Speaking of Jacob Pivonka, I just went through the 2018 draft last night (and it took forever because it was a pretty weak draft, lots of hard choices). We ended up picking Jacob Pivonka 19th Overall with our first pick of the draft. He was scouted as 1st line talent with all 10 comparisons being to a more talented Eberle. He put up 96 points in the 60 odd games he played in the USNTDP last season, and he ticks all the boxes except for 12+ consistency for a franchise sniping winger.
Because EHM is great at generating goalies there were all of 1 good goalie in this year's draft (and that's because he was premade), so we really have to put all the eggs in the Zhukov basket, but he's coming along nicely in the AHL. Judging by this years Calder Cup run he has horrible Important Matches though, so he'll need work on that front before he's a proper NHL starter.
I had hoped to pick up a lot of Two-Way talent this draft, both on the blueline and up front. But this was purely a goal-scoring and offensive defenceman draft. So our 2nd pick went to Scoring pure offensive winger Samuel Fagemo. He's one of those prospects who always went the CHL route in last year's database so I've never had a chance to utilize him in Sweden. So it would be nice to get to see what he can do for once, but really I just picked him because he was the lowest risk prospect available at the time. As the save progresses and we get more depth I'll start doing more high risk, high reward picks; For now I will be taking the safe pick every single time though, because we need everything so I don't have to cherry pick roles and draft for holes since everything is a hole right now. The player I was contemplating taking over Fagemo was actually Grigori Denisenko; he's been an undervalued sleeper every singe save I've done in EHM and he's a playmaking forward, which we really need. Currently our only real playmaking forward is Tyler Kelleher, the rest of our offensive forwards are all Goal-scoring forwards. In truth most of them don't actually score goals though so they kind of end up being sub-par playmakers anyways, and I'd rather have some real playmakers. There's also a Two-Way aspect to Denisenko's game which means he might be able to fill into that Two-Way role I was hoping to fill since he's got good decision making, which is key for a good Two-Way guy. Being able to pick him up with my next pick was really fortuitous.
It was after those first "good" picks that the draft really took a turn, there were no players AT ALL in this year's mid rounds that were scouted to become 2-3 liners and 2nd pairing dmen. Well, there were like 3-4 of them but they all had huge glaring flaws that made them completely undraftable. So I spent a lot of time contemplating this last pick, there were no good choices at all. So I went K'Andre Miller, because frankly he's an enormous vaguely Two-Way winger who has the potential to be good IF the scouts have his potential wrong. He's got the Mentals, Hiddens and Size to be a huge (literally and figuratively) player for us if he goes above and beyond. The other choices that made sense around 80th generally had a bit higher potential as far as PA went (based on the scouts at least) but they didn't have all the other things needed. After that we picked up David Gustafsson who is another player I've never been able to get to use in Sweden, who I was contemplating getting with the 79th Overall pick as well. His biggest flaw is the 7 in Teamwork, which isn't exactly ideal for a playmaking center. But if he's better than scouted that might grow just enough to hit acceptable levels by his mid 20s.
Van Duynhoven, Berglund, Hughes and Westerling are all Offensive Defencemen with varying degrees of defensive awareness, size and all above average (or better) speed. Some of them will (if they grow) eventually see use as Two-Way Defencemen for me and some may fight for the 2nd and 3rd pairing Offensive Defencemen roles as Liljegren will have the 1st Offensive Defenceman role filled for at least the next 14 years or so.
With our 2nd to last pick we take the Swedish goalie Samuel Ersson who was the least atrocious goalie in the draft and who reeks of draft sleeper. After drafting him and getting the post-draft pessimistic scout report he suddenly was being compared to Fleury by 3 of our scouts, so it looks like I might be right on that one. But because he's not got set attributes in the database he's got a 1 in Rebound Control, almost no Anticipation, not enough Reflexes and way too much Glove, Blocker, Passing, Pokecheck and Stickhandling. Because the goalie role attribute spread isn't working as it should. For anyone familiar with Lennon Blixt from my Jets save, Samuel Ersson is the player whose face I borrowed to use as his face. That may have also had some part in why I wanted to pick him.
With the final pick we get Swiss Forward (he plays across the line) Axel Simic who is a quick Playmaking slightly undersized guy who almost perfectly fits the mold for what I want my bottom 6 Offensive forwards to look like.
Only 4 of the 11 players picked were considered consistent this year, so as mentioned a less exciting draft than last year's. Although our top 3 picks are all can't miss NHL talent, probably even can't miss top 6 talent.
Since we're past the draft we've also had the Award Ceremony, to the surprise of absolutely no one Timothy Liljegren won the Calder. But in more impressive news Tyler Kelleher won the flipping Lady Byng!
Not bad for a guy who technically doesn't have high enough CA to be considered even a 4th liner. I've had guys with more CA on my 2nd line in the second tier of Sweden, for reference. But he's got essentially perfect mentals and incredibly polarizing distribution with high values in all the important offensive attributes and just about nothing in anything else (his 2 strength being among the more impressive examples). Dadonov slotted into 2nd behind him and I'm starting to have a team where I can have all three Lady Byng finalists be my players, which I generally see as one of the first steps towards building the kind of team I like to use. If you never take pentalies and are fast enough to force a lot of penalties from the opposition you're going to win more often than not. The strongest form of Defence is being on the Power Play, even more so back in the day when players always dumped the puck and went to line change when they got SH breakaways. But it's still really, really good.
Wideman set his sights on retiring as we got knocked out of the Playoffs, Brouwer didn't want to resign, I didn't want to resign Boyle or Fontaine so we're now in a spot where our Core is starting to get really young. The only really old player we have left is Elliott and we've got a lot of players on absolutely ridiculous contracts to hit the Salary Floor despite the amount of entry level contracts we have. I purposefully signed all my prospects on 900k entry-level deals to have them give near maximum cap hits to make hitting the floor easier. But even with that I have some barely 5-6 defencemen on 4+M$ a year deals, Elliott on a 7M a year deal and everyone's favourite 5M$ man in the form of Andrew MacDonald doing his best paperweight impression just to make sure we can hit the floor (with about 90k wiggle room). This means that as soon as we get an injury to a non entry-level player, we'll face fines because the LTIR doesn't work like it should in EHM.
The reason Ryan Murphy was waivered back when we picked him up in season one is that he's got this thing that sometimes happens to prospects where they just suddenly start to slowly but surely decline. It doesn't matter how much you play them, which practice schedule you have them on, or what accolades they get. They will just keep declining until they are completely useless, and I've seen it happen enough times that it's quite easy to spot it. I knew Murphy was like that already in the 1st season but generally players tend to be able to keep up a performance fitting of their old attributes for at least a season before they start being completely useless. Not sure why that is, but it's consistent behaviour. As a result I did choose to keep him around until his contract ended, and he was very solid this last season despite how low his attributes have gotten. But I chose not to resign him for this next season, meaning he's also gone to free agency. He was still considered a 3 star in trades until the trade deadline but the AI was well aware he's in tank mode so they wouldn't touch him. And despite the amazing last season he just came off no one is approaching him at all in free agency. So sadly his career will be a short one, or more likely, a European one.