Dynasty Hockey League

Interview: Ben Gallant

Jon: So you’ve been in the league for six seasons, and this was your first playoff berth. How does it feel?

Ben: It’s something we’ve been building to for a while in Ottawa. We had some years where we came close since I came in. This year is seen as a bit of a breakthrough and we hope it’s one of many playoff runs for our young team. We’ll be looking to make a few moves in the upcoming off season to add to our young team without removing key organizational pieces we consider vital to our long term success.

Jon: Do you feel like you’ve proven anything to yourself and to others in DHL?

Ben: I don’t think making the playoffs was enough but I do think my team showed something to the DHL world by taking the New York Rangers to seven games. I think in the upcoming years I’ll be able to show a different skill set as a general manager. In the past few years I haven’t shown much in free agency, though I do think we’ve been able to make a few good signings, as most of my work has been done at the draft.

Jon: I’ve been very critical (and sometimes jokingly) of your unwillingness to deal certain non-essential youthful pieces to catapult the rebuilding process. Is this something you completely disagree with, or do you think with your playoff berth that you might explore this avenue further?

Ben: I think in the past I’ve moved some valuable young pieces, in the past season I moved Evander Kane for example who as you know was acquired from youth pieces. And while looking back at some offers I know my stubbornness has cost me I feel that the best way to build my team is build around my young players. Looking at my highest scoring players this past year most were acquired via trade using young players: Zibanejad, acquired by moving Henrique, Voracek, by moving Kane, and Karlsson, by moving RNH.

Jon: As evidenced by your SF% on the season, some might say you “backed” into the playoffs. What do you think about that?

Ben: During this season I was typically over performing v.s. strong teams and unperforming v.s. weaker teams. Early in the season I also noticed I was living and dying with my goaltending so I went out to secure myself in that regards by picking up Jonas Hiller. I will admit my goaltending got me into the playoffs and scoring is something I will need to acquire as most of my offense seems to be generated by my strong mobile defensive core and not my youthful forwards

Jon: Did you expect to take the New York Rangers to game seven?

Ben: My expectation is always the best possible outcome for my team. I expected my team to win, if you don’t there’s no possibility it will succeed. From an outsiders view on my team I was insulted so many people saw my team being swept however I didn’t expect to win the series or make game 7.

Jon: What do you think about Nail Yakupov and his lack of success so far in the NHL? How does this impact your team going forward, and have you considered trading options, or is it too soon?

Ben: Looking at his current production I can think of a trade with JonQ I would have loved to make going back. However he’s a 1st overall pick and he oozes talent, watching him you can tell he’s involved on the fore-check and is better defensively. I still believe Nail can be an elite scorer at the NHL level at this point he’s only 21 years old and most players don’t even make the NHL at that point.

Jon: It seems like players are making the NHL at younger ages than ever before. How do you think this impacts GM expectations of player performance in DHL?

Ben: I feel there’s only a select few players that make the NHL at a young age. However I do feel there are more players that make it only to have little to no impact at the DHL level eating away at their entry level contracts. I do also feel it reduces the value of 20-22 year old prospects that have yet to make it to the NHL yet as some GMs show impatience and need the roster useable asset in deals.

Jon: Looking back at your time in DHL so far, are there any regrets on how you’ve GMed Ottawa so far?

Ben: I think everyone has a few trades they wish they made and a few trades they wished they hadn’t made. I also have a few UFA signings that haven’t worked out perfectly for me. I really wish I knew what I did now when I started though. It takes a while to get used to these leagues.

Jon: What do you know now that you didn’t know then?

Ben: I have a better understanding on the value of RFA years. When I came into the league I moved out Kessel, looking back that’s one of the deals I regret the most. Also understanding the value of a defensive d-man and average goalie would have assisted as these are very different from other leagues.

Jon: How do you compare DHL’s learning-curve to learning-curves of other leagues?

Ben: For me personally it was a large adjustment, I’m not sure how other GMs see it but when I came into the league, I guess six seasons ago now, I had been in two other leagues with the exact same style. I tried to run my team using the exact same style and at the time my general understanding of operating a team in a sim league wasn’t as strong as it is now. While I would never put myself in with the elite of the DHL I believe I’m far closer to that group now than I was day one and honestly I learned most when I just sat back and watched.

Jon: Will you trade me Lars Eller? You know I like Danish hockey players.

Ben: We typically do a deal every season or two so you never know. Currently I’m not trying to open up any holes on my hockey team.

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