Hockey Pool season is almost upon us and I hope most of you have a solid group of guys/gals that you try to win money from every year. We gather in homes/garages/bars wearing jerseys and engage in drinking, chirping, and eating until the heartburn makes us hate ourselves more than picking Dany Heatly.
Everyone can usually handle the first 2-3 rounds picking the leagues superstars. But, pools are won in the second half of the rounds with your depth picks. If your pool allows trades then you have to be quick on the draw to grab a hot rookie or passed over vet that's putting together a renaissance season.
This brings me to my Homer-ish blog: Who is worth drafting on the Habs and when to draft them.
#1 Canadien available: Carey Price.
Goalies typically earn 2 pts per win with extra points for shutout. Some may disagree but I believe Price will be good for about 35-39 wins this year and probably 4-6 shut outs. So that a 78-90 pt season, that projects better than anyone else on the team. Price should be around for Round 2 of your pool and if your a late round drafter then you have to consider grabbing him. This isn't the same Habs team/organization of the past 6 years. There's depth, organizational direction, and leadership. This team is expected to play hard and should be in a playoff position again next season. That will ensure Price gets his wins. Grab him in rounds 2-3 if you can and if Lundqvist/Crawford/Rask are gone.
#2 Canadien available: PK Subban.
PK has 16-20 goal potential and maybe more if PK has his way. If Carey Price had this guys drive and determination he would be a top 3 goalie in the league. PK has a 55-65 pt potential with huge upside. Now, depending on your league rules, D men may have point bonuses for Goals/PIM/hits. The thing with PK is that he nails all three of those categories. So depending on your pools point structure PK could go in rounds 2-3 as well. If your pool is strictly points, then be sure to grab him by round 4-5 if you can. Any higher and your betting on the potential. Play smart, not with your heart.
#3 Canadien available: TIE! Max Pacioretty/Tomas Plekanec.
This was a tough choice because my heart said one of the young guns hoping that they blow the roof off the Bell Centre this year. But, logic tells me that Max will score 25-35 goals and Pleks will hit 55-65 pts. I was divided because Max is going to help a team who's pool focuses on goals plus he will net 50-60 pts. Pleks is going to get your 55-65 pts but might provide more stats for face off wins and short handed goals if your pool gives points for all kinds of stats. So really, it's a safe 50-60 pt play to get either of these guys. These guys will be around later so no need to homer pick them early. They should be around rounds 8-12. This will depend on how many solid D and Goalies have been taken already. Always do the math. Don't pick a depth D that's probably going to top out at 35+ points just to fill your depth chart. I see it happen every year, especially among fans who hate the Canadiens. I saw Liles and Scrivens go before Pleks last year at my draft.... Seriously. I gladly accept these guys donations to the pool.
Canadiens Wild Cards:
1) Andrei Markov.
I have tremendous respect for Markov. I am also of the opinion that before having his knee torn ,and then obliterated, he was about to become a elite defenseman in the league. IF healthy, The General is going to get 40-50 pts in 70-80 games with probably 80% of them being on the PP. He should be around later in your draft and depending on who's available, he's worth the risk. If your picking for your bench and he hasn't gone? Well, he's a no brainer choice and a steal.
2) Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher.
I lump these two together because I think they will be quite comparable, points wise. Brendan is older Alex and works his butt off on the ice. Because he's 2nd-3rd line he usually doesn't draw the top D pairing. He should also see a increase in PP time. Alex was the youngest player in the league last year and over the last half of the season he performed at close to a point per game and really started to show some skills. He was third line and seems to be slotted for the same assignment this year, but he should also see some more PP time. For those reasons both players could reach 45-55 points. But, it's their second year and they won't take anyone by surprise anymore and that could lead to a year of hard knocks. Safe for the last few rounds and bench player positions, but your picking with your heart if you pick them any earlier. Second half of the draft OK, first half and your taking huge risk.
Rene Bourque: Can he get back to 20+ goals? Are the injuries behind him? Will he get bumped down the depth chart due to the two Gallys emergence? Too many questions to pick him unless its for the bench. Might be better as a FA pick up later in the season when injuries hit.
Lars Eller: I think Lars is Pleks 2.0 with better size. I am ecstatic that he broke out last year. I was disgusted when he was knocked out cold in the playoffs. It seems that Lars is committed to getting better and stronger because of the almost 20 lbs of muscle he's packed on in the offseason already. But, until we see the consistency, you can't take him earlier than the last couple rounds or for your bench. He could be a steal though if he builds on last years campaign.
David Desharnais: Consistency and size are what makes DD a ballsy pick by a Habs homer. Either he is getting 50+ points or he could be a massive disappointment and get usurped by Eller/Galchenyuk/Briere. Personally, I won't be picking him unless he's my last bench pick and my other options are 30+ pt guys.
Last, but not least....
Danny Briere: Here is the ultimate temptation pick. Briere has consistently put up good point totals and huge goals throughout his career....except for last year. Hence the heave ho he received from Holmgren and the reason he's brought his talents to La Belle Province. I'm a fan of the signing as its skill and depth, but we have to hope the injuries that hurt him last year are behind him. If they are, someone is going to steal Briere with a later round pick. If your banking on him finding the fountain of youth by coming home to play and pick him any earlier than that, well your going to kick yourself. Briere is a player that you tell yourself is going to get 40-50 pts and play 65-70 games. You slot him into your lineup at the appropriate round and he's a solid pick. With this type of player you assume the downward trend and get to enjoy the gravy if he exceeds expectations. Later rounds pick, but could be a huge steal.
Brian Gionta: Our captain has had both his biceps sewn back together the last two years. Huge heart, but his shot is going to suffer. And he typically scored more goals than he garnered assists.
Raphael Diaz: Awesome start to last season was derailed by a concussion. When he came back he still looked concussed. He will be counted on to run the 2nd PP, but may be replaced by a forward if he plays like he did at the end of last year. That means his points will be low low low.
Well, that's my input on our Canadiens for your upcoming Hockey Pool Draft. We've all made Homer picks, but if you pick smart, take your time when your waiting to pick, and always try to have 3 options for your next pick you should have a competitive team. Oh, and prepare ahead of time! No sense spending your hard earned cash to play the game and not study before hand. Go to a store, and try to get away with about 10-15 mins of quick browsing of a few pool books to see their projections. Then pick the one that seems the most logical and buy it. Put stars next to names, hi light your cant miss guys, and make a little mark for your dark horse guys that you don't want your buddy seeing when he's stealing a peak at your materials. You will feel more comfortable and your preparedness and solid picking will put pressure on your Frenemies.
Comments and ideas are always welcome and I'll try to continue the conversation.
Thanks for reading! Good Luck! Bon Chance!