Royals Reload, Bentley Jacks Rebuild Through Record-Setting UFHL Entry Auction
The Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League hosted their third annual Entry Auction on Sunday — our version of the NHL Entry Draft, a two-round event with franchises bidding on draft spots for the right to select 64 top prospects from the 2022 draft class.
The Founders’ Trophy-winning Royals — fresh off cleaning up on UFHL awards for their efforts on and off the ice in winning that regular season title — were reloading by welcoming eight new prospects to the fold. They traded away Matthew Tkachuk in a recent blockbuster to avoid the cap crunch and acquire the first overall pick that turned into Juraj Slafkovsky.
The Bentley Jacks, who exceeded all expectations by making the Klein Cup playoffs in their expansion season, hit the reset button to build around a new face of the franchise alongside their NHL counterparts, the Seattle Kraken. Both were able to select Shane Wright after the Bentley Jacks traded Nikita Kucherov in another jaw-dropper to secure that coveted pick.
Those were the two biggest storylines coming out of the Entry Auction but, not to be outdone, last year’s Klein Cup champion Red Army also made another splash by trading up to take Logan Cooley ahead of Wright at second overall. It will be fascinating to follow those Big 3 — and our Top 3 — as they embark on their NHL and UFHL careers.
Rounding out the Top 5 were the two highly touted European defenders, David Jiricek and Simon Nemec, who were both drafted by the Royals as the rich got richer after taking Luke Hughes in the Top 5 last year. Nemec and Hughes could become an amazing top pairing for both the Devils and the Royals.
The Bentley Jacks followed up with two more forwards — selecting Matthew Savoie and Jonathan Lekkerimaki sixth and seventh, respectively — to join Wright in a rebuild that will be targeting Connor Bedard in next year’s Entry Auction. As mentioned, it came at the cost of Kucherov and Patrick Kane, among others, but the Bentley Jacks are hoping it’ll be one step back and two steps forward as they trend towards contention in the years to come.
That Savoie selection shook things up and may have took some by surprise since the Eliminators’ affiliated scout had recently acquired Savoie’s rights before bowing out of that bidding war. But the Eliminators weren’t deterred in winning the next two spots to take Cutter Gauthier and Kevin Korchinski — taking the latter away from the CanWest Generals in similar fashion, with Korchinski property of the CanWest Scouting Agency.