Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pre-Draft Considerations

The NHL daft is tomorrow and the Canadiens, despite their best efforts to trade a slew of picks lately, still have some picking to do. As such, we’ll watch with mild interest as Timmins and his staff already put out to gardening leave select youngsters.

I’m looking through lists to tell you what I think. But until then, some general thoughts worth considering with regard to the draft:

Size still dazzles

I’ll admit it, you just can’t teach size. The problem in judging 18 year-olds is that you can never tell if they’ll be gentle giants or feisty midgets when faced with pro opposition (think Gionta vs. Pouliot). Yet size still dazzles a scout. But where one or two big guys will no doubt make creditable NHL careers from their selection, it seems to me many big first rounders also find “German hockey” far too quickly.

There’s a threshold between guy who has scored and goalscorer

I’m not exactly sure what it is, but there’s definitely a difference between a guy who happened to score goals in junior and a player with a true talent for it. Be wary of the 20-goal man with alleged incredible hands, as there’s more to goalscoring than hands (isn’t that right Andrei?). At a certain point though, scouting ceases to matter though. Just because a scout can’t put a finger on why a guy has scored 40 goals shouldn’t discourage people from taking a chance.

American defencemen are terribly overrated as a group

Always lining up an impressive group with size and apparent skill, the American Ds are often among the more prominent flops. It’s worth considering that big American D prospects are nothing new and that the US National team still doesn’t have a good defensive group t choose from. It may not be coincidence.

Swedish forwards underrated this year

On the opposite side of the coin, when have you known a Swedish generation to be totally bereft of know-how up front. Despite the perennial snub from the prognosticators (with the exception of the love in last year), the Swedish forwards probably deserve more respect than they get. Many, for example could do just as well as in the QMJHL if they cared for poutine over smoked herring.

Quebeckers play in a strange league

Picking Quebecois players is more difficult than pickng Western teens because they play in a league that is worlds apart from the NHL. People will always be wary of the Daigle scenario. But not to be ignored is the phenomenon that seems to be the Quebecois role player. Picking them out from the crowd, though. I’m glad I’m not charged with that task.

Everyone is compared to a successful NHLer

It must be human nature to look for the best possible scenario because there are always a lot of future Scott Stevens, Mark Recchis and Bryan Trottiers. The reality is, these comparisons have been bandied about for years on end. In fact, it might be useful to compile a database of what being the next Scott Stevens actually means for a prospect – that is, he’ll actually have a 98% chance of being the next Brent Bilodeau.

Trading up is probably a mistake

Scouting departments should take a good look in the mirror before trading up. Of course, there’s always the chance of getting caught up in the excitement of the day, but trading up means trading one gamble for another. It often means trading 2 or 3 gambles for one. Odds tell us that after pick 5-8 goes by, volume is the better strategy.

Organizational needs won’t be the same by the time the selected start playing pro

One never knows what surprises are around the corner for an organization. One year you have the Vezina, Hart goaltender of the future, a couple of years and no goalie picks later, you’re icing David Aebischer in crucial games. OK, it’s not the best example as Price and Halak were coming through, but you understand. Picking for organizational balance at a single draft is not my favourite tactic unless the cupboard is absolutely (and I mean Heino-Lindberg) bare. Instead pick the best players always and fill the cupboard the other 363 days of the year.

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