several outreaches for the league, including writing in this blog. 

As a returning GM I'll admit that I'm a bit worried that I'll make the wrong keeper selections. More specifically, I'm worried that I'll trust too highly in a player who's in his late 20s and had a career high shooting percentage last year. I'm looking at you Mr. Callahan and Mr. Pominville.

Coming into last season's draft, my goal was simply to spread the scoring (points, not goals) burden across as many people as I could. I figured that as long as my selections saw top six minutes, played special teams (at least one side) and blocked half a shot a game, that'd mean he'd be less likely to go into a slump. This couldn't have worked out better as Pavelski, Moulson, and Fleury all had career years to go along with Cally and Pommy. Plus, I received near-career years from several other players. 

Alas, this was a (dreaded) head-to-head league where a bad week at the wrong time can end your season, or worse, everything goes right and your opponent finds a way to still beat you. This is exactly what happened to me in the semi-finals last year against the eventual champion North Carolina Nighthawks. He handed me my walking papers 155-141 in our one-week battle.

So the questions now become, how do I take the next step? Where was I deficient last season?

I only finished in the bottom half of the League in assists, which was a natural casualty given my concentration on skilled, grinding forwards who also play special teams — and I don't plan on changing that. I was also fortunate that my players managed to avoid the injury bug for the most part of last season.

What killed me, though, was Toews going out with a concussion and missing our playoffs. That's just bad timing. Can't do anything about that one. Similar goes for Fleury, who was already showing signs of breaking down. My goalies only gave me five points in my final matchup in the Winner's Bracket, the Nighthawks got 18 from Brodeur.

So the answers to my questions actually lie within the heart of my team philosophies, be really good at everything and don't get unlucky. The latter may be unavoidable by nature, but being really good at everything is a big ol' can-do. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I believe in my ability to do my homework and draft and trade well enough to succeed at a high level. And doing it against all of you just makes all the more worthwhile! This is easily the smartest hockey crowd I've ever competed with! Thank you for that. 

As for my Keepers... Callahan, Toews, Moulson, and Weber. There's still a chance I make an edit, but I'm 99% sure that's my four. As for the rest of the East? Only a few other teams have tipped their hands:

  • Atlanta Arsenal 
    Marleau, Carter, Fleischmann, Rinne
  • North Carolina Nighthawks
    Eric Staal, Vanek, Ribeiro and either Carle or Gorges
  • Washington Sentinels 
    Stamkos, Couture, Landeskog and Howard

Everyone else has either elected to keep their cards hidden or have yet to reactivate their Twitter accounts. But that doesn't mean we can't take a look at the most likely Keeper candidates. My expectations are based purely on how irreplaceable the given player might be, as well as trying to be well-rounded.

Baltimore Blue Crabs
Crosby, Spezza, Tavares, Niemi

Boston Colonials 
Malkin, Giroux, Sharp, Backstrom (forward)

Chicago Hitmen 
Nugent-Hopkins, Zetterberg, Backes, Ryder

Detroit Motorheads
Seguin, Kessel, Eriksson, Kiprusoff

Hamilton Steelcats 
Henrik Sedin, Iginla, Jordan Staal, Chara

Milwaukee Lagers 
Nash, Neal, Letang, Mike Smith

Montreal Olympiques
Kovalchuk, Perry, Ryan, Crawford

New York Guardians
Patrice Bergeron, Pacioretty, Karlsson, Ryan Miller

Quebec Armada
Daniel Sedin, Byfuglien, McDonagh, Lundqvist

Tampa Bay Barracudas
St. Louis, Lecavalier, Dan Boyle, Quick

The St. Louis Archers have narrowed down their possible Keepers to Ovechkin, Datsyuk, Pietrangelo, Gaborik, Hossa, Perron, Luongo and Price. Given some of the injury histories and possible teams they'll be suiting up for, I think it's safe to eliminate Gaborik, Hossa and Price from this list. While Perron had a remarkable comeback last season, he's still not as valuable as Ovechkin, Datsyuk, Pietrangelo and Luongo can be.

The Hartford Mariners, the IceHL EAST's expansion team, will have a pre-determined budget and players will be valued based on their fantasy point totals from last season. The Expansion Draft will take place in the week following the Keeper deadline, which is 9/16. They'll send a list of the four players they'd like to add to the commissioner and go from there.

With that, I leave it to you my fellow IceHl GM's and fans. Let the great pre-draft debates begin!