NOT ON MY WATCH PHIL
I decided that Phil Kessel was going to be a part of this team no matter what, ditto for Henrik Lundqvist. I wanted to make a team that would be competitive right now, but also into the future, while players like Datsyuk and the Sedins were tempting, I chose to ignore them in favour of younger players. As a result Henrik Lundqvist and Justin Williams are the earliest drafted players on my team, from the 2001 draft.
I tried to build a strong Defensive team with an emphasis on two-way centers capable of driving possession. I wanted to have a young, fast, tough team with most of the key contributors locked up relatively long term.
Bergeron, Kessel, and Neal are all signed for at least the next two seasons with Neal being locked up until 2018. Bergeron is one of the best two way centers in the league and with Kessel and Neal on his wings he'll look even better. Pacioretty-Neilsen-Stafford/Williams provide great secondary scoring and strong defensive play. Sean Couturier is a hell of a third line C and will likely move up the line-up quickly. I took him over Giroux for his defensive abilities, and the lower cap hit.
The rest of my forwards are a rag-tag bunch of players who all tend to move the puck in the right direction. Hilariously Drew Miller was one of my two picks from the stacked draft of 2003, Bergeron being the other. Thorburn and Powe would likely be the most frequent scratches.
I was going to have Pietrangelo and Ekman-Larsson on this team no matter what. They both have one year left on their ELCs, but are both RFAs and I have plenty of cap-space so their contracts shouldn't be too overwhelming. Additionally both Bieksa and Goligosko both just signed new 4 year deals, so they're locked in. Demers won't be around long but he is a cheap option who still remains and RFA when his deal expires. Faulk and Gudbrandson are both still on ELCs so there is nothing to worry about there.
Generally speaking, it's a tough, mobile corps capable to facing tough competition. Plus the guy behind them stops pucks pretty handsomely.
Henrik Lundqvist is the highest paid player on my team which is pretty great. I've got him for two more years at his current rate. I'd sign him for as long as he wants after that. I really wanted Markstrom to back up but had too many picks from those years so I took Neuvirth.
2011- Couturier, Shaw
2010- Faulk, Gudbrandson
2008- Pietrangelo, Demers
2007- Pacioretty, Halischuk
2006- Kessel, Neuvirth
2005- Neal, Greening
2004- Stafford, Goligoski
2003- Bergeron, Miller (LOL)
2001- Bieksa, Thorburn
2000- Lundqvist, Williams
So there you have it. I think I might try to do another one using only former Leafs. So help me god.