The Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League playoffs are underway in the quest to capture the Klein Cup.
Last year’s inaugural champion Monarchs missed the playoffs — thus won’t have a chance to defend their crown — and the Founders’ Trophy-winning regular season champion Ice Vikings aren’t considered favourites after enduring the most turnover among the 16 franchises advancing to this year’s playoffs.
The Ice Vikings replenished their roster with the first pick in every round of the 2021 UFHL Playoff Draft — one of two franchises needing 15 rounds to fill out their 23-man roster, while last year’s regular season champion Grizzlies needed only four rounds with 19 players making the NHL playoffs.
The rest of the franchises were between those extremes — needing between four and 15 players — as they drafted replacements for their players that missed the NHL playoffs. Those replacements came from the 15 non-playoff UFHL franchises through an innovative leasing system that keeps everyone engaged. The non-playoff franchises are now cheering on their players and the franchises that drafted them since a portion of the playoff payouts goes to the players and thus back to their non-playoff franchises.
To set up this UFHL playoff preview, here is a look at the first-round matchups and the playoff draft order.
First Round Matchups
1) Red Army vs. 4) Stallions
2) Grizzlies vs. 3) Battlehawks
1) Ice Vikings vs. 4) Blades of Steel
2) Yetis vs. 3) Stingrays
1) Titans vs. 4) Strong Island
2) Rock Republic vs. 3) Brutes
1) Outlaws vs. 4) West Coast Express
2) Royals vs. 3) Gators
UFHL Playoff Draft Order
NOTE: This draft was non-snaking — meaning this order remained the same for every round. The order was finalized following Saturday’s regular-season game between Vancouver and Edmonton.
1) Ice Vikings (Jeff Brown and Brian Smith)
2) Red Army (Luc Grenier)
3) Titans (Jacob Cambridge)
4) Yetis (Scott Lowater)
5) Outlaws (Nick Uttley)
6) Rock Republic (Kyle Roberts)
7) Royals (Arnie Entz and Brent Baldwin)
8) Stingrays (Arlo Schulz)
9) Grizzlies (Andrea Charanduk)
10) Gators (Matt Gunn)
11) West Coast Express (Aaron Bell and Brandon Kohinsky)
12) Blades of Steel (Mike Bender)
13) Brutes (Jesse Gill)
14) Battlehawks (Alex Leblanc and Serge Beauchesne)
15) Strong Island (Terry Webber)
16) Stallions (Ian Constable)
This year’s playoff draft was hosted on Fantrax and accompanied by a live show on the UFF Sports YouTube channel — the Ultimate Fantasy Sports Network (UFSN).
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 15 non-playoff franchises that are listed in parenthesis.