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GDL Draft Strategy - 1st Round


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1st Round Draft Picks Strategy by kingraph

This is my list, and the reasons, with the following assumptions:

  • 24-team draft league
  • There are no trades
  • I want to win the league
  • I am playing against top A level opponents to win.
Any changes to any of those assumptions would likely result in a different list for me, so I think they are important to note as the basis of this list.

Everyone has their preferences on how they would build a team, based on their style of play and what kind of players they like to use, and this will be geared towards my own preferences, however, I think the logic can be applied to all. It mainly deals with understanding how the draft will unfold and developing a game plan for your first 5-6 rounds.

I tried to keep it simple, so I have categorized all Forwards as follows based on how most people perceive these players:

  • Shooters: Anyone with a 4/5, 5/5, 5/3, and 6/3 shot.
  • Speedsters: Anyone with 5+ speed.
  • Skaters: (set-up men) are guys with both 5+ agility and 5+ stk.
  • Serviceman: Everyone else that doesn't fit into those 3 categories. They can be as great as Doug Gilmour, down to Ted Donato.
You can dissect this much further (checkers, passers, minor Shooters, minor skaters, etc), but again I wanted to keep it simple, otherwise this would become a novel. The concept for the 1st round will be sufficient.

For defensemen, it's a little easier. With the exception of a few D-men (Housley, Coffey, Bourque) that I will call "Special", they will either be "Good", or "Average". Again, won't apply much in the 1st round, so I won't go into detail, but that is the definition I will use on my draft map below.

The easiest category is goalies, because they all perform the same function. There are only 2 goalies that can be considered in the 1st two rounds and that is Roy and Belfour. Then you have ONE (1) goalie that I will label OK (Fuhr), followed by a few average, & then poor goalies. To put it another way, let's say Roy and Belfour are the equivalent of Mogilny/Yzerman/Roenick level of Forward. Fuhr would be like a Doug Gilmour. And then the rest drop to about an Evgeny Davydov level. Just a huge, huge drop off from the top and that's why Roy/Belfour garner so much interest early in the draft. They are rare, but at the same time goalies don't impact games as much as F/D do.

So with that as a primer, I like to think about the draft through the first 6 rounds because a team is much more than just 1 player. There is more emphasis in the earlier rounds, but it's still important to think of how your team will shape out based on your draft position and preference. Again, to keep it simple, I'll consider draft position in 4 groups.

  • Upper (1-6)
  • Mid-Upper (7-12)
  • Mid-Lower (13-18)
  • Lower (19-24)
This makes it easier to outline the draft in a map. Since the players dont change, and with ADP data readily available, you can get a pretty good picture of where certain types of players will be available, and more importantly, when they are not. Here's the draft map, based on my categories above and their ADP. This helps shape out a basic framework of how the GDL draft generally unfolds, and should help you organize your thoughts around the draft. It's actually easier to do when you have to focus on just one position, but I grouped it into the 4 for the sake of this analysis. The draft positions are highlighted in the same color, to make it easier to scope the map.


Now that I've gotten that out of the way, lol, here's my top 24 selections, with the assumptions listed above.

Forwards are the most important group in the game (it's why they dominate the first round of every draft), and based on my draft map, you'll see with the first 6 picks (group A), you have the option of getting the BEST Shooters, Skaters and/or Speedsters. This also means you will definitely NOT get the elite goalies or specialty D-men. You should also draft a goalie with your 2nd (maybe Fuhr) or 3rd round pick (or else you end up with a poor goalie, which you don't want), and you're pretty much okay with your dmen in the later rounds. What your other pick is will have implications, and should be based on who you land in the 1st and 2nd.

There are 5 players that meet criteria of all 3 types of players (Skater/Shooter/Speedster) and they are Alexander Mogilny, Jeremy Roenick, Petr Klima, Mike Gartner and Steve Yzerman. If you get one of these 5, you'll have a elite player on each of those categories, making it easier to build a team around. So, my first 5 picks will be those guys, in some order. (in parenthesis is their GDL 13-15 ADP).

01. Alexander Mogilny (2.3): He is the only player in the game with a 6/6 speed/agility. That's why I put him above Stevie and JR (and will explain why those two are above Klima/Gartner). 4/5 shot and other stats through the roof. He is one of only 3 players with 40+ "attribute points". Attribute points are simply adding up all attributes on skating, shooting, passing, stick and awareness, ignoring weight, checking and other stats. It's a simple number, but surprisingly good barometer of overall player skill. He's simply the deadliest player in the game.

02. Steve Yzerman (2.7): Has 5/6 skating (rare 6 agility) vs JR's 5/5 and more awareness stats and weight (6 vs 4). Another 40 on the attribute points. No real surprise here.

03. Jeremy Roenick (1.3): The only thing that JR has above Stevie is a 5 shot power vs 4. While that can help on slapshots, slappers are not an effective way to score against "A" level opponents (remember my assumptions). So while a 5/5 shot is scary, I'd rather have the better skater with 4/5 shot. Also, 4 weight is great on defense, but a hindrance on offense as just about any other player can lay JR out with a CB check. Still, no question as to those top 3 F in some order.

04. Mike Gartner (8.0): He's loaded with the same stats as JR, except he has a 5/3 shot vs 5/5 and is 7 weight vs 4. There's no way he cracks the top 3, but I'd take him here. Note he's never been selected lower than 7th, and that was just last year, so if the top 3 guys were already selected, I would consider trading down here to improve my position later. Otherwise, Gartner gives you the Shooter/Skater/Speedster combo!

05. Petr Klima (9.3): Same as Gartner, except a 4/5 shot vs 5/3, but Gartner also has 5 passing and some better awareness ratings. I'd rather take the stats than leave 'em ("attribute points"), but I don't know how Klima's low awareness levels affect his play. In any event, the last of the 5 guys who fit that triple combo. And just like the 4th pick, I'd consider trading down based on Klima's ADP for now.

Now that we have those first 5 out the way, I want to see which remaining players qualify in 2 of those 3 player categories. Turns out Dino (shot/skate), Bure (speed/skate), Teemu (speed/snipe), Modano (speed/skate), and Mario (shot/skate) satisfy those conditions and therefore will be my next choices. As I'm entering the mid-upper range soon (7-13), I'm going to look at the "B" section of my draft map. I have a chance at Fuhr if he drops in the 2nd (if I want him), but no matter what I'm taking a goalie in the 3rd. I want to avoid a poor goalie, unless I get big value somewhere in the 3rd. Speed is the most coveted skill, and always drafted quickest, so I'll look at Teemu, Modano, and Bure first, and then consider Mario and Dino.

06. Teemu Selanne (6.0): Same skating as Bure, but I value his 4/5 shot over the 4/4. Bure has the 5 stk, but I'm taking the Shooter over Skater here.

07. Pavel Bure (5.3): No question here as the speed demon (5 weight, 6 speed!) with a 4/4 shot and great 5 stk will do major damage. Just don't get caught!

08. Mike Modano (12.0) He almost has the Shooter shot requirement, but 2 accuracy really does make a difference and is why he falls in the draft. The accuracy sucks, but on one-timers, he will be more accurate. And while people focus on his shot, I think we forget he has great skating, agility, and stickhandling to get open and put away dekes! Consider trading down.

09. Dino Ciccarelli (3.7): At this point I'd pull the trigger on Dino. I could also see taking him 6-8 if I wanted him, but not 1-5. He's a little overvalued there. Still, a ridiculous 5/5 shot with 5 weight, 5 agility, 5 stk.

10. Mario Lemieux (12.0): The thing that holds Mario back is his 10 weight. While that is an advantage to CB check, it limits his acceleration and very susceptible to regular c-checks. However, Mario is LOADED with skills, 4/6 shot, 6 stk, 6 passing, 4/5 skating, 6 off aware. Wing or C, great option. He;s the only player with 41 attribute points.

Now that I've eliminated the players that satisfy two of the three types of players, I am now going to focus on either Shooters, Speedsters, or Skaters, with a focus on their other attributes. I'm halfway through the mid-upper, and going to my draft map, I see I can get one of the BEST skaters left (Gretzky, Lafontaine, Oates, Fedorov), and still have a lot of choices in the 2nd AND 3rd for a Shooter (maybe Sundin, Turgeon, Neely). OR, I can also get a Hawerchuck, Messier, Makarov later and grab a shooter like Recchi, Sakic, or Robitaille now. I'd like a speedster, because they drop quickly, but the remaining speedsters don't stand up with their other skills. My hope is Geoff Courtnall, Esa Tikkanen or Tony Granato can be had later in the 2nd if I wanted a speedster. If I really had the 11th pick, I'd take any of those 10 I just listed above, but otherwise this is a tough spot with a lot of options regarding mix of shooter/skater. The point is that you have to think about your next 2-3 picks, and know what you are preparing for, vs. making a blind pick.

My preference here is to grab an elite skater/set-up guy, because I'm thinking I could do more damage with a Laffy/Gretzky paired with a Turgeon/Kamensky, than I can with a Recchi/Robitaille paired with Makarov/Hawerchuk. Both options fine, but that would just be my preference. Soooo...

11. Pat LaFontaine (14.3): I have a slight bias here since I just had him on my team last year, but his great skating/agility and awareness/passing make him a magical player. His 5 weight provides a nice checking option, and that lightness makes him quick on the ice.

12. Wayne Gretzky (11.7): Really a coin-flip with Laffy here, and would be totally fine going 11th with Gretzky. Gretz has that rare 6 stk handling (only other F is Mario), rare 6 agility (Mogs/Yzerman) AND rare 6 passing (Oates/Lemieux)! 4 weight makes him great to handle and super checking option. All that overcomes his piss-poor 2/2 shooting. However, any shot is still enough to pocket most close one-timers, and if you can pass-shoot, Gretzky can (and will) decimate you. However, if I'm taking Gretzky, I'm considering him mainly on the wing to feed a shooter I have to get later.

Halfway through! We are now entering middle-bottom of the draft, or "C" section. Still getting some elite skaters, and even the ultimate serviceman. Doug Gilmour starts entering the conversation!

13. Adam Oates (16.7): Loaded with stats, this is a pretty good choice here. ADP suggests this is too high, so possibly trade down here, but good choice.

14. Sergei Fedorov (17.3): Same as Oates, better shot, sacrificing some awareness and passing (two stats I'm not crazy about). He's usually drafted 18+, so consider trading down here if I was in this position.

15. Mark Recchi (12.3): Amazing stats for a Shooter, he can skate, got good awareness, I'd pull the trigger here for a top Shooter. His ADP suggests he'd be gone by now anyway, ahead of my skaters above.

16. Theoren Fleury (7.3): The top speedster left, Theo also brings in a rare 3 weight, which makes him a human wrecking ball, but also very susceptible to CB check. He hasn't fallen out of the top 9 in the last 9 drafts or so, so I doubt I will ever make this choice. I would be happier with everyone else above him here, I think he's overvalued.

17. Russ Courtnall (17.7): Heavier than Fluery, but more SPEEEEEEEED. Speed is always valued, and guaranteed trade bait if something in the draft happens later to your advantage.

18. Doug Gilmour (14.3): OMG. The hardest guy to figure out because he doesn't fit into a Shooter/Skater/Speedster, but he almost does. He's the elite Serviceman -- decent stats, weirdly high awareness ratings, 5 agility and 4 weight make him fun to skate with. I figure I'd pluck him here. I'd hope to land a speedster in the 2nd for a nice combo, or perhaps pull the trigger on Bourque and keep Gilmour as my featured Forward.

Now we are a the bottom 6 picks, which also nicely boomerangs into the 2nd round. You can gamble a bit more here, but at this point in the draft you have to make sure to get who you want because it's a long way to the 3rd round! All the best skaters and speedsters are done, Gilmour (the best serviceman) is also gone and not worth considering. My favorite Shooters left are Sakic, Robitaille, Sandstrom and Hull, who I MAY get back in the 2nd, but more unlikely the earlier my position here. I'm also beginning to think about Roy/Belfour now (elite goalies), or even a Bourque/Housley specialty D-man.

From an ADP perspective, I realize the following 3 players are likely to get drafted (if not already) soon, but I absolutely do not care about: Cliff Ronning (20.7), Brian Bradley (27.7), and Don Sweeney (29.0). They are generally overdrafted and are not on my radar for the next 12 picks for sure. However, I hope others take them to improve my chances of grabbing guys I want later. Bourque/Housley trump Sweeney, Bondra/Hogue are better than Ronning and about 20 forwards are better than Bradley. I notice from my draft map that in this section, this is the only chance left to get a skater. They'll all be gone in the 3rd and 4th. So IF any of those top guys are left (Laffy/Gretz/Oates/Fed), I take them here. Otherwise, I think I go

19. Patrick Roy (22.7): The first goalie is off the board! I think I'd finally take Roy here, knowing that I will likely lose out on my Shooters, but maybe I get Bondra/Hogue speedster in the 2nd, or with some good fortune one of those remaining F fall down to me.

20. Ed Belfour (27.3): Well, same idea as Roy, Ed follows closely 2nd.

21. Luc Robitaille (24.0): This is the best Shooter on the board right now, but for some reason people don't like him and he usually drafts lower. He is better than Joe Sakic (better accuracy, better stick, one weight higher, 6 to 7) who usually goes 6-7 spots above, I don't know why. The cool thing here is I have a much better guess as to who I'm getting on the 2nd round rebound, as there are just 6 picks in between my next pick.

22. Ray Bourque (33.0): With 4 picks in between my next pick, and 3 Shooters I like with Sakic, Hull and Sandstrom left, I would rather take my chance at having the best defensemen in the game on my team and trying to grab one of these guys as my 2nd pick. Bourque is actually like Mario, LOADED with stats. He's a qualified Shooter (5/5), a qualified skater (5 stk, 5 agil), 10 wgt 4 speed d-man with 6 def aware and 6 checking. He's flat stacked, but unfortunately plays defense. Now, realistically if I were in this position, I'd draft a Shooter now and get Bourque later (basically do the reverse). Why? Sakic (17), Hull (24), Sandstrom (25) all have a higher ADP than Bourque (33), so chances are better that Bourque drops to me. But for the purpose of this list, I'd rather have Bourque on my team than the guys below.

23. Brett Hull (24.3): The only forward in the game with 6 shot power, he can pocket goals that nobody else can. Not all the time, but when it happens it's outrageous. The only problem is that 3 accuracy. If it were 4 accuracy, he'd be in the top half of the draft for sure. I assume I will be drilling one-timers thoughout the game, minimizing that accuracy risk. He also has 5stk, so can dodge the occasional check, and the 9 weight can be helpful on defense with CB. I want to find a nice Skater to go with him later for sure.

24. Joe Sakic (17.3) OR Tomas Sandstrom (24.7) (pick'em): This means take one OR the other, not both (unless you want a bunch of shooters/trade value). You basically get two picks here, which is great, but then you're done for the next 48! I'd take one of these Shooters, depending on what I prefer at the time. Your only chance at a speedster comes in the next pick, or you can try for Dineen late 3rd. Same with skaters, now or never. It's a tough spot, but I'd take anyone who fell to me from my list above here, and then I'd probably try to grab Housley as a specialty d-man in the 2nd. You're gonna get an average goalie on the bottom 3rd, and good d-man to start the 4th. Your team will likely focus around this one player, with some decent support. You're going to get the last 5th and first 6th, so the "best" pick of the remaining serviceman. I'd probably consider trading if nothing fell to me, to improve my position later in the draft, or move up here in the 1st.

Well, that's it! That's how I think about my draft, and it was a lot more to think about doing an entire round vs. just my single situation in a given season. You can see who I think is over/undervalued and why in the first round. I can see a mix between picks from 1-3, 4-5, 6-10, 11-13, 14-16, 17-20, 21-24 (though Robi over Sakic always), but I think I'd stick with those players in those groupings. And remember, some people prefer certain guys over others. And all draft spots are not created equal! As my own list suggests, 1-3 are valued the same to me, 4-5 not as much (and in fact probably worth trading down since you can get Gart/Klima later), and so on.

While every draft is different (Gretz can go 8 or 15, Laffy 10 or 19, Sakic 14 or 23, etc), everyone in the first round is basically the same group of guys always drafted (with the exception of Ronning/Bradley/Sweeney, who you should never take this early, and should always celebrate when someone else does!), so you can't REALLY mess your first round up as long as you stick to within the groupings I laid out above.

The key during the draft is to plan your team ahead, trade around smartly to improve your draft spots (go see Lupz on advice), and pay attention as the draft unfolds to what this can mean for you and your position. Again, my list isn't necessarily this guy is better than all the ones below (it mostly is), but rather the value of what you can get based on how the rest of the draft appears to unfold as well. Sometimes there can be 12 picks in a row in the 3rd or 4th that are basically the same value to you! I started to explain that concept a little bit with my draft map, but it would be too tricky/lengthy to go round by round. However, the concept of planning your picks ahead of time is sound advice. Anyway, hope you enjoyed the read, and happy to explain anything else that may not have been clear!

My last 3 GDL drafts first two picks after trades:

GDL 15 - Mario with 11th pick, Bondra (speedster) with the 41st.

GDL 14 - Laffy 14th (trade), Belfour 29th

GDL 13 - Klima 10th, Russ 17th

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Wow, Raph, I really appreciate that you are both an elite player, and so willing to share your knowledge! Some of your posts -- like this one! -- are truly magazine quality write-ups! Two thumbs way up to this post and to you. :)

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Nicely done raph. All this info almost makes me want to participate in a draft again. Love the breakdown and rational thought processing here.

I'll always be partial to "just give me 6 guys and let's go!" some old habits just die hard.

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it looks like hokkee has found a new job as LA Rams GM god oh mighty!

titans trade 1st overall and 4th rounder

to Rams for 1.15 2 2nd rounders 3rd and 4th 2016 1st rounder and 2nd rounder 2017 lol Brutus u need to veto this trade!

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it looks like hokkee has found a new job as LA Rams GM god oh mighty!

titans trade 1st overall and 4th rounder

to Rams for 1.15 2 2nd rounders 3rd and 4th 2016 1st rounder and 2nd rounder 2017 lol Brutus u need to veto this trade!

Yeah they got more then I got from FPB for the 2nd overall pick :)

If the QB turns out to be as good as JR thou Rams win the trade.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Absolutely Love this :red_heart: , it has been on my mind, to make the most even and skilled rom for quite sometime.

This is just what I needed.

So tonight I held the All-Time Original 6 GDL Mock Draft

What would happen if you put these 24 or so players on 6 teams in 1 rom.

Then gave them the names and pictures of Hockey's all-time great players.

You would get this rom located at the very top of the OP in this thread.


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  • 1 year later...
  • 2 years later...
On 12/21/2020 at 4:39 PM, Uncle Seth said:

Klima 5th......don't do it!   Trade that pick for volume in the 2nd and 3rd round.  

You're crazy

Klima is the best or second best player in the game


Klima > Roenick B)

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