Monday, January 17, 2011

Draft by Decade: Criteria and THE LIST

This is a monumentous occasion as it is surely the most scrutanized (and hopefully) only in-depth ranking of each NHL team's record at the draft table for the first decade of the 2000s.

Criteria for ranking a team was established to level the playing field.  Teams that have benefited from strong draft positions were given marks for making the right selection in the early first rounds, but that would count for about as many points as say finding a Jamie Benn in the fifth as Dallas did in 2007.  Also taken in to consideration was a teams perceived importance on draft. Not taken in to account were team performance or retention and development of picks; this was only a look at what they did at the draft table, and not after. Number of players on an NHL roster that were team picks was also taken in to account, and not just their NHL roster but others if they were traded, re-drafted, released, etc...

Without further adieu, chronologically, from worst to first

30 - Calgary Flames
29 - Minnesota Wild
28 - Tampa Bay Lightning
27 - Phoenix Coyotes
26 - Toronto Maple Leafs
25 - Ottawa Senators
24 - New York Islanders
23 - New York Rangers
22 - Columbus Blue Jackets
21 - Pittsburgh Penguins
20 - Carolina Hurricanes
19 - New Jersey Devils
18 - St. Louis Blues
17 - Los Angeles Kings
16 - Atlanta Thrashers
15 - Edmonton Oilers
14 - Dallas Stars
13 - Vancouver Canucks
12 - Buffalo Sabres
11 - Colorado Avalanche
10 - Boston Bruins
9 - Montreal Canadiens
8 - Florida Panthers
7 - Anaheim Ducks
6 - Philledelphia Flyers
5 - Washington Capitals
4 - San Jose Sharks
3 - Nashville Predators
2 - Detroit Red Wings
1 - Chicago Black Hawks

It's all up for debate, of course.  I'm sure I wouldn't rank this the same way twice in a row if I read it for the 50th and 51st times, but after much scrutiny Dallas climbed the rankings, and New Jersey fell.  Honestly, it is so strange that the two New York and Ontario teams finished right beside each other, and it's even weirder that the top three are all in the same conference.  The top tier drafters were no easier to seperate than the middle of the pack or even the bottom (except for Minnesota who narrowly edged out Calgary as the two undisputed worst), because there are just so many variables.

That said it's tough to supplant Detroit, who I thought would take top spot, with anyone, let alone the Hawks, but it isn't just the Hawks top tier talent that has given them my ranking of top spot, it's the depth players they took in deep rounds, and I think the importance of that is proven as many of these players were lost after this year's cup win.  The Hawks haven't been the same team without them, and wouldn't have been if they didn't draft and develop.

This is the crux of the study, the argument that draft prowess is the biggest key to success.  How else can one team stay at the top so long, like Detroit, and perpetually have no high first round picks, or any first round picks at all?  How else can a team go from no fan base to cup champ in three drafts? Yes, I mean Chicago.  The third ranked team, Nashville, is in the playoffs almost every year despite a horribly difficult division and shoe-string budget. Teams 4 through 7 perennially challenge for the Cup, and the core of their teams is largely built through the draft, and not just top five picks.  Philly took Carter, Richards, Grioux, in the mid/late first round.  Anaheims Perry and Getzlaf were mid first round picks.  Washington's starting goalie, top d-man and leading scorer were taken between 15 and 29 in their respective years.  The top three teams were clear, but San Jose at 4th is a notch above Philly, Washington and Anaheim because of picks like Ryan Clowe in the 6th round, Joe Pavelski at 205th, Torry Mitchell in the 4th, Marc Vlasic in the 2nd, Derek Joslin in the 5th and Jason Demers in the 7th, all currently on the team's roster.  It's amazing, really.

I don't see a list of past cup winners who can brag to be amazing at signing free agents.  Pro scouting is probably the next most important thing, and the reason that player scouting and development, professional or amature, is most important is because teams that win are succesful and teams that lose go broke.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Draft by Decade: Washington Capitals

These guys have made some great picks.  Sure, they have had a lot of "can't miss" high picks, but they've made some very good picks, and seem to have had just an astounding amount of first rounders. 

They didn't have one in 2001 but they still managed to talented D-men Nathan Paetsch in the second and Johnny Oduya in the 7th.

2002 they had three first round picks between 12 and 17 and came out pretty good with three guys who are all on NHL rosters (two of them on Washigtong) all with 300+NHL games: Steve Eminger, Alex Semin and Boyd Gordon.  2003 wasn't a great draft for them surprisingly since it was so deep, but taking Eric Fehr 18th was a good move.  2004 they drafted the franchise savious, Alex Ovechkin, first overall.  They again had three first round picks and also took Jeff Schultz and Mike Green at 27 and 29 respectively. Chris Borque and Sami Lepisto were decent mid round picks that year.

2005 was kind of a hick-up with towering d-men Sasha Pokuluk and Joe Finley not coming to fruition...yet.  The Caps still managed to take uber-talent Tim Kennedy in the 6th though, so as far as grading their ability goes this year is a wash.

2006 was chalk full of talent for the Caps.  Nik Backstrom was a good pick at 4th overall.  Their pair of starting goalies was taken 23 and 32 that year.  They also had a couple good picks in the second round, Keith Seabrook and Francois Bouchard, as well as Oskar Osala who continuously flirts with NHL rosters. Matthieu Perrault taken late that year has 8 points in 17 games for the Caps this season.

2007's first round pick of Karl Alzner at 5th overall has blossomed in to a terrific NHL shut down d-man who is still miles away from his peak potential and developing nicely.  His young caps blue line coutnerpart John Carlson was just a kid out of US High School league when the Caps drafted him late in the first round the next, he's a berugonning Top 2 dman.  Stefan DellaRovere and Braden Holtby have both cracked NHL rosters this year too.

Marcus Johanses from 2009 is already in the show, and the third rounder that year, Cody Eakin, won't be too far off talent wise; he may have a hard time cracking Washingtons deep forward core.  2010s Evgeny Kuznetsov and Stanislav Galiev are improving every game and Phillipe Grubauer taken in the fifth fresh off a Memorial Cup win is having a solid year in Kingston

The Caps get an A.  They've had some gifts, but they're ratio of draft pick to NHLer is one of the best.

Draft by Decade: The Vancouver Canucks

The Nux had a decent draft in 2001 taking RJ Umberger 16th and Kevin Bieksa in the 5th.  They whiffed in 2002, but are showing their draft prowess with the selection of Ryan Kesler 23rd in 2003.  2004 turned up Cory Schneider in the late first round, Alex Edler in the 3rd, and Janik Hansen in the 9th. 2005s first rounder never got to show his full potential in the NHL as Luc Bourdon passed away tragically in a motorcycle accident, but he was a good pick, a real talent with a great shot and a hard edge...he'd look awfully good on the Nux back end right now.  taken in the second round that year Mason Raymond is a lightning quick top six forward these days. That's six current roster players on the NHLs top team drafted in a five year span (all in four drafts total, and likely would be seven: RIP Luc Bourdon).

2006s Mike Grabner has finally found a home in Long Island after being traded on draft day last year to FLA, then released.  Surprising a speedy winger with 24 points in his first 58 NHL games has had three homes arleady.  He'll continue to improve. Sergei Shirokov taken in the 6th that year is leading the AHL Manitoba Moose in scoring and should challegen for top six minutes next year.

2007 was a whiff.

2008s first round pick became Major Junior player of the year. Cody Hodgson the tenth pick that year has battled injury ever since but is showing signs of top flight talent in the AHL.  Yann Sauve at 41st that year is a sizable blue liner.  2009s third round pick of Kevin Connauton is looking like a future Power Play quarterback.  They also snatched up Jordan Schroeder, a projected top ten pick, way back at 22 that year.  His development has slowed in the AHL this year but there's no doubting his potential.

They get a B, would be a B+ but they had some big misses and no pick earlier than 4th round in 2010.

Draft by Decade: Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs haven't had as many high picks as their performance this decade would suggest.

Unfortunately some of the good picks they've made are stars now on other teams.  Carlo Coliacovo and Alex Steen are terrific for St. Louis.  Matt Stajan cashed in with the Sutters in CGY... Ian White wen with him to cow town but was since shipped off to the east coast in exchange for Anton Babchuk. Tukka Rask is dominating in Bean Town.  These guys could look pretty good in Blue and White, but nevertheless the Leafs get points for drafting talent, as I've said, this isn't a production measuring stick, what management does with a star player after they draft them can't affect this.

Kulemin was a great second round pick and is really coming in to his own, as is 2006s 6th rounder Viktor Stalberg. Continuing the great late round success of late is Carl Gunarson in the 7th.

08's Luke Schenn will take time but if the Leafs can retain him he may continue to get better and better.

09s pick of Kadri is a PPG with the Marlies, and a pair of second round picks from the Spitfires have potential, Kenny Ryan, Jesse Blacker.

The Leafs squeeze out a C+ for their late round heroics, barely a C+...barely.

Draft by Decade: Tampa Bay Lightning

Recent picks have moved the Lightning up to a C but they didn't start the decade well.  Evgeny Artyukhin was an OK 3rd rounder in 2001, and 2002s Paul Ranger in the 6th and Freddy Norrena in the 7th isn't much to brag about.  Coming out of 2003s loaded draft the Lightning only managed Matt Smaby in the 2nd and Nick Tarnasky in the 9th. They had no first rounders those year, and had the 30th pick, last of the first round, in 2004 and 2005, which only amounted to Andy Rogers and Vlad Mihailk. 2006s pick of Riku Hulenius at 15th wasn't great.

In 2007 though the Lightning made good depth picks in Johan Harju who is on a point per game pace with Norfolk in the AHL, and Alex Kilorn who's a point per game this year at Harvard.

2008 was a gift.  These guys were seeing Stamkos from October, and although Barry Melrose thought his minutes should be reduced apparently that was enough for the shaky ownership group to significanlty reduce Barry's.  After a coaching change Stamkos had a great second half to his rookie campaign and came back with a vengeance to tie for the Richard Trophy in his sophomore year, which he might just win out-right in 2010-11.  Overlooked was the smart selection of James Wright in the 4th who played over 40 games in the NHL in his draft year.

2009 was another high pick, taking Victor Hedman second overall and he's looking better every game.  Taking Carter Ashton 29th that year was a bonus.  Power forwards can be a project and Ashton is no different, but he's filling out fast and looking ready to dominate a year in the AHL next season, ditto for Richard Panik taken in the second.  Brett Connolly was taken 6th overall last year and he is part of a very good core of up and coming young forwards.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Draft by Decade: St. Louis Blues

B for Blues.  had it all done nicely but comp. sketched out.

Draft by Decade: San Jose Sharks

Finally, just an A.  We've had a few A+ and a good few B+ but no true A's.  The Sharks are definitely that, solidly an A.

The Sharks made just six picks in 2001, and all of them have made the NHL, highlighted by Christian Ehrhoff in the fourth round, and Ryan Clowe in the Sixth.  2002 they had some decent deep picks in Tim Conboy in the fifth and Kris Newburry in the 5th.

2003s "Can't Miss" draft was respectable as they nabbed Milan Michalek 6th and Steve Bernier 16th, alhtough they could've been Jeff Carter and Zack Parise very easily.  Impressively the Sharks also found future 40 point d-man Matt Carle 47th and Joe Pavelski 205. 2004 they went deep again nabbing solid back-up Tomas Greiss in the third and Torry Mitcell way back in the 4th.

2005 was impressive as the Sharks took future 30 goal man Devon Setoguchi 8th overall, nabbed ME Vlasic in the second round and reliable Derek Joslin in the 5th.  2006s Ty Wishart 16th is a bit of a project, and Jamie McGinn in the second was a safe pick.  2007 was impressive again as Logan Couture is leading all rookies in scoring this year, he was taken 9th overall, but a trio of late round picks from 2007, Nick Bonino, Justin Braun and Frazer McLaren, as well as a duo of diamonds in the rough from the next year Jason Demers and Tommy Wingells have all made the NHL already; none were taken higher than the 6th round.  AMAZING!

2009s pick of Taylor Doherty in the second is looking promising, the giant d-man is showing a real offensive flair for Kingston in the OHL this season, and 2010s late first round pick of Charlie Coyle was called the "Steal of the Draft" by some, and he's been proving that at the WJC and Boston U. this year.

It's a very solid A for San Jose.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Draft by Decade: Pittsburgh Penguins

How do you create a Stanley Cup Winner?  Give a team two first over all and two second over all picks in a four year span.

It's hard to rank Pittsburgh because their span of high draft picks is absolutely unprecidented.  You might have a cellar dweller picking up a top ten every year for a decade, but this?  Wow.  They drafted a Cup pretty well in taking Crosby, Malkin, Staal and Fleury, of course, three centres and a goalie.  The core of the team built down the middle.

The common callin Pitt is how they need a winger to play with Sid.  These days they seem to need one to protect him too, but they don't appear to draft by need, not taking a single winger in 2008, an donly two the year after.

It could be argued that any of the five forwards drafted in succession following Jordan Staal in 2006, including Jonathan Toews, Phil Kessel, Nik Bakstrom, would have been better picks.  Offensively they've all shone brighter than Staal, but he is going to win a Selke trophy someday and has a cup win.  He is a missing ingredient on a lot of teams and he might do better offensively with more ice in key situations but if I put myself in Pittsburghs shoes it'd be tough not to take him.  You could argue the same of MA Fleury who had the misfortune of being taken first overall in one of, if not, the deepest drafts ever.  How a goalie with a 3.36 GAA in his draft year was taken ahead of players like Staal, Horton, Getzlaf, Perry, Brown, Seabrook, Kessler, Carter, beyond me.

The Pens deserve some cred for taking Cobly Armstrong and Noah Welch in 2001, Max Talbot 239th, Daniel Carcillo, Paul Bissonette and Matt Moulson between 73 and 263 in one year, Goligoski 61st in his draft year, and Kris Letang at 62.

They get a solid B for their efforts, unfortunately they had such favourable draft position it could have been worse had they managed to mess it up.

Decade of Draft: Phoenix Coyotes

Too many misses to get a higher grade than C.  Between 2006 and 2010 the Coyotes had 9 first rounders, two in each year except 2009, and they could've done better.

2006 they took Petr Mueller 8th.  He had real star potential but the relationship with the team soured and he was unfortunate to suffer a few head injuries.  He was a good pick, you can't predict strained relationships and concussions.  Chris Summers may just turn in to an NHL defenseman, taken behind Mueller at 29th, but so far for that draft they have no NHLers on their roster to show.

2007 They took Kyle Turris, who could turn in to the player we all expect. He has very good numbers in the AHL, but for whatever reason he hasn't found his game at the NHL level, much of which can be attirbuted to Phoenix style of play I'm sure.  That year they also took Nick Ross at 30th.

2008s Mikael Boedker is finally looking like a stud, after being rushed to the NHL he's back in the AHL putting up great numbers.  Taken at 28th that year Viktor Tikhonov has been back to the KHL and isn't likely looking like a big leaguer. 

2009 and 2010 were great drafts. Oliver Ekman Larson (2009) is already fitting in with the big club, 7 assists in 27 games as a rookie, and Brandon Gormley taken last year is having a dynamite year in junior.  Also taken last year Mark Visentin and Louis Domingue could be NHL puck stops.

Before that the Yotes did manage to dig up Keith Yandle in the fourth round, Daniel Winnik in the 9th, and Benn Ferriero in the late rounds.

C is a fair grade.

Draft by Decade: Philledelphia Flyers

The Flyers have not had a wealth of high picks as another perennial contender of the decade that was, but looking at their team this decade it's not surprising to have discovered they did the best with what they had at the draft table.

A late first rounder in 2001, Jeff Woywitka was a solid pick at 27, and the Flyers found one of todays premiere stars in Patrick Sharp at 95th that year, as well as Denis Seidenberg way back at 172.

2002 saw the Flyers make a pick out of europe, something they didn't do too much of.  Joni Pitkanen at fourth may seem like a missed opportunity, but he has more points in fewer games than the man picked directly ahead of him, Jay Buowmeester.

2003 was one of the best years at the draft table ever.  Jeff Carter was taken 11th, ahead of now team captain Mike Richards at 24.  Colin Fraser at 69 was a solid pick, he's found a home now in Edmonton after a run to the cup with Chicago last season. Stefan Ruczika at 81 is having a very succesful KHL career, Alex Picard at 85 is a top 6 on just about any team and Ryan Potulny can't get no love despite posting 32 points in 64 games last year in Edmonton.  All told, the first six picks they made (from 11 to 87) all made the NHL, and half have been to the Stanley Cup Finals.  This draft more than made up for 2004, which was an off year.

Steve Downie has turned in to an agitator and viable goal scoring threat in Tampa after Philly tookhim 29th, and Oskars Bartulis is a great late pick; he's turned in to a very reliable defender.  2006, although they forgot his name, Claude Grioux just signed his on a major RFA deal with Philly after lighting the league on fire at the start of this season. Andreas Nodly at 39th continues to improve. 2007s James VanRiemsdyk as the highest pick Philly had all decade.  They gave him time to develop in college before making his debut during last year's run to the cup final.  He is a budding power forward who will show his full potential next season after top-six scorer Ville Leino is lost to free agency.

gotta cut this one short, B+ for sure

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Draft by Decade: Ottawa Senators

The Sens opened the decade with a boom!  In 2001 they took Jason Spezza 2nd, Tim Gleason 23, Ray Emery 99, Christoph Schubert 127, Brooks Laich 193 and Brandon Bochenski 223.

2002 was the antithesis of 2001.  Jakub Klepis at 2002 didn't pan out, but 2003s Patrick Eaves at 29 and Bryan Elliot at 291 were respectable picks.  Andrej Meszaros at 23 was a great selection next year, and Peter Regin at 87 is turning in to a full time NHLer. 

It was an up and down decade for Ottawa, the next season they took Brian Lee 9th.  He's with the big club now but 2005 was a decent draft.  I'm sure they wouldn't have minded taking Anze Kopitar who went only two picks later. 2006 turned up Nick Foligno at 28, 2007s first rounder Jim O'brien is coming in to his own now cracking the Sens roster this season.  2008 was a return to the form this franchise showed in 2001.  They took budding sensation Erik Karlsson 15th, Patrick Wiercioch at 42, Zack Smith at 79 is with the big club and Derek Grant at 119 is looking good in NCAA.  2009 was decent too as Jared Cowen looks ready to join Karlsson on a re-tooled Sens back end, and Robin Lehner was called up just after the WJC on emergency basis after, surprise, an injury to Pascal Leclaire.

All in all the Sens have picked it up of late, and you can't discredit that amazing 2001 draft, for  that they manage a C+.

Draft by Decade: NY Rangers

The Rangers have had their share of success at the draft table starting out the decade in 2001 selecting Fedor Tyutin in the second round, Marek Zidlicky 176 and Ryan Holweg 238. Peter Prucha and Nigel Dawes were solid deep picks in 2002 and 2003 but all of their first round picks in that time never really panned out, same with 2004's picks of Al Montoya 6th overall, and Lauri Korpikoski 19th. Luckily in 2004 they had a great draft getting Brandon Dubinsky in the late second round and Ryan Callahan 127.

Marc Stall taken at 12th in 2005 has developed in to a very reliable d-man, and Mike Sauer taken at 40th that year is a solid blueliner to be.  2006s Artem Anisimov pick at 54 has proven fruitful.

2007, we will never know what truly might have been.  The selection of Russian mega-talent Alexei Cherapanov 17th was a risk with no transfer agreement between Russia and the NHL. Lauded as one of the most talented players in ages Cherepanov tragically died on ice while playing in the KHL.

2008s Michael DelZotto is already a staple on the blue shirts blue line, Derek Stepan is in the running for rookie of the year, and Evgeny Grachev and Dale Weise both already have NHL experience.  Chris Kreider and Ethan Werek are  the prize skilled forwards of the 2009 draft by NYR.  The Rangers went off the board in 2010 taking Dylan McIlrath, ranked 20-something by central scouting, at tenth.  The hulking d-man is probably the most feared man in the WHL. London Knights forward Christian Thomas is having a heck of a season in the OHL.

The Rangers have missed a lot of early round picks, and haven't really drafted a star in a whole decade.  They're a bit below the median line and get a C

Draft by Decade: NY Islanders

The Islanders' have a bright future.  Hopefully the current management can retain some of the stars that their scouts have painstakingly picked.

They did very well in the past two drafts with four first rounders between them, taking John Tavares first overall in 2009, and Calvin Dehaan at 12.  2010s picks of Neidereiter at 5th and Brock Nelson at 30th were impressive.

There have been some missed opportunities, enough to keep this crew below the B's with a solid C+ for recent selections

Decade of Draft: NJ Devils

Yet another team handcuffed at the draft table by their perennial success.  Oddly enough they aren't starting out this decade the same way.  Jersey seems to draft by position and not necessarily by taking the best available talent.  Earlier in the decade they took skilled and rugged forwards frequently.  in 2009 and 2010 they heavily drafted defenseman, and did a fine job of it.  Now it seems they need to draft a physician and somebody who can successfully count to 59.4 million.

2001s first round selection of Adrian Foster at 28th didn't pan out.  It wasn't a great draft for NJ, and many other teams aparently.  They did manage to find Aaron Voros from Jr. A in the late rounds.  2002 they continued to draft rugged forwards, taking Cam Jansen in the fourth round.

2003 NJ were the benifactor of San Jose and NYI, as they took Steve Bernier and Robert Nilsson at 15 and 16 allowing Lou Lamareillo to select Zack Parise 17th, a steal of a deal.  They made a great pick in Travis Zajac at 20th the following year, and Nick Bergfors at 23rd the next after that. 2006s Matt Corrente has finally made the big club after being selected 30th overall. 2007 wasn't very fruitful...yet. But, 2008 was pretty darn good.  Mattias Tedenby slid to 24th in the draft, and then NJ stole Brandon Burlon at 52, Patrice Cormier at 54 and Adam Henrique at 82 (somehow). 2009s Jacob Josefson, taken 20th, is already in the big leagues.  He was followed by a quartet of big, mobile defenseman all between 6'3" and 6'5" - Alexander Urbom and Eric Gelinas in the second round, Seth Helgeson in the fourth and last but not least Curtis Gedig out of Jr.A in the 7th. Next year's first rounder John Merrill is looking solid for the University of Michigan this year.

For being able to convert late first round picks with such consistency they earn a very average B, a grade that is submarined by the shockingly miniscule amount of players they've graduate to the NHL overall.  They did make good picks with first rounders when they had them.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Draft by Decade: Nashville Predators

The Preds are a triumph in my books, operating on a shoe string budget with a dimunitive regular season attendance.  I can attest however, that when I was in Nashville during the playoffs a few years back I was blown away by the buzz in the city.  People had painted faces just to watch the games on Food-Row's many bars, which were packed.  It seems there's just no appetite for it during football season, but if the Preds are playoff bound then they have the attention of their fan base in the post season the same way Vanderbilt and the Titans have it year 'round.

Perhaps the best way to summarize Nashvilles draft prowess is that their only two possible misses would be Scottie Upshall taken 6th in 2002 and Ryan Parent who has yet to prove he's a full time NHLer, despite being highly coveted by many NHL teams.  Upshall is a key player in PHX and Parent has had appearances with the Canucks this year who gave up Shane O'brien to acquire him.

We'll do Nashville Point form because there are so many

2001 -Hahuis, 12th,  Tootoo 98th
2002 - Brandon Segal 102 (10 pt in 19 Gm with Dallas last year)
2003 - Suter 7th, Kevin Klein 37, Shea Weber 49, Sulzer 92 (basically drafted an NHL top four in 4 picks)
2004 - Radulov 15th, Pekka Rinne 258, Mike Santorelli 6th round (20 pt in 20 Game with FLA)
2005 - Cody Franson 3rd round, Cal O'reilly 5th round, Patric Hornqvist 7th round (all 3 on big club)
2006 - Blake Geoffrion 56th, power forward finding game in AHL
Mike Dekanic taken in the 5th has a .938 Sv Pctg, and 1.77 GAA in Milwuakee
2007-Jonathan Blum 23rd, has 22 pt in 39 games in Milwuakee
Nick Spaling taken 58th is already in the NHL
2008 is absolutely sick
-Colin Wilson 7th overall is fifth in team scoring
-Chet Pickard has horrible numbers and is demoted to the ECHL, but still a super talent that could develop
-Roman Josi at 38th has 14 pt in 33game with Milwuakee this season
Throw in Taylo Stefishen in the fifth and Anders Lindback who is backing up Rinne this season in the 7th
2009 has the star power of Ryan Ellis, a gift at 12th but also taylor beck and Michael Latta taken in the second round, teammates for the Guelph Storm that are dominating the OHL, Charles-Olivier Roussel was a nice take at 42nd and don't look now but Zack Buddish is finding his game at the U of Minnesota.
2010 -It's a bit early to tell with this draft year but one thing for sure is Patric Cehlin looked good at this year's WJC

The further I got in to this analysis the better the ranking got.  This team has an absolute back-log of talent in the crease with Rinne, Lindback, Pickard and Dekanich, and easily the biggest stockpile of talent at D possibly ever in the history of the NHL.  In the big leagues drafted this decade they have: Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Suter, Kevin Klein, Shea Weber, Alexander Sulzer, Cody Franson and coming up they have Jon Blum ,Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and CO Roussel...insane.

A+  Early on I knew this would be a high ranking, but after examining you absolutely cannot give them less credit than Detroit or Chicago, arguably, they're even better, but we'll lay that out for y'all at the end of this research assignment. 

Draft by Decade: Montreal Canadiens

Early in the decade the Habs made some very solid picks. 2001 they took Mike Komisarek 7th, and Tomas Plekanec 71st.  Chris Higgins in 2002 at 14 has had an up and down career but certainly contributed to Montreal's success.  2003 was a great draft as the Habs found last year's playof starr Jarosalv Halak at 271st, a hulking d-man from Canadian Jr. A, Ryan O'byrne in the third round, and took a flyer on a kid from the Q who plays a pretty big role with this team, Max Lapierre at 61st.  In 2004 they continued to have succesful late round picks taking Mark Streit 262 and Mikhail Grabovski 150.  They had some misses in that time for sure, succeeding in late rounds but flubbing on Andrei Perezhogin at 25th in 2001, Andrei Kostitsyn 10th in 2003 and Kyle Chipchura 18th.

2005 was an incredible draft year, and the Habs passed up a number of current NHLers to take Carey Price, who has had a tumultuous NHL career, losing the Number One job he was handed early in his career but regaining it in fine form this year proving to be one of the games best. Their second round selection of Guillaume Latendress wasn't looking very fruitful until after they moved him to Minnesota last year, where he scored 25 goals in in only 55 games. They also took Matt D'agostini in the 6th round.

Following this trend Montreal's first pick in 2006, David Fischer, is still finding his game, but their two second round picks, Ben Maxwell and Matieu Carle are looking good in Hamilton. 2007 the Habs got a big gift when they were able to select PK Subban in the second round...I guess nobody felt they needed a skate-like-the-wind d-man that year.  Ryan McDonagh at 12th is yet to develop, and Max Pacioretty seems to have the make-up of an NHLer, but they could've done better at 22nd. The Habs had no first round pick in 2008 and did well to take Danny Kristo at 56 with their first selection.  2009's late first round pick of Louis Leblanc was respectable.  He looked good on a line with Carter Ashton and Case Cizikas at the WJC. Jared Tinordi in 2010 wasn't a bad late first round pick either.

All in all the Habs missed a few too many first rounders to make it to the B+ relm, but barely, they did manage to draft and develop a strong core.  They get a strong B for their efforts.

Draft by Decade: Minnesota Wild

I didn't think I would skip actually analyzing draft selections but one quick look at Minnesota made Calgary look like a stud at the draft table, so that's about enough said.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Draft by Decade: LA Kings

The Kings draft well.  They didn't start the decade too hot taking Jens Karlsson and Dave Steckel in the first round in 2002.  Fortunately they also took Mike Camalleri that year in the second round 49th overall.  The next year Denis Grebeshkov 18th and in 2003 they landed a hattrick of talent in the first round taking Dustin Brown 13, Brian Boyle 26 and Jeff Tambellini 27, the latter two have recently found their game, unfortunately in other markets. 2004 wasn't very fruitful, they took Lauri Tukkonen 14th overall, he never played a game in the NHL, but Scott Parse was a nice find in the sixth that year.

2005 they really hit their stride, taking face of the franchise Anze Kopitar 11th overall, at the time a knock kneed kid from an obscure hockey market, and starting goalenter John Quick in the third round. 2006's two first round picks are already with the big club, Trevor Lewis and Jonathan Bernier. 2007 they could've done better than Thomas Hickey at fourth overall but he's showing signs of being a very servicable two-way NHL d-man, a pair of second rounder that year, Oscar Moller and Wayne Simmonds are becoming fixtures with the big club, and Alec Martinez, a fourth round find, is really looking good in the minors.

2008 was the benchmark pick of franchise D-man Drew Doughty, and they still took Colton Teubert 13th and promising ruskie Andrei Loktionov 125. 2009s Kyle Clifford is on the big club already and Brayden Schenn is busy setting team Canada WJC records.  2010s first rounder Derek Forbort is a solid pick.  Between 2009 and 2010 they also selected four mid round gems in Brandon Kozun, Matt Pelech, Tyler Tofoli and Max Kitsyn.

What really sums up LA's prowess at the draft table is the fact that they have Colton Teubert, Derek Forbort, Alec Martinez and Thomas Hickey waiting in the wings on the blue line. 

The Kings get a strong B+, very strong.  The core of their team, both star goalies, stud blueliners and all of their scoring depth can be attributed to their draft and development.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Draft by Decade: Florida Panthers

The Panthers are an annomoly.  How?  Their draft record is pretty darn impressive, but their on ice product isn't.  This year they are over-achieving, and why shouldn't they?  They've done well to fight to a .500 record, and no team wants to play them.  As I continue to argue that draft success = on ice success the Panther's vex me. 

In 2001 they made the right pick taking Stephen Weiss fourth, and they managed another NHLer in the first round taking Lucas Krajicek 24th...then way back at 267 they selected Ivan Majesky.  2002 They took Jay Buowmeester 3rd, but missed an opportunity in the first round taking Petr Taticek 9th...they did however find Greg Campbell at 67th.  This is where I realized the disconnect in the Panthers disproving my theory: none of these players are still on their team...well, Weiss is, what's left of him.  Go down the list.... Nathan Horton, Anthony Stewart, and Kamil Kreps in 2003. Gone, Gone Gone!

2004 they bucked the trend drafting and to this day (for now) retaining Rostislav Olesz at 7th and made a great pick to take David Booth out of college at 53rd. 2005's only notable selection was Kendall McCardle, but he toils in the AHL and isn't looking like he'll pan out.  Too bad...Tuuka Rask was taken with the next pick by the Leafs, but apparently they have the same retaining talent problem.

This is where things started to turn around however.  In 2006 they too Mikael Frolik 10th overall, he's the team's current leading scorer. In 2007 they had a dandy year snagging Keaton Ellerby 10th, Mike repik 40th and Evgeny Dadonov 71.  In three short season they've all reached the NHL.

2008 they had no first round pick but still managed to take two future NHLers, Coby Robak at 46th and future Vezina winner Jacob Markstrom at 31st.

2009 they rolled the dice on a Russian and won as Dimitri Kulikov became a starter his first season after being selected 14th overall; he's got 10 points in 38 games in his sophomore season with FLA. Second roudn selection Drew Shore is lighting up the Collegiate ranks with 25 points in 20 games in his sophomore season with Universit of Denver.

2010 is where Florida really earned their ranking, and explained the disconnect between their draft talent and on ice product.  They stockpiled three first rounders taking Erik Gudbranson 3rd overall, Nick Bjugstad 19th and Quinton Howden 25th.  They also landed uber-talented John McFarland who is finding his form after a trade, and Alec Petrovic, the towering D-man who has already bested last year's points totals.

The future is bright in Florida, now, hopefully they've learned to hold on to their assets by all means, put some fans in the seats and get some wins.  This season seems to be an indication of the youth movement that is happening their, and if so then this team has a pool of young talent that really can be mentioned in the same breath as Chicago and Edmonton, and will bare fruit in no time.

hockey math to validate the best

If you were building a hockey team and you had the pick of forward, goalie and d-man you'd have some tough choices to make.  Today lets focus on the blue line.  Sure, big Buff is lighting the lamp in ATL, and he gets full marks for that, but would anyone really take him with their first pick for a teams d-corps?  No way.  Some, taking age in to account, would take Lidstrom, other Chara, Pronger or Keith, but my first pick on defense would be Shea Weber.

Bigg Buff has 41 points this year to lead all blue liners, and his team in scoring.  Shea Weber leads his team in scoring, but he only has 41.  Atlanta's D have accounted for 109 points this season, Nashville only 63.  If you pro-rate Weber's total based on an equal number of points by Nashville then he'd be at 36 points, and taking in to account that Atlanta's goal totals are considerably higher than Nashvilles (137 to 104) and applying that percentage to Weber's adjusted total we come to 47 points.  All I'm trying to point out is how much a players totals are affected by his team's system.  If Weber were in Atlanta he would have more points.  Would he have 47 right now?  Who knows, but he would have much, much more. 

Given Weber's age, size and ability he has to be my first pick, especially when you get over the points totals hurdle.  I don't think Dustin Byfuglien would have 21 points on Nashville right now.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Draft by Decade: The Oilers

the start of the decade saw the Oil take Ales Hemsky 13th overall, and although they did manage to find some household names in later rounds between 2002 and 2004 like Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene in the second round of '02, these three years were fairly futile, wasting first round picks on Jesse Niniimaki 15th in '02, MA Pouliot in 2003, and both Devan Dubnyk (14) and Rob Schrem (25) in 2004.  It's debatable whether Andrew Cogliano at 25th in 2005 is a decent pick...he's lost the form that he showed in his great rookie season.  Taylo Chorney at 36th and Danny Syvret at 81 looked like decent picks at the time but haven't really panned out. The best of 2006 was the third round selection of Theo Peckham, and although they did select budding star Linus Omark in the 4th round in 2007 they also dropped the ball in a big way.  With three first round picks that year they did take Sam Gagner 6th overall, which isn't a bad pick still, but at 15 Alex Plante and 21 Riley Nash out of Jr. A would be a lot better considering they could have easily been Logan Couture (the most recent NHL rookie of the month) and David Perron. 

Ever since the strike out in 2007 the Oil have done very well though.  2008 they stole Jordan Eberle at he fell that far is beyond me.  The next year they got Magnus Paajarvi at 10th, and Anton Lander at 40th. 2010 was a show of draft prowess.  Yes, they got the first overall pick, but it appears they got it right too as Taylor Hall skyrockets and Tyler Seguin who entered the draft ranked 1st and has had a slow start in Bean Town.  If you look at their next four picks it's astounding the talent they turned up: Tyler Pitlick at 31, Martin Marincin at 46, Curtis Hamilton at 48 and Ryan Martindale at 63. 

The future is bright in Edmonton.  Few, if any, teams can match their prospect depth, and the past three drafts salvage a B for them, just barely.

Draft by Decade: Detroit Red Wings

I'll give the Wings a pass on their 2001 draft, the highlight of which was an eighth round pick of Dimitri Bykov who managed 71 NHL games respectably.  2002 was absolute wizardry at the draft table.  First off the Wings had only four first round picks in the whole decade, 19th overall being the highest of them.  In 2002 they took Jiri Hudler 58, Thomas Fleischmann 63 and Val Filpula 95...not a bad line in the NHL today if they were still all together. But wait, that's not all; they stole Derek Meech at 229 and Jonathan Ericsson at 291 that same year.

In 2003 their first pick didn't come until the third round, no biggy for Detroit, they only snapped up current starting goalie Jimmy Howard.  In 2004 they didn't pick until the fourth round, again they turned up an all-star at 97th in current team leading goal scorer Johan Franzen.

At this point it gets difficult to rate their performance as they take so long for picks to make it to the NHL, and that's part of why they are so good.  I don't think their draft record would look as impressive if they didn't have the talent development system that they do, but, they do, so you can't discredit them.

In my opinion taking Jakub Kindl at 19th in 2005 was a great pick.  He's a big, rangy defenseman and after posting five points in eight games in Grand Rapids he is now up with the big club. What was stupifying was their ability to find Justin Abdelkader at 42nd, Mattias Ritoal in the 4th round and Darren Helm in the 5th that same year.

2006 the Wings used their first pick, 41st overall to take Cory Emmerton, who is showing some seriuos potential in Grand Rapids with 20 points in 27 games. The Wings also took current NHLer Shawn Matthias in the second round that year.  2007 the Wings used a rare first rounder to take a big d-man out of Ontario Jr. A.  Now Brendan Smith is dominating in the AHL with 22 points in 36 games in Grand Rapids. 2008 the Wings attempted to re-stock the goaltending cabinet taking Thomas McCollum at 30th.  He's been between the ECHL and AHL this season, but he is a big goalie just a bit of a project. 2009's first pick Landon Ferraro has fallen off the face of the planet, not to worry, the Wings sniped Thomas Tatar 60th overall with their next pick; he's leading Grand Rapids in scoring this season.

The second highest pick of the decade came last year at 21st when the Wings took Riley Sheehan who also seems to have lost his game, but the silver lining as always comes in the later rounds where the Wings took Calle Jarnkrok who just dominated the WJC at 51st, and Teemu Pulkinen at 111.

Is it the process or the pick? Who knows.  The fact remains the Wings have done an awful lot with very little.  Taking draft position in to consideration it's hard not to give the Wings an A+.  Barely an A+ but take a look at the stars in their roster and where they drafted them, and then look at the farm system and it's clearly an A+.

Draft by Decade: Dallas Stars

If you look at the great teams of the late 90's and early part of this decade their draft status is generally similar, lacking in quality first round picks.  The commonalities between two of the best teams of that time, the Colorado Avalanche and today's centre of attention, the Dallas Stars, is eerie.

Dallas had 7 first rounders in the decade, the Avs had 6.

The difference is the Avs made a series of great depth picks and Dallas did not.  In that respect they're a lot like Calgary too with a slew of first round picks in the 20-somethings, and not much to show.

Let's start at the beginning of the decade.  2001's pick of Jason Bacashiua 26th, just ahead of David Steckel and Derek Roy. 2002's Martin Vagner at 26 just ahead of Jarret Stoll.  2004's Mark Fistric, reliable as he has shown to be, was taken one spot ahead of Mike Green.

The Stars did stockpile second rounders though, with ten between 2002 and 2004, in which they turned up some talent. In 2002 they took Trevor Daley with their fourth pick of the second round; none of the players the Stars took before him ever played in the NHL. in 2003 they stole both Louis Eriksson and BJ Crombeen in the second round, and in 2004 they got Nick Grossman.

2005's late first rounder Matt Niskanen has been the centre of trade talks, never fully living up to expectations but not a bad late first round selection out of the US highschool ranks. But, the Stars did have five picks in the first five rounds that year, and all of them have some NHL experience to date.  2006 was a loss, and 2007 I don't give them much credit for taking a flyer on Jamie Benn in the fifth round...that's a gift.

In 2009 the Stars returned to the top ten at the draft table taking Scott Glennie of the Brandon Wheat Kings 8th overall.  He hasn't made the leap to the AHL but his skillset is tantalizing. 2010 was actually impressive, for about the first time in the decade.  The Stars snatched stud U.S. goalie Jack Campbell at 11th, and then made two good picks in Patrick Nemeth and John Klingber in the second and fifth rounds respectivel...not bad, but not good enough, hardly.

They hang on to a C rating, barely, for picks like Eriksson, Neal and Benn playing a huge role in their current roster and a surprising turnaround in the past two drafts, but I mean barely a C.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Draft by Decade: Columbus Blue Jackets

Shootin' Blanks

9 out of the 10 past drafts the Blue Jackets have had a top ten pick, and to date have only managed to draft one proven NHL star, Rick Nash, first overall in 2002.

Let's examin the Strike Outs: Pascal Leclaire 8th overall in 2001; Alex Picard 8th overall in 2004, Gilbert Brule 6th overall in 2005.

Time will tell if Derrick Brassard and Nikita Filatov can live up to the hype.  If this draft ranking was based on picking incredibly talented individuals the Jackets would be among the best, I mean, look at the talen we've listed here, but it just hasn't panned out.

Nick Zherdev left the team but he's looking like a top flight forward Philedelphia.

While 2009's John Moore is looking dynamite for Springfield and 2010's Ryan Johansen just used the WJC as his own personal arrival party looking at the track record it's hard to get excited.

Jakub Voracek has got a tonne of potential and looks like he'll continue to improve but it's not enough to save face for the waste picks.  To be fair who among you thought Gibler Brule would be a bust? Pascal Leclaire was looking like a perennial Vezina trophy winner but he's been injured ever since.  It's so bad Stefan Legien, taken 37th overall in 2007 quit hockey...he eventually came back and did have a 20 goals season in the AHL a couple years ago.

The Jackets have turned up a couple gems like OK tolefsen, Lasse Pirjeta and Greg Mauldin in 2002, 65th, 133rd and 199th respectively.  Marc Methot wasn't a bad pick at 168th overall, or Jared Boll at 101. They were handed Kris Russel on a platter at 67th, but he hasn't been that good; servicable yes, but not the puck moving wizard he showed he could be in junior.

The more I type, the worse this grade gets.  I'm going to give them a C before I change my mind.

Draft by Decade: Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche have a young powerhouse team, but amazingly they've had only six first round selections in the whole decade.

2001 was a solid draft.  Any time you take a goalie in the first two rounds and he ends up even as a back-up you've probably done ok.  Peter Budaj isn't a bad 63rd pick, and Cody McCormick at 144 is a nice use of a pick for servicable depth player, but stealing Marek Svatos at 227 that year was the first glimpse of this team's ability to spot the diamond in the rough.

2002 saw the Av's taken Jonas Johansson ahead of Jarret Stoll and Trevor Daley.  They more than made up for it selecting Johnny Boychuck in the second round, and Tom Gilber 129th over all.  Imagine if those two were still on Colorado's back end?

In 2003 they took current starter David Jones out of Jr. A, and his former teammate Brandon Yip in 2004, both in the eighth round.  That same year they had a great late first round pick in Wojtek Wolski at 21.

2005 was a showcase draft for the Av's.  If you can believe it it they had no first round pick but ended up with Ryan Stoa, Paul Stastny, TJ Hensick and Kyle Cumiskey.  2006 they did have a first rounder and used that for power forward Christ Stewart. Next year they took Kevin Shattenkirk with their first round pick, and TJ Galiardi in the second round, and next year they took Matt Duchene 3rd, and Ryan O'Reilly 33rd as the two started in their first year with the club and helped them to a surprising playoff appearance.  They also took two more offensive defenseman, Tyson Barrie 64th, and Sefan Elliot 49th.  In 2010 they stole Joey Hishon at 17th, he's on nearly a 2 points per game clip in the OHL this year.  They also took WHL goalie of the year Calvin Pickard and Centre Michael Bournival in the 2nd and 3rd round respectively.

This team is chalked full of young talent despite a lack of quality picks.  You could argue Calgary had better opportunity at the draft table and look at how these teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum.  Colorado deserves a solid B for their efforts.  They took some risks and were rewarded and they deserve a solid B.

Draft by Decade: Chicago Blackhawks

It would be easy to rip on the Hawks for years of futility which lead to an absolute plethora of high picks all decade, but if you take a really close look you'll see why the Hawks could be considered one of, if not, the best in the league at the draft table.

Patrick Kane, drafted first overall in 2007, and Jonathan Toews taken third overall in 2006, are the face of the franchise that won the cup in 2009-10.  The weeks following the cup win were more aftermath than afterglow for Stan Bowman, Blackhawk's GM.  He was forced to ship out a number of role players to meet salary cap constrictions, and the team has not been the same this season, currently ninth, and out of the playoff picture.

For some sake of order we'll go chronologically and look at the beginning of the decade.  Chicago did well to take an NHL top-six forward with the ninth overall pick in that draft, and though Tuomo Ruutu never hit his stride in Chicago the Hawks also found another full time NHLer, goaltender Craig Anderson in the third round.  2002 was an amazing draft for the Hawks, taking a trio of star D-men: Anton Babchuck in the first round, Norris Trophy Winner Duncan Keith in the second, and James Wisniewski in the fifth; they also added Adam Burrish in the 8th round.  The other half of one of the leagues best D-pairings, Brent Seabrook was taken in the first round in 2003, but this year's Norris candidate Dustin Byfuglien was taken 245th overall.  They continued to stockpile D-men taking Cam Barker third overall in 2004, but they snagged Dave Bolland in the second round, as well as Bryan Bickell, tack on Jake Dowell in the 5th and Troy Bruower in the 7th; 3 of these five were on the cup winning roster.  Getting the pattern here?  In 2005 they took their usual high pick to select Jack Skille 7th overall, but it was top-r d-man Nick Hjalmarsson in the fourth round that was the crown jewel of that draft.

Kane was first overall in 2007 but a pair of second rounders have big potential, in Bill Sweatt and Akim Aliu.  2008 the Hawks used the first rounder to take power forward Kyle Beach, then took a stud D-man in shawn lalonde in the 3rd. 2009's first round pick Dylan Olsen at 28th has 13 points in 17 games for Minnesota Duluth and is a tower of power on the back-end, but Brandon Pirri taken in the second round has already played his first NHL game. 2010 the Hawks found Kevin Hayes in the late first round but this power forward has six points in ten games in his first year at Boston College.  They followed him up with four picks in the second round that year.

The Hawks get an A+.  They continue to build around the draft because they have done so well drafting in the past.  They have great asset management, which they showed moving Cam Barker to free up cap space and snagging Nick Leddy in return.  No less than 13 players drafted by the club have suited up for them this year, and the farm system is absolutely stocked.  Yes, they got the gift picks in Kane and Toews, but they did well taking the right players, and they have there share of diamonds in the rough.


Decade of Draft: Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes are a strange bunch, making two cup runs in this past decade, winnin one.  They started out with a wiff taking Igor Knyazev at 15th in a weak 2001 draft, fair enough. Then they went on a tear of early picks who contributed to their 2005-06 Cup Win: Cam Ward 25th overall in 2002, Eric Staal 2nd overall in 2003, Andrew Ladd 4th overall in 2004, Jack Johnson 3rd overall in 2005.

The middle of the decade was kind of a funk for the Canes, but they did OK considering.  They have a nice find in Jamie McBain, taken 63rd in 2oo6, now settling in on the Canes' Blue Line.  They did well to take Brandon Sutter 11th overall in 2007.  He has a 20 goal season to brag of, but hasn't bounced back from a head injury this season with only 13 points in 40 games...he'll find his scoring clip again; as we've seen in 2007 the Cane's could have done much worse.  The story of that draft is the 3rd round selection of Drayson Bowman who is now up with the big club.

2008 was pretty decent as the Canes' selected two more future roster players in Zach Boychuck in the first round and a steal of a pick for Zack Dalpe out of Jr. A in the second round. Brian Domoulin was 2009s choice pick in the second round, and 2010 saw perhaps their best pick (seriously, Eric who???) in Jeff Skinner 7th overall in a loaded draft.  They did well to take Justin Faulk in the second round last year, he's on a point per game clip for Minny-Duluth as a first year D-Man. Faulk was the first of four consecutive d-men picked that season. Five picks from 2007 to 2010 are on their starting roster and doing fairly well, and 11 roster players in total are Hurricane's picks.

For their ability to identify top flight talent in the early rounds, and keep players on their roster the Hurricanes get a B.  It's hard to give them less when you look at the star power they've drafted and developed.  It's too bad Andrew Ladd and Jack Johnson aren't still on the roster, but Skinner, Sutter, Boychuck, Dalpe, Bowman and Faulk are a pretty good core of young prospects.


Draft by Decade: the Calgary Flames

The more I dig, the more trends I un-earth.  Calgary falls in to a new group of teams, not those who draft by position or best available, but the team that does what they can with what they've got to choose from.  Calgary, always just good enough to make the playoffs and flare out, never bad enough to get a decent pick.  Look at their first round selection placement between 2004 and 2009: 24, 26, 26, 24, 25, 23.  The only real prospect they've gotten out of those picks is Tim Erixon in 2009; 2008s choice of Michael Backlund does have 9 points in 33 games this season but that ain't great.  They had no first rounder in 2010, but it doesn't seem like it would have mattered.  Lots of other teams are in this same boat and have done much better.

2009 was actually not a bad turnout, taking Erixon in the first, then Ryan Howse in the third round and Joni Ortio in the sixth, the Finnish goalie who impressed at this year's WJC.

Going back Calgary has made some good selections in the early half of this decade.  Chuck Kobasew 14th in 2001, and David Moss in the 7th round that year.  Matt Lombardi in '02 was a steal in the third round, and Dustin Boyd and Brandon Prust were stellar third round picks the next year. But in an entire decade the Flames didn't ever draft a star.  Dion Phaneuf seemed destined for stardom but he's not even a shadow of hte player he was in his first couple years.

Going back to the stretch of 20-something picks between 2004 and 2009 the Flames had their choice of  Dylan Olson, Carter Ashton, Simon Despres, Jordan Caron, Kyle Palmieri in 2009; Tyler Ennis, John Carlson, Viktor Tikhonov in order in 2008, David Perron or PK Subban in 2007, Nick Foligno or Mikael Neuvirth in 2006, Matt Niskanen, Steve Downie, James Neal, Marc Eduard Vlasic to name a few in 2005, or Cory Schneider, Mike Green, or Dave Bolland in 2004.

When you consider the missed opportunities, and the fact that only 3 roster players were drafted by the Flames, and the total lack of one player that is even remotely close to an All Star today you have to give the Flames an F.  There's little to no saving grace for the Mosses and Lombardi's this team did draft when you consider the shape they're in today.

Draft of the Decade: Buffalo

After analyzing Buffalo's draft day tendencies you quickly see why so many of there draft selections stay with the club: budget.  I'm imagining we'll see Nashville have a similar trend.  Regardless of why they stick with the club or get a shot while other team's young prospects wait in line the Sabres draft record is going to be among the best.

They took Derek Roy and Jason Pominville, both in the second round, in 2001, infact, their first four picks in that draft have played a minimum 200 NHL games to date.  Took a pair of NHL stalwarts in 2002, one in the early first round, Keith Ballard, and one near the end, Dennis Wideman at 241st. 2003 produced four NHLers and 3 in 2004, four of whom are still Sabres: Pat Kaleta in the sixth round is a reliable rugged depth forward, Vanek is the sometimes sniper, the list goes on and on.  2005 the Sabres turned up Christ Butler in the fourth round, and Nate Gerbe in the fifth. 

2006 and 2007 weren't great, but they did manage to take Jonas Enroth and Mike Weber in the second round in '06.  And really, TJ Brennan and Dennis Persson, the top picks in each of those drafts, continue to develop in the AHL.  It could be much worse.

They hit their stride again from then on drafting last year's Calder winner Tyler Myer's in the first round in 2008, as well as Tyler Ennis at 26th and Luke Adam at 44th.  They scored a hattrick in 2009 taking Zach Kassian, Braden McNabb and Marcus Foligno in 2009 and reliable Mark Pysysk at 23rd last season.  They haven't ever really hit a home run, but in terms of consistency the Sabres are almost unmatched in finding and developing NHLers...they're like the hockey equivelant of a .400 hitter, and the future is so, so bright for Buffalo's farm system.

They get a very, very strong B+.  I don't know when we'll see our first A, I'm guessing in a few days when we hit the 'D' section as I do this alphabetically.

Decade of Draft by Team: Boston Bruins

The further we get in to this segment the more reafirmed the notion that drafting has evolved over the past decade.  I think we see much more importance placed in this area, and we see younger players coming up the ranks quicker due to the changing game and salary cap need for cheap talent.

The Bruins started out the decade burning three of five first round picks on Shaonne Morisonn, Matt Lashoff and Hannu Toivonen between 2001-2005.  They missed on their early picks but turned up some beauties in late rounds, like Andrew Alberts and Milan Jurcina in the 6th and 8th in 2001, Kris Versteeg and Matt Hunwick in the 5th and 8th in 2004, and in the first half of the decade they also stole current roster players Patrice Berferon and David Krejci in the second round.

2006 was one of the best draft day performances by a team ever, yileding Phil Kessel at 5th, Milan Lucic at 50th and Brad Marchand at 71. They continued to stockpile big, talented forwards to date stealing Jamie Arniel at 97th in 2008 and getting big reward for risk on a 6'5" kid out of Alberta Jr. A taking Joe Colborne 16th overall that same year.  Zac Hamill taken 8th in 2007 and Jordan Caron 25th in 2009 are at or near NHL ready, and 2010 GM Peter Chiarelli took a quartet of promising forwards including second overal pick Tyler Seguin, Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight in the 2nd round, and scooping Craig Cunningham way back in 4th.

The B's seem to be drafting by position, and stockpiling assets in one area while relying on free agency and trade for shore up others is a tactic that has worked for them.  That's how they were able to take two first round picks and a second from the Buds for Phil Kessel and still be a cup contender...not many teams have the organization depth to pull that off.  For that the B's get a strong, strong B.  Very strong. Infact, I'm liable to upgradae that now if I don't publish this post.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Decade of Drafting: The Thrashers

To borrow a literary comparison the Thrashers have become the epitome of a "Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde" when it comes to draft day.

They began the decade with the first overall pick in a strong draft and did well to select Ilya Kovalchuk.  The next year they had the second overall pick and took Kari Lehtonen.  Kovalchuk won the Calder, was a bonafide superstar and innevitably left the small market club. Rick Dudley did well to swipe Johnny Oduya, Nik Bergfors, Pat Cormier and a pick from Jersey at the deadline for Kovy.  Unfortunately the return for Lehtonen was a small defenseman and a fourth round pick.

It get's better...

2003 they take a mobile giant of a d-man in Braydon Coburn.   2004 they take an immobile mound in Boris Valabik.  Coburn was innexplicably delt at the dealine leading for Alexie Zhitnik and Valabik was placed on waivers this season, so it's a wash, whether they drafted a bang or a bust they got nothing for it through trades anyway.

Their 2005 pick of Alex Bourret 16th overall ahead of several future NHL stars, but they saved face by stealing Ondrej Pavelec later in the second round that year.

Of late they've greatly improved there draft record taking Evander Kane 4th overall in 2009, Zack Bogosian 3rd overall in 2008, and Alex Burmistrov 8th in 2010, all of these players are on the current starting roster.

The Thrash have also turned up a few diamonds in the rough in servicable NHLers Nathan Oystrick 198th and Patr Dwyer 116th, but the best had to be Toba Enstrom 239th overall in 2003.

With 11 first rounders in ten years, and 83 picks over that span, the Thrash show definite improvement.  They've got 7 of their own picks in the starting roster currently, which is decent, but they've been handed a lot of high selections and missed which brings their ranking waaaaaaaay down.

Grade: B (Barely) Enstrom in the 8th round keeps them in the B's, wihtout that they're a C+ for sure.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Best Drafters of the Decade

In honour of the new decade we're going to take a look back at the best drafters of the decade past.  Why drafts?  Because this is perhaps the biggest key to success in the NHL, and I think the findings will prove that.

Today we'll have a look at Anaheim who despite the name didn't begin the decade mighty.

2001 draft saw the Ducks select Stanislav Chistov 5th overall, directly ahead of future NHL stalwarts Mikko Koivu, Mike Komisarek, Pascal Leclaire and Tuomo Ruutu (in order).  Only nine players drafted in the first round in 2001 have played less than 200 NHL games to date, but it could've been worse, Tampa took Alex Svitov 3rd.  In that same draft the Ducks plucked a future NHL tender in Martin Gerber way back in round 8, so that buoys their rankig. They haven't had as many high picks as other teams but they did well to take Jofrey Lupul 7th overall in 2002 and have been the benefactor of overlooked stars like Ryan Getzlaf (19th) and Cory Perry (28th) in the 2003 draft, and most recently defenseman Cam Fowler, once projected a top three pick all the way back at 12th in 2010.  They've found their share of diamonds in the rough, taking Shane O'brien 250th overall in 2003, and current roster players Matt Belesky 112th and Brandon McMillan 85th. The Ducks definitely earn kudos for not often missing on an early picks but 2007 first rounder Logan MacMillan toils in the AHL and he was selected ahead of PK Subban and David Perron, ditto for 2006 first rounder Mark Mitera who was selected ahead of Claude Grioux and Semyon Varlamov. The Ducks have had

With 13 first rounders in 10 years and four great first round picks in the past two seasons the Ducks are definitely targeting the draft as a means to sucess.  They had only 11 picks between two drafts of 2005 and 2006 but have had 33 in the four drafts since, and 9 of their current roster players are drafted and developed by the Ducks.

Final Grade: B+

We'll tackle the rest of the league alphabetically throughout the month.