James's self-indulgent hockey pool post
I'm in a number of hockey pools this year, two of which have a $100 entry fee and are of the high-stakes variety (first place wins over $1,000).
In the first, there are 28 poolsters who pick eight players. Final standings are points alone, minus the points accumulated by your worst player. Cousin BJ and I teamed up to win the trophy last year with close to 400 points (thank you Steve Sullivan).
Picking ninth overall, here's what I've got this year with a quick explanation of my picks:
- Jaromir Jagr: Last season's 74 points in 77 games was his worst points-per-game since his rookie season in 1991. The Rangers likely won't be any better, but with offensive threats like Mike Nylander, Martin Straka and Martin Rucinsky, they'll score more than last year. 75 is an absolute minimum for Jagr this season.
- Ladislav Nagy: At 26, Nagy's is a star on the rise. The sniper had 52 points in just 55 games in 2003-04 before dislocating his wrist. 80 points isn't out of the question.
- Michal Handzus: He had 58 points in 2003-04 behind Jeremy Roenick and could improve on those totals should Peter Forsberg go down (always a possibility).
- Craig Conroy: He had a solid preseason on a team that's going to score far more than the 205 goals they had last time around. Could assume the No. 1 centre role if Roenick runs into more concussion problems.
- Andrew Brunette: The past three seasons with the low-scoring Minnesota Wild, Brunette has average 55 points and 82 games played. Now with Colorado and having played through preseason on the top line with Joe Sakic, this could be a career year.
- Jeff Halpern: The Capitals new captain had a career high 46 points in 2003-04 and will be riding shotgun on the team's top line with Alex Ovechkin's rookie season.
- Darcy Tucker: The Maple Leafs' lack of depth on the wings should mean a starring role for the former WHL scoring dynamo. Having watched Tucker's career with the Kamloops Blazers, I find it hard to believe he doesn't have a lot more to contribute than the 32 points he had in 2003-04.
- Kris Draper: He picked up 40 points in 67 games last season with more depth in front of him in 2003-04. This late in the draft, 45 points is a winner, but there's a possibility for more.
Draft No. 2 is an auction where the minimum bid is $10 a player (to a limit of $100). My colleague Pete Evans did the bidding honours and ended up with eight players from $10 to $17 each. We're looking for close to 500 points for these fellows to best the other 23 teams:
- Alexei Yashin: It's been a tough couple of years in Long Island, but now with a bonafide top sniper in Miro Satan on his wing, Yashin should be a safe bet for 70 points — if not more.
- Alexander Frolov: 2005-06 will be his coming out party. After notching 48 points in 2003-04 as a 21-year-old, Frolov put up big numbers in Russia last season, finishing eighth in league scoring.
- Craig Conroy
- Andrew Brunette
- J.P Dumont: A strong preseason and continued top-line duty.
- Jeff Halpern
- Jozef Stumpel: Here's hoping new Panthers coach Jacques Martin likes Joe as much as he did the European snipers in Ottawa.
- John Madden: $10 doesn't go as far as it used to.