Bio: When I came across an advertisement on Twitter on the launch of the UFF hockey league, it became a no-brainer for me as I have been playing fantasy sports since I was very young — dabbling in salary caps like Smallworld hockey and sim leagues like SimonT.
I am a guy who values old-time aggressive hockey and the importance of intimidation in all of sports! My vision is for the Power Players to be one of most respected in the league — known for consistent results each season! It is clear this is where the best of the best come to play and I plan on marking my territory!
Away from sports, I enjoy old country music like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson! Love the Highwaymen! I enjoy sipping on a whiskey by a fire. I have been married for 10 years and have two daughters. I grew up in and live in Peterborough.
QUESTION: Those are some real throwback “blast from the past” names among your favourite players. Care to share a little insight as to how guys like Rouse, Rypien, Konstantinov and Berg made that list? Chelios and Roy were stars but very polarizing players — love them or hate them, so why did you love them?
ANSWER: I believe intimidation plays a big role in all sports. I like dirty defencemen and guys that are sort of unsung heroes and don’t always show up in box scores but are sacrificing themselves blocking a shot or laying a big hit, or sparking their team with a momentum-shifting fight. With Rypien, he was fearless and I admired his courage standing up for his teammates against gladiators much bigger in size. One of my heroes in life was Ted Lindsay and how he stood up to owners and the mob and fought for all players. He was tough on the ice and off the ice and I can’t help but admire what he accomplished.
QUESTION: That “love or hate” trend continues with your present favourites DeAngelo and Tkachuk, which makes me think you tend to love the players that are hated by many? Was Brad Marchand the next name on that list? Why the love for those agitating types? You mentioned that you are a fan of aggressive hockey and intimidation in your bio, but what attracted to that “rough” side of the game and players with those elements or intangibles? Were you raised on Don Cherry’s Rock’Em Sock’Em videos?
ANSWER: I like guys who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in — lead and not follow! I do like Marchand — he’s a winner and does what it takes to win (minus the licking)! I find rough hockey more entertaining and exciting. I believe in grit and structure, and as a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, I find it very hard to cheer for their present product despite all the skill — perimeter hockey doesn’t get it done come playoff time! I am a Don cherry fan for sure and watched all the Rock’Em Sock’Em hockey but also played the game at a fairly high level and draw my own conclusions.
QUESTION: There isn’t a ton of truculence on Power Players’ current roster — Jordan Greenway and Cal Clutterbuck like to rough it up — but there is plenty of brash swagger with DeAngelo and Jack Eichel. Even your goaltenders Tuukka Rask and David Rittich play with a chip on their shoulder. We’ll see more of that from Filip Zadina, Kailer Yamamoto, Alexandre Texier and prospect Dominik Bokk as they become prolific NHLers. They all have big personalities, that’s for sure. Do you like that about your roster and was it intentional? Did you draft and target players for their swagger or was that a coincidence of going best player available?
ANSWER: I tried to draft a fairly young team that would keep me competitive for years to come. With Rask, he was injured at the time and it allowed me to get him pretty late in the draft. Yamamoto was someone I targeted very early, trying to capitalize on early glimpses of chemistry with Leon Draisaitl. Zadina is a player I believe has a high skill-set and should climb the Red Wings’ depth chart fairly quickly. Texier is a guy I am happy to have as he raised his game during these playoffs! I’m not a person who falls in love with analytics, I follow my own intuition and put trust in what I visualize.
QUESTION: Power Players’ forward group is very impressive and an obvious strength. It is a young group that is only going to get better in the years to come. Are you looking forward to watching that core grow together? Are you concerned about keeping that core together when they need new contracts in the NHL as far as affordability under the salary cap? Managing the cap is going to be half the battle in the UFHL — as it is in the NHL — but maybe you worry about that when the time comes and just enjoy this core as long as it lasts?
ANSWER: We will take things year by year and day by day. I believe you are correct, my young forwards are my strength! It is win-win in my eyes if a lot of them reach their potential and I can’t fit them under the cap, then I’m sure there will always be trade partners willing to dance! I’m in this to win this every year — a decade from now I want to see Power Players on the Klein Cup as much as possible. I am excited for next season and I am banking on the fact a few of my young guys will take bigger steps. It is exciting, but at the same time I will not hold any emotional attachment to these virtual assets blocking me from my end goal.
QUESTION: On paper, the Power Players appear destined to trend up as those young forwards reach their prime. You must be excited about that potential? Bokk and Joe Veleno could provide another boost too. Are you confident that the future is bright for the Power Players? How about the present — could this roster be ready to win sooner than later? Do you expect the Power Players to be a playoff franchise next season and a contender for that ever-growing prize pool? That has to be exciting too — the potential to cash in on that big pot?
ANSWER: I believe I am going to surprise a lot of people this coming season. I believe I will be a mainstay in the playoffs for years to come. I like my team a lot. In an ideal world, I would like to upgrade on Rittich and shore up my back end. Strome and Bokk and Veleno are all wild-cards for me in different ways. Veleno and Bokk obviously need to make the NHL roster. It is surprising to see a lot of owners look to be selling off with an obviously strong prize pool for next season.
QUESTION: If there is a “weakness” on the Power Players, it might be the defence. That group is probably better in real life than in fantasy and a little older by the Power Players’ standards. Or do you feel that is selling your defence short and underrating that group? Are you shopping for a stud to anchor the blue line or looking to shore up the back end? Slater Koekkoek looked good for Chicago in the playoffs, so he could be hitting his stride at 26 years old as the 10th overall pick from back in 2012 — better late than never. Kevin Bahl was a big addition as a defence prospect — literally and figuratively — so he’ll slot in there somewhere soon enough. Perhaps the Power Players are planning to further address their defence in this year’s Entry Auction — possessing the 20th and 51st auction spots, which means you’ll enter the bidding for the prospects picked 16th and 47th overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. There should be some quality defenders in those ranges but also more tempting forward prospects — the struggle is real, right?
ANSWER: I agree, my defence is my weak area. Obviously DeAngelo is a fixture. I believe Koekkoek and Ryan Murray have more to give and more upside. In an ideal situation, I’m hoping my forwards and goaltending can help carry the load. As of right now, I don’t have a real sense of urgency to make a deal. I will watch early in the coming season and see how things play out! Patience can be a virtue, and my attention will be focused on the standings. If I fall behind early, I will be on the horn emailing — trying to wheel and deal.
With Kevin Bahl, from a fantasy perspective I can’t help but think I might have overpaid a bit for a guy who could develop into a Ken Daneyko. My thinking is he is a 6-foot-7 guy who can skate very well, so I don’t mind paying a slight premium for that alone!
This coming draft, without tipping my hand completely, I like a few dark horses going against the grain once again. We will see how the dominos fall though — if a guy like Jack Quinn slides down to 20, I will be all over him like a squirrel on a nut!
Thanks for the interview and be sure to pick up your Power Players’ apparel at the store. Who doesn’t want to wear a flexing hoodie?
Kevin Fiala-Jack Eichel-Sam Reinhart
Dominik Kubalik-Martin Necas-Filip Zadina
Alexandre Texier-Cody Glass-Anthony Duclair
Jordan Greenway-Ryan Strome-Cal Clutterbuck
Ryan Murray-Tony DeAngelo
Jakob Chychrun-Tyler Myers
Dmitry Kulikov-Slater Koekkoek
Extra Skaters: Gabriel Vilardi (F), Riley Stillman (D)
Protected List: Dominik Bokk (F), Joe Veleno (F), Drew O’Connor (F), Kevin Bahl (D)
First off, well played on the plug for the Power Players’ apparel and the merchandise store that should be launching any day now. Justin is already in salesman mode — you love to see it! He is also looking like a heckuva GM thus far, assembling that young and talented lineup. Justin did well to identify those targets with his intuition. For the record, I’m also more of an eye-test guy in my scouting and evaluating of prospects — trusting what I see over analytics to the contrary.
The Power Players do have the makings of a perennial contender — led by a potent forward group that is just starting to hit their stride at the NHL level. If they take those anticipated “bigger steps” next season, the Power Players could be in the money mix. I wouldn’t bet against them, though I doubt anybody will be sleeping on them going forward.
Justin is also right in suggesting it would be a win-win situation if his players progress to the point of becoming unaffordable because that would mean they have become valuable commodities around the UFHL. The salary cap will be tricky to navigate since it mirrors the NHL and there will be difficult decisions — just like in the NHL — but the Power Players have plenty of breathing room in the present and could potentially add before they have to subtract. Justin could be a buyer to take a run at next season’s prize pool or he could continue to bide his time as that core develops towards their prime.
Either way, the Power Players appear destined for success. Their window to win could be sooner than later with the potential to capitalize on their current cap space, but that roster should stand the test of time as a playoff team. Like Justin said, his franchise is well positioned and doesn’t have to make any shortsighted moves in the immediate future.
It all makes perfect sense to me, but I’m still left wondering how Bob Rouse and Bill Berg wind up on anyone’s list of favourite players? Is this a case of Bob’s your uncle? That remains a mystery, but we can agree that Rypien was a beauty (RIP)!
I believe I am going to surprise
a lot of people this coming season.
— Justin D.
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