June 14, 2008

NHL Draft Relationships

The NHL Entry Draft is a week away. While the draft offers all fans a hope for the future, GreatestHockeyLegends.com will do our best to tie the future to the past.

I will begin my week of coverage by taking a look at some relationships coming out of this year's draft. As often is the case, this year's NHL Entry draft includes several prospects who are related to current and former NHL players.

The most well known is probably Jared Staal. Jared is the younger brother of established young NHL stars Eric, Jordan and Marc. Jared made headlines when his father proclaimed his youngest son was the most talented of the brothers. But he also advised he was the least motivated. That is reflected in Jared's draft ranking. While his brothers were all slated to be top picks, The Hockey News ranks Jared at #31. THN suggests Jared "might not have the offensive panache of his brothers, but he offers a physical element." Sounds like the youngest Staal will have to carved himself out a job as a role player, if he can his mindset in the right spot.

David Toews is the younger brother of Chicago's Jonathan Toews and a similar story. THN ranks him at #40 saying "he's not really fast and he's not really big, but he's smart" and "he doesn't have the offensive upside, but he can be a very solid two-way guy."

Alex Pietrangelo's uncle Frank Pietrangelo was a goalie in the NHL from 1987 through 1994. The "goalie with three first names" had a several memorable moments with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nephew Alex is a top prospect, ranked by THN at #5. He's a big defenseman who can skate and handle the puck. #5 might be a bit lofty as a team who drafts him that high are really counting on him fulfilling his enormous potential.

Colin Wilson is ranked #7. He's a proud American player, which makes his family relation all the more interesting. His father Carey Wilson is a former Olympic star with Team Canada. Carey Wilson was an excellent talent but was never able to breakout as a true star. Some scouts feel that Colin Wilson may suffer the same fate, as his skating may not be up to par, though his hockey sense makes up for his choppy stride.

Anton Gustafsson is the son of Bengt-Ake Gustafsson, an under-appreciated star with the Washington Capitals and current Swedish national team coach. THN ranks him at #24 claiming he has many of the same qualities that made his father so dependable.

Maxime Sauve has three relations with former NHLers. His father Jean-Francois Sauve played 290 NHL games with Buffalo and Quebec. His uncle Bob Sauve played 420 games as a goalie, most notably with Buffalo. Maxime, who was born in France where his father finished his career, also counts goaltender cousin Phillippe Sauve as a relative.

THN's 46th ranked prospect is Jamie Arniel, nephew of Scott Arniel. Despite having a long time professional player and coach as a father, Arniel found himself the subject of some controversy this season as his relationship with Kingston coach Dave Barr went sour. He was sent home, doing himself no favors in his draft year.

Philip McRae will be trying to carve out a long NHL career like his father, but ideally a lot less physically punishing. Basil McRae chalked up 2457 penalty minutes in the NHL, surviving 16 pro seasons. THN ranks the American born Philip at #66. Philip's uncle Chris McRae had a brief stint in the NHL. Basil and Chris were cousins of former Commonwealth Games flyweight boxing champion Walter Henry.

Brett Theberge is not a top prospect by any means, but he is an interesting case. His father Greg Theberge is a former Memorial Cup champion. THN ranked him as the 16th best prospect way back in 1979. He went on to play 153 NHL games. More interestingly, Theberge is the great grandson of the late Dit Clapper, a Hockey Hall of Famer from the NHL's early days.

That's all of the relationships that I am aware from this year's draft. Be sure to tune in for more special draft coverage. Tomorrow I will take a look at the tiny hockey hotbed of Roseau, Minnesota.

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