What I'd want to buy for $44 million

Updated: September 28, 2006, 9:23 AM ET
By E.J. Hradek | ESPN The Magazine

Hradek's Dream Rosters: $44 million cap | $36 million cap | $28 million cap

MY $44 MILLION TEAM
Position Player Team Salary
Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff Flames $3.333M
Hradek: Vezina winner (10 shutouts and 2.07 GAA in 74 games last season) is a bargain when compared with the NHL's other elite goaltenders (Roberto Luongo and Nikolai Khabibulin make more than twice his salary). I've got him for two years at this price.
Goalie Cam Ward Hurricanes $684,000
Hradek: Conn Smythe winner is used to coming off the bench -- to win Stanley Cups. Calm on the ice, the 22-year-old says he was more nervous meeting Tom Hanks at a movie premiere than facing the Oilers in Game 7.
First Line: Left Wing Henrik Zetterberg Red Wings $2.65M
Hradek: He's young (26), affordable and a points machine (85 last season), and he has three years left on his deal. We'll even help market his new clothing line (profits go to his old sports club in Sweden).
First Line: Center Sidney Crosby Penguins $3.7M
Hradek: Sid's salary is $850K, but his cap hit will be higher due to bonuses. Still, the youngest NHLer (just turned 19) to break 100 points is looking more cut this year, which will help on ice (and draw female fans off it).
First Line: Right Wing Mike Knuble Flyers $1.52M
Hradek: Love his price and his experience with top pivots (Joe Thornton in Boston, Peter Forsberg in Philly.) He's a crasher who was a plus-25 in 82 games last season, and I think he'll fit with Crosby and Zetterberg.
Second Line: LW/Center Brian Rolston Wild $2.432M
Hradek: A versatile guy who makes things happen (34 goals, 79 points in 2005-06) from the wing or center. And if I want to start a team band, which I will, he plays guitar and drums. See what I mean? Versatile.
Second Line: Center Craig Conroy Kings $2.394M
Hradek: Conroy, who led Team USA with five points in six games in Torino, is an ideal No. 2 center behind Crosby. Great skater, unselfish and he's expert in dealing with the media. Plus, he makes a mean shrimp scampi. And I like shrimp scampi.
Second Line: Right Wing Jonathan Cheechoo Sharks $3M
Hradek: If you can fit a 56-goal guy who led the NHL with 11 game-winners on your team, you do it. Did I mention that he's locked up through 2010-11?
Third Line: Left Wing Jay Pandolfo Devils $836,000
Hradek: The two-time Cup winner is among the best defensive forwards. When we take penalties, he'll kill them.
Third Line: Center Mike Fisher Senators $1.5M
Hradek: An ideal third-line center, this speedster's two-way play last season (plus-23) made him a Selke finalist.
Third Line: Right Wing Chris Clark Capitals $1.051M
Hradek: A two-way player (plus-9) who's tough in the corners. Those are qualities from which Cup winners arise.
Fourth Line: Left Wing Jussi Jokinen Stars $737,500
Hradek: He was born on April Fools' Day, but his rookie year (17 goals, 10 more on shootouts) was no joke. My guy to break a tie.
Fourth Line: Center Derek Roy Sabres $627,000
Hradek: Is it pronounced "Wah" or "Roy"? Whatever. His 15 points in 18 playoff games makes me want to call him mine.
Fourth Line: Right Wing Petr Prucha Rangers $537,500
Hradek: Great nose for the net: He scored 30 goals in 68 games as a rook. Great nose for pals, too. Fellow Czech Jaromir Jagr let him live in his NYC digs.
Defensemen Niedermayer, Pronger Ducks $13M (combined)
Hradek: Wouldn't it be nice if future Hall of Famers Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger were on the same team? Oh wait, they are. Good D wins Cups, so I'm fine with committing 30 percent of my payroll to these two guys.
Defenseman Jason Smith Oilers $1.976M
Hradek: He's averaged a plus-10 since 1999-2000. Plus, he's priced right and under contract through 2007-08. He also thrived when paired with Pronger last season, which gives me flexibility.
Defenseman Chris Chelios Red Wings $1.15M
Hradek: This 44-year-old, who missed one game last season, is in better shape than skaters half his age. I'll pair him with one of my younger D-men. They'll learn. Plus, I need someone who'll get all my 1970s references.
Defenseman Dion Phaneuf Flames $785,300
Hradek: Phaneuf, 21, has two years left on his entry-level contract, so I get him cheap. This hotshot (20 goals in 2005-06) will replace Pronger or Niedermayer down the road.
Defenseman Shea Weber Predators $610,300
Hradek: Another promising D, who skated to a plus-8 as a rookie. Smart GMs need young (21), cheap players. Those two years left on his entry-level deal make me very smart.
Healthy Scratch: Defenseman Paul Ranger Lightning $450,000
Healthy Scratch: Center Mike Richards Flyers $942,400
HRADEK'S GRAND TOTAL SPENT: $43,916,000

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.