Meet the Owners Profile: Stallions

Meet Logan and Ian.

Franchise Name: Stallions

Status: Original Owner

Owner/GM: Logan Cragg is the owner; Ian Constable is the GM

Ages: 19; 48

Occupations: N/A; Teacher

Current Towns: Tisdale, Sask.; Edmonton, Alta.

Hometowns: Arborfield Sask.; Calgary, Alta.

Favourite NHL Teams: Edmonton Oilers; Calgary Flames

Favourite NHL Players Past: Ryan Smyth, Dwayne Roloson; Jarome Iginla, Cam Neely

Favourite NHL Players Present: Connor McDavid, Jordan Eberle; Matthew Tkachuk

Bio: Logan has two siblings — older brother and older sister. Logan played hockey in high school. Right wing. Tisdale Ramblers. Defending league champs for three years in a row. Logan is currently not working due to a car accident. He used to work as a swather operator for Can Pro Farms.

Ian simply loves playing all sports (particularly hockey and skiing) and fantasy sports! Until COVID, Ian was playing hockey 12 months of the year. He’s looking forward to doing so again. He is a former ski racer and coach, who lived in Kananaskis where he coached ski racing for five years.

QUESTION: First off, we’ve got a Battle of Alberta brewing here. Logan, an Oilers fan, hired Ian, a Flames fan, as his general manager. How’s that going to work? There are more Oilers than Flames on the roster as of today — is Ian ordered to keep it that way? Or does Ian have free reign to rid the roster of Oilers?

ANSWER: While there was never any talk of keeping more Oilers than Flames or vice versa, there tend to be more Oilers fans in the league. Thus we’ve had more offers on the Oilers players on the whole, except Matthew Tkachuk has been an obvious target for teams. We have actually added one more Oiler than we started with in Kyle Turris. That was by accident as he was bought out by Nashville and then signed by Edmonton after we acquired him. We were obviously very happy with the turn of events as his pricetag came way down and he’s gone to a much more offensive team.

QUESTION: The Stallions are the (proud?) owner of beloved Flame Matthew Tkachuk, who is hated by the archrival Oilers. Tkachuk is one of those players you love to have on your team but hate to play against. Is that how you are embracing him, Logan? And Ian, you must have been stoked to land this GM gig with Tkachuk as one of your franchise players — one of the faces of the Stallions’ franchise?

ANSWER: Tkachuk is the cornerstone of this franchise — not because he plays for the Flames, but because we believe he will be a fantasy stud for at least the next decade. The stat categories play perfectly to his game. Or at least that’s what Ian tells Logan.

QUESTION: The Stallions have been quietly going about their business, at least in comparison to some other franchises — constructing a very competitive roster on paper that should be a playoff contender in the UFHL. Is that a fair assessment? Is making the playoffs your goal for the first full season? Or do you have higher expectations? Or are the Stallions more so playing the long game and focusing on the future? How would you define a successful 2020-21 campaign?

ANSWER: The end goal is a team that can build on its success every season and be a legit contender not only for the playoffs but for the league championship in 3-5 seasons. At the same time, we believe we have assembled a roster that can also compete right now and has a legitimate shot at the playoffs this year. This team finished fifth last in the previous season. We put that up to a couple of glaring holes on the roster — namely goaltending, where the team had a total of six wins the entire year. We feel we have addressed that with the acquisitions of Elvis Merzlikins, who after a slow start in his rookie season was one of the top goalies in the entire league from December on last year. Also, Chris Driedger had the best save percentage in the entire NHL last season while only playing 12 games. They finished seventh and first, respectively, in the NHL for save percentage among goalies who played 10 or more games. With stretches of 3 games in 4 nights predicted for this coming season, second goalies are going to get a much bigger workload than usual and we are counting on goaltending being a strength this year instead of a weakness. A successful season would be a playoff position. That is a very big jump but one that we feel is well within the realm of possibilities.

QUESTION: Do you feel the Stallions could be a sleeper for the season to come? Are they perhaps underrated or flying under the radar in the present? Are you anxiously anticipating where the Stallions will be slotted in the UFHL Power Rankings, with the preseason edition scheduled to publish December 1? Are you planning on making more moves between now and then to potentially bolster that ranking?

ANSWER: I would be very happy if people considered us a sleeper, but that is an opinion made by everyone who assesses the teams in the league that we can’t control. I won’t put much stock into the preseason power rankings, I will let the on-ice product speak for itself when it is time to drop the puck. We aren’t looking to make a ton of moves now, but we will always listen to offers and if the right fit comes along, then we will take it. That scenario actually played out today when we dealt Puljujarvi. This move definitely did not help us for the upcoming season but made us much stronger for the future (odd to say that when the player we dealt away was Jesse).

QUESTION: The Stallions have a lot of prospects on the way — between your protected list and those still owned by your affiliated scouts. Which prospects are you most excited about for the future of the franchise — besides Dylan Cozens, who is already expected to star on your active roster this coming season? That list includes a handful of promising goaltending prospects, which bodes well for the Stallions at that position. Who do you foresee patrolling the Stallions’ crease in a few years’ time? Any favourites between the pipes or is that a power in numbers approach, hoping at least one of them emerges as an NHL starter?

ANSWER: We just picked up two prospects that we are very excited about in Anton Lundell Rodion Amirov as part of the package for Puljujarvi. Lundell is a player that I feel was “overscouted” and a case very similar to Sean Couturier. Amirov has been great in the KHL and most recently at the Karjala Cup. Adam Beckman and Kirill Marchenko are very high on our list. Serron Noel and Dylan Samberg bring the stat categories that people tend to forget about but still count as much as any other points in this league. There are lots more that we obviously like, but I don’t want to name every prospect. Both our active goaltenders right now are our favorites for the future — Merzlikins and Driedger. Both are only 26, which is relatively young for NHL goalies. We have a number of goaltending prospects, but goalie prospects are much more volatile than skaters, so we are playing a numbers game past 2030.

QUESTION: Ian has often described the Stallions as a smaller market franchise but also favoured the status quo for cash considerations as a trade element. The Stallions have had success with cash as a sweetener or balancer in making their moves to date. Talk about that decision to support cash considerations and how this system can benefit smaller market franchises going forward? How do the Stallions plan to reinvest the cash that they have acquired? Do the Stallions remind you of those lovable Oilers from the late-’90s that had to operate on a budget but scratched and clawed their way into the playoffs before pulling off some upsets? Is that the outlook for the Stallions — settle for middle of the pack but try to make some runs? Or are the Stallions saving up to become an upper-echelon franchise in the UFHL?

ANSWER: We are happy to accept cash as part of a trade, as long as we receive the hockey pieces as well that we need in the deal. In every move we have accepted cash in, we have also brought in significant other pieces (Kopitar, Lundell, Amirov, Beckman all came with cash attached). This has also helped the Stallions and their affiliated scouts acquire 27 other prospects. All of this leads to the end goal of being a championship team. Those prospects are where the cash has already been reinvested. This franchise is on a slow build. We have no visions of grandeur that we are going to win it all this year, but we believe we have some long-term contracts that are going to be viewed very favorably in a couple of years and make it much easier on us at that point, with the prospect pool that we have, to be able to be picky en route to becoming a perennial contender.

Stallions Current Roster

Forwards

Brandon Saad-Anze Kopitar-Dylan Cozens

Matthew Tkachuk-Bo Horvat-Tyler Bozak

Christian Dvorak-Nick Schmaltz-Tage Thompson

Alex Chiasson-Kyle Turris-Zack Kassian

Defenders

Nate Schmidt-Kevin Shattenkirk

Adam Pelech-Brett Pesce

Andy Greene-Matt Benning

Goaltenders

Elvis Merzlikins

Chris Driedger

Extra Skaters: Joe Hicketts (D)

Protected List:

1) Anton Lundell (F)

2) Rodion Amirov (F)

3) Adam Beckman (F)

4) Akil Thomas (F)

5) Kirill Marchenko  (F)

6) Nikolai Kovalenko (F)

7) Vladislav Firstov (F)

8) Nikita Alexandrov (F)

9) Serron Noel (F)

10) Brett Leason (F)

11) Jay O’Brien (F)

12) Patrick Moynihan (F)

13) Dylan Samberg (D)

14) Jared McIsaac (D)

15) Artemi Kniazev (D)

16) Ryan Johnson (D)

17) Jayden Struble (D)

18) Jimmy Howard (G) (waivers)

19) Anthony Stolarz (G) (waivers)

20) Ivan Prosvetov (G)

21) Veini Vehvilainen (G)

22) Colton Point (G)

23) Isaiah Saville (G)

Affiliated Scouts List:

1) Colin Wilson (F, Free Agent)

2) Jon Gillies (G, St. Louis Blues)

3) Justin Sourdif (F, Florida Panthers)

4) Samuel Johannesson (D, Columbus Blue Jackets)

5) Wyatt Kaiser (D, Chicago Blackhawks)

6) Ronan Seeley (D, Carolina Hurricanes)

7) Ethan Edwards (D, New Jersey Devils)

Retired List:

Dustin Byfuglien (D)

Fisher’s Thoughts

The Stallions could be sneaky good — thus the sleeper label. They might not be the most talked about team and may not own the biggest names in the league, but they boast a balanced roster and a deep prospect pool.

Look out for Dylan Cozens, he could make an immediate impact for the Sabres and for the Stallions. If he’s good out of the gates, the Stallions will be off to the races and more than an also-ran. That is a lot of pressure to put on a rookie, but Cozens has the potential to be a difference-maker from Day 1 and really bolster this roster as a Calder candidate. He could become one of those bigger names sooner than later.

I also agree with Ian’s assessment that Lundell was “overscouted” along the lines of Couturier. That was an excellent point and Lundell is going down the perfect development path in Florida where he’ll learn the ropes from fellow Finn Aleksander Barkov to form a 1-2 punch there in the years to come — perhaps as soon as next season (2021-22). I like a lot of the Stallions’ low-key prospects, including some of those defencemen still with their affiliated scouts. That is another advantage to having an affiliated scout, you can further evaluate your future prospects in their possession without rushing them to the protected list. You can make sure they are worthy of those coveted spots since there is limited vacancy on the protected list.

Ian is a humble guy and didn’t tout his fantasy history in his bio, but he’s been doing this for a long time and has had lots of success as a GM in the prestigious SICHL, among other leagues. He’ll be playing his cards right, per se, and he’ll get these Stallions galloping when the time is right. In the meantime, he’ll be putting those pieces in place — perhaps more subtly than suddenly, but one piece at a time the Stallions’ puzzle will come together. Logan made a quality hire in Ian, which is an important first move for any owner who doesn’t have the time to oversee their roster on a daily basis. To be successful in this league, it will require daily involvement and the most active franchises will likely reap the rewards as reflected by the standings.

Now that we’ve pumped him up, Ian has a real problem on his hands. Matthew Tkachuk and Zack Kassian are teammates on the Stallions’ roster as of today. How is THAT going to work? They are bitter rivals in the real world — in the Battle of Alberta — and that could be bad for chemistry in the Stallions’ room … or bad karma if Ian and Logan believe in that kind of stuff. Even if they aren’t the superstitious types, I’m sure we can all agree that it looks awkward on paper but, as Ian alluded to, the UFHL’s stat categories play to both of their strengths — to their rough-and-tumble styles — so neither of them will come cheap. I just can’t imagine them co-existing as teammates — it is unfathomable, even in the fantasy realm. But if push comes to shove, I think we all know who would be the last man standing with the Stallions. Time will tell on that front.

It was funny how fate worked out with Kyle Turris getting bought out by Nashville and ending up in Edmonton, while Matt Benning wasn’t qualified by Edmonton and wound up in Nashville. Those moves should prove favourable for the Stallions, along with Brandon Saad landing in Colorado, Nate Schmidt getting shipped to Vancouver and Kevin Shattenkirk returning to a more prominent role in Anaheim.

The Stallions have had their share of good fortune this offseason and can only hope that trend continues when the puck drops on the 2020-21 campaign. If so, the Stallions won’t be sleepers for long and could emerge as live underdogs. If not, a slow-and-steady approach appears to be in the Stallions’ best interests.

A successful season would be a playoff position. That is a very big jump but one that we feel is well within the realm of possibilities.

— Ian C.