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UFHL Season Preview: Plenty of Contenders, Parity for 2021 Campaign

UFHL Season Preview: Plenty of Contenders, Parity for 2021 Campaign

With the puck dropping on the NHL season tonight, it’s also go-time for the Ultimate Fantasy Hockey League. The shortened 56-game schedule ensures more of a sprint than the typical marathon and UFHL franchises will also want to avoid a slow start in terms of fantasy points. The evaluation process — also known as the feeling-out timeframe — may not last long before franchises begin making major moves for the present or the future.

Roster activity has been steady throughout the offseason, with franchises positioning themselves for opening night. For 10 franchises — essentially one-third of the league — this will be their debut for fantasy gameplay, and that isn’t counting several other owners who are also new to the UFHL following 11 franchise sales since the inaugural Klein Cup was awarded in October. Only 10 of the original franchise owners remain from a year ago — from the initial UFHL Draft last January — and six of those franchises have since hired general managers as the stakes continue to get higher, with a progressive prize pool sure to surpass $50K USD before being capped at the April 12 trade deadline. That’s serious money for serious players, and all 31 franchises will earn a payout on a sliding scale — with a significant drop-off beyond the top-16 playoff seeds — so this season promises to provide the most competitive and realistic fantasy experience available. Especially with the expansion draft looming in July — both for the NHL and for the UFHL, which will be welcoming its 32nd franchise on March 1, with the culmination of that ongoing expansion franchise auction.

As for opening night, here is a look at how the 31 franchises are stacking up on paper heading into the 2020-21 season: NOTE: The UFHL recently underwent a divisional realignment, while opting to rename its divisions after NHL Hall-of-Famers. A handful of franchises also unveiled new franchise names and logos, adding to the excitement on the eve of the season. Listed in parenthesis is the franchise’s rank from the Preseason Power Rankings that were published on Dec. 1, though some rosters have changed substantially over the past 44 days. Allan Conference Gretzky Division Grizzlies (1) Red Army (3) Monarchs (10) Generals (23) Battlehawks (26) Stallions (27) Godfathers (28) Norse Stars (29) Lemieux Division Yetis (2) Ice Vikings (6) Blades of Steel (11) Warriors (13) Stingrays (14) Blizzard (20) Crypto Knights (22) Eliminators (25) Legends Conference Orr Division Strong Island (4) Titans (5) Rock Republic (7) Brutes (15) Elite Assassins (18) Kamikaze (19) Snipers (23) Duckman’s Domination (30) Howe Division Outlaws (8) Gators (9) West Coast Express (12) Royals (16) Tornadoes (17) Mystics (21) Dynasty (31) * Expansion Franchise * Opening Day Rosters Allan Conference Gretzky Division

Grizzlies Forwards Dominik Kahun-Leon Draisaitl-Kailer Yamamoto Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-William Karlsson-Teuvo Teravainen Jaden Schwartz-Nazem Kadri-J.T. Compher Warren Foegele-Jared McCann-Jesper Fast Defenders Mikhail Sergachev-Ethan Bear Marcus Pettersson-Justin Schultz Ryan Graves-Matt Roy Goaltenders Connor Hellebuyck Alexandar Georgiev Extra Skaters: Noel Acciari (F), Sean Kuraly (F), Nikita Nesterov (D) IR/LTIR: Bryan Little (F)

Red Army Forwards Kirill Kaprizov-Evgeni Malkin-Patrick Kane Alexis Lafreniere-Nick Suzuki-Trevor Zegras Nick Robertson-Jack Hughes-Jesse Puljujarvi Sam Steel-Gabriel Vilardi-Filip Zadina Defenders Quinn Hughes-John Carlson Miro Heiskanen-Charlie McAvoy Tony DeAngelo-Adam Fox Goaltenders Carter Hart Brian Elliott Extra Skaters: Morgan Geekie (F), Brendan Lemieux (F), Drew Doughty (D) IR/LTIR: Kirby Dach (F)

Monarchs Forwards Miles Wood-Pierre-Luc Dubois-Eric Robinson Alex Killorn-Anthony Cirelli-Yanni Gourde Lawson Crouse-Colton Sissons-Christian Fischer Kyle Clifford-Devin Shore-Ross Johnston Defenders Victor Hedman-Nikita Zadorov Nathan Beaulieu-Jake McCabe Jarred Tinordi-Nick Holden Goaltenders Tristan Jarry Ben Bishop Extra Skaters: Carter Verhaeghe (F), Yakov Trenin (F) IR/LTIR: Nikita Kucherov (F), Zack Smith (F)

Generals Forwards Patrik Laine-Clayton Keller-Troy Terry Austin Wagner-Barrett Hayton-Joel Farabee Nick Cousins-Artem Anisimov-Cedric Paquette Conor Sheary-Jay Beagle-Stefan Noesen Defenders Thomas Chabot-Mattias Ekholm Ryan McDonagh-Nikita Zaitsev Carl Gunnarsson-Braydon Coburn Goaltenders Thatcher Demko Pavel Francouz Extra Skaters: Dryden Hunt (F), Lane Pederson (F), Kyle Capobianco (D) IR/LTIR: Tyler Seguin (F), Vladimir Tarasenko (F), Brandon Dubinsky (F), Julius Honka (D), Brendan Guhle (D)

Battlehawks Forwards Jesper Bratt-Mark Scheifele-Alex Tuch Michael Dal Colle-John Tavares-Alex Galchenyuk Mattias Janmark-Ryan O’Reilly-Blake Comeau Jacob de la Rose-Nick Bonino-Luke Glendening Defenders John Klingberg-Brandon Carlo David Savard-Zach Bogosian Cody Ceci-Greg Pateryn Goaltenders Semyon Varlamov Jaroslav Halak Extra Skaters: Lawrence Pilut (D), Derrick Pouliot (D), Vinni Lettieri (F) IR/LTIR: Zemgus Girgensons (F)

Stallions Forwards Matthew Tkachuk-Anze Kopitar-Zack Kassian Christian Dvorak-Bo Horvat-Nick Schmaltz Brandon Saad-Kyle Turris-Dylan Cozens Mikhail Grigorenko-Tyler Bozak-Alex Chiasson Defenders Nate Schmidt-Brett Pesce Adam Pelech-Kevin Shattenkirk Andy Greene-Matt Benning Goaltenders Elvis Merzlikins Chris Driedger Extra Skaters: Tage Thompson (F), Joe Hicketts (D)

Godfathers Forwards Conor Garland-Adrian Kempe-Mikko Rantanen James Neal-Colin White-Jakob Silfverberg Robby Fabbri-Nick Bjugstad-Joonas Donskoi Alexander Volkov-Jordan Martinook-Evan Rodrigues Defenders Matt Grzelcyk-Marc-Edouard Vlasic Radim Simek-Sami Niku Scott Harrington-Max Lajoie Goaltenders Carey Price Jonathan Quick Extra Skaters: Rudolfs Balcers (F)

Norse Stars Forwards Joel Kiviranta-Matt Duchene-Ryan Johansen Richard Panik-Kevin Hayes-Nick Merkley Derek Grant-Jean-Gabriel Pageau-Curtis Lazar Mackenzie MacEachern-Gaetan Haas-Colin Blackwell Defenders Ryan Suter-Erik Karlsson Esa Lindell-Zach Whitecloud Jeremy Lauzon-Connor Clifton Goaltenders Collin Delia Casey DeSmith Extra Skaters: Janne Kuokkanen (F), Dakota Mermis (D) Lemieux Division

Yetis Forwards Artemi Panarin-Connor McDavid-Mitch Marner Anthony Mantha-Nic Roy-Brock Boeser Patrick Marleau-Barclay Goodrow-Drake Batherson Matt Calvert-Cody Eakin-Bryan Rust Defenders Zach Werenski-Neal Pionk Ryan Lindgren-Conor Timmins Mikey Anderson-Jakob Zboril Goaltenders Joonas Korpisalo Mackenzie Blackwood Extra Skaters: Jayce Hawryluk (F), Carter Rowney (F), Trevor van Riemsdyk (D)