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UFHL Playoff Preview: Division Winners Looking Strong to Start Pursuit of Klein Cup

Updated: May 8, 2022

The Klein Cup won’t be won on paper — it never is, nor the Stanley Cup.

So while the oddsmakers might favour the Founders’ Trophy-winning Royals — or fellow division winners from the regular season, the Titans, Stingrays and Grizzlies — there are plenty of contenders and potential for upsets, with the defending Klein Cup champion Red Army also in the mix again.

Parity has been improving year over year in the Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League, which was more evident than ever in the first full season following two shortened campaigns that crowned the Monarchs as inaugural champs in 2020 before Red Army took the throne last year. Now the Royals enter the Klein Cup playoffs as the top seed and clear favourite after a record-setting regular season that was closely contested until the final two months when the Royals roared past the Titans and pulled away from the pack in convincing fashion to claim the Founders’ Trophy.


As dominant as the Royals were down the stretch — full marks to their management team for that regular-season title, along with their ownership, Crown Sports & Entertainment — the Klein Cup is the championship at stake now and the prestigious trophy that everyone wants to win for a summer celebration. Not to mention seeing their names engraved into UFHL history!


The quest for that UFHL glory gets underway tonight, so let’s take a look at the first-round bracket and the rosters coming out of Sunday’s playoff draft in previewing the matchups for the conference quarterfinals:

First Round Matchups

Allan Conference

L1) Stingrays vs. WC2) Battlehawks

L2) Ice Vikings vs. L3) Yetis

G1) Grizzlies vs. WC1) Stallions

G2) Red Army vs. G3) CanWest Generals

Legends Conference

H1) Royals vs. WC2) Outlaws

H2) West Coast Express vs. H3) Gators

O1) Titans vs. WC1) Bentley Jacks

O2) Rock Republic vs. O3) Kamikaze

These 16 franchises filled out their rosters in Sunday’s playoff draft, replacing their non-playoff players through an innovative leasing system, with UFHL Insider Larry Fisher hosting live coverage on the UFFS Twitch channel:

Here is how the franchises stack up for the first round, with a roster comparison followed by a bit of analysis.

NOTE: These 16 playoff franchises are leasing players from the 16 non-playoff franchises that are listed in parenthesis.

Lemieux Division

Stingrays

Forwards (14)

Elias Lindholm – Calgary vs. Dallas

Calle Jarnkrok – Calgary vs. Dallas

Dillon Dube – Calgary vs. Dallas (Eliminators)

Brett Ritchie – Calgary vs. Dallas (Blizzard)

Patrick Maroon – Tampa Bay vs. Toronto

Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay vs. Toronto (Dynasty)

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Tampa Bay vs. Toronto (Duckman’s Domination)

Jake Guentzel – Pittsburgh vs. New York Rangers

Kasperi Kapanen – Pittsburgh vs. New York Rangers (Godfathers)

Mitch Marner – Toronto vs. Tampa Bay

Taylor Hall – Boston vs. Carolina

Brayden Schenn – St. Louis vs. Minnesota

Viktor Arvidsson – Los Angeles vs. Edmonton

Michael McCarron – Nashville vs. Colorado

Defenders (7)

Erik Cernak – Tampa Bay vs. Toronto

Zach Bogosian – Tampa Bay vs. Toronto

Rasmus Andersson – Calgary vs. Dallas (Dynasty)

Oliver Kylington – Calgary vs. Dallas (Crypto Knights)

Adam Fox – New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh

Gustav Forsling – Florida vs. Washington

Dmitry Kulikov – Minnesota vs. St. Louis

Goaltenders (1)

Cam Talbot – Minnesota vs. St. Louis

Battlehawks

Forwards (14)

Anthony Mantha – Washington vs. Florida

Nic Dowd – Washington vs. Florida

Lars Eller – Washington vs. Florida

Marcus Johansson – Washington vs. Florida

Johan Larsson – Washington vs. Florida

John Tavares – Toronto vs. Tampa Bay

Alex Kerfoot – Toronto vs. Tampa Bay (Brutes)

Jacob Peterson – Dallas vs. Calgary

Luke Glendening – Dallas vs. Calgary (Brutes)

Ryan Johansen – Nashville vs. Colorado (Norse Stars)

Colton Sissons – Nashville vs. Colorado (Mystics)

Evgeni Malkin – Pittsburgh vs. New York Rangers (Mystics)

Ryan Reaves – New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh (Snipers)

Alexei Toropchenko – St. Louis vs. Minnesota (Scout, Marcus Borkowsky)

Defenders (7)

Trevor van Riemsdyk – Washington vs. Florida

John Carlson – Washington vs. Florida (Godfathers)

Chad Ruhwedel – Pittsburgh vs. New York Rangers

Brian Dumoulin – Pittsburgh vs. New York Rangers (Norse Stars)

Justin Holl – Toronto vs. Tampa Bay

Jonas Brodin – Minnesota vs. St. Louis (Dynasty)

Olli Maatta – Los Angeles vs. Edmonton (Norse Stars)

Goaltenders (2)

Sergei Bobrovsky – Florida vs. Washington

Casey DeSmith – Pittsburgh vs. New York Rangers

ANALYSIS: Stingrays were already built for the playoffs — including the midseason acquisition of Brayden Schenn — and selected Steven Stamkos fourth overall as their primary ringer, with the captain of the two-time reigning Stanley Cup champs fresh off the first 100-point season of his career and primed for another playoff run. Stingrays will be a tough out and the Battlehawks will be in tough here, unless Washington upsets Florida, but even that result may not be enough to advance — especially with all those Capitals up against their Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Stingrays are hoping Bobrovsky makes short work of Washington, confidently leaving a goaltending spot open for Bobrovsky in the second round should both the Stingrays and Panthers prevail. A rematch of the 2004 final between Tampa Bay and Calgary would bode well for the Stingrays, if they go all the way.

Ice Vikings

Forwards (13)

Mika Zibanejad – New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh

Ryan Strome – New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh

Chris Kreider – New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh (Godfathers)

Barclay Goodrow – New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh (Monarchs)

Brandon Hagel – Tampa Bay vs. Toronto

Ross Colton – Tampa Bay vs. Toronto (Brutes)

Evander Kane – Edmonton vs. Los Angeles

Dustin Brown – Los Angeles vs. Edmonton

Joe Pavelski – Dallas vs. Calgary

Adam Ruzicka – Calgary vs. Dallas (Warriors)

Joel Eriksson Ek – Minnesota vs. St. Louis

Tom Wilson – Washington vs. Florida

Teddy Blueger – Pittsburgh vs. New York Rangers

Defenders (8)

Radko Gudas – Florida vs. Washington

Robert Hagg – Florida vs. Washington

Chris Tanev – Calgary vs. Dallas (Tornadoes)

Michael Stone – Calgary vs. Dallas (Warriors)

Dante Fabbro – Nashville vs. Colorado

Niko Mikkola – St. Louis vs. Minnesota (Dynasty)