Congratulations & Conclusions

The first ever IceHL season is officially over. I'd like to send a very sincere congratulations to Steve Sonricker and his Alaska Huskies.

Goaltending was the difference in this league and the Huskies proved it by winning on the backs of Henrik Lundqvist, Pekka Rinne and Corey Crawford.  That's a fantastic trio of goaltenders for any fantasy hockey team, not to mention one in a 20-team league. This allowed Alaska to go on an historic winning streak of 17 straight match-ups despite having a group of forwards and defensemen who were not as deep as other teams around the league.

Let's break it down and compare that to my team, the California Wave. What we see is almost the exact opposite philosophy with similar results. The Wave did finish 4th overall and did have a 7 week win streak down the stretch. I would say that the forward group that the Wave had was probably the deepest in all of the IceHL. Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Sharp were great all year. We had a solid seasons from Nathan Horton, Brad Boyes and (surprise, suprise) Derick Brassard. And then we had a dominant group of forwards down the stretch. Patrick Marleau, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Michael Grabner were phenomenal. And Brian Rolston and Jason Pominville were no slouches either.

Our defense was possibly slightly above average. Zdeno Chara had a good year, and Keith Yandle broke out for a huge year and probably led the team to a few wins. From there, you could look at the other D spots in one of 2 ways: good luck because of decent production from a rotating cast, OR bad luck because of the potential depth we could have had. Injuries and real-life coaching decisions took away what could have been good fantasy seasons for Andrei Markov, Ed Jovanovski, Justin Braun, Grant Clitsome and Mike Commodore (Yes, Commodore! He was averaging about 2 IceHL points per game for the Wave.)

And then we get to goaltending... Going in to the year, I thought the Wave were set. I saw that goalie wins as a category were worth 5 points each, and I knew that would be the difference-maker in the league. I set my pre-draft rankings with the top 10 goaltenders in my top 15 picks, figuring that's where I'd go. I did, however, keep a few players above that group of goaltenders: Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin, Stamkos. So of course, I ended up with the #1 overall pick and much weaker goaltenders. Oh well, that's just one of the perils of an auto-draft.

Anyway, we still ended up with Marty Turco, Dan Ellis and Steve Mason. I thought that would be more than enough. All 3 were going to be starters for what could be good teams. In fact, I thought we had goalies to spare, so we traded Mason for Nathan Horton early on. We ended up picking up Brent Johnson and he had good, if limited, season. Things were looking good.

Unfortunately, I forgot that Turco sucks (Haha, this is coming from a life-long Sharks fan, after all). Ellis was underwhelming for the majority of the year, however, did turn it on once he made it to Anaheim. Speaking of Anaheim, we even picked up Jonas Hiller in the playoffs as insurance. I'd be guaranteed to get the Anaheim starts, right? No. Ray Emery had to get starts down the stretch. To make matters worse, Emery was owned by our playoff opponents, the Saskatoon Sharpshooters. There's a slight chance that could have been the difference in that match-up (Although Emery only ended up with 6.6 points in the week and we lost by.. a bit more than that).

So the Wave ended up finishing 4th in a league of 20. I'd say that's something to be proud of, and hopefully, I'll get a chance to improve on that next year. I want to thank all of the followers of the IceHL, the other managers, the logo designers (especially JFred for making an awesome California Wave logo) and, of course, Chris Smith for giving me this opportunity and making this all possible.

And with that, it's time for my WAVE goodbye.

The Playoff Picture for California & Beyond!

Sorry about the lack of updates. With the holidays and school starting, I think I (and others) may have been content with just updating their various Twitter pages.

Speaking of the Tweety-Box:

As mentioned on @Ed_Kodiaks twitter: “Ala, StL, Edm, Sas, Sea, Hou, Que, Cal, Wsh, Ham, Van all battling for 8 Playoff positions... Been a great first #IceHL season”

Let’s take a closer look at that playoff picture with only 2 weeks left.

1 x- Alaska 14-3

2 y- St. Louis 13-4

3 Houston 11-6

4 Hamilton 9-8

5 x- Edmonton 13-4

6 Saskatoon 12-5

7 Seattle 11-6

8 California 10-7

9 Quebec 10-7

10 Washington 10-7

11 Vancouver 9-8

Only Alaska, St. Louis, and Edmonton have clinched a playoff spot. I believe Quebec has the tie-breaker over Saskatoon, so the Sharpshooters have not clinched quite yet. Only St. Louis has clinched their division due to their tie-breaker vs. Seattle.

I think it’s pretty safe to assume Saskatoon makes it in. I would think only one of Vancouver or Hamilton will make it based off of winning the Smith Division.

That leaves 5 teams (Houston, Seattle, California, Quebec & Washington) squaring off for 3 spots.

From the looks of it, the Wave’s destiny is in their own hands, and with a 4-game winning streak & a tie-breaker vs. Houston, there’s a good chance we can make the playoffs. Especially if Michael Grabner stays hot.

What do you think is going to happen in the IceHL playoff picture?

Trades, Trades, a Win, and More Trades

Looks like I’ve become the lone blogger. Haha. Regardless, it’s been an eventful week or so here for the California Wave. First of all, have you been reading out tweets? If you have, you could have seen how a trade comes to pass. That’s how I was able to work out my first trade since my last post.

Well, trade talks for Joe Pavelski fell through, but I did get another Shark. I successfully offered Henrik Zetterberg to the Calgary Cavalry in exchange for Patrick Marleau. It could go either way, and Zetterberg has been awesome so far, but, I can’t resist getting my favorite player. Besides, how can you hate on the HTML! (Heatley, Thornton, Marleau Line)

From then on, it seems like I just got a couple great trade offers. We were able to shore up our D a lot by acquiring Andrei Markov from the Aviators for Jarret Stoll. I liked Stoll, but we needed Defenseman in the worst way. Markov is now probably our best fantasy D-man now. Plus, we didn’t even have wait for Markov to heal up. He was back by the time we got him.

We also just recently acquired Rick Nash for Claude Giroux. Yeah, that didn’t take me too long to accept. Talk about “buy low, sell high.” Since we got him though, Nash has seemed to click on a line with Brassard, making our team even better. Brassard is actually leading the team in points this week so far. WHAT!? Maybe that wasn’t the worst 4th round pick ever.

Things are looking up for the Wave. We’re winning this week, and we’ve got the 2nd most points scored by any team in the IceHL. I think my next move might be to try to pick up a new goalie through a trade either in a package deal with a forward and goaltender, or just a forward (Although that Toews for Varlamov deal that went down a while back seemed like a bit too high of a price to pay).

Until next time: keep it real, keep it fresh, and keep it real fresh. (Yeah, I brought it back.)

I Need Better Defense...

No, not defenseman (although we aren‘t exactly deep there), but team defense. The Wave have let up more points against than any other team in the league. And it’s not even close. Over two weeks, opponents have scored a combined 315.3 points. The nearest team to us is at 288.1. The Seattle Aviators have only had 180.8 scored against them. The average is roughly 250.

So, although the Wave are in the top half of points for, we’re 0-2. And that is the fatal flaw of these head-to-head leagues. But, you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love head-to-head leagues. The excitement on a week to week basis is so much higher than with a rotisserie league. Not to mention the bragging rights and trash talk that can go on. Again, if you haven’t been following the IceHL Twitter accounts, go do that now. They’re listed right under the spiffy new logo at the IceHL League Office.

As far as the team roster goes, I’ve made another calculated decision picking up Matthew Lombardi. He, like Pominville, got dropped when he was hit with a concussion. Once again, I like his chances enough when he’s healthy that I can sacrifice the couple points I could get out of his roster spot until he comes back.

I’ve also been working closely over the past few days with the GM of the Quebec Armada on a possible trade that would see Joe Pavelski come to California. We’ll see if we can work that out.

Oh! And Derrick Brassard has actually started to contribute a bit. Color me surprised.

P.S. On a personal note, I spent last weekend doing play-by play on a tournament here in San Jose that featured the Wenatchee Wild, who you may remember from the design contest featured right here on Icethetics.

Scoring, Failed Trades and Injuries

Well, the first week of the NHL and IceHL seasons have concluded.

Unfortunately, the Wave fell their first week to the Edmonton Kodiaks 166-180.1.  It was a pretty good matchup, and I think the Wave just hit some bad luck and are still pretty well off. The Wave still scored the 7th most points this week. If we can keep that up, I should be able to grab a playoff spot. And once we’re in, anything can happen.

I’ve been pretty happy with the new addition Nathan Horton, who has scored 3-2-5 in 3 games. Along with Ovechkin and Sharp, they’re forming quite an awesome top line. Also, Doug Weight has been a pleasant surprise, putting up 1-4-5 in 6 games. Great value for a 17th round pick there.

Unfortunately, my favorite whipping boy, Derrick Brassard has come nowhere near the FOURTH ROUND PICK the auto pick draft took him at… Still upset with that one… Could you tell? I’m willing to hear some trade offers for him. Tempting, eh? Haha

Speaking of trades, I tried sending out a few offers for a couple of my favorite players that were both rejected. I tried trading Henrik Zetterberg for Mike Richards and also Keith Yandle straight up for Andrei Markov, figuring I might be able to get him considering he’s still injured for a while. Worth a try at least.

In the meantime, the Wave were able to pick up Jason Pominville off of waivers. That was a calculated decision. Even though he did suffer that terrible injury, he should still be a steal once he does come back.

By the way, Chris mentioned this at the league office, but make sure to follow the team pages on Twitter. Here’s the Wave’s page.