Saturday, October 09, 2010

Average Draft Position, Drafting = Average Team

Stu Cowan give your head a shake.

I have the utmost respect for the Sports Editor at the Montreal Gazette. He writes with insight and avoids the sensationalism of some his colleagues and former colleagues. Usually. Not today.

Today Stu Cowan writes: Poor drafting hobbles Habs

The article that cascades from beneath the rocky headline is full of the usual clap trap about the Penguins and Blackhawks.

The thing that I really dislike about Cowan's two-part thesis is that it is faulty in both parts. The Habs drafting has neither been poor, nor has their drafting hobbled them at any point. Their drafting has been average, even above average from a certain standpoint, and when you take off the Stanley Cup only glasses, you can see they haven't been hobbled at any point in quite some time now.

I think what Cowan meant to say is that the Canadiens inability to draft Malin, Crosby, Kane or Toews has prevented them from winning the Cup. Of course, the sensible reader will know that that scenario was precluded by never being offered the opportunity. Had they ever really been hobbled to the point of the Blackhawks, Penguins, Capitals or Kings, then the Habs would have had a top 3 pick at some point. That hasn't come around in 30 years.

And don't try to tell me that position isn't important. Pittsburgh with this crop:
"Brooks Orpik (the No. 18 overall pick in 2000), goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (No. 1 in '03), and Jordal Staal (No. 2 in '06). The Penguins also had one second-round pick (defenceman Alex Goligoski, No. 61 in 2004), one third-round pick (defenceman Kris Letang, No. 62 in '05), one fourth-round pick (forward Tyler Kennedy, No. 99 in '04), and one eighth-round pick (forward Maxime Talbot, No. 234 in '02)."
is the Atlanta Thrashers.

Chicago with these picks:
"Brent Seabrook (No. 14 in 2003) and Cam Barker (No. 3 in '04), along with forward Jack Skille (No. 7 in '05). The Blackhawks also had three second-round picks (defenceman Duncan Keith, No. 54 in 2002, and forwards Dave Bolland, No. 32 in '04, and Bryan Bickell, No. 41 in '04); one fourth-round pick (defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson, No. 108 in '05); one seventh-round pick (forward Troy Brouwer, No. 214 in '04); one eighth-round pick (forward Dustin Byfuglien, No. 245 in '03); and one ninth-round pick (forward Adam Burish, No. 282 in '02)."
never wins a Cup.

If we wanted a serious article on drafting, we'd have gone back to the old chestnuts of Perry, Getzlaf, Richards and Carter. But everyone makes mistakes in single drafts, and not everyone can sign Chris Pronger to get to a Cup final.

Nor does good drafting mean the team isn't "hobbled". Ask Buffalo who may have drafted a lot of players on their current team, some with impressive resumes, but have been hobbled since their genesis by the Cup only definition.

The Montreal fans expect a lot at every turn, and with drafting it seems they expect even more. Markov, Plekanec, Kostitsyn, Lapierre, Subban, Price isn't such a bad turn. It's not just any NHL team that finds two inspiring offensive defencemen in later rounds.

In August, I asked if Montrealers could stomach a losing season. The response led me to believe that we as a group couldn't. So we must realize we can't have our cake and eat it too (you included Mr. Cowan), average draft position with average (even above average) choices doesn't deliver superstars to carry a team.

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