June 26, 2010

Puck On The 'Net: Draft Edition

A colleague of mine asked me for my thoughts on the 2010 NHL draft. My response was "I deal with the past, not the future. I'll tell you my thoughts on this draft 20 years from now!"

Here's a few thoughts anyways:
  • Taylor vs Tyler: I'm not surprised Taylor Hall was taken over Tyler Seguin. He is bigger and perhaps just a little bit more ready to step into the NHL next season. But five years from now I would not be surprised to see Seguin being hailed as the better of the two.
  • Gormley, Fowler Fall: Every year it seems we see a top rated prospect fall, and this year we had two. Defensemen Brandon Gormley (drafted by Phoenix) and Cam Fowler (Anaheim) slipped from the top five to the early teens. I do not think it had as much to do with them per se, but more to do with a trending new draft philosophy - don't draft defensemen high, as they take longer to develop. Draft forwards and stock up on defensemen through free agency.
  • Yzerman's Big Gamble: The one player I may have expected to go into free-fall would have been Brett Connolly. Unlike many scouts, I've actually seen Connolly play in person, and I can attest he is something special. But he lost almost the entire year due to injuries, and there have been some lingering concerns about his health going forward. In his first NHL draft, Yzerman swung for the fences and just may come away with a home run. 
  • Perfect Fit: If Jarred Tinordi is anything like his dad, and by most accounts he is, Montreal made a great selection at #22. He';s probably 3 years away, but he's a good fit there.
  • The Bigger PictureI get a kick out of all these talking heads screaming about team needs. Fact is unless you draft in the top 5 most of these players are 2 or 3 years, at best, away from making an impact. Filling organizational needs through the draft needs to be done with the future in mind, not the present.
  • Canucks-Panthers Trade: There was only one trade of note at the draft on Friday. The Canucks sent Steve Bernier, Michael Grabner and the 25th overall pick to Florida for Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich. I was a bit surprised that GM Mike Gillis moved his draft choice, but he is obviously acknowledging that the Canucks window to win the Stanley Cup is open but who knows for how long. In a thin free agent year Gillis went out and got a solid defenseman who is probably as good as anyone available on the UFA market. Vancouver got the best player in Ballard (although he is rather generously paid), although Grabner may yet emerge to haunt the Canucks. I would be more comfortable with the deal had Florida thrown in someone like Kendal McArdle instead of Oreskovich, who has already quit hockey once.
  • Hamhuis Moves Again: Philly gave up on trying to sign Dan Hamhuis and traded him to Pittsburgh. I've been buying into the idea that he really wants to test the UFA market and he has a certain destination in mind (and no, I don't think it's Vancouver). But if Pittsburgh can come up with the money you have to wonder if the allure of playing with Crosby and Co. is enough to get him to move to Steeltown. My guess is he will still test the market.

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