So this year's draft is kind of a mess. We arbitrarily decided to keep three players from last year's roster. We have three players taking over two teams from last year from people that dropped out. Some people wanted the league to be forced to announce keepers at the end of last year and some wanted to wait until the last possible minute. There has been a huge debate about whether we should have a serpentine draft order or a straight draft order because we never decided ahead of time and frankly neither option is optimal given our three keeper system. This is intended as a possible solution to be enacted for next year.
The idea is adapted from discussions with Brottman about his football league, so hopefully he can respond to questions that crop up about how that league handles certain issues, but obviously we're not bound to do things exactly the same.
I just want to say beforehand that this system sounds a lot more complicated than it really is because the temptation is to immediately talk about possible strategic applications. I might wander a bit into that but will try to keep things as simple as possible. Like so many rule sets, once you understand how it works it makes perfect sense.
For purposes of this discussion, let's assume you're participating in a new, fresh draft. You draft a team of 15 players (or however many the league allows). Each player is assigned the draft round in which they were drafted. If you got Crosby you undoubtedly drafted him in the first round, so he is assigned first round status. If you took a gamble that Teemu Sellanne is going to play this year you might have gotten him in the fifth round, so he is assigned fifth round status. At the end of the year each player's value increases by one round (Teemu is now a round four player), so you end up with two first round players and then decreasing from there. You are permitted to keep one player for each round, but only one player from rounds one and two.
Example: I draft Crosby, Hossa, Sakic, and Rolston in rounds 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. At the end of the year Crosby and Hossa are both now worth first round picks, Sakic is worth a second round pick, and Rolston is worth a round three pick. I can only keep one of the first three players because they're all above that first/second round bar. If I kept Crosby and Rolston I would then get a second round pick because I no longer have a player of that value, but if I hold on to Rolston into the third year he'll be worth a second round spot now and I'll have to decide if I want him more than Crosby or whoever I picked up as a second round player.
Players who make their way back to the pool (Hossa in the example) are assigned a new round value after they are redrafted. This allows for a player who may have been hot shit a couple years ago to be redrafted at a lower round because they're just not worth what they used to be. It also means that each team can essentially hold on to one player forever but that the rest of their team gets cycled back to the pool eventually. A team forever holding onto a player like Crosby is also going to mean that they'll never have a first round pick in subsequent drafts. This also permits a ton more strategy during the year because players keep their round value for trade purposes, so it might be worth it to one manager to unload a player with a high draft value for a couple lower round players before the playoffs if they're not going to be a contender because that means they'll have a high round draft pick plus a couple players they can hold on to for longer. On the other side a team might decide it's worth it to unload some young talent to acquire marquee players for a playoff run even though they'll lose most of their acquisitions at the end of the year.
The only area I'm not sure about is free agency, so hopefully Brottman can let us know how they deal with that. Here's one way of dealing with it: Joe Sakic from the example is a third round player but also a million years old. If he breaks a knee during the year I may think his career is over so I could drop him and pick up a young free agent with lots of potential. There's good strategy to be had in dropping high value players to unload their draft spot while picking up young talent. On the other hand I'm not sure we want a situation like a couple years ago where Ovechkin wasn't available in the draft and was picked up off waivers and have him be a fifteenth round value. My inclination is that you split the difference between the value of your dropped player and your free agent with any decimals to be rounded down. It does mean that in our Ovechkin situation the manager that gets him can keep him for four years before he reaches third round value and tough decisions need to be made, but to me that seems like a fair benefit to a manager that obviously did a good job watching the waiver wire.
Jay has said that he has all the information from last year's draft, so this could be applied to our current teams if we decided to use it. He has also said that he would support using this system even though it requires a bit more work from the commish to keep track of the round values at play in the league. I think the system is good for the obvious strategic benefits it has. More than that though, this actually simplifies a lot of the drafting process for most people. You can keep as much or as little of your team as you like, allowing for rebuilding years and dynasties to both exist at the same time. It means we don't have to muck about with finding a utility player or a rookie. All you need to do is have one player for each round value from one to fifteen. The only tough decision between players that you'd have to make is with your top three picks and, if you've traded during the year, any players with the same values.