Fantasy Hockey Mailbag: Updating Injuries and Sharing an Epic Rebuild

Fantasy Hockey Mailbag is a weekly column, answering your questions every Tuesday. No question is too big or too small, so if you want advice or feedback on any topic related to fantasy hockey, just ask away in the comments below.

fantasy hockey mailbagThe Mailbag was short on questions this week, but hopefully that’s just a post-draft sign of contentment on the eve of the regular season.

By now, most people have drafted their teams and perhaps tweaked their rosters a little already, so a brief lull was expected for the Mailbag. I’m hoping business picks up again in the coming weeks, with readers asking for advice (or feedback) on trades and waiver claims, among other things. Until it does, not to worry, I will find ways to utilize the Mailbag for your reading pleasure.

Take this week, for example, only fielding two questions but churning out thousands of words of interest. Well, I find them interesting anyway. As always, let me know what you think in the comments below.

“slicrick” asked on for a list of fantasy-relevant players with injuries?

ANSWER: First off, great question. Whether you’re doing a box pool or a live draft, it’s always important to know who is hurt and for how long. The Rotoworld mobile app is a great way to keep tabs on that. If you follow the right people on Twitter — a couple media members from each NHL city — you’ll stay in the know too. On the injury front, off the top of my head, four names immediately came to mind: Nicklas Backstrom (hip, 4-10 games), Pavel Datsyuk (ankle, 2-4 weeks), Jordan Eberle (shoulder, 4-6 weeks) and T.J. Brodie (hand, 2-5 weeks). Those guys are all impact players — in real life and in fantasy — but they won’t be available from Day 1 of the season. That said, if you can pick them up in the later rounds and stash them on your Injury Reserve, they should be steals upon returning. Think short-term pain for long-term gain.

Here are some other players currently sidelined, albeit with less fantasy value and only noteworthy for deeper leagues: Zach Bogosian (lower-body, week-to-week), Chris Higgins (foot, week-to-week), Andrew Hammond (groin, 2 weeks), Danny DeKeyser (foot, 3-4 weeks), Joe Colborne (thumb, 3+ weeks), Thomas Hickey (upper-body, 4 weeks), Dennis Seidenberg (back, 8 weeks), Andrei Vasilevskiy (blood clot, 1-2 months), Brett Ritchie (wrist, 2-3 months) and Patrik Berglund (shoulder, 3 months). Did I miss anyone? That list was based mostly on memory because, to my knowledge, there isn’t an injury-tracking website. That might be a decent start-up for someone with time on their hands — it would definitely come in handy for fantasy players, much like the line combination and starting goaltender websites. If an injury site already exists, please pass along a link in the comments section below. Ditto if I forget anybody on the IR, by all means refresh my memory or make me feel shame.

Of course, there are also players who suffered off-season injuries but have since recovered and will be in the opening-night lineup. Guys like last season’s leading scorer Jamie Benn (hip), Max Pacioretty (leg), Evander Kane (shoulder), Jori Lehtera (ankle) and Mark Giordano (bicep) to name a handful. Some of them could be slow starters as a result — be it from limiting training or lingering effects — so don’t panic and sell low. Give them time to get up to speed and regain their top form, the form that made them draft worthy in the first place.

Somebody asked me a while back, “what’s the best rebuild you’ve ever seen in fantasy hockey?”

ANSWER: Prepare to have your mind blown here — mine still is, from the aftershock. Long story short — well, it’s going to be a long one — a young man from Montreal took over a team that nobody wanted in one of my keeper leagues last season — at least a half-dozen potential replacement GMs passed on the opportunity because of the mediocre roster they would have inherited. Then along came this guy named Luc. English wasn’t his first language, but he was willing and eager — really eager, sending out constant reminders that he was available for trade talks and updating his trade block multiple times a day. To some, it was annoying, but to most, it was entertaining. He certainly wasn’t sitting on his hands and the results speak for themselves. Luc was the laughing stock for long stretches of the season, but turns out, he knew what he was doing all along and nobody is laughing now that he’s a legitimate title contender. The method to his madness was wheeling and dealing his way into a massive stockpile of draft picks by selling off any semblance of an NHL player, then claiming the next-best thing on waivers, only to pump-and-dump them as well. Luc wound up owning 34 of the league’s 84 draft picks — including first overall, the rights to Connor McDavid — before flipping the switch to a buyer mentality and unloading them all. After an unprecedented flurry of trade activity, Luc didn’t end up making a single selection in our rookie draft. Instead, he masterminded a stunning roster overhaul that saw him land the likes of Sidney Crosby and John Tavares. Luc turned rags to riches through a total of 61 trades and this is how it all went down.

NOTE: This league’s 28 teams are named after current and former NHL franchises. Luc took over the San Jose Sharks but has since changed the team name to his hometown Montreal Canadiens for this season. To avoid that confusion, all trades are referenced as Montreal instead of San Jose.

SPOILER ALERT: Scroll to Trade 50 to see the mind-blowing blockbuster.

Inherited Roster on June 24, 2014

Nicklas Backstrom, C WAS

Tomas Tatar, LW DET

Elias Lindholm, C CAR

Antoine Vermette, C ARI

Brandon Dubinsky, C CLB

Steve Downie, RW PHI

Mike Green, D WAS

Jared Spurgeon, D MIN

Matt Dumba, D MIN

Stefan Elliott, D COL

Ilya Bryzgalov, G MIN

Joe Colborne, C CGY

Pierre-Marc Bouchard, LW NYI

Brenden Morrow, LW STL

Matt Martin, LW NYI

Peter Mueller, RW FLA

Drayson Bowman, LW CAR

Andrei Loktionov, C CAR

Anton Babchuk, D CGY

Tom Poti, D WAS

Evgeni Nabokov, G NYI

J.T. Brown, RW TB

Henrik Samuelsson, C ARI

Louis Leblanc, C MON

Brad Ross, LW TOR

Christian Thomas, RW MON

Evgeny Grachev, LW STL

Mark Jankowski, C CGY

Shawn Lalonde, D CHI

Matt Taormina, D TB

Alexander Salak, G CHI

Jussi Rynnas, G TOR

Richard Bachman, G EDM

San Jose 1st Round Pick (3rd overall, Aaron Ekblad)

San Jose 2nd Round Pick (32nd, Mason McDonald)

San Jose 3rd Round Pick (60th, Taylor Cammarata)

Turning-Point Roster on June 15, 2015

Richard Panik, RW TOR

Jannik Hansen, RW VAN

Scott Gomez, C NJ

Brian Gionta, RW BUF

Dwight King, LW LA

Steve Bernier, RW NJ

Matt Hunwick, D NYR

Brad Stuart, D COL

Christian Folin, D MIN

Ben Chiarot, D WPG

Andrew Hammond, G OTT

Alexander Radulov, RW

Ilya Kovalchuk, LW NJ

Erik Haula, LW MIN

Jamie McGinn, LW COL

David Booth, LW TOR

Andrej Nestrasil, RW CAR

Scott Darling, G CHI

Dillon Fournier, D CHI

Pick, San Jose 1st Round (1st overall, Connor McDavid)

Pick, Atlanta 1st Round (4th, Noah Hanifin)

Pick, Ottawa 1st Round (11th, Timo Meier)

Pick, Colorado 1st Round (13th, Kyle Connor)

Pick, Quebec 1st Round (14th, Evgeni Svechnikov)

Pick, Anaheim 1st Round (16th, Jakub Zboril)

Pick, Tampa Bay 1st Round (17th, Brock Boeser)

Pick, NY Islanders 1st Round (18th, Nick Merkley)

Pick, San Jose 2nd Round (29th, Joel Eriksson-Ek)

Pick, Chicago 2nd Round (37th, Vince Dunn)

Pick, Philadelphia 2nd Round (38th, Colin Miller)

Pick, Ottawa 2nd Round (39th, Nick Paul)

Pick, Buffalo 2nd Round (40th, Cole Cassels)

Pick, Colorado 2nd Round (41st, Filip Chlapik)

Pick, Anaheim 2nd Round (44th, Travis Dermott)

Pick, NY Islanders 2nd Round (46th, Jeremy Bracco)

Pick, Detroit 2nd Round (52nd, Oliver Kylington)

Pick, San Jose 3rd Round (57th, Jacob Larsson)

Pick, Pittsburgh 3rd Round (60th, Steve Moses)

Pick, NY Rangers 3rd Round (64th, Sergei Plotnikov)

Pick, Chicago 3rd Round (65th, Dennis Yan)

Pick, Philadelphia 3rd Round (66th, Felix Sandstrom)

Pick, Ottawa 3rd Round (67th, Adin Hill)

Pick, Buffalo 3rd Round (68th, Joonas Donskoi)

Pick, Colorado 3rd Round (69th, Anton Forsberg)

Pick, Quebec 3rd Round (70th, Nicolas Meloche)

Pick, Anaheim 3rd Round (72nd, Ryan Gropp)

Pick, NY Islanders 3rd Round (74th, Viktor Arvidsson)

Pick, Florida 3rd Round (76th, Kristian Nakyva)

Pick, St. Louis 3rd Round (77th, Gustav Forsling)

Pick, Detroit 3rd Round (80th, Stephen Johns)

Pick, Winnipeg 3rd Round (81st, Vili Saarijarvi)

Pick, Edmonton 3rd Round (83rd, Conor Garland)

Current Roster as of October 6

Sidney Crosby, C PIT

John Tavares, C NYI

Bobby Ryan, RW OTT

Marian Hossa, RW CHI

James Neal, RW NAS

Steve Downie, RW ARI

John Klingberg, D DAL

Sami Vatanen, D ANA

Torey Krug, D BOS

Trevor Daley, D CHI

Sergei Bobrovsky, G CLB

Dustin Brown, RW LA

Antoine Vermette, C ARI

Brian Gionta, RW BUF

Scott Gomez, C STL

Brendan Shinnimin, C ARI

Kirill Kabanov, LW NYR

Matt Carle, D TB

Ian Cole, D PIT

Anders Lindback, G ARI

Trade Tracker

Trade 1 on June 26, 2014

To St. Louis = Mike Green

To Montreal = Lars Eller and Andrei Vasilevskiy

Trade 2 on June 26, 2014

To Washington = Brandon Dubinsky

To Montreal = Montreal 1st Round Pick (Josh Ho-Sang)

Trade 3 on June 26, 2014

To NY Islanders = Antoine Vermette

To Montreal = Florida 1st Round Pick (Thatcher Demko)

Trade 4 on July 1, 2014

To Washington = Steve Downie

To Montreal = Martin Brodeur and Edmonton 3rd Round Pick (Anton Slepyshev)

Trade 5 on July 2, 2014

To Dallas = Ilya Bryzgalov, Richard Bachman and Brad Ross

To Montreal = Dallas 2nd Round Pick (Hunter Smith)

Trade 6 on July 4, 2014

To California = Lars Eller

To Montreal = St. Louis 2nd Round Pick (Jiri Sekac) and Quebec 3rd Round Pick (Sven Andrighetto)

Trade 7 on July 12, 2014

To Colorado = Joe Colborne

To Montreal = Colorado 3rd Round Pick (Nick Baptiste)

Trade 8 on July 12, 2014

To Hartford = Colorado 3rd Round Pick (Nick Baptiste)

To Montreal = Leo Komarov

NOTE: At this point, the 2014 rookie draft is over and the draft picks exchanged were for 2015.

Trade 9 on July 16, 2014

To Anaheim = Tomas Tatar

To Montreal = Charles Hudon, Phillip Danault and Tampa Bay 1st Round Pick (17th, Brock Boeser)

Trade 10 on July 17, 2014

To Tampa Bay = Aaron Ekblad and Elias Lindholm

To Montreal = Hudson Fasching, Anaheim 1st Round Pick (16th, Jakub Zboril) and Tampa Bay 3rd Round Pick (73rd, Rourke Chartier)

NOTE: Luc considers this to be his worst trade to date. He targeted Anaheim’s pick, expecting it to be top five, but it ended up being 16th.

Trade 11 on July 17, 2014

To Detroit = Stefan Elliott

To Montreal = Detroit 2nd Round Pick (52nd, Oliver Kylington)

Trade 12 on July 17, 2014

To Toronto = Matt Dumba, Sven Andrighetto and Phillip Danault

To Montreal = Chicago 1st Round Pick (9th, Mathew Barzal), Chicago 2nd Round Pick (37th, Vince Dunn), Chicago 3rd Round Pick (65th, Dennis Yan)

Trade 13 on July 19, 2014

To Detroit = Mason McDonald and Henrik Samuelsson

To Montreal = Detroit 1st Round Pick (24th, Noah Juulsen) and Detroit 3rd Round Pick (80th, Stephen Johns)

Trade 14 on July 20, 2014

To Quebec = Bo Horvat

To Montreal = Quebec 1st Round Pick (14th, Evgeni Svechnikov)

Trade 15 on July 23, 2014

To NY Islanders = Josh Ho-Sang, Jiri Sekac and Hudson Fasching

To Montreal = Gregg McKegg, NY Islanders 1st Round Pick (18th, Nick Merkley), NY Islanders 2nd Round Pick (46th, Jeremy Bracco) and NY Islanders 3rd Round Pick (74th, Viktor Arvidsson)

Trade 16 on July 26, 2014

To Philadelphia = Thatcher Demko

To Montreal = Philadelphia 2nd Round Pick (38th, Colin Miller) and Philadelphia 3rd Round Pick (66th, Felix Sandstrom)

Trade 17 on July 26, 2014

To Pittsburgh = Anton Slepyshev and Gregg McKegg

To Montreal = Pittsburgh 3rd Round Pick (60th, Steve Moses)

Trade 18 on July 26, 2014

To Vancouver = Vaclav Karabacek

To Montreal = Daniel Briere

Trade 19 on July 30, 2014

To Hartford = Hunter Smith, Vladislav Kamenev, Charles Hudon and J.T. Brown

To Montreal = Hartford 2nd Round Pick (54th, Jimmy Vesey)

Trade 20 on July 31, 2014

To Atlanta = Andrei Vasilevskiy, Chicago 1st Round Pick, Hartford 2nd Round Pick (54th, Jimmy Vesey), Tampa Bay 3rd Round Pick (73rd, Rourke Chartier) and Hartford 3rd Round Pick (82nd, Brandon Carlo)

To Montreal = Atlanta 1st Round Pick

NOTE: Luc made this trade in hopes of landing both Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, but Atlanta ended up with the fourth overall pick.

Trade 21 on Sept. 22, 2014

To Quebec = Phil Di Giuseppe

To Montreal = Kirill Kabanov and Quebec 3rd Round Pick (70th, Nicolas Meloche)

Trade 22 on Sept. 24, 2014

To Tampa Bay = Kirill Kabanov

To Montreal = Joni Pitkanen

Trade 23 on Oct. 12, 2014

To Quebec = Sheldon Souray

To Montreal = Sean Bergenheim

Trade 24 on Nov. 7, 2014

To Washington = Leo Komarov

To Montreal = Andrej Nestrasil

Trade 25 on Nov. 13, 2014

To Hartford = Joni Pitkanen and Alexis Vanier

To Montreal = Josh Leivo

Trade 26 on Nov. 30, 2014

To NY Islanders = John Klingberg and Evgeny Grachev

To Montreal = Josh Ho-Sang, Hudson Fasching, Jiri Sekac and Taylor Cammarata

NOTE: By being at the bottom of the standings, Luc had first dibs on the waiver wire and used it to his advantage by claiming talented but previously undrafted players then flipping them for more future assets. Klingberg fit that bill, having entered last season as an under-the-radar rookie.

Trade 27 on Dec. 3, 2014

To Anaheim = Yannick Weber

To Montreal = Anaheim 3rd Round Pick (72nd, Ryan Gropp)

Trade 28 on Dec. 4, 2014

To Chicago = Josh Jooris

To Montreal = Morgan Klimchuk and Ville Pokka

Trade 29 on Dec. 4, 2014

To Hartford = Hunter Smith and Anaheim 2nd Round Pick (44th, Travis Dermott)

To Montreal = Morgan Klimchuk, Taylor Cammarata and Ville Pokka

Trade 30 on Dec. 4, 2014

To St. Louis = Jiri Sekac

To Montreal = Matt Hackett and St. Louis 3rd Round Pick (77th, Gustav Forsling)

Trade 31 on Dec. 6, 2014

To Anaheim = Laurent Dauphin and Stefan Noesen

To Montreal = Lance Bouma

Trade 32 on Dec. 10, 2014

To Atlanta = Josh Ho-Sang

To Montreal = Jhonas Enroth, Atlanta 2nd Round Pick (31st, Mackenzie Blackwood) and Buffalo 2nd Pick (40th, Cole Cassels)

Trade 33 on Dec. 12, 2014

To Ottawa = Jhonas Enroth

To Montreal = Ottawa 3rd Round Pick (67th, Adin Hill)

Trade 34 on Dec. 13, 2014

To Winnipeg = Cam Talbot

To Montreal = Winnipeg 3rd Round Pick (81st, Vili Saarijarvi)

Trade 35 on Dec. 16, 2014

To Quebec = Robert Bortuzzo

To Montreal = Dany Heatley

Trade 36 on Dec. 18, 2014

To NY Islanders = Matt Hackett and Stefan Noesen

To Montreal = Chris Higgins and Vincent Lecavalier

Trade 37 on Dec. 18, 2014

To Colorado = Laurent Dauphin and Chris Higgins

To San Jose = Colorado 2nd Round Pick (41st, Filip Chlapik)

Trade 38 on Dec. 24, 2014

To Philadelphia = Vincent Lecavalier

To Montreal = Dillon Fournier

Trade 39 on April 6, 2015

To Atlanta = Hunter Smith

To Montreal = Florida 3rd Round Pick (76th, Kristian Nakyva)

Trade 40 on April 9, 2015

To Colorado = Detroit 1st Round Pick (24th, Noah Juulsen) and Atlanta 2nd Round Pick (31st, Mackenzie Blackwood)

To Montreal = Colorado 1st Round Pick (13th, Kyle Connor)

Trade 41 on April 9, 2015

To Washington = Hudson Fasching

To Montreal = Edmonton 3rd Round Pick (83rd, Conor Garland)

NOTE: This is where Luc shifts from seller to buyer, announcing to the league that his picks are available in exchange for good young players.

Trade 42 on June 9, 2015

To California = Pittsburgh 3rd Round Pick (60th, Steve Moses)

To Montreal = Nathan Beaulieu

Trade 43 on June 15, 2015

To California = Tampa Bay 1st Round Pick (17th, Brock Boeser), NY Islanders 1st Round Pick (18th, Nick Merkley), Anaheim 2nd Round Pick (44th, Travis Dermott), Detroit 2nd Round Pick (52nd, Oliver Kylington) and Edmonton 3rd Round Pick (83rd, Conor Garland)

To Montreal = David Krejci and Sami Vatanen

Trade 44 on June 15, 2015

To NY Islanders = David Krejci, Anaheim 1st Round Pick (16th, Jakub Zboril), NY Islanders 2nd Round Pick (46th, Jeremy Bracco), Florida 3rd Round Pick (76th, Kristian Nakyva) and Winnipeg 3rd Round Pick (81st, Vili Saarijarvi)

To Montreal = John Klingberg

Trade 45 on June 16, 2015

To California = Colorado 1st Round Pick (13th, Kyle Connor), Quebec 1st Round Pick (14th, Evgeni Svechnikov), St. Louis 3rd Round Pick (77th, Gustav Forsling) and Detroit 3rd Round Pick (80th, Stephen Johns)

To Montreal = Kyle Turris and Torey Krug

Trade 46 on June 16, 2015

To NY Islanders = Andrew Hammond, Ottawa 1st Round Pick (11th, Timo Meier), Buffalo 2nd Round Pick (40th, Cole Cassels), NY Rangers 3rd Round Pick (64th, Sergei Plotnikov), Chicago 3rd Round Pick (65th, Dennis Yan), Colorado 3rd Round Pick (69th, Anton Forsberg) and NY Islanders 3rd Round Pick (74th, Viktor Arvidsson)

To Montreal = Sergei Bobrovsky

Trade 47 on June 17, 2015

To Carolina = Steve Moses, Ottawa 2nd Round Pick (39th, Nick Paul) and Colorado 2nd Round Pick (41st, Filip Chlapik)

To Montreal = Bobby Ryan

Trade 48 on June 18, 2015

To Hartford = Dwight King, Dillon Fournier, Philadelphia 3rd Round Pick (66th, Felix Sandstrom), Ottawa 3rd Round Pick (67th, Adin Hill) and Buffalo 3rd Round Pick (68th, Joonas Donskoi)

To Montreal = Martin St. Louis

NOTE: Luc made this deal on the assumption that St. Louis would sign in a top-line role as a free agent, but he retired and the trade backfired in a rare move that resulted in wasted assets for Luc.

Trade 49 on June 19, 2015

To California = San Jose 3rd Round Pick (57th, Jacob Larsson)

To Montreal = Carl Hagelin

Trade 50 on June 19, 2015

To Buffalo = San Jose 1st Round Pick (1st, Connor McDavid), Atlanta 1st Round Pick (4th, Noah Hanifin), San Jose 2nd Round Pick (29th, Joel Eriksson-Ek), Chicago 2nd Round Pick (37th, Vince Dunn), Quebec 3rd Round Pick (70th, Nicolas Meloche) and Anaheim 3rd Round Pick (72nd, Ryan Gropp)

To Montreal = Sidney Crosby and John Tavares

NOTE: In Luc’s own words, this was the trade that changed everything. Well said, and what a blockbuster — the craziest I’ve seen in nearly two decades of fantasy hockey experience. Trade 54 is also connected to this deal, involving additional draft picks that were conditional.

Trade 51 on June 22, 2015

To Buffalo = Kyle Turris and Nathan Beaulieu

To Montreal = Marian Hossa, James Neal and Matt Carle

Trade 52 on June 28, 2015

To NY Islanders = Carl Hagelin

To Montreal = Dustin Brown and Antoine Vermette

Trade 53 on June 28, 2015

To Anaheim = Erik Haula

To Montreal = Scott Wedgewood

Trade 54 on July 7, 2015

To Buffalo = Jamie McGinn, plus Montreal’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd Round Picks in 2016

To Montreal = Steve Downie, Daniel Briere and Taylor Cammarata

NOTE: This deal was the completion of Trade 50 (the blockbuster) because those 2016 draft picks couldn’t be swapped until after the 2015 rookie draft was completed. Montreal now appears to be a top-10 fixture in this league for the foreseeable future, so those selections should be in the 18 to 28 range of every round.

Trade 55 on July 8, 2015

To Atlanta = Taylor Cammarata

To Montreal = Ian Cole

Trade 56 on July 10, 2015

To Quebec = Scott Wedgewood

To Montreal = Duncan Siemens

Trade 57 on July 12, 2015

To Atlanta = Duncan Siemens

To Montreal = Shawn Matthias and Tim Erixon

Trade 58 on July 15, 2015

To California = Tim Erixon

To Montreal = Brendan Shinnimin

Trade 59 on July 18, 2015

To Carolina = Scott Darling

To Montreal = Philipp Grubauer and Carolina’s 2nd Round Pick (2016)

Trade 60 on July 19, 2015

To California = Philipp Grubauer and Carolina’s 2nd Round Pick (2016)

To Montreal = Trevor Daley

Trade 61 on July 31, 2015

To NY Islanders = Shawn Matthias

To Montreal = Kirill Kabanov

That’s a wrap, your thoughts? Pretty wild rebuild, eh? One of our GMs in that league posts his annual pre-season Power Rankings and Luc’s team has gone from dead last (28th) to top five (4th). Justifiably so, in my opinion, as Luc’s transformed this roster into a powerhouse going forward and should be very proud of his efforts.

My Fantasy World

Keeper 1

We just had our auction on Saturday for this 20-team league and it went over without a hitch — better than ever actually, with all 20 teams represented (no robots) for the first time in our six-year history.

I’m pretty happy with my results, even though my game plan went out the window with the very first nomination. With salary-cap leagues, there are essentially two strategies for the auction — either go studs and duds, or load up on mid-level guys for a balanced lineup. Our three-time reigning regular-season champion has always favoured the mid-level approach with no real superstars but all top-six forwards, top-four defencemen and at least one proven starting goalie. His success has spawned several copycat rosters in recent years as fellow GMs attempt to take a page out of his playbook. I had every intention of joining that club for the upcoming season despite finishing as high as second and never below eighth with a studs-and-duds roster over the previous four seasons (I purposely tanked to 18th in our inaugural season).

Lo and behold, one of our newer GMs nominated Taylor Hall first overall and I was bidding like a mad man from the outset. Ironically, Taylor Hall was also nominated first overall back in the fall of 2010 — for our first auction and his first NHL season. I bought him then, kept him through his three-year entry-level contract and signed him to a two-year extension that expired at the end of last season. So Hall had never spent time on another team in our league and I wasn’t about to let that happen now that he’s been paired Connor McDavid. Shockingly, I got Hall for almost the exact same salary as five years ago, so I’m quite confident he’ll earn his keep again. Hall would be considered a stud — especially with our league replacing plus-minus with shots as a scoring category this season — but he wasn’t one of the big fish for this auction. Most GMs probably had him outside their top-10 targets. Even among forwards, Hall probably ranked behind Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Tyler Seguin, Steven Stamkos, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn and Jakub Voracek. But I bought Hall for what I considered a bargain and my bid-happy instincts took over from there. I wound up buying two of the first three players nominated, also landing Crosby and Carey Price, who was by far the top goaltender available. The next-best options were Jaroslav Halak, Craig Anderson and Cam Talbot, so I was stoked about getting the best of the bunch at two of the three positions. Crosby actually sold for the second-highest price — slightly less than Tavares — but all those big-name forwards were in the same salary range and I was thrilled to get the top guy on my list.

The only issue was that I chewed up most of my cap space and still had half a roster to fill — nine of 20 spots to be exact, meaning I had to resort to duds or, rather, cheap depth in the form of six forwards, two defencemen and another goaltender. I wasn’t in a position to outbid too many rival GMs at this point, so I kind of had to take what I could get. That meant getting Milan Michalek, Ales Hemsky, Anton Lander, Brad Boyes, Matt Nieto and Lars Eller up front, Paul Martin and Jeff Petry for the back end, and Jacob Markstrom between the pipes. An impressive haul, in my opinion, given the circumstances.

The auction is always followed by an eight-round reserve draft to round out our rosters and I felt I had a good showing there too. It was pretty slim pickings this year, but I grabbed Dustin Tokarski (before he got waived, assuming he’d be Price’s backup again), Patrik Elias, Jesper Fast, Jakub Kindl, Stefan Elliott, Luke Glendening, Kyle Baun and Matt Hunwick in that order. I’ve since placed Elias and Kindl on the Injured Reserve, adding Rene Bourque and Bobby Farnham for the time being. Penalty minutes are a category too, so I’m hoping the latter can replace Steve Downie’s pest presence for Pittsburgh.

My holdover keepers were forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Benoit Pouliot and Josh Bailey, plus defencemen Erik Karlsson, Calvin de Haan, Erik Gudbranson and Jon Merrill. My only prospects are Los Angeles forward Michael Mersch and Edmonton goaltender Laurent Brossoit.

My full roster as of today is as follows:

Forwards — Crosby, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov, Pouliot, Bailey, M. Michalek, Hemsky, Lander, Boyes, Nieto, Eller, Elias, Fast, Glendening, Baun, Bourque, Farnham and Mersch.

Defencemen — Karlsson, de Haan, P. Martin, Gudbranson, Merrill, Petry, Kindl, Elliott and Hunwick.

Goaltenders — Price, Markstrom, Tokarski and Brossoit.

I like the looks of that forward group and my goalies should be fine as long as Price stays healthy (knock on wood), but my defence could use an upgrade or two. I can shop my three draft picks for blue-liners, but nobody is selling just yet. Top to bottom, the parity appears better than ever in this league and the season hasn’t even started, so everybody is liking their playoff chances at present. The top 16 teams qualify for our post-season, but to stay in the top 10 this season, I’ll need those young point-men to put up some points early on. I’m cautiously optimistic that they will prove capable, but I probably wouldn’t hesitate if somebody came along offering a more established defenceman at a reasonable asking price. I’ll be sure to keep you in the know if and when a deal goes down.

Keeper 2

This is the 28-team league that I’m in with Luc, but things have settled down on the trade front over the last few weeks. Again, it’s that calm before the regular-season storm.

We did get to activate our Injured Reserve on Monday and make our first waiver claims of the new season. I dropped Mark Letestu for Jacob Josefson and Viktor Tikhonov for Rene Bourque, while also placing Michal Neuvirth on the IR and adding Thomas Greiss as a temporary fill-in. Minor moves, but ones that should hopefully help squeeze out a little extra production from my depth forwards. Based on pre-season line combinations, it appears Josefson and Bourque will be getting top-six minutes, while Letestu and Tikhonov are ticketed for bottom-six roles. That was the thought process there, so we’ll see how it plays out when the puck drops tomorrow!

My full roster as of today is as follows:

Forwards — Brandon Dubinsky, Craig Smith, Mika Zibanejad, Ales Hemsky, Jesper Fast, Tomas Jurco, Anton Lander, Jacob Josefson, Rene Bourque, Derek Dorsett, Artemi Panarin, Anton Slepyshev, Sven Andrighetto, Ty Rattie, Alexander Khokhlachev, Hudson Fasching and Danny Kristo.

Defencemen — Erik Johnson, Cody Franson, Hampus Lindholm, Calvin de Haan, Nikita Nesterov, Chris Tanev, Kristian Nakyva, Gustav Forsling and Vili Saarijarvi.

Goaltenders — Kari Lehtonen, Thomas Greiss and Michal Neuvirth.

Do you have a question for the Fantasy Hockey Mailbag? Ask it in the comments below.

Larry Fisher is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.