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NHL Alum Ryan Malone Joins UFFS, Becomes UFHL Franchise Owner

There is a new player in the Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League — a real player! Ryan Malone, the former NHLer and Olympian, recently joined Ultimate Franchise Fantasy Sports in an ambassador role and became hockey’s first Digital Athlete NFT last week, then became a UFHL franchise owner almost overnight.

Malone, who immediately bought into the UFFS vision of rewarding athletes for their fantasy contributions through digital revenue streams, wanted the hands-on experience of professional fantasy sports by getting involved with the UFHL gameplay. Within the week, he was the proud new owner of the Dynasty franchise as well as their UFAHL affiliate Dawn Patrol and the 100 prospects that were property of their affiliated scouting agency, Azteca Scouting. All told, Malone acquired 172 players for a record-setting 150,000 SCO (equivalent to $72,000 USD at the time of sale). “This league, you don’t get hurt in, so it’ll be fun to be a part of, and I’m very excited for the opportunity to spread the word here and help hockey players everywhere,” Malone said during Friday’s episode of UFHL Now! where he was introduced and revealed that breaking news. “I’m excited to get going — to be one of the owners of the 32 franchises. The previous GM and owners did a great job, they have some big pieces there, and I’m looking forward to the challenge next year of structuring the team and the day-to-day stuff — it’ll be just like owning a real team. We’re going to have to have a team dinner soon … rookie party for everyone!” Don’t laugh, Malone has more than enough connections in the hockey world to make that Dynasty party a reality — only three years removed from his playing career as a former linemate of Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos, among other stars past and present. “I looked at the roster, there are quite a few Minnesota guys … so it’ll be easy for me to say ‘here’s a Dynasty hat, would you like to make an extra few pennies on the side while you’re playing in the digital world,” Malone said. “It’ll be nice to see some of the guys around here in the summer — in The Beauty League here in Minnesota — and I’ll be able to walk up to them and give them a hat and let them know they are on a good team and their owner loves them and wants them to be part of something special.”

Malone’s first move as owner and general manager of the Dynasty franchise was retaining former owner Xavier Smith — the UFHL’s reigning GM of the Year as voted by his peers — as an assistant general manager and Brian Hernandez, who headed up Azteca Scouting and joked that he is now the assistant to the assistant GM. Smith and Hernandez turned a decimated roster into a playoff contender and far exceeded expectations after being ranked 31st (last) by their peers in the UFHL’s preseason Power Rankings. They gradually upgraded their roster with veteran talent — Ryan Getzlaf, Jeff Carter and Dustin Brown, to name a few — and continued to reshape their core with the recent acquisitions of Anders Lee, Vladimir Tarasenko and Drew Doughty but will be tight to the cap going forward with some larger, less desirable contracts like Jeff Skinner and Sergei Bobrovsky. On paper, Dynasty should push for a playoff spot in the Howe Division next season and should get another boost from their youth, which includes Trent Frederic, Nico Sturm, Keegan Kolesar, Arttu Ruotsalainen and Jack Dugan as forwards, Jacob Bryson, Jack Rathbone and Matt Kiersted on defence, and Adin Hill in goal. “It is a sad feeling selling, knowing the amount of hours and effort that went into this franchise to build it from where it was to where it is now,” Smith said of the bittersweet sale. “Being recognized as the first GM of the Year for the UFHL is a tremendous honor … we felt that we did everything we could to set it up for success. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make the playoffs, which was our long-shot goal heading into the season. And was definitely a goal heading into next season. “But I think it was our time (to sell). As for next steps, Bryan and I will be looking at purchasing a franchise in the UFLB (Ultimate Fantasy League Baseball, with those franchise auctions culminating on November 7).”