TSN's annual battle for bragging rights has begun.
With the NHL season on the horizon, Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, analysts Marc Crawford and Keith Jones as well as TSN host Dave Hodge were once again charged with the task of building their own fantasy teams for the 2011-12 season.
The parameters were simple - all four personalities took part in a seven-round snake-style draft and had to finish their draft with four forwards, two defencemen, a goaltender and one rookie. Scoring is as follows: All skaters earn one fantasy point for each point scored. Goalies are awarded two fantasy points for a win and one fantasy point for a shutout.
This season, each team was allowed to protect one player from their team before the draft, and perhaps unsurprisingly all four contestants kept forwards. Three-time winner and current defending champion Dreger chose to keep Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks. Jones opted to keep Tampa Bay sniper Steven Stamkos. Hodge protected Capitals sniper Alex Ovechkin, while Crawford, who is taking over Pierre McGuire's squad, elected to retain the services of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby.
Before the first pick of the draft was made, Dreger and Crawford made a blockbuster trade.
Crawford moved the first overall pick to Dreger, along with the 16th pick in the draft for the fourth and fifth picks. The move gave Crawford four of the first nine selections.
With the first overall pick Dreger reunited the Sedin twins on his team by selecting Daniel, who won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer last season with 104 points.
"In protecting Henrik Sedin, I'm going with brother Daniel, because they are in fact the dynamic duo. This is a lock and load 200-plus points, assuming that they can stay healthy and that's a big assumption," admitted Dreger.
Despite missing half a season with knee injuries, Evgeni Malkin was Hodge's selection with the second overall pick.
"I'm going to trade too, I'm going to trade the Evgeni Malkin of last season who played 43 games for the Evgeni Malkin of this season, who's going to play 82 games and be as sensational as we know he can," said Hodge.
Corey Perry, the Anaheim Ducks standout who finished last season with a league-best 50 goals was selected by Keith Jones third overall.
Crawford was next, and with his first of two picks, the former NHL coach selected Tampa Bay Lightning playmaker Martin St. Louis to complete the first round of the draft. St. Louis posted an impressive 99 points last season and Crawford is expecting similar production from the 36-year-old this year.
"Here's a guy that finished second in the scoring and he's going to be playing this season with Steven Stamkos," explained Crawford. "He just does everything so well. He's a great skater, terrific passer, he's got a nose for the net, and he's in on most of their scoring. Tampa Bay has an outstanding power play, how can you go wrong?"
"He asked the question 'How can you go wrong?'" responded Hodge. "You can make a trade with Darren Dreger - that's how you can go wrong."
With the fifth pick, Crawford picked Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews, who broke the 70-point plateau for the first time in his career when he posted 32 goals and 44 assists in 80 games in 2010-11.
Montreal Canadiens netminder Carey Price was the first goaltender to go, selected by Dreger in the fifth round (20th overall). The 24-year-old is coming off a stellar season that saw him post 38 wins and six shutouts.
"I love this guy's attitude. I don't know if I'm entitrely sold on the Montreal Canadiens on the whole," said Dreger. "But he doesn't care what the fans think. If he doesn't stop the puck that's fine, he just brushes it off, he'll stop the next 50. Big year for Carey Price coming up and again I'm going to the bank with 40-plus wins."
The other goaltenders selected were Buffalo's Ryan Miller (Hodge, 23rd overall), Vancouver's Roberto Luongo (Crawford, 24th overall) and Philadelphia's Ilya Bryzgalov (Jones, 27th overall).
Anaheim's Lubomir Visnovsky was the highest selected defenceman, going to Crawford in the third round (9th overall). The 35-year-old led all defencemen in points last season with 18 goals and 50 assists.
Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was the first rookie to be selected, chosen by Crawford in the fifth round (17th overall). The 18-year-old was the first overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and scored a goal and five assists in five pre-season games.
The next two rookies selected were defencemen, when Adam Larsson was taken a round later by Jones (22nd overall), followed by Ottawa's David Rundblad (Hodge, 26th overall). Dreger rounded out the rookie selections by taking Canucks forward Cody Hodgson with the final pick of the draft (28th overall).
The Canucks had the most players off the board after the draft with four, while the Ducks and Blackhawks each had three players taken.
CLICK HERE to view the complete list of players drafted, as well as the daily updated standings throughout the season.