I’m not a fan of shootouts. I think they belong in the All Star Skills competition, not playing a critical role in determining who goes home with two points and who goes home with regrets. In a sport where individual achievement is only possible through teamwork we’ve boiled down deciding games to a one-on-one competition that’s antithetical to the very nature of the game. A game where who you play with and the chemistry you have with those players has as much impact on your chances for success as your individual skill does. Why does it have to be this way? Do the fans really prefer shorter games this much? How often do teams really go into double OT anyway? Bah. If thats the worry, lets adopt the AHL's new three-on-three OT rules and watch the fun! Of course this rant is brought on by the longest shoot out in the history of the universe last night between the Cat and Caps. Twenty rounds this circus went. Roberto Luongo, G (W, 23 SV, 1 GA, .958%) stood tall and man was I too harsh on Lu in the preseason; he’s been fantastic all year. He must really love living in Florida. I digress, on the other side of this madness was Braden Holtby, G (L, 28 SV, 1 GA, .966%) who took the loss but not because he played poorly. He held his ground for 19 rounds until he finally cracked and gave one up to Nick Bjugstad (1 SOG) in what was Jugs’ second attempt of the night. Why second attempt? Because the Cats ran out of people to take the bloody shots so they had to give him another go. Ugh. This proves who the better team was last night how, exactly? And of course this wasn’t the only shootout of the night, the Wings and Jackets needed one to decide their game too. Shootouts are so bunk, man. They're about as useful as FoxTrax. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday: 
With just a little over a month left before the puck drops it’s time to drop the rankings on y’all and get this party started! Last season saw the predictable end of Crosby leading the way yet again and guess what? Nothing changes this season. Well, that’s not true, a lot changes this season. Tons of new faces in new places and now the Central Division might be the toughest division to play in, maybe in all of North American sports. This season we’ll finally get a look at all-world rookie Jonathan Drouin and from the video I’ve seen the kid should be a hot commodity right off the bat, or off the stick, or… I get my metaphors mixed up sometimes. Anyway, there’s no need for a lengthy introduction here so lets get right to the top 10: 1)  Sidney Crosby – remains king of the mountain going into 2014-15 and barring an injury he should be the only guy who breaks the century mark for a second straight season. That alone nets him the top slot again, but consider that last season he won the Art Ross by 17 points while putting up 1.3 points per game, the top mark in the league. The only guy who came close in points per was Evgeni Malkin at 1.2 points per game, and Geno isn’t trending up this season. Granted, had Steven Stamkos not broken his leg, he would likely have challenged Sid for the scoring title, which he’ll do this season, but inevitably Crosby remains the best player in the world. I would talk about who he’s going to skate with, but it almost doesn’t matter. I can’t imagine they’ll break up Crosby and Chris Kunitz, who he spent about 80% of his time with last year. Throw in a dash of Geno here and there and Sidney will be just fine. At 27 years old he could be poised to put up the best season of his career, the only question is whether or not the concussion bug will bite him again. He played 80 games last season, a career high, but the injury risk remains. Still, I doubt it stops him from making a run at another Hart Trophy. 2015 Projections: 35 G, 65 A, 100 PTS
Apparently all the free agents got together and decided that today was the day to sign a deal. Also, everyone had to sign with a central division team. Or demand a trade to a central division team. If I'm a fan of the Wings, Blue Jackets or any other team lucky enough to have escaped the west, I'm counting my lucky starts tonight because baby, the central is loaded. Normally I’m used to hearing news about a big contract here, a big name move there, but since the draft there have been tons of moves that sent ripples through the fantasy hockey world like so many pebbles being tossed into a still pond. Zen! Anyway, it goes without saying then (though I’ll say it) that y’all need to know who went where and for what and why. When? Yesterday! Today? Who’s on first?! The biggest non-contract move so far has to be Jason Spezza and Ludwig Karlsson going to Dallas for Alex Chaisson, Nick Paul, Alex Guptill, a 2015 second round pick and a bag o’ pucks. Couple that with Ales Hemsky inking a 3-year, $12M deal with the Stars today and they might have found a recipe for success in the west! When I initially found out about this deal I saw it as “Spezza/Karlsson traded to Dallas” and my damn jaw dropped. Come to find out its some guy named Ludwig. Really? People are actually named Ludwig? That’s too bad. Anyway, these moves should make the Stars an offensive powerhouse and I’d say Spezza (if he can stay healthy) and Hemsky (if he can stay healthy) get a decent boost in value for next season. Kari Lehtonen (if he can stay healthy) might be a goalie to target in 2015 now, too. I’m sensing a theme here. Huh, anyway, here are the rest of the big moves that matter so far this offseason…
Tomas Jurco (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) probably has the best hands in the hockey world. Don’t believe me? Have a look. It’s likely that Jurco doesn’t just have the best hands in the hockey world, he might be the talented young player out there right now and with all due respect to Tomas Hertl, he has the highest offensive upside, too. Last season he was fourth on the Sea Dogs in scoring despite missing 20 games and posted a ridiculous 13 goals, 16 assists, plus-24 in 16 playoff games. He earned the nickname “YouTube guy” because of his sick moves and it actually peeved him something severe. Not wanting to be a one-trick pony he has since stopped all the fancy-pants circus tricks with the puck and is now focused on becoming a complete hockey player. That couldn't be better news for the Wings and fantasy owners alike and so far it seems to be working. As the Wings battle a rash of injuries he’s making the best of his opportunity with a goal and an assist, plus-3 with eight shots in his first four NHL games. With hands like his you’d think he would be on course to be a sniper but he excels in just about every aspect of the game and shows flashes of a possible power-forward future and given the Wings’ struggles this season, it seems like it’s time to give the kid a chance to stick with the team, something he’s more than capable of doing. He’s an absolute must own in keeper and deeper leagues and worth very close scrutiny for standard leagues. He has the ability to be a top-six guy right now. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey recently: