With the third overall pick in the CLS 2009 NHL Re-Draft, the Tampa Bay Lightning will pick...Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
I have reasons for this. Lots and lots of reasons. And I'll even share a few of them with you right now.
What's the very first position people complain about on a hockey team? Goaltending. What's the very first thing people start picking apart when a team isn't doing well? Goaltending. What's the very first thing people talk about when it comes to making playoffs? Goaltending. What's the first thing a team needs but can never get because people hoard them like gold? Goaltending.
I'm sure you see my point.
If I'm going to be playing the GM role, then I'm going to be thinking like a GM. I wanted a player who's consistent and can perform well under pressure. One who's a proven veteran, but who still has plenty of years left in him. Almost all of the marquée goaltenders are over 30 years old, and I wanted to pick someone who's around 30, but preferably younger. That doesn't leave one with a lot of options.
I was down to Niklas Backstrom
from Minnesota or Henrik Lundqvist from the NY Rangers
. Roberto Luongo
was mentioned, but he's not very consistent and tends to buckle under pressure. Regardless of what many people may think, that's how he is, and that didn't fit into my criteria.
Backstrom has a great reputation, and is a solid goaltender, but he also played in Jacques Lemaire's system. While the defense in front of him didn't have any big names, Lemaire is a stickler for overall team defense. So that weighed in against him. It's why I dismissed Jonas Hiller
from Anaheim from the start - Hiller had Scott Niedermayer
and Chris Pronger
playing in front of him, so his stats aren't a true representation of how well he plays.
Lundqvist, on the other hand, has played extremely consistently and has very similar numbers to Backstrom. But, surprisingly, doesn't get the good press that Backstrom does - despite playing in New York City. He's also played under two different coaches so far which, in turn, have dictated different playing styles. And has had a notoriously inconsistent defensive corps in front of him recently as well. Still, his numbers stay about the same. I mean that in a good way, of course.
And it doesn't hurt that Hank helped Sweden win an Olympic gold medal at the last Olympics when he was only 23 years old.
Sure, I could've gone with a so-called franchise player. I could've picked someone like Vincent Lecavalier
with the Lightning's first pick. But, to be honest, I'm far more interested in winning than observing the standard forms of franchise building. Goaltending was the priority. Goal scoring isn't. At least, not yet.
I think it's much more important to stop goals being scored on a team than it is scoring goals on the other team. If you score four goals but let in five, then that doesn't get you very far. It's exciting, yes, but you still lose. If you score 1 goal but let in nothing, then that's much more effective. Yeah, it may be a boring way to win - but at least you're still winning.
Oh, by the way, did I forget to mention that there's an NHL 10 simulation happening after we put our teams together? No? Well, there is. And I plan on winning it.
But trust me, this team won't be boring.