Fantasy

Again Like Fine Wine: Fantasy Hockey Style

Henrik Lundqvist

The challenge that had been presented was to create a competitive NHL franchise of players that are 35 or older. This was not an easy mission and featured many pitfalls. However, using a roster of 22-24 players, a team began to take shape. That is not enough. Our goal became taking it up a fantasy notch or two.

Special thanks to Elaine Shircliff, who came up with the idea. She is an excellent writer in her own right for SB Nation. Elaine covers the minors and prospects for the Columbus Blue Jackets. And away we go…

Forward Lines

  1. Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Jaromir Jagr
  2. Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Radim Vrbata
  3. Joel Ward-Henrik Zetterberg-Justin Williams
  4. Brian Gionta-Shane Doan-Jarome Iginla

Extras include Alex Burrows and Chris Kunitz. The decision to go 14 forwards was simple. This was to give flexibility understanding the age of these players. Thomas Plekanec could be a late-season add, as he turns 35 very late in October.

Defensive Pairings

  1. Zdeno Chara-Alexei Markov
  2. Paul Martin-Francois Beauchemin
  3. Mark Streit-Dennis Seidenberg

Extras include John-Michael Liles and Ron Hainsey. There was some debate whether to include Brian Campbell, but he could be substituted after a professional tryout. He could slot in on the third pairing, which would make John Michael-Liles expendable.

Goaltenders

  1. Henrik Lundqvist
  2. Roberto Luongo

Again, thanks to a technicality, Pekka Rinne turns 35 in November, so he has potential to be a late-season acquisition. Please understand that there is no salary cap for this team. If Lundqvist or Luongo wind up injured, Rinne is a nice addition to bring in.

Fantasy Implications — Forwards

Pairing players was not simple. Also, there is the chance a couple might retire (see Doan and Iginla). That is why the roster is right at that 24 number. Mike Fisher was considered, too, but again, he has not made his decision on whether he will return for the 2017-18 season. Either way, speed is a bit of a question mark with this group. That was known coming in. However, puck possession on the top line is second to none with Thornton and Jagr. Marleau adds a little zip on the wing. The chemistry should develop quickly here.

The second line is simple with the Sedin Twins and Vrbata. It worked for a year in Vancouver before coaching sent the team south faster than one’s head could spin. They can play more on the power play as needed. Either one of these lines could easily average 50+ points a player. However, that was not enough.

Having Zetterberg and Williams on the third line was just ridiculous. The Detroit center can move up to the top line and up the power play units when needed. It is an excellent luxury to have, as he can still log major minutes. Remember, he had nearly 70 points last year and played almost 20 minutes per night. That allows the option to shuffle lines around as needed. The fourth line is more of a grind line, but even Brian Gionta can surprise in spurts. Doan and Iginla can drive teams nuts. If Kunitz and Burrows are inserted in, they are no walk in the park either.

A Vrbata or Williams can move up to that top line position. This would be a team with an abundance of power play resources. Even strength could feature some issues as the season goes on with injuries, fatigue, and the such.

Fantasy Implications – Defense

This is the weak line of the team. However, Markov and Chara are formidable, and Markov excels on the power play. Streit can be a power play specialist, too. Brian Campbell can be sneaked to help fortify the defense. Again, that top pairing has 40-50 point potential. After that, the numbers do go down quite a bit.

Players like Seidenberg can block shots, and though that is not great, it is good for fantasy. He will also be physical at least, which racks up some hits. Alas, this is more in the way of all-around performance. Pickings are slim in this age bracket, so beggars can not be choosers.

Power play pairings would be easier, too, as Streit and Campbell could be combined on the second unit with Chara and Markov on the first. Those booming shots might set up a lot of opportunities. Chara could also be allowed to have more of a focus on offense instead of defense to a point.

Fantasy Implications – Goaltenders

The easiest decision by far is just starting Lundqvist for 60-65 games plus. He is now used to facing 30+ shots per night with the New York Rangers, and it would allow Luongo to rest. This defense might be better on the penalty kill at least for the goaltenders which Lundqvist and company would welcome. Would they be top 10? Probably not. Middle of the pack is more likely, and that might be just fine. Shutouts might be at a bit of a premium, too, but do not underestimate too much.

Lundqvist could easily win 35 games or more with this team. Even in his mid-30s, the goalie’s athleticism is among the tops in the league. Luongo, when healthy, can be an excellent backup. Then there is Pekka Rinne, who would be a great addition for any stretch run.

Like we have said, this team has no salary cap, but these goaltenders could thrive, and Lundqvist would still be a top 10 goalie with ease (possibly top five). For that alone, this position is arguably the most stable from a fantasy perspective. Yes, injuries can happen. We understand that.

Quick Hit Prognosis

This team could be super fun. Granted, the salary would be somewhere around $100 million, but who is counting? For fun, Mario Lemieux could own the team with Steve Yzerman as General Manager. Wayne Gretzky could be the President. Marian Hossa would have to be the coach.

Playoffs would be possible here, but our question is for the readers. How would you construct a 35+ team? Give us your line combinations and power play/penalty kill pairings. The more creative is the better here. Thanks for reading.

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