Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Let’s waste an August day building rosters in the 100-number game

It’s mid-August and nothing is happening, so let’s play a roster game. This one was sent in by longtime reader Bill, who graciously took time off from thinking about inferior sports to suggest a deceptively simple challenge: Find the team that makes the best possible starting lineup where all six players’ jersey numbers add up to 100.

I like it. And yes, I can already sense the danger, because we’re going to run into some of the same problems we did in that column. Hockey numbers are handed out randomly, and they tend to group into either very low or very high. Mix in the several position-based traditions that come into play, and this won’t be as easy as just finding a few stars and then filling in the team around them. Or maybe it will. Let’s find out.

But first, a few ground rules™:

  • We need a six-man lineup of a center, two wingers, two defenseman and a goalie. Yes, I do plan to immediately regret using wingers, thanks for noticing.
  • In the case of guys who wore more than one number, we’re getting credit for whatever they did in the number we pick, meaning we can’t get cute with something a guy wore for a game or two because it was training camp or someone stole their jersey.
  • Each roster only gets credit for what they did with that team.

Let’ see how this goes. We’ll start with the team that traditionally pulls leadoff duty in these things…

Edmonton Oilers

As is usually the case, the Oilers set some parameters for us right away. We can’t use Wayne Gretzky or Connor McDavid, because that doesn’t leave us enough room to find five more guys. In fact, given how rare it is to see a forward with a low single-digit number, we’re probably looking at something in the 70s as an upper limit for forwards, and lower than that for the other positions.

The better strategy will be to aim for lower numbers across the board. For the Oilers, we could try building around Leon Draisaitl (29), Jarri Kurri (17) and Mark Messier (11) up front, with Grant Fuhr (31) in goal. That adds up to 88, leaving us 12 to work with on our blueline. Paul Coffey wore 7 with the Oilers before switching to 77 for the rest of his career, so we just need a 5. With apologies to Cody Ceci and Ladislav Smid, that probably means Steve Smith gets out last spot, and our Oilers entry looks like this:

Forwards: Mark Messier (11), Leon Draisaitl (29), Jari Kurri (17)

Defense: Paul Coffey (7), Steve Smith (5)

Goalie: Grant Fuhr (31)

That’s… well, that’s actually pretty darn good. Better than I thought we’d be able to get, if I’m being honest. You could quibble a bit with the forwards since we did say we’d have two wingers, and Messier and Draisaitl are both primarily centers who also play left wing. File a protest if you’d like, but otherwise we’re off to a great start.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

(Want to read this post on The Athletic for free? Sign up for a free trial.)

No comments:

Post a Comment