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UFHL Playoff Preview: Franchises Draft Rosters to Pursue the Klein Cup

UFHL Playoff Preview: 16 Franchises Draft Rosters to Pursue the Klein Cup

The Klein Cup playoffs are rolling right along, with the first round now underway following the inaugural Playoff Draft for the Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League. COVID caused a strange start to the postseason, with the UFHL mirroring the NHL’s play-in round by expanding to 24 franchises while awarding byes to the top four seeds from both conferences based on the regular-season standings. That produced the following results.

Play-In Round Legends Conference Byes = 1) Grizzlies 2) Gators 3) Titans 4) Monarchs Matchups 7) Yetis defeated 10) Royals 8) Duckman’s Domination defeated 9) Blades of Steel 11) Stallions defeated 6) Elite Assassins WC3) Crypto Knights defeated 5) Outlaws Allan Conference Byes = 1) Defenders 2) Strong Island 3) Tornadoes 4) Rock Republic Matchups 5) Snipers defeated WC2) Murder Hornets 6) Power Players defeated WC1) West Coast Express 7) Battle Hawks defeated 10) Blizzard 8) Dynasty defeated 9) Bombers As you can see, there were a couple upsets in the Legends Conference, while all the top seeds prevailed in the Allan Conference. The winning franchises advanced to the first round — the Round of 16.

First Round Matchups Legends Conference 1) Grizzlies vs. 8) Crypto Knights 2) Gators vs. 7) Stallions 3) Titans vs. 6) Duckman’s Domination 4) Monarchs vs. 5) Yetis Allan Conference 1) Defenders vs. 8) Dynasty 2) Strong Island vs. 7) Battle Hawks 3) Tornadoes vs. 6) Power Players 4) Rock Republic vs. 5) Snipers Prior to the first round, the UFHL hosted its inaugural playoff draft on Monday night, with those 16 franchises filling out their 23-man rosters. UFHL Playoff Draft Order NOTE: This draft was non-snaking — meaning this order remained the same for every round. 1) Grizzlies (Connie & Andrea Charanduk) 2) Defenders (Miguel Vidal) 3) Strong Island (Brandon Broderick) 4) Gators (Lorne White) 5) Titans (Jacob Cambridge) 6) Tornadoes (Machen Mathews) 7) Monarchs (Ashley Murray) 8) Rock Republic (Donny Tulk) 9) Yetis (Colin Mills) 10) Duckman’s Domination (Dean Millard) 11) Snipers (Juha Soudunsaari) 12) Power Players (Justin Davis) 13) Battle Hawks (Serge Beauchesne) 14) Dynasty (Ryan Clements) 15) Stallions (Ian Constable) 16) Crypto Knights (Chericce Schulz) The results from the UFHL Playoff Draft can be viewed here (click the Playoff Draft Results tab for a pick-by-pick, round-by-round summary). The event, which was held through a Jitsi Meet video conference, was also live streamed on the UFF Sports YouTube 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 15 non-playoff UFHL franchises who are listed in parenthesis. First Round Matchups Legends Conference 1) Grizzlies vs. 8) Crypto Knights

1) Grizzlies Forwards (14) Gabriel Landeskog — Colorado vs. Arizona (Blades of Steel) Nazem Kadri — Colorado vs. Arizona J.T. Compher — Colorado vs. Arizona Matt Nieto — Colorado vs. Arizona (Blizzard) Nino Niederreiter — Carolina vs. Boston (Murder Hornets) Warren Foegele — Carolina vs. Boston Morgan Geekie — Carolina vs. Boston Brock McGinn — Carolina vs. Boston (Vengeance) William Karlsson — Vegas vs. Chicago Nick Cousins — Vegas vs. Chicago (Warriors) Jake DeBrusk — Boston vs. Carolina (Blades of Steel) Sean Kuraly — Boston vs. Carolina Jaden Schwartz — St. Louis vs. Vancouver Jay Beagle — Vancouver vs. St. Louis (Bombers) Defencemen (8) Samuel Girard — Colorado vs. Arizona (Brutes) Erik Johnson — Colorado vs. Arizona (Vengeance) Ryan Graves — Colorado vs. Arizona Mikhail Sergachev — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus Nick Holden — Vegas vs. Chicago Haydn Fleury — Carolina vs. Boston (Blades of Steel) Dean Kukan — Columbus vs. Tampa Bay (UFHL Free Agent) Derek Forbort — Calgary vs. Dallas (UFHL Free Agent) Goaltenders (1) Robin Lehner — Vegas vs. Chicago (West Coast Express) 8) Crypto Knights Forwards (14) Scott Laughton — Philadelphia vs. Montreal Joel Farabee — Philadelphia vs. Montreal (Bombers) Michael Raffl — Philadelphia vs. Montreal Tyler Pitlick — Philadelphia vs. Montreal (Ice Vikings) Mark Stone — Vegas vs. Chicago Paul Stastny — Vegas vs. Chicago (Chilean Sea Bass) Chandler Stephenson — Vegas vs. Chicago (Norse Stars) David Perron — St. Louis vs. Vancouver Oskar Sundqvist — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (Elite Assassins) Andrew Mangiapane — Calgary vs. Dallas Austin Czarnik — Calgary vs. Dallas Taylor Hall — Arizona vs. Colorado Antoine Roussel — Vancouver vs. St. Louis Carl Hagelin — Washington vs. New York Islanders Defencemen (8) Mark Giordano — Calgary vs. Dallas Noah Hanifin — Calgary vs. Dallas (Warriors) Shea Theodore — Vegas vs. Chicago (West Coast Express) Dmitry Orlov — Washington vs. New York Islanders Shayne Gostisbehere — Philadelphia vs. Montreal (Outlaws) Brett Pesce — Carolina vs. Boston (Elite Assassins) Luke Schenn — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus Jordan Oesterle — Arizona vs. Colorado Goaltenders (1) Brian Elliott — Philadelphia vs. Montreal

ANALYSIS: The regular-season champion Grizzlies are loaded with Colorado and Vegas players from the West, plus a handful of Carolina players from the East. If Colorado comes out of the West, the Grizzlies could be the team to beat again in the playoffs. The Grizzlies are the betting favourites to win the Klein Cup according to the UFHL/NHL Playoff Pool where seven of the 23 entrants picked the Grizzlies as their champion. But don’t sleep on the Crypto Knights — the only wild-card franchise advancing from the play-in round and one of only two franchises advancing from the recent UFHL Redraft, along with Duckman’s Domination. The Crypto Knights are underdogs built around Philadelphia in the East and Vegas in the West, with plenty of Calgary players too. If the Crypto Knights can pull off this upset and Vegas goes on another run, they could enjoy a Cinderella story similar to the Golden Knights in their expansion season. This is an all-female matchup between Andrea and Chericce — girl power!

2) Gators vs. 7) Stallions

2) Gators Forwards (14) Anders Bjork — Boston vs. Carolina Chris Wagner — Boston vs. Carolina (Vengeance) Joakim Nordstrom — Boston vs. Carolina (UFHL Free Agent) Nathan MacKinnon — Colorado vs. Arizona Valeri Nichushkin — Colorado vs. Arizona Vincent Trocheck — Carolina vs. Boston (Blizzard) Justin Williams — Carolina vs. Boston (UFHL Free Agent) Max Pacioretty — Vegas vs. Chicago (Outlaws) Evgeny Kuznetsov — Washington vs. New York Islanders (West Coast Express) James van Riemsdyk — Philadelphia vs. Montreal Vinnie Hinostroza — Arizona vs. Colorado MacKenzie MacEachern — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (Norse Stars) Tyler Motte — Vancouver vs. St. Louis (Elite Assassins) Zac Rinaldo — Calgary vs. Dallas (UFHL Free Agent) Defencemen (7) Nate Schmidt — Vegas vs. Chicago (Elite Assassins) Alec Martinez — Vegas vs. Chicago Brayden McNabb — Vegas vs. Chicago (Norse Stars) Zdeno Chara — Boston vs. Carolina Jaccob Slavin — Carolina vs. Boston Jan Rutta — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus (Vengeance) Oscar Fantenberg — Vancouver vs. St. Louis (Murder Hornets) Goaltenders (2) Cam Talbot — Calgary vs. Dallas (Murder Hornets) Thatcher Demko — Vancouver vs. St. Louis (Bombers) 7) Stallions Forwards (13) Matthew Tkachuk — Calgary vs. Dallas Derek Ryan — Calgary vs. Dallas (Warriors) Lars Eller — Washington vs. New York Islanders (Royals) Richard Panik — Washington vs. New York Islanders (Norse Stars) Kevin Hayes — Philadelphia vs. Montreal (Norse Stars) Ondrej Palat — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus Bo Horvat — Vancouver vs. St. Louis Brandon Saad — Chicago vs. Vegas Nick Schmaltz — Arizona vs. Colorado Jordan Staal — Carolina vs. Boston (Warriors) Tyson Jost — Colorado vs. Arizona (Elite Assassins) Ivan Barbashev — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (Blades of Steel) Karson Kuhlman — Boston vs. Carolina (Ice Vikings) Defencemen (8) Adam Pelech — New York Islanders vs. Washington Andy Greene — New York Islanders vs. Washington Noah Dobson — New York Islanders vs. Washington (West Coast Express) Kevin Shattenkirk — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus Braydon Coburn — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus (Royals) Colton Parayko — St. Louis vs. Vancouver Rasmus Andersson — Calgary vs. Dallas (Norse Stars) Adam Boqvist — Chicago vs. Vegas (Red Army) Goaltenders (2) Jordan Binnington — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (Royals) Malcolm Subban — Chicago vs. Vegas

ANALYSIS: The Gators are fairly balanced but will also be pulling for Colorado and Vegas in the West, while hitching their wagon to the winner of that Boston-Carolina series in the East. The Stallions also went with the balanced approach and should have a good amount of players left regardless of the first-round results in the NHL if they can get past the Gators. If the Stallions are pulling for anybody, it might be St. Louis and Calgary in the West and Tampa Bay in the East, but they have players from 12 of the 16 NHL playoff teams on their roster. This is a matchup between two of the newest GMs in the UFHL, with Lorne (Gators) and Ian (Stallions) both hired in late July and looking to make a strong first impression through a successful playoff debut.

3) Titans vs. 6) Duckman’s Domination

3) Titans Forwards (14) Vladimir Tarasenko — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (Bombers) Tyler Bozak — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (Royals) Zach Sanford — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (Murder Hornets) Troy Brouwer — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (UFHL Free Agent) David Pastrnak — Boston vs. Carolina Nick Ritchie — Boston vs. Carolina Travis Konecny — Philadelphia vs. Montreal (Blizzard) Nicolas Aube-Kubel — Philadelphia vs. Montreal Conor Garland — Arizona vs. Colorado Brad Richardson — Arizona vs. Colorado (West Coast Express) Steven Stamkos — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus (Murder Hornets) Reilly Smith — Vegas vs. Chicago Andre Burakovsky — Colorado vs. Arizona Micheal Ferland — Vancouver vs. St. Louis (IR) Defencemen (7) Philippe Myers — Philadelphia vs. Montreal Robert Hagg — Philadelphia vs. Montreal (Blizzard) Robert Bortuzzo — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (Norse Stars) Carl Gunnarsson — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (Norse Stars) Cale Makar — Colorado vs. Arizona Esa Lindell — Dallas vs. Calgary (Norse Stars) Niklas Hjalmarsson — Arizona vs. Colorado (UFHL Free Agent) Goaltenders (2) Andrei Vasilevskiy — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus Curtis McElhinney — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus (Norse Stars) 6) Duckman’s Domination Forwards (14) David Krejci — Boston vs. Carolina (Brutes) Ondrej Kase — Boston vs. Carolina (Outlaws) Nicklas Backstrom — Washington vs. New York Islanders (Murder Hornets) Nic Dowd — Washington vs. New York Islanders (Norse Stars) Nicolas Roy — Vegas vs. Chicago (Norse Stars) Brandon Pirri — Vegas vs. Chicago Jordan Weal — Montreal vs. Philadelphia (UFHL Free Agent) Charles Hudon — Montreal vs. Philadelphia Phil Kessel — Arizona vs. Colorado Alex DeBrincat — Chicago vs. Vegas Jordan Martinook — Carolina vs. Boston (Chilean Sea Bass) Loui Eriksson — Vancouver vs. St. Louis (UFHL Free Agent) Mark Jankowski — Calgary vs. Dallas Luke Witkowski — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus Defencemen (7) Alexander Edler — Vancouver vs. St. Louis Troy Stecher — Vancouver vs. St. Louis (Murder Hornets) Oliver Ekman-Larsson — Arizona vs. Colorado (Norse Stars) Jeff Petry — Montreal vs. Philadelphia T.J. Brodie — Calgary vs. Dallas Jake Gardiner — Carolina vs. Boston Derrick Pouliot — St. Louis vs. Vancouver Goaltenders (2) Antti Raanta — Arizona vs. Colorado Marc-Andre Fleury — Vegas vs. Chicago (Elite Assassins)

ANALYSIS: The Titans are heavy on Philly and St. Louis but also have ringers from Tampa Bay and Boston. Colorado is another team the Titans would like to see go far. Duckman’s are also on that Boston bandwagon but spread their talent around quite well and would welcome an Arizona upset over Colorado. Duckman’s would also be happy with Vancouver dethroning St. Louis. Duckman’s would be even happier if one of their goaltenders became starters again — ideally during this first round.

4) Monarchs vs. 5) Yetis

4) Monarchs Forwards (14) Nikita Kucherov — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus Brayden Point — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus (Red Army) Tyler Johnson — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus (Royals) Anthony Cirelli — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus Alex Killorn — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus Yanni Gourde — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus Mitchell Stephens — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus (Vengeance) Carter Verhaeghe — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus Pierre-Luc Dubois — Columbus vs. Tampa Bay Devin Shore — Columbus vs. Tampa Bay Lawson Crouse — Arizona vs. Colorado Christian Fischer — Arizona vs. Colorado Nate Thompson — Philadelphia vs. Montreal (UFHL Free Agent) Ross Johnston — New York Islanders vs. Washington Defencemen (8) Travis Sanheim — Philadelphia vs. Montreal (Chilean Sea Bass) Justin Braun — Philadelphia vs. Montreal (UFHL Free Agent) Victor Hedman — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus Miro Heiskanen — Dallas vs. Calgary (Bombers) Nikita Zadorov — Colorado vs. Arizona Joel Edmundson — Carolina vs. Boston Nick Jensen — Washington vs. New York Islanders Jason Demers — Arizona vs. Colorado (Elite Assassins) Goaltenders (1) Ben Bishop — Dallas vs. Calgary 5) Yetis Forwards (14) Vladislav Namestnikov — Colorado vs. Arizona Matt Calvert — Colorado vs. Arizona Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Colorado vs. Arizona (UFHL Free Agent) Anthony Beauvillier — New York Islanders vs. Washington (Vengeance) Jean-Gabriel Pageau — New York Islanders vs. Washington Boone Jenner — Columbus vs. Tampa Bay (Ice Vikings) Liam Foudy — Columbus vs. Tampa Bay (UFHL Free Agent) Derek Grant — Philadelphia vs. Montreal Oskar Lindblom — Philadelphia vs. Montreal Brock Boeser — Vancouver vs. St. Louis Robert Thomas — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (Ice Vikings) Mathieu Joseph — Tampa Bay vs. Columbus (West Coast Express) Barrett Hayton — Arizona vs. Colorado (Bombers) Matthew Highmore — Chicago vs. Vegas (UFHL Free Agent) Defencemen (7) Zach Werenski — Columbus vs. Tampa Bay Ivan Provorov — Philadelphia vs. Montreal (Warriors) Vince Dunn — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (Brutes) Jonas Siegenthaler — Washington vs. New York Islanders (Blades of Steel) Johnny Boychuk — New York Islanders vs. Washington (Royals) Connor Clifton — Boston vs. Carolina Deryk Engelland — Vegas vs. Chicago Goaltenders (2) Joonas Korpisalo — Columbus vs. Tampa Bay Philipp Grubauer — Colorado vs. Arizona (Brutes)

ANALYSIS: The Monarchs will go as far as Tampa Bay can take them, with a whopping nine players from the Lightning — eight forwards and Hedman as their horse on the back end. If the Lightning go all the way, the Monarchs will likely be left standing at the end too. But first things first, Tampa Bay has to avenge last year’s defeat against Columbus. Why so many Lightning players? Ashley Murray’s father-in-law is Al Murray, the Lightning’s assistant general manager and director of amateur scouting, so that may have something to do with her preference. The Yetis would love for Columbus to play spoiler again — especially with four Blue Jackets on their roster. That NHL series will be a determining factor in this matchup. The Yetis might also be quietly rooting for the Islanders over Washington as another live underdog.

Allan Conference 1) Defenders vs. 8) Dynasty

1) Defenders Forwards (14) J.T. Miller — Vancouver vs. St. Louis Tanner Pearson — Vancouver vs. St. Louis Tyler Toffoli — Vancouver vs. St. Louis Mikael Backlund — Calgary vs. Dallas (Elite Assassins) Milan Lucic — Calgary vs. Dallas (UFHL Free Agent) Tobias Rieder — Calgary vs. Dallas (UFHL Free Agent) T.J. Oshie — Washington vs. New York Islanders Garnet Hathaway — Washington vs. New York Islanders Jamie Benn — Dallas vs. Calgary (Elite Assassins) Denis Gurianov — Dallas vs. Calgary (Royals) Brad Marchand — Boston vs. Carolina (Blizzard) Sean Couturier — Philadelphia vs. Montreal (Chilean Sea Bass) William Carrier — Vegas vs. Chicago Derek Stepan — Arizona vs. Colorado (Chilean Sea Bass) Defencemen (7) Michal Kempny — Washington vs. New York Islanders Brenden Dillon — Washington vs. New York Islanders (Ice Vikings) Jamie Oleksiak — Dallas vs. Calgary (Ice Vikings) Andrej Sekera — Dallas vs. Calgary (Elite Assassins) Alex Pietrangelo — St. Louis vs. Vancouver Chris Tanev — Vancouver vs. St. Louis Ilya Lyubushkin — Arizona vs. Colorado (Ice Vikings) Goaltenders (2) Braden Holtby — Washington vs. New York Islanders Darcy Kuemper — Arizona vs. Colorado (Blades of Steel) 8) Dynasty Forwards (13) Patrick Kane — Chicago vs. Vegas David Kampf — Chicago vs. Vegas Nick Suzuki — Montreal vs. Philadelphia Brendan Gallagher — Montreal vs. Philadelphia (West Coast Express) Brayden Schenn — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (Blades of Steel) Jacob de la Rose — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (Royals) Anders Lee — New York Islanders vs. Washington (Warriors) Matt Martin — New York Islanders vs. Washington (Murder Hornets) Sean Monahan — Calgary vs. Dallas Gustav Nyquist — Columbus vs. Tampa Bay (Blizzard) Carl Soderberg — Arizona vs. Colorado (Elite Assassins) Andrew Cogliano — Dallas vs. Calgary (Blizzard) Travis Boyd — Washington vs. New York Islanders (Brutes) Defencemen (8) Olli Maatta — Chicago vs. Vegas Calvin de Haan — Chicago vs. Vegas (Warriors) Erik Gustafsson — Calgary vs. Dallas (West Coast Express) Oliver Kylington — Calgary vs. Dallas (Murder Hornets) Justin Faulk — St. Louis vs. Vancouver John Moore — Boston vs. Carolina (Murder Hornets) Jordie Benn — Vancouver vs. St. Louis (UFHL Free Agent) Taylor Fedun — Dallas vs. Calgary (UFHL Free Agent) Goaltenders (2) Thomas Greiss — New York Islanders vs. Washington (Blades of Steel) Jake Allen — St. Louis vs. Vancouver (West Coast Express)

ANALYSIS: Defenders only drafted players from nine of the 16 NHL playoff teams, including five from Washington, four from Vancouver and Dallas, plus a forward trio from Calgary. But Defenders also have key individuals from Boston, Philadelphia and St. Louis. Defenders are looking strong in this matchup against Dynasty, so we’ll re-evaluate where they stand in a couple weeks’ time providing they prevail. Dynasty was in tough with 17 open roster spots for the playoff draft — 17 of 23, the most of any franchise. Ryan Clements missed the draft, which resulted in an auto-picked best player available approach that made Dynasty even more of an underdog on paper. Dynasty needs an upset here and also needs upsets from Chicago, Calgary and Montreal in the NHL in order to make any noise in the Klein Cup playoffs.

2) Strong Island vs. 7) Battle Hawks