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Off-Season Run-Down II - The Top Five


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Off-Season Run-Down II - The Top Five

 

Okay, okay, I confess - my hot take on Veran Dragomir was a little bit of a tease to put in the bottom five article, especially since Toronto falls in the top half. While there seems to be a reasonably clear hierarchy for the bottom teams, however, the top half is very difficult to differentiate - they're a bit more compelling of a story, as they're all genuinely unique. Here's a short list to summarize before we get started, though:

 

1) Helsinki & Toronto both have incredible top-line strength but limited depth - especially so in Helsinki's case

2) Riga doesn't have offensive star power, but can duel with the best and has an excellent D1/G.

3) Davos has a great F1 and D2 - but their first-line defense and second line of forwards have some soul-searching to do.

4) Calgary is one of the most uniquely deep teams in the league, with 7 players >500 TPE and great second lines.

 

#5 – HC Davos Dynamo

qMyydOu.png

GM // @ShawnGlade

Stars // RW Jake Davis

Risers // S67 RW Bjorn Scoringsonn

S67 C Aston Martin

S67 D Guy LeGrande

S66 D Charlie Paddywagon

S65 RW Katie Warren

 

After taking a beating from Riga in the regular season, the Dynamo pulled an upset in the playoffs by making some key lineup changes. Frankly, it’s a bit tough to keep track of all of the transactions Davos made in the offseason, so I’ll summarize the ones that affect this season specifically here:

 

1) Traded picks for RW Jake Davis

2) Traded away Rylan Peace to Toronto for four S69 picks

3) Traded away both Elias Dahlberg and Pat Svoboda for S67 and S68 picks, including Riga’s first rounders for both.

4) Traded away Codrick Past for veteran Konstantin Mulligan, while swapping picks

 

Where does that leave S67 Davos? Frankly, they’re in a bit of the same position Riga was in last season, with 14 skaters and potentially just too many mouths to feed, but an incredibly promising future nonetheless. Their top line – with shiny new forward Jake Davis @Josh., Crimson, and John Madden – is right up there with Toronto’s top forward line and settles in at third-best in the league by raw TPE, slightly above Calgary and with a comfortable cushion over Riga’s first line. Like Calgary, Davos has defensive depth but not a lot of raw star power – defender Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen @flyersfan1453 has a whopping 640 TPE in just his third season, but is the team’s best defender by nearly 100 TPA.

 

The team actually has 5 defenders – 6 if you project breakout latecomer Guy LeGrande @Steve to hit 350-400 TPE – that can each serve as top 4 defensemen on a given team, making them probably the deepest defensive team in the league. They may suffer a bit against the league’s top-heavy offenses like Toronto, but their second defensive will have the advantage against everyone except Calgary.

 

Offensively, their depth is limited. Poor faceoff skill after John Madden means that one of their rookies – Aston Martin @Sullvino or Dan Gles @No_Dangles may be pushed to the second line on day one. These high-mid round picks will be taken care of nicely, as they’ll line with rising star Katie Warren and promising rookie Bjorn Scoringsonn, but Davos will face growing pains finding a second forward line that can match favorably against other teams’.

 

High Points – Excellent defensive depth. Top-three F1 line. Great draft prepared for Season 69.

Concerns – Very young (but promising) F2; D1 isn’t comparable to top European or North American teams.

 

Projected Lines

F1 // Ryuu Crimson – John Madden – Jake Davis

F2 // Bjorn Scoringsonn – Aston Martin – Katie Warren

F3 // [F1 extra minutes] – Dan Gles – Don Draper

 

D1 // Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen – Konstantin Mulligan

D2 // Marvin Harding – Charlie Paddywagon

D3 // Alvaro Jokinen – Guy LeGrande

 

G // Finn Davison

 

#4 – Toronto Legion

Cm8DD5l.png

GM // @Devise

Star Players // LW Veran Dragomir

C Rylan Peace

Risers // None (all S64 or earlier)

 

Toronto’s one of the most interesting teams in the league. GM Devise makes a point of trading away all of his draft picks, and in return he has a pretty deep team – with seven players over 500 TPE (3-way tie for 3rd in the league). They missed the playoffs by a pretty sizable 8 points last season (73 vs. NYA’s 81), and notably had a -20 goal differential in spite of having a more mature roster than other teams.

 

It’s pretty clear that Devise intends on continuing this trend of an older roster without any draft picks – as he doesn’t have any for the next three seasons at a minimum – and he’s got a very competitive squad to be fair. They have F1 and D1 lines that can compete with the best of them – and their top trio actually outmatches Davos’s, Riga’s, and Calgary’s – including all playoff contenders in the top five other than Helsinki. Top free agent signee Veran Dragomir @Velevra committed to the Legion within the last 48 hours, and is a major part of why the Legion are quite this high – he completes the second-best trio of forwards in the league. While Ryan Sullivan Jr. @Advantage, line partner Tzuyu @tfong, and S65 quadruple award winner Oyorra Arroyo @omgitshim aren’t obvious shoo-ins for First Team All-VHL this season, they each are perennial first-liners, are All Star worthy, and make the Legion’s top lines absolutely terrifying. I don't think Rylan Peace @Peace needs any introduction as he guns for an MVP/MOP this season with some top-drawer linemates.

 

After the first lines, however, the Legion do have some concerns. Their TPE falls off precipitously after their third forward (as is the case with most teams), and their fourth-best defender is a 275 TPE Bolt Vanderhuge, who may pair with journeyman defender and former Reign member Cayden Saint @Symmetrik this season. While their second defensive pairing isn’t ideal, it still outpaces bottom teams’ D2s and generally should not be a large hindrance. They also have a solid starter in the net in JB Rift @Devise, who is about to start his third season in the VHL, but he doesn’t match up to Pepper, Kriketers, etc. yet.

 

High Points – Excellent F1, D1; well-balanced second line. Tied for most players over 500 TPE in the American Conference (w/ Calgary). Re-signing Roctrion King and picking up Dragomir + Saint will give this team most of what they need and frankly could elevate them as high as #2.

Concerns – D2 is not high-quality compared to most other contenders. Matthew Kai will have difficulty competing with some teams’ second lines. Limited faceoff ability across team. Average-to-good goalie may prevent Toronto from going deep.

 

Projected Lines

F1 // Veran Dragomir – Rylan Peace – Oyorra Arroyo

F2 // Roctrion King – Joey Boucher – Matthew Kai

F3 // Chace Trepanier – Gucci Garrop – [F1 extra minutes]

 

D1 // Ryan Sullivan – Tzuyu

D2 // Cayden Saint – Bolt Vanderhuge

 

G // JB Rift

 

#3 – Calgary Wranglers

ZsXsIWu.png

GM // @Bushito

Star Players // LW Leph Twinger

RW Diljodh Starload

D Maxim Kovalchuk

Risers // S65 Brady Stropko

 

Calgary’s a pretty tricky team to assess; after losing to Vancouver in the conference finals last season, they quickly made several moves that made them potential favorites in the North American conference. These included trades for players like LW Leph Twinger @DollarAndADream and re-signing critical players like Starload @DilIsPickle and Brick Wahl @BladeMaiden long-term, while locking up veterans Sebastian Ironside and Maxim Kovalchuk @Banackock until the end of their careers. These five players alone make for a pretty convincing argument for Calgary, but it’s also important to note that they have pretty solid depth through two lines.

 

While not the absolute top line in the VHL, Calgary’s top three forwards can readily keep pace with offensively-oriented teams like Davos, Toronto, and Helsinki. Similarly, their top defensive line isn’t perfect – Maxim Kovalchuk and third-year player Brady Stropko Jr. will have to face off against the league’s best offensive players. However, Calgary’s second line has 4 players that will start the season over 450 TPE – making their second defensive pair the most lethal in the league, as it includes sharpshooting defender Robert Malenko and defensive anchor Elasmobranch Fish @Sharkstrong. While their second forward line doesn’t quite measure up to Vancouver’s (~580 TPE/player vs. ~440 for Calgary), it can compete with every other second line in the league.

 

One big point in Calgary’s favor is their goalie – Brick Wahl will be integral in pushing the Wranglers to a conference title, as only New York has a comparable netminder (with a large difference in skaters). Wahl clearly outclasses Toronto’s JB Rift, and Seattle and Vancouver don’t have high-tier goalies to speak of as of yet.

 

High Points – Excellent defensive depth; D2 should be able to take advantage of most second lines. Best goalie in the North American Conference. Made key re-signings this offseason, including netminder Brick Wahl.

Concerns – D2 will carry the second-line load for the Wranglers, perhaps even offensively. May not have the raw star power needed on first lines to outshine the best European teams or Toronto.

 

Projected Lines

F1 // Leph Twinger – Oleksiy Revchenko – Diljodh Starload

F2 // John Frostbeard – Roll Fizzlebeef – Sebastian Ironside

F3 // Cody Smith – Tyler Barabash Jr. – [F1 extra minutes]

 

D1 // Maxim Kovalchuk – Brady Stropko Jr.

D2 // Robert Malenko – Elasmobranch Fish

 

G // Brick Wahl

 

#2 – Riga Reign

ttuFXuQ.png

GM  // @hedgehog337

Star Players // D Ryan Kastelic

D Joseph McWolf

 Kallis Kriketers

Risers // S66 RW Mikko Aaltonen

S66 C Hunter Hearst Helmsley

S66 RW Arnor Sigurdsson

S67 D Lincoln Tate

 

The Reign’s season was unceremoniously cut short by a sweep from Davos, exacerbating their already-horrendous franchise history against the Swiss franchise. Some experts had them on equal footing to the champion Helsinki Titans, but a couple of trades from Davos and smart line building turned the tables on the Latvian franchise in the postseason.

 

Ultimately Riga’s strength is also its weakness: like the Dynamo in Season 65, the Season 66 Reign experienced growing pains after drafting and retaining six rookies on their main roster. 'Tag' on to that several members in the mid-to-late stages of their respective primes – Preencarnacion @Tagger, Podrick Cast @Victor, and Ryan Kastelic @Enorama, and we had a team that was simultaneously deep but talented at the top. And like Davos two seasons prior, that ultimately became their downfall – they simply couldn’t match up in the playoffs to a team with two excellent forward lines, as rookies Apollo Hackett and Aron Nielsen struggled against their competition.

 

A season older and wiser, the Reign are poised to compete for a European title. With four forwards and two defensemen over 600 TPE (including up to three others that could break that mark by the end of the season), Riga is in an excellent spot to at least keep it close in playoff series against Davos or Helsinki. A line composed of Sigurdsson @bluesfan55, Aaltonen @GRZ, and HHH @Beaviss might not have scared too many teams at the start of last season – but that could be a line that hits 2,000 TPE collectively this season, which is terrifying to consider for most teams’ second-to-third lines. HHH himself can already play with the most skilled first liners in spite of being in his sophomore season, and his likely line-mates could outmatch most of their opposition by midseason too. It’s worth noting that Riga only really has two players that can face off – so we may see a switch-up in lines, with HHH taking on a first-line role and Matthews moving up to the second.

 

Defensively, Riga could go as many as three entirely unique lines this season. With Kastelic and McWolf being the two obvious mainstays and likely receiving the most PP/PK time, GM Benjamin Zeptenbergs also has two reasonably experienced sophomore defensemen in Aron Nielsen and Apollo Hackett. Add to that VHLM standout Lincoln @Tate and we’ve got a team that’s genuinely 5 defensemen deep. Some scouts suggest Tate could join Hackett on the second line as early as mid-season.

 

High Points – Talented S66 draft class and competitive F1; best D1 pairing in the league. Kallis Kriketers will make another strong push for best goalie. Improving S66/S67 players will be key to Riga’s success this season. Lincoln Tate has enough raw talent to make D2 this season.

Concerns – An aging Preencarnacion, limited ice time, very tight cap space. Specter of Riga’s limited playoff success continues to hang on the franchise.

 

Projected Lines

F1 // Elias Dahlberg – Hunter Hearst Helmsley – Pat Svoboda

F2 // Edwin Preencarnacion – Anthony Matthews (?) – Mikko Aaltonen/Arnor Sigurdsson

F3 // Chico Smeb – [HHH extra minutes] – Mikko Aaltonen/Arnor Sigurdsson

 

D1 // Ryan Kastelic – Joseph McWolf

D2 // Apollo Hackett – Aron Nielsen (early)/Lincoln Tate (late)

 

G // Kallis Kriketers

 

#1 – Helsinki Titans

GV7gz6D.png

GM // @Quik

Star Players // LW Julian Borwinn, G Alexander Pepper, LW Matt Thompson, C Kronos Bailey

Risers // S67 D Derek England

S66 C Jordan Tonn

 

This one was a pretty easy choice. No major free agent losses, four players above 900 TPA, the best Offensive Defenseman in hockey, and basically all of the award-winning forwards from the last season. I’ve done my fair share of fawning over how Quik has put together a great roster, and that’s absolutely the case here. Their top three forwards (@Jubo07, @Quik, @Beketov) come in with a sum of 2,959 TPA – nearly double that of some of the lower-rated teams in the VHL, or an entire roster of VHLMers – which comes in pretty easily as the best possible first line in the league. Defensively they’re not as overwhelming, but the roster still has an excellent projection with first-liners Sidney Crosby (785 TPE) and Jesse Wilson (694), who can go toe-to-toe with nearly any other starting pair in the league.

 

There’s certainly something to be said about their depth – as their second three forwards are 405, 390, and 335 TPE, respectively – but two of them (C Orion Slade @BluObieZand C Jordan Tonn @MexicanCow123) are still quite active – claiming 10-12 capped TPE on top of all of the uncapped points coming out this past week. Sadly, S66 prospects Ludvig Sederstrom and Viktor Kozlov seem to have burned themselves out of the league – but they’ll still have times to relieve second liners of their minutes to limit fatigue.

 

To this point, we haven’t really mentioned Dan Montgomery @BarzalGoat by name – but he’s one of the many award winners this team has to offer. A top-notch scorer, he was helped by Helsinki’s top-two last season and was able to focus his efforts against second liners to incredible effect. I expect him to have a similarly dominant season from his position this time around.

 

High Points – Absurdly, almost unbelievably talented F1 (avg. 986.3 TPE), excellent scoring defenseman in Dan Montgomery, second-best starting pair in hockey. Also has one of S66’s best goalies.

Concerns – Second-line depth, 3 of 4 S66 prospects seem to be done. Top line will have to carry most of the load. Bailey, Thompson, Wilson are all in contract years.

 

Projected Lines

F1 // Julian Borwinn – Kronos Bailey – Matt Thompson

F2 // Bert Meyers – Jordan Tonn – Orion Slade

F3 // [F1 extra minutes] – Viktor Kozlov – Ludvig Sederstrom

 

D1 // Sidney Crosby – Jesse Wilson

D2 // Dan Montgomery – Derek England

 

G // Alexander Pepper

Edited by Renomitsu
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@Renomitsu - Says Wahl is the best goalie in North American conference, also does not include Wahl as a star of Calgary = a very confused Blade lol

 

But seriously, as all of your articles it is extremely well thought out and was a pleasure to read. Thanks for keeping things interesting!

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6 hours ago, BladeMaiden said:

@Renomitsu - Says Wahl is the best goalie in North American conference, also does not include Wahl as a star of Calgary = a very confused Blade lol

 

But seriously, as all of your articles it is extremely well thought out and was a pleasure to read. Thanks for keeping things interesting!

 

Could just be his way of saying the NA has no star goalies... ? 

 

26 minutes ago, Victor said:

Looks like Kovalchuk has moved to forward which is odd since he looked to be on pace for the HOF on defence.


I believe that's a mistake that needs to be fixed, since there's no position change purchase logged anywhere.

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4 hours ago, Quik said:

 

Could just be his way of saying the NA has no star goalies... ? 

 


I believe that's a mistake that needs to be fixed, since there's no position change purchase logged anywhere.

 

You really wanna start this fight Quik? I swear I'll start a damn goalie war if that is what it takes...

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11 hours ago, BladeMaiden said:

@Renomitsu - Says Wahl is the best goalie in North American conference, also does not include Wahl as a star of Calgary = a very confused Blade lol

 

But seriously, as all of your articles it is extremely well thought out and was a pleasure to read. Thanks for keeping things interesting!

 

I was actually just talking to Advantage about this.

 

The criteria for star changed about halfway through writing (it was initially ~850-900 TPE) and there were a few players I skipped over when adjusting for the new threshold - so yes, you were supposed to be included but I can't risk the wrath of the ~35 members I tagged to make individual edits :(

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1 minute ago, Renomitsu said:

 

I was actually just talking to Advantage about this.

 

The criteria for star changed about halfway through writing (it was initially ~850-900 TPE) and there were a few players I skipped over when adjusting for the new threshold - so yes, you were supposed to be included but I can't risk the wrath of the ~35 members I tagged to make individual edits :(

 

One would think that performance would be more important than TPE  when looking for VHL starts, their are a lot of Sub 800 plays that have more VHL success than some 800+ Stars. Not looking for any corrections to be made I am just saying a lot of key performers have been missed that may never hit that TPE Threshold.

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1 minute ago, Matt_O said:

Damn everyones getting mad about this

 

Only those of us who actually care about our player's performances. Other ppl probably don't care one way or the other tbh.

 

@Renomitsu shouldn't worry about it though, you can't make everyone happy and as I said before it is am extremely well thought out piece of writing.

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11 minutes ago, BladeMaiden said:

 

One would think that performance would be more important than TPE  when looking for VHL starts, their are a lot of Sub 800 plays that have more VHL success than some 800+ Stars. Not looking for any corrections to be made I am just saying a lot of key performers have been missed that may never hit that TPE Threshold.

 

I agree. I think I should have tamped down on how ambitious I was with this article; it pretty quickly got out of hand length-wise and I was looking for a few shortcuts.

 

I probably would have ruffled fewer feathers with a pared-down power ranking more similar to most sports networks, and maybe not worrying as much about stars/risers.

 

4 minutes ago, Matt_O said:

Damn everyones getting mad about this

 

People have the right to an opinion in the same way I have the right to write media spots. Doesn't bother me - I quite like discussion and these are the first two (and hopefully not the last two) of this type I've ever written. Gives me some food for thought if I decide to write power rankings later, but I'll probably shelve this idea for a while.

Edited by Renomitsu
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3 hours ago, BladeMaiden said:

 

One would think that performance would be more important than TPE  when looking for VHL starts, their are a lot of Sub 800 plays that have more VHL success than some 800+ Stars. Not looking for any corrections to be made I am just saying a lot of key performers have been missed that may never hit that TPE Threshold.

 

Aye, player build plays a lot of factor into it. A 500 TPE player may not necessarily on his own be the "better" player than an 800 TPE one. But if that 500 TPE player is a winger with 99 scoring and is playing with an 800 TPE center, how does that match up against say, two 800 TPE players whose builds while effective are more spread out? Ultimately knowing or predicting how effective a player can be, or how much of a star they'll appear to be in the sim, comes down to a mixture of TPA, build, and team analysis/chemistry. Even then still easy to get it wrong.

 

I remember a time when it felt like if you put two or three elite players on a bad rebuilding team, while that team would miss the playoffs the elite players would get crazy good stats. Not record breaking, but they'd be challenging for league leads. It happened often enough that it became a thing to try to do it to help your super active get good stats building a HoF case for having to suffer through a rebuild. However, that doesn't mean every time someone tried that it worked. You'd get instances where it'd all just fall flat and while the franchise wasn't screwed, it did feel like a bummer. 

 

Anyway, ultimately, I don't think necessarily using only just sim results is effective though. Similar to my story above, most of the time you should be able to say "well so and so was a points leader last season or best goalie, and they are still just as good on a competing team so it should stay the same at least if not get better." Yet look at Podrick Cast and Riga as a whole last several seasons, after that amazing season that now feels like ages ago. That said....I totally agree with you even in this weird modern VHL goalie era definitions, Wahl is a star player. 

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On 7/6/2019 at 4:03 PM, Renomitsu said:

Off-Season Run-Down II - The Top Five

 

Projected Lines

F1 // Julian Borwinn – Kronos Bailey – Matt Thompson

F2 // Bert Meyers – Jordan Tonn – Orion Slade

F3 // [F1 extra minutes] – Viktor Kozlov – Ludvig Sederstrom

 

D1 // Sidney Crosby – Jesse Wilson

D2 // Dan Montgomery – Derek England

 

G // Alexander Pepper

 

tfw I'm not even projected to play noooooo

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On 7/6/2019 at 9:03 AM, Renomitsu said:

High Points – Talented S66 draft class and competitive F1; best D1 pairing in the league. Kallis Kriketers will make another strong push for best goalie. Improving S66/S67 players will be key to Riga’s success this season. Lincoln Tate has enough raw talent to make D2 this season.

@Enorama ❤️

Edited by McWolf
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