Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Let’s play the $200 Lineup Game

It’s August. Nothing much is happening in the NHL. Nothing much will be happening in the NHL. If anything did happen, we might not find out about it because Pierre is on vacation. Outside of whatever the Wild are doing, there’s nothing to talk about.

It’s a perfect time to play The $200 Lineup Game.

This game is based on some Twitter fun we had a few years ago. The rules are simple. You’re going to build the best starting lineup out of players who’ve played for your favorite NHL team. Here’s how it works.

  • You need three forwards, two defensemen and a goalie. Other than that, we don’t care about position, so you can mix wingers and centers and don’t need to worry about which side your defensemen play on.
  • You have a salary cap of $200 to work with to build your full lineup.
  • Each player you pick will cost you a salary of $1 per regular-season game that they ever played for your favorite team. If you want a guy who played one full 82-game season, that’s $82 of your cap gone.
  • Here’s the key, and the part that’s going to screw up the people who skip the intro on these things: Once you fit a player onto your roster, you get credit for their entire NHL career. Not just the games they played for your team – everything they did in the NHL.

In other words, you’re looking for star players who had the briefest possible stint with your team. Guy Lafleur isn’t worth anything to the Canadiens, because he’d cost way too much. But his one season in New York means that a Rangers team could squeeze him in for $67, and they’d get credit for the full Flower experience. Want Brett Hull and his 700+ career goals? You’re out of luck if you’re the Blues or even the Stars. But a Flames team could fit him in for just $57. And the Coyotes could get him for just $5.

A few more rules, just for your loophole-seekers out there.

  • A player must have played at least one regular-season game to qualify for a team’s roster. There are no freebies. That means, for example, that the Stars can’t claim Jarome Iginla even though they drafted him and the Oilers and Predators can’t claim Mike Richter even though both teams technically acquired him during his career. Coyotes fans don’t get Pronger, Datsyuk and Hossa. Same goes for any cases where a team only ever dressed a player in the postseason. Basically, if you think you’ve found a way to get a guy for free, you’re cheating.
  • We’re going by franchise here, so we’ll combine the Nordiques with the Avs, the Whalers with the Hurricanes, the Thrashers and the new Jets, etc. That cuts both ways; it gives those teams more players to work with, but also prevents any shady picks like trying to claim Owen Nolan as a $9 Avalanche despite his five full seasons as a Nordique.
  • You can use active players, but you only get credit for what they’ve done in the NHL as of today, not what they might do in the future. So if Canucks fans want to spend $71 on Elias Pettersson, they only get one season of him.
  • If a player had multiple stints with a team, they all combine together to produce his price tag. The Leafs can’t try to claim Doug Gilmour for $1 based on his brief return to the team in 2003.

Speaking of the Leafs, let’s use them as our first example …

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards: Ron Francis ($12), Eric Lindros ($33), Dickie Moore ($38)

Defense: Brian Leetch ($15), Phil Housley ($1)

Goaltender: Terry Sawchuk ($91)

Total: $190

That’s not a bad lineup, featuring six Hall-of-Famers. The Pat Quinn years are fruitful here, as late-season acquisitions of Francis, Leetch and Housley give us a cheap backbone and help us have enough left over to spend a relatively hefty $91 on Sawchuk (or, if you prefer, $95 on Grant Fuhr). If you’d rather go with a post-expansion look, you could swap out old-timers Moore and Sawchuk and bring in Joe Nieuwendyk ($64) and Bernie Parent ($65) instead for the same combined price. Or you could use Gerry Cheevers in goal for just $2 and spend more elsewhere. But whichever way you go, the Leafs are solid.

Makes sense? Do you see what we’re going for? Cool. Then let’s try some other teams around the league because as you’re going to see, there are a few teams that can give the Leafs a run for their $200 worth of money. We’re going to serve up a dozen teams in all, which doesn’t cover everyone but is more than enough to get your brain working and then turn it over to you to come up with your own.

Boston Bruins

Forwards: Jaromir Jagr ($11), Cy Denneny ($23), Dave Andreychuk ($63)

Defense: Paul Coffey ($18), Brian Leetch ($61)

Goaltender: Jacques Plante ($8)

Total: $184

You could say that this concept already has a playoff atmosphere because the Bruins immediately knock off the Maple Leafs. And to add insult to injury, they even do it with one of the same players off of the Leafs’ roster, as Leetch makes like a free agent and jumps to a rival for more money. They pair him with Coffey, who (spoiler alert) will also show up on more than one of these lists.

Other possibilities on the backend include Sergei Gonchar for $15 or Babe Pratt for $31. But the real options are up front. To be honest, I went with Andreychuk mainly to eat up a big chunk of the cap space that was going to be leftover, but you could go with somebody like Joey Mullen at $37 or even Rick Nash for $11 and just pocket the rest. Not that Boston ownership would ever do that.

So yeah, the Bruins are now our team to beat. Let’s see if anyone can do it.

Detroit Red Wings

Forwards: Darryl Sittler ($61), Mike Modano ($40), Charlie Conacher ($40)

Defense: Doug Harvey ($2), Borje Salming ($49)

Goaltender: Bill Ranford ($4)

Total: $196

In theory, the Red Wings seem like a team that would be made for this sort of game, since modern history is filled with Hall of Famers finishing their careers with brief stopovers in Detroit. But many of them aren’t brief enough, as guys like Daniel Alfredsson and Bernie Federko played enough games in their one season with the Wings to price them out of our budget. Marian Hossa did too.

We can squeeze in Modano and Sittler, though, largely because Harvey gives us a monster value on the blue line. We get more solid value in goal with a Conn Smythe winner in Ranford at just $4, but he makes Detroit our first entry that isn’t made up entirely of current or future Hall of Famers. The Wings’ entry is a solid one, but I don’t think they top the Bruins.

Let’s take a break from the Original Six teams and try a few who have a little less history to work with.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forwards: Jarome Iginla ($13), Luc Robitaille ($46), Marian Hossa ($12)

Defense: Tim Horton ($44), Sergei Zubov ($64)

Goaltender: Tomas Vokoun ($20)

Total: $199

The Penguins benefit from our rule about just using three forwards without worrying about position, as they’ll roll with over 1,800 goals worth of wingers and apparently just hope that nobody ever has to take a faceoff.

Those three bargains up front allow us to spend some extra money on the blue line, which we kind of need to do – there aren’t any obvious sub-$40 bargains to be found here. We get a pair of Hall of Famers, though, so we’ll take it. We don’t have as much luck in goal, where the good-but-not-great Vokoun is really the only option. That takes this team down a notch after a promising start.

We’ve been heavy on the Eastern Conference so far, so let’s head to the West for the next few.


  1. Vancouver Canucks:

    Forwards: Mats Sundin ($41), Thomas Vanek ($61), and Geoff Sanderson ($22).

    Defensemen: Mathieu Schneider ($17) and Doug Bodger ($13)

    Goalie: Sean Burke ($16).

    Total: $170

    1. Though I have to be honest, I don't know who Rick Vaive is.

  2. LA Kings:

    Forwards: Vincent Lecavalier ($42), Jeremy Roenick ($58), and Jarome Iginla ($19)

    Defensemen: Dave Babych ($8) and Paul Coffey ($60)

    Goalie: Bill Smith ($5)

    Total: $192

  3. Coyotes/OldJets:
    Brett Hull($5), Petr Nedved($25), Owen Nolan($76)
    Michel Petit($32), Bryan Marchment($37)
    Thomas Greiss($25)

    (Also, Coyotes should totes get Pronger, Hossa and Datsyuk)

    1. Fucking hell forgot completely about Bobby Hull. Replace Nolan with him for $18 and I suddenly got 58 bucks to spare. Gonna have to redo this.

  4. Coyotes/OldJets:
    Brett Hull($5), Petr Nedved($25), Bobby Hull($18]
    Michel Petit($32), Dennis Seidenberg($66)
    Thomas Greiss($25)

    $171 total. Much better.

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