Bio: My name is Hernan Salas and I am one of the newest owners to join this league. Born and raised in Edmonton with Chilean background, I grew up as a diehard Oilers and Edmonton Football Club fan, which led to my career in sports media. I currently work for TSN 1260 radio in Edmonton and have for the last 7 years. I have been lucky enough to work on pre/post shows for both Edmonton pro teams and love every minute of it. Sports are my passion, along with fantasy sports, French fries and beer — not in that order. To be honest, I’m not too happy with my team as I think I was too worried about the cap and did leave some elite players on the board but look forward to building my team up — hopefully it doesn’t take as long to rebuild as the Oilers 😉 !
QUESTION: You are living the dream! Since we’re around the same age — too young to really remember the Oilers’ dynasty days of the ’80s — I’m assuming the 2006 run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final ranks among your favourite sporting moments? I was living in Lloydminster at the time and was fortunate to attend all but two home games — that old barn was really rocking! Did you make it to any games during the 2006 playoffs? What memories stand out to you from that thrilling spring?
ANSWER: I didn’t make it out to any games as it was pretty hard to get tickets at that time, plus if you did it was crazy expensive. So many great memories like Sergei Samsonov’s game-winner versus Detroit, Dwayne Roloson playing out of this world, CHRIS PRONGER and of course all the get-togethers/parties watching the ride with family and friends.
QUESTION: I see a few players from that 2006 team are among your favourites from the past — Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky and Chris Pronger. The latter might not make that list for many Oilers fans since Pronger was one-and-done in Edmonton before demanding out amid shock and dismay. But what a one it was, right? I mean, they nearly won it all — thanks largely to him! Then came the decade of darkness that you eluded to … but does it feel like the Oilers are back on track towards contending again?
ANSWER: Haha well before I could answer, the Oilers were eliminated by the Blackhawks. Extremely disappointing for this club when you have McDavid and Draisaitl. It hurts even more as Edmonton is the hub city and, with the wacky 2020, it felt like it was there for them to make a run. I think Edmonton and the NHL have done an outstanding job with the hub city — too bad the home team couldn’t match them.
As for being contenders, I mean they should be, but there’s just something with this group that I wish they could figure out. To stop being a pretender, they need better defencemen and a legit No. 1 goaltender — and maybe to play in the play-in playoffs like it was Game 42 of the season.
QUESTION: Talking fantasy now, I think you are being too hard on yourself over the UFHL Redraft results. The Chilean Sea Bass — sweet name, by the way — are looking sneaky good, with a lot of nice contracts to build around and quality depth. It’s true that you didn’t come away with any real big names — you could have taken Evgeni Malkin or Artemi Panarin or Carey Price in the first round (all of whom went in the second round, to some surprise) but opted for the cost-controlled Timo Meier with your top pick at seventh overall — so tell us more about your strategy and how it played out for you. Did the redraft go mostly to script for the Sea Bass? Did you get a lot of your targets? Were you thinking draft all the best contracts because they will have the best trade value in the years to come?
ANSWER: Well, I think I focused on the cap WAY too much and didn’t take any of the elite players. I went with cheap contracts instead, but then when it was all said and done, I was like “ugh, that’s a bad team” LOL. Probably could have taken Evgeni Malkin or Evgeny Kuznetsov, but oh well. I did get a few players I targeted, but not enough for my liking. Brayden Point and Elias Pettersson were the players I was hoping for but, not surprisingly, they didn’t make it to me at seventh overall.
In saying that, I look forward to building a strong team and turning my squad into a contender — it won’t be easy, but I look forward to the challenge.
QUESTION: You hinted at some regrets, is there one particular pick that you’d like to have back? Who would you use your mulligan on? Who would you want as the face of your franchise in hindsight? Who is the face of the Chilean Sea Bass in the present? Is there one player that you are really pumped to see on your roster? Did you manage to steal any players from Dean Millard — picking right in front of his Duckman’s Domination — or wouldn’t he admit that?
ANSWER: Any pick after two, I would like back. Probably use my mulligan on the goalie picks. As for the face of my franchise, it would have to be Sean Couturier — an underrated centre who plays all situations. Just an absolute beauty player. As for the players that I’m pumped about, all of them 😉 ! And, as for stealing players from Duckman’s … no, but I passed on Alex DeBrincat I think?? And Deano took him, so I regret that.
QUESTION: Dean helped recruit you to the UFHL, but I’m sure you don’t listen to everything Dean tells you to do — even as his former producer! So what else attracted you to this platform? What do you like most about UFF Sports so far? Are you looking forward to that rivalry between the Chilean Sea Bass and Duckman’s Domination in the Gold Division of the Legends Conference? Who would win in a fight — between a Duck (a Mallard in particular) and a Sea Bass, not between Dean and yourself (LOL)? Are we having fun yet?
ANSWER: I love fantasy sports and especially a dynasty format, so that’s why I was attracted to this league. I like it for sure, but I’m still a little lost when it comes to the tokens, the draft for this year, etc. I’ve been super busy, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out once I get some free time.
Man, Deano is my good friend — my first producing gig was with him on Saturdays and since then have become real good friends. I always like a friendly rivalry versus Deano as we went head-to-head in our NFL season one year and it was great. I’d give him the edge now as his team is rock solid, but I look forward to going against him year to year. Duck vs Sea Bass??? It’s a coin toss!
Timo Meier-Sean Couturier-Viktor Arvidsson
Paul Stastny-Derek Stepan-Joonas Donskoi
Danton Heinen-Adrian Kempe-Colin White
Jordan Martinook-Gaetan Haas-Jesper Fast
Travis Sanheim-Matt Dumba
Radim Simek-Brandon Montour
Scott Harrington-Tim Heed
Extra Skaters: Rasmus Asplund (F), Michael McLeod (F), Max Lajoie (D)
Hernan is being too hard on himself. Personally, I thought he stole Matt Dumba in the seventh round and I was shocked that he lasted that long — to 79th overall. The cap-friendly, cost-controlled approach to roster construction could pay dividends in the long run for the Chilean Sea Bass, who are lacking in big names but boasting some of the best contracts in the NHL.
There is a lot of bang for the buck and Hernan still has a competitive roster on paper with plenty of potential among his skaters — both forwards and defencemen. This isn’t a bad team by any means and those coveted contracts will carry significant value as rival franchises encounter cap trouble.
The Chilean Sea Bass have a fairly balanced lineup backstopped by veteran goaltending. They could use a gamebreaker up front like Pavel Bure, but Timo Meier is nearing star status and Selke Trophy-winning Sean Couturier is truly underrated nowadays after perhaps being overrated back in junior. That top six isn’t sexy or overly flashy but should be effective in piling up fantasy points. The key could be that third line, with Adrian Kempe carving out a role for rebuilding Los Angeles, while Colin White and Danton Heinen could also trend up again next season. If those three take a step forward, the Chilean Sea Bass should be able to contend for a playoff berth — if not better.
Yet, the strength of the Chilean Sea Bass could be their defence in the years to come. Dumba, Travis Sanheim and Brandon Montour are all in their primes now and should continue to be productive fantasy players for the foreseeable future. Radim Simek has been quietly getting better by the year as Brent Burns’ partner in San Jose and Tim Heed still has a lot of believers in his offensive upside. That is a solid group on the back end.
Overall, the Chilean Sea Bass might be considered underdogs or labelled small market — similar to those Doug Weight-led Oilers’ squads of the late-’90s — but Hernan can take this franchise in any direction thanks to the financial flexibility that he established through the UFHL Redraft. That direction will depend on Hernan’s internal budget, to a degree, because the Chilean Sea Bass may need to spend in order to improve and take a run at the money next season. The alternative is to play the long game, retooling piece by piece and stockpiling assets to compete down the road. Hernan has options and it’ll be interesting to see how he proceeds with the Chilean Sea Bass.
I look forward to building a strong team and turning my squad into a contender.
— Hernan S.
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