Thursday, June 26, 2008
I forgot to mention in my last post about the results of my own mock. Out of the 30 players selected in the 1st round, I managed to correctly identify 25 of them in my own mock 1st. Considering the number of trades, and the wide-open nature of this particular draft, I'd say that was pretty good. I also managed to correctly identify the picks of 7 teams (Stamkos - TB, Doughty - LA, Wilson - Nsh, Boedker - Phx, Myers - Buf, Eberle - Edm, Cuma - Min)
All in all a pretty solid end result for me.
The NBA draft is tonight, and there are a handful of big stories unfolding.
The latest one is that Richard Jefferson has been traded by the Nets to Milwaukee for Yi Jianlian, and Bobby Simmons. This is a big trade for the Nets who are suddenly in a wholesale rebuilding mode. For the Bucks it gives them a big time presence to take the pressure off of Michael Redd, and it remains to be seen if the Bucks are done tweaking.
However, prior to that the biggest trade going down is the one that a lot of people are still trying to say isn't going down. It would see the Toronto Raptors trade T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and the 17th overall draft pick in tonight's draft to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Jermaine O'Neal. It's a question-markish trade for both teams in that Ford and O'Neal are both injury concerns. However, if things work out, it gives the Pacers the PG they desperately need (and the ability to give Jamaal Tinsley the boot), as well as the flexibility of getting out from under O'Neal's contract. For the Raptors they finally have a legitimate running mate to Chris Bosh and shouldn't be pushed around in teh front court. It also lets Andrea Bargnani take a reserve role, which should serve him well after he struggled under the pressure of being a starting centre last season.
However, this deal cannot go down until Tuesday July 1 because of some technicalities surrounding Ford's contract. It remains to be seen if in the mean time the Raptors might have the daring to find a better deal and take it instead (although I doubt that happens)
As for the draft itself, I'm not sure what to think, as I don't follow prospects enough to make any kind of judgement.
Change of pace here. A random list, my 5 favorite TV shows on DVD that you might not have considered getting, but should.
5) Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - The complete 1st season
What's that, an anime series? Yeah. I think that Ghost in the Shell (or GitS) is a great series to bridge "traditional" people who don't see the potential of animation for drama into the anime world. GitS tells a great story, focusing on exploits of Public Security Section 9, a government-sponsored police squad operating in a futuristic Japan, charged with protecting the public from criminals that use cybernetics and the internet (which is a Matrix-like virtual world. In fact, The Matrix drew some of its inspiration from the managa this series is also based on) . One great aspect of the story is that it fits together single self-contained episodes with a season-long story arc focusing on a criminal known as "The Laughing Man". GitS also avoids many of the stereotypcial anime trappings such as the exaggerated stylings and surreal animation. Instead it uses vibrant color and some great designs to spin a tale mixing drama, action and tension with some small doses of humor. Another great thing about this series is that the english language dubbing is excellent, so you don't need to read subtitles with Japanese to get a "true" sense of the story.
4) Angel: The Complete Series
An odd choice on par with GitS, I watched Angel almost by happenstance one day on TV and I was hooked. I have since watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it never appealed to me the same way this series did. Over the course of 5 seasons, the show goes through numerous twists and turns, and manages to walk a line on which it can tell a serious story but also not take itself so seriously that it can't have fun at the same time.
3) Futurama - Volume 4
Futurama is a great show, and I chose Volume 4 as the best of the 4 sets of the series' original run. For my money this show equals the best years of the Simpsons in terms of quality, and every disc in the set has at least one episode guaranteed to make you howl with laughter.
2) Burn Notice - The complete 1st season
A cable series on USA Network, Burn Notice had me hooked from the moment I saw it. Part MacGuyver, part spy show, all cool, Burn Notice follows Michael Westen, an American spy who finds himself ostracized from the espionage community and now has to spend his time in Miami figuring out why he was blacklisted and earning money by taking on odd jobs from wherever he can get them. Throw in Bruce Campbell as Michael's ex-spy buddy Sam as well as Michael's gun-happy former IRA on-again off-again girlfriend Fiona, and there's just a great mix of action and humor all wrapped up with a mystery that needs solving. What's even better is that the show is back for its 2nd season in just a couple of weeks.
1) Psych - The complete 1st season
Here it is, #1 on my list. Psych is a hilarious series that follows the exploits of Shawn Spencer. Trained by his cop father (Corbin Bernsen in a scene-stealing role), Shawn has incredible observational and deductive skills, which would make him the perfect detective. Only problem is that Shawn doesn't want to be a cop, so he instead phones in to the tipline with whatever he picks up off of TV. One day that gets him hauled in and accused of being an inside man. With the police unwilling to believe some random guy could just pull accurate info out of nowhere, Shawn announces himself as a psychic, and puts on a huge show to convince everyone that his abilities come from the realm of the paranormal. From here Shawn and his best friend Gus set up a psychic detective agency to continue helping the police while keeping up the facade of Shawn's mysterious gift. This show just oozes comedy from every angle, from the slapstick antics of Shawn's psychic episodes, to Gus's straight man playing off of Shawn's insanity, to the bungling detective Lassiter, it's just a spectacular show to watch and this DVD set is a great place to get caught up before the show returns to the USA Network in mid July
So that's my list, hopefully you wouldn't be disappointed by trying out these TV series.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Looking back at the draft, it was an interesting couple of days. Perhaps the biggest news was that the Panthers finally worked out a trade for Olli Jokinen, sending him to Phoenix for Keith Ballard, Nick Boynton, and a draft pick. I'm not a fan of this deal, mostly because it makes Phoenix better, and any Pacific division team improving is not a good thing for the Sharks. However, there may now be questions about the Coyote blueline, which has Zbynek Michale, Ed Jovanovski, and Derek Morris as the known quantities, and not much else.
Anyway looking at the draft itself, there were certainly some shocks. The Isles' bizarre move to trade down twice to select Josh Bailey. They might've liked Bailey a lot, but at the same time they passed up on very highly rated players like Boedker, Wilson, or Filatov. It's the kind of move where if they end up right and Bailey is a great pick, they look like geniuses. But if even a couple of the guys selected between the Islanders' original position and where they took Bailey pan out as great NHLers, they look like morons.
While it's far too early to be picking winners and losers on a draft when none of the prospects have even had a chance to play a game since being picked, everyone kind of expects that sort of examination. So here we go:
PHOENIX - Boedker was a steal for them at 8, and a lot of people think Tikhonov will be a good NHLer even if he was a bit of a reach at 28. There are also some intriguing defensive prospects from the mid to late rounds. That said, I'm not sure I'm sold on Jared Staal. People have said he could have the most talent of the brothers, but at the same time for him to do so little to this point in junior is disappointing.
NASHVILLE - Colin Wilson was highly regarded at the combine fitness tests. I think he'll be a good option for Nashville in a few years. They also filled the goalie hole in their system with top-ranked draftee Chet Pickard.
TORONTO - They got their man in Luke Schenn, and also tried to hit a few home runs in Mikhail Stefanovich, Joel Champagne, and Jerome Flaake. Even if Schenn is the only one who works out, they did well. But if they manage to get one or two of the others to succeed too, Toronto did well to re-stock the cupboard.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS - As I said above, I didn't agree with dropping out of the prime pick range (1-8ish) to take Josh Bailey. They might make up for it with popular later selections (Corey Trevino, Aaron Ness, Jyri Niemi, Kirill Petrov and David Toews), but when your biggest gamble might be your 1st round pick, it could be cause for concern
NEW YORK RANGERS - Michael Del Zotto was a high end prospect for this draft before a fall during the season. So if the concerns are well-founded, the Rangers could be in trouble. And while being a "name" prospect doesn't really count for anything in the grand scheme of things, I can't say the names of the Ranger picks put me at ease.
BOSTON - Joe Colborne was not a popular pick among Bruins fans. Yeah people have called him a poor man's Joe Thornton, but he's a long way from being that at the NHL. Other picks included a mid-ranked goalie, possible two-way center, and a kid from a family whose last player (cousin Phil Sauve) wasn't a resounding NHL success.
And what about the Sharks? Well, it's hard to really rank them without high end, known-quantity picks to serve as a starting point. Picking Justin Daniels so high was a bit of a head-scratcher, but a lot of fans seem on board with the selections of Julien Demers and Harri Sateri. Sam Groulx could be interesting too. I think in the end, a lot of this draft for San Jose hinges on the success or failure of the Daniels twins.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
I'm working on a draft wrap, but it'll take a little bit. Maybe tomorrow it'll be up.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
2008 NHL Entry Draft – Mock by The Nemesis
Foreword: This is a totally unscientific mock done by someone who watches a lot of hockey but doesn’t profess to be a scout or a prospect guru or have the same level of understanding of every team in the league. That said, I’ve read up on as many prospects as I can, watched what I can, and done my best to at least put some thought into this.
My mock uses a combination of best player available and drafting to fill long-term organizational holes. Pure BPA sounds good in theory, but trading to fill a void in your system isn’t quite as simple as this approach needs it to be. Very rarely will you be able to swap people 1-for-1, and then that creates the hassle of structuring the other pieces of the deal. Add to that the fact that the team with a prospect your club covets might not be interested in what you have to offer and I find that in my opinion, it pays to at least in part pay attention to the kinds of players who are available within a reasonable range of your team’s pick. If someone slips, obviously a team pounces. If the best fitting player is ranked way outside the realm of feasibility (for example you’re picking #10 and the power forward you desperately crave is rated at #25) then yeah, drafting for need takes a backseat. However if you have a choice between a perfect fit who’s ranked just a few spots away (though that “few spots” grows as you slide further down the round and the disparity between players shrinks) and a guy ranked right where you are who’s of no use, I say take the better fit.
Also, my version of “drafting for need” is not to address immediate or short-term needs a team has. It’s to look at what the prospect pool lacks and plug that hole. A team might be missing a power forward at the NHL level, but that’s not a big concern in my selection process. However, within the prospect pipeline, that gaping hole where an offensive d-man should be is something I look at.
I also select players the way I do because it makes the mock more interesting. Anyone can take their favorite published list and churn out a paint-by-numbers mock. But the fun here is putting more thought into a pick and figuring out who can go where and why.
Remember though, this is just for fun. If you think I’ve shafted your favorite team, it’s a decent possibility. I’m a Sharks fan without a first or second or third round pick to look forward to. My familiarity with your team’s needs may vary.
Now, on with the draft:
STEVEN STAMKOS – C – (Sarnia/OHL)
Well duh, right? I know they’re taking Stamkos. You know they’re taking Stamkos. The whole freaking hockey world knows that there’s probably a “Stamkos 08” jersey sitting in the equipment room in the St. Pete Times Forum right now. The “Seenstamkos.com” website was kind of a tip-off. Still, Stamkos is a high-caliber offensive forward who fills
DREW DOUGHTY – D – (Guelph/OHL)
Los Angeles has its pick of any number of quality players at this point, but they end up going with Doughty. A very good all-around defenceman with an NHL-projectable frame and NHL-ready skill would be a big boost to Los Angeles and an immediate help alongside Jack Johnson. Doughty can play almost any game the Kings require of him, and the combination of him and Johnson should give the Kings a skilled, flexible unit for years to come
#3 – Atlanta Thrashers
NIKITA FILATOV – LW – (Central Army/RUS)
Sure, the Thrashers might want to add to the defencemen in their pipeline, especially given that people are iffy on Boris Valabik, and Nathan Oystrick regressed tremendously last year. However, a bigger concern might be finding an offensive future for this club. The Thrashers never recovered from the departure of Marc Savard to Boston, and things only got worse when Marian Hossa forced management’s hand and was shipped out of town. That means that all the attention turns to Ilya Kovalchuk and just how long he will stay happy with his situation. That’s where the choice of Filatov comes in. Having a budding Russian on the team should be an enticing opportunity for Kovalchuk that would make him want to stick around. And if he wants out, then they’ve got someone to replace him. Filatov is, by all accounts, a dynamic talent with skill to burn and none of the customary character issues that seem to dog most of the top tier Russian prospects in the past few years.
#4 – St. Louis Blues
ZACH BOGOSIAN – D – (Peterborough/OHL)
In the same way that Drew Doughty becomes a great compliment to Jack Johnson in L.A., St. Louis’s own Johnson on the blueline gets his own running mate out of the OHL. Bogosian has rocketed up the draft charts to the point where he is expected to seriously contend for the 2nd overall spot. But in my mock, he ends up here at #4. Bogosian possesses many of the same tools as Doughty, and being a dependable two-way player with a good shot and offensive instincts should allow him to mesh with the equally capable Erik Johnson. Having two imposing defencemen on the back end should remind fans of the days when Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis controlled the ice for the Blues.
#5 – New York Islanders
ALEX PIETARNGELO – D – (Niagra/OHL)
Good all-around defencemen are a recurring theme in this draft, and it continues at pick #5 with the Isles taking Alex Pietrangelo of the Niagra Ice Dogs. Leapfrogged by Bogosian for the title of best d-man behind Doughty, Pietrangelo is still a capable defender. The fact that some scouts say he lacks the edge possessed by those above him lands him in this spot, but with the Isles in need of more blueline skill in their pipeline, I’m sure that Pietrangelo will sit just fine with them. New York already has several promising young forwards both on the team and in the system, so though a player like Hodgson or Boedker might be appealing, the opportunity to fill a specific hole should not be passed up.
#6 – Columbus Blue Jackets
LUKE SCHENN – D – (Kelowna/WHL)
Columbus found themselves forced to trade Adam Foote earlier this year, but the void he left won’t be empty for long. Schenn is most often compared to Foote as a big rugged stay-at-home defender who can drape himself on the opposition’s skilled forwards and also lead a defensive unit. This should be appealing to the Jackets, who could use a bulldog-type d-man to work alongside Kris Russell in the future. Don’t misunderstand though, replacing Foote with Schenn isn’t filling a current hole. Columbus has some steady offence from the likes of Nash and Zherdev, and good young goalies in Leclaire and Steve Mason. Adding more defence to the system will be a good building block for a club that is slowly but surely working its way up the league.
#7 – Toronto Maple Leafs
CODY HODGSON – C – (Brampton/OHL
A lot of people have indicated that Toronto management really likes what Hodgson brings to the table. The team needs prospect depth everywhere except in net, and Hodgson is a good playmaking center that the team can put alongside scoring forwards like Jiri Tlusty and Nikolai Kulemin. Plus it doesn’t hurt that Hodgson is an OHL player and from nearby Markham, Ontario. With all the discussion of players who grew up in LeafLand and rooted for the Blue & White, finally adding one would be a great bonus for the organization.
#8 – Phoenix Coyotes
MIKKEL BOEDKER – LW – (Kitchener/OHL)
Like Anze Kopitar and countryman Lars Eller before him, Boedker’s unusual origin (he’s Danish) costs him a few draft spots. However, by the time he gets to #8, the Coyotes can’t afford to let him slip any further. Boedker is a great skater with offensive skill to burn, and he could certainly do worse than ride shotgun with the likes of Peter Mueller , Martin Hanzal and Kyle Turris for the foreseeable future. In addition, the possible/probable loss of Blake Wheeler to free agency leaves an extra hole for a skilled forward.
#9 – Nashville Predators (via trade with Florida)
COLIN WILSON – C – (Boston/NCAA)
Colin Wilson has proven to be a workout warrior, and emerged as a star of the scouting combine. The Preds could certainly use a big strong center like him to shore up their prospect pool. Wilson isn’t necessarily a true power forward and there are concerns about his skating prowess, but he’s a capable scoring center who has shown a high level of fitness and seems to really key the performance of his teams as a whole.
#10 – Vancouver Canucks
MICHAEL DEL ZOTTO – D – (Oshawa/OHL)
I will admit, this pick is tempered at least in part by the untimely passing of Luc Bourdon. Without him, Vancouver suddenly has very little defensive depth in their system. After the graduation of Edler, the only prospect in the Canucks system that looks to have top 4 potential is Taylor Ellington, and even that is far from a sure thing. Because of this, Michael Del Zotto makes a lot of sense. He’s a capable defenceman with some offensive upside, and although he isn’t in the tier of Doughty/Bogosian/Pietrangleo/Schenn, he is still a very good prospect. He somewhat reminds me of Logan Couture, in that he started as a high end prospect and fell down the ladder a bit from a combination of being passed by surging players and his own lack of advancement in that same time period.
#11 – Chicago Blackhawks
ZACH BOYCHUK – C – (Lethbridge/WHL)
Chicago is in a good spot, loaded with plenty of young talent especially on the top lines and the blueline of the big club. Zach Boychuk represents a swift-skating, high IQ scorer who could provide the kind of secondary attack that good teams always have. THN’s draft preview had a scout compare him to Martin Gelinas. I don’t think many teams wouldn’t want a Gelinas-type player on their roster. Size might be a concern (his 5-9 listing is possibly a big generous), but Boychuk plays big.
#12 – Anaheim Mighty Ducks (via Edmonton RFA compensation)
KYLE BEACH – C – (Everett/WHL)
This seems like a match made in heaven. It’s no secret that Brian Burke likes big burly players with an edge. Beach is exactly that kind of guy. In fact he could be looked as another Todd Bertuzzi, and everyone knows that Burke is a huge Bertuzzi fan. A good skater with good hands and natural scoring ability, Anaheim would hope that it can reign in Beach’s intensity a bit and harness his talents as a top 6 forward. They’ve had success with such players in the past, and won a cup with a mean and nasty team, so why not go back to the well?
#13 – Buffalo Sabres
TYLER MYERS – D – (Kelowna/WHL)
Buffalo’s defensive unit has taken some hits in the past and could take some more in the near future. Brian Campbell is gone. Dmitri Kalinin looks to be allowed to walk as a free agent. Teppo Numminen is approaching the end of the line. All this means that the Sabres must push some of their defensive prospects to the NHL in order to fill holes and in doing so will create new holes in the developmental system. Though the Sabres have made their mark on the NHL playing quick skating hockey, Myers is intriguing for them. He’s a mountain of a man, and considered a pretty solid skater for someone his size. It might not be prototypical Sabres hockey, but Myers could potentially turn into that imposing defensive d-man that anchors a unit for years to come.
#14 – Nashville Predators
JOE COLBORNE – C – (Camrose/Alta Jr A)
Nashville comes up for the second time in the round, and while last time gave them their pick of a handful of high end prospects, now’s the time where they have to roll the dice a bit more. Some people have called Colborne a poor man’s Joe Thornton. He’s a tall kid with a good stride and some natural offensive talent. What’s left for him is to fill out and prove that he can play as hard against NCAA level opponents as he does tearing apart Jr. A lineups in Alberta. Some people might also question his drive because of his home situation. Money is not a concern for the Colborne family, as Joe’s father is an oil executive who allegedly had an income of $90 million last year. While it’s certainly no crime to be in a successful family, there’s always the stigma that being born into a privileged situation such as this can have an adverse effect on internal motivation. However, with the Preds able to gamble a bit more after having had a pick in the round, Colborne is a nice home-run type of prospect who could reward them with a big strong power forward if his development goes well.
#15 – Carolina Hurricanes
COLTON TEUBERT – D – (Regina/WHL)
Teubert is an interesting pick for Carolina. They have some decent defensive prospects like Jamie McBain, and could probably use a few more good forwards in the pipeline. However, Teubert would be a good pickup at this point in the draft, and adds a big nasty defensive defenceman to a group of prospects that has some offence (McBain), some two-way play (Carson), and another stay-at-home man (Borer). No doubt Carolina will take a long hard look at some of the forwards available, but several of them have question marks or look to top out as good 3rd liners. Given the choice between them and a fairly highly regarded d-man, it might be in the Canes’ best interest to take the kid who was at one point a couple years ago was considered one of the better players in this class.
#16 – Boston Bruins
GREG NEMISZ – C – (Windsor/OHL)
Boston’s system has quite a few talented forwards, but many of them are a bit on the small side, or look like they’ll be energy players. However, the team could use a burly offensive weapon moving forward, which leads us to the selection of Greg Nemisz. A potential power forward, Nemisz could be the kind of strong goal-scorer who works well with some of Boston’s smaller skilled playmakers (Bergeron, Hamill, etc). Of course, it all hinges on him adding the muscle to his frame and getting over 200 lbs.
#17 – Calgary Flames
MATTIAS TEDENBY – LW – (HV-71/Swe)
Calgary’s draft history with forwards is pretty predictable over the last few years. Sutter and Co. like to pick character/energy/grinding forwards like Kris Chucko, Matt Pelech, and Eric Nystrom. Last year things changed with the selection of Mikael Backlund, and this year the trend continues in order to stock up the skill level of the Flames system. Mattias Tedenby may be small, but he has tremendous skill and a nose for the net. That’s the kind of skill that the Flames would like to have in the coming years.
#18 – Ottawa Senators
CHET PICKARD – G – (Tri-City/WHL)
With Ray Emery on the outs, Martin Gerber in his 30s, and no guarantee that any of the Sens goalie prospects are looking like bonafide NHL starter material, it makes sense to grab Pickard, a highly regarded WHL goalie out of the same organization that gave Carey Price to the NHL. No one is claiming that Pickard is another Price, but like Price, he has good focus and puckhandling skills, and is of a similar size.
#19 – Columbus Blue Jackets (via trade with Colorado)
JOSH BAILEY – C – (Windsor/OHL)
A lot of people are high on Bailey. THN has him at #14, and ISS ranks him as the 11th skater. However, reading over his scouting reports, I wonder why. One scout compares him to Matt Stajan. He’s supposed to be a low-maintenance checking line forward with some offensive potential and leadership abilities. To me, that’s not the kind of player you take early in the 1st round, and so by this time he is picked as sort of a best player available mentality. Also, I’m not really sure what else to do with this pick, because I feel that if the Jackets like (and get) Schenn, this pick will be traded elsewhere.
#20 – New York Rangers
ZAC DELPE – C – (Penticton/BC Jr A)
Though he lacks strength (not surprising for a player in Jr. A), Dalpe has good offensive abilities, which should serve the Rangers well to bring up alongside Cherepanov and Anisimov. Plus, it doesn’t hurt now to draft a player with a longer development cycle, as the team can afford to wait for its prospects to develop without rushing them to the NHL.
#21 – New Jersey Devils
JOHN CARLSON – D – (Indiana/USHL)
John Carlson projects as a good offensive defenceman who will have plenty of time to develop once he heads to UMass. That works out just great for New Jersey, who a) have endured the losses of Scott Neidermayer and Brian Rafalski without having any significant offensive defencemen in the system, and b) have shown an affinity for collegiate or college bound players, taking a player in or headed to the college ranks with at least one of their first two picks in 5 out of the last 6 drafts (confusing enough? Safe to say the Devils like NCAA picks). So Carlson makes sense here considering that the system is stocked with two-way defenders (Corrente, Fayne) or stay-at-home guys (Fraser). Plus, it’s certainly an added benefit that Carlson is from New Jersey.
#22 – Edmonton Oilers (via trade with Anaheim)
JORDAN EBERLE – C – (Regina/WHL)
Edmonton would probably have liked to pick in their assigned slot of 12th overall, but that’s the price they paid by signing Dustin Penner. So instead they sit at 22nd with the pick they got from the Chris Pronger trade combined with Anaheim making the finals last year. Luckily for the Oilers, there’s still talent left for them to take. Eberle isn’t necessarily the biggest player or the flashiest talent, but he puts pucks in the net with regularity. As the Oilers progress and bring up their young talent, you can never have enough capable goal-scorers waiting in the wings.
#23 – Washington Capitals
ERIK KARLSSON – D – (Frolunda/SWE)
The Caps have such a good young team that they have the luxury of being able to play the field without worrying too much about holes in the system. So here they pounce on Karlsson, the slick puck-moving defenceman who has drawn some comparisons to Atlanta’s Tobias Enstrom and Philly’s Kimmo Timonen. The Caps already have a good young offence defenceman in Mike Green, but teams like Detroit show that mobile puck movers are key to successful defensive units.
#24 – Minnesota Wild
TYLER CUMA – D – (Ottawa/OHL)
Cuma brings responsible two-way play to the Wild system, and it will certainly be beneficial for them. The Wild have had plenty of high picks, and have turned out quality players like Nick Schultz and Brent Burns. However, currently the development system’s top defenders are Clayton Stoner and Shawn Belle, both of whom have a few question marks surrounding them. Cuma may not be an elite offensive or defensive blueliner, but he plays a well rounded game and having leadership abilities attributed to him shows that scouts think highly of his maturity.
#25 – Montreal Canadiens
ANTON GUSTAFSSON – C – (Frolunda/SWE)
Montreal showed themselves to be one of the best teams in the NHL last year, and have built that on the back of solid drafted players like the Kostitsyn brothers, Tomas Plekanec, and Chris Higgins. Now that trend continues by selecting Anton Gustaffson. His bloodlines are strong with both NHL and international experience courtesy of his dad, plus he has a history of playing a responsible game and an understanding of the defensive aspects as well as the offensive ones. Injuries are a concern, but the Habs’ good young core lets them worry a little less than most teams
#26 – Buffalo Sabres (via trade with San Jose)
AARON NESS – D – (Roseau/USHS)
Still hungry to shore up their defensive pipeline, Buffalo takes a chance on the supremely talented but dramatically undersized Ness. The consensus is that Ness has the quickness and the smarts to be a good NHLer, but the fact that he is juts 5’10 causes concern about how he’ll handle the bigger and rougher pro game. However, the Sabres have already gone to the opposite end of the spectrum with the gargantuan Tyler Myers, so size on the blueline may not be as much of a concern. I also feel that someone of Ness’ skill might be too tempting to pass up, especially given the history of success with other smaller blueliners (Keith Ballard, J-M Liles, etc)
#27 – Philadelphia Flyers
JACOB MARKSTROM – G – (Medicine Hat/WHL)
Philly might have solved their need in net for the now with Martin Biron, but in the future things are far less clear. None of the guys they have look like they’re going to pan out as NHL starters, so it’s time for the Flyers to take another crack at a tender with Markstrom from Sweden. His size and athleticism are certainly enticing tools, and while he has some technical kinks in his game, it’s easier to coach those out of a prospect than it is to try and compensate for the skills that Markstrom has that other goalies lack.
#28 – Los Angeles Kings (via trade with Dallas)
NICHOLAS DESCHAMPS – C – (Chicoutimi/QMJHL)
Deschamps has come a long way since being undrafted in the QMJHL draft. He plays a good game in most aspects, although he doesn’t necessarily have any talent that stands out. Some analysts have compared him to Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu, and the Kings would certainly like to add a good responsible young player to a stable rife with offence in Anze Kopitar and Patrick O’Sullivan. A lot of people think Deschamps could go a little higher, but perhaps his quick rise scares off teams who wonder if he can maintain that pace of growth, especially since he has some consistency questions.
#29 – Atlanta Thrashers (via trade with Pittsburgh)
YANN SUAVE – D – (St. John/QMJHL)
Having already taken the dynamic Filatov with the 3rd overall pick, the Thrashers pay attention to the blueline here with Suave. There was a time when he was projected as a superstar in the making in his early QMJHL career. Unfortunately that talk has tailed off as Sauve failed to live up to lofty expectations. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have some NHL upside though. Sauve still has size, and a bit of a rugged streak which should serve him well if he can rediscover even a portion of his offensive touch.
#30 – Detroit Red Wings
LUCA SBISA – D – (Lethbridge/WHL)
The first round closes out with the Stanley Cup champs. Sbisa has been touted as a higher 1st round pick, but I somehow get the feeling that he could fall down the list a fair ways. However, the Wings have crafted their legacy on shrewd drafting, and Sbisa’s Swiss heritage (which has produced many players who don’t pan out or who end up preferring to stay in the lucrative Swiss league) isn’t going to spook them. What Sbisa gives the Wings is yet another capable puck-moving defenceman who isn’t necessarily prone to panic.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
San Jose named former Wings assistant Todd McLellan as their new head coach the other day. McLellan has a Stanley Cup, a Calder Cup (AHL championship) and is regarded as a great tactician. This is a good fit for the Sharks , who had some tactical issues on special teams last season, and could surely use someone with experience at winning on several levels. It's probably a better hiring than some of the other options out there like Tortorella or Mike Milbury. No word on assistants yet, though some suspect at least one of the current guys (Hunter & Zettler) might stay on. It's also possible that a couple of AHL guys could end up on the staff too, such as Kevin Dineen. I've heard the suggestion of Mike Haviland too, but I sincerely hope not. Haviland has a rep for being a huge hothead, and I wouldn't want that to spill over onto the Sharks
Nabokov getting ripped off on the Vezina vote. it was a dead heat pretty much between him and Brodeur, but in the end I think the table tilted the wrong way. Brodeur's only real edge was in save percentage, and the rest of the way Nabokov either matched or bettered him, or was just barely behind.
The final tally in said Vezina vote was 113-106 in favor of Brodeur. It's heartbreaking to have him just barely miss out. Although it is preferable to a blowout.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Forgive the terrible picture, it's the best I can do with limited resources right now.
So Toronto today officially hired Ron Wilson to be their next head coach.
Good for Ron. He wasn't working out in San Jose, but hopefully he can work better with a young Leafs squad that needs to try and make the playoffs as opposed to winning the cup.
For my mind, Ron's fatal flaw in Shark-land was that he was far too stubborn. All year the Sharks had a problem executing on the powerplay. And until Brian Campbell basically fell into his lap at the deadline, nothing really changed. Then in the playoffs the penalty kill also fell apart, and yet nothing changed. I understand that players might be set in their ways and hesitant to change how they are working, but a coach's job is to instill in his players that it's to their benefit to work with the changes.
Hopefully the Sharks next coach can do that better. Who that is I have no idea, and I want to wait until there's a better picture before I weigh in.
As for Ron, i wish him the best of luck in Toronto, but I don't have any strong feelings one way or another on his success or failure there.
Also, there are unconfirmed reports that Trevor Linden is going to announce his retirement. I'll have something to say if/when that happens.
Monday, June 2, 2008
and you might think it would give me time to figure out my mock draft, but I'm having trouble doing writeups now that I'm into the 20s.
When something does happen, you can bet that I might possibly be here to maybe talk about what happened, if it did. Maybe.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Phoenix prospect Blake Wheeler, formerly a top 10 pick in the draft, is becoming a free agent without ever setting foot on NHL ice.
After rejecting the Coyotes' latest contract offer, the 21 year old winger is not eligible to return to the draft. Instead he gets Unrestricted Free Agent status and can sign with any team of his choosing.
He's still restricted to an entry level contract with whoever he latches on to, but that's not really the point here.
By all accounts the Coyotes offered him a maximum rookie contract or something very close to it. Plus Phoenix is a fairly weak team that could certainly find a place on its top 2 lines for a talented scoring winger. So if the issue isn't money, and it's not playing time, then by all appearances Wheeler's decision to jump the good ship Coyote is based on him not wanting to play in Phoenix.
This sets a dangerous precedent. If a prospect doesn't like the team he is drafted by, why not try and get free agency then go wherever you want? That mindset starts to invalidate the draft. Why bother having one if players are going to choose their own destination? The purpose of the draft is to let the bad teams get better, and since many players won't want to report to the teams like Phoenix or Atlanta, they'll just continue to get worse as they desperately try and find someone willing to stick with them.
The thing here is that I don't know what you could do to stop this. Use a slotted salary system where the money is 100% set for you at a given draft spot? In theory that would work, but you'd have to stipulate it with the promise that people who opt for later UFA status must take much less money wherever they do sign. That would foce players to choose between the money that the system says they deserve and the place they want to be. Unfortunately, the union would never go for this, as the player has "earned" his UFA status by forgoing several years of paid employment anyway.
I think in teh end what gets me is that it's another example of whiny "me first" culture amongst young athletes who believe that everything is owed to them as they come into their league. Players should be grateful they've been drafted, and play with whoever is willing to give them a chance.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
TSN is among the major networks now confirming that Luc Bourdon has been killed in a motorcycle accident near his home town of Shippigan New Brunswick.
Bourdon was 21 years old. The 10th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry draft by Vancouver, Bourdon was supposed to be a key part of Vancouver's blueline moving forward. He hadn't secured a spot last seaosn, and spent much of the year with the team's AHL affiliate in Manitoba.
This is tragic news for hockey and especially for Canucks fans. Bourdon showed a lot of promise, and it's always tragic when someone so young dies so senselessly.
What I do hope after this is that people remember Bourdon as he was. There's a tendency when someone famous dies to immortalize them in a larger than life fashion. The likes of James Dean or Heath Ledger went from being very good actors to being remembered as amongst the finest of their generation who had years of unquestionable superstardom ahead of themselves. Ditto for singers who die young too. Basketball player Len Bias (once drafted 2nd overall by Boston, and died several days later) is remembered as having had the ability to be better than Jordan. People said he was LeBron James before there was LeBron James, and was even better than James.
I've always felt that when you do things like this, you aren't remembering that person. It feels disrespectful to spin such legends because that legend and that person were not one and the same.
I don't mean to sound crass or disrespectful in saying that. My comments are not intended to belittle the death of anyone or say that I don't care. I do care. I'm also not saying that Bourdon is already being looked at in that fashion. But I want to remember Luc Bourdon the promising talent, not Luc Bourdon "the next great NHL defenceman who would've won several Norris trophies guaranteed".
Regardless of my thoughts above, you will be missed Luc
None of the major news outlets appear to have picked this up yet, but a little bit of digging found this french-language site
you can view the babelfish English translation here.
If this turns out to be true, it's tragic tragic news. If it's someone's elaborate hoax, it's a terrible thing to do to people.
When the truth is finally sorted out, I'll have a more discussion.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
(NOTE: above is the first of my post headers. I intend to put these in to mark what a given post (or section of a post) is going to be about. Here I'm talking about the NHL in general, not specifically the Sharks, so it gets the general NHL tag)
Whenever you talk to people about sports entry drafts, the prevailing wisdom seems to be the so-called BPA (Best Player Available) approach.
On the surface, it makes sense. All things considered, the draft is supposed to be about strengthening your team's prospect pipeline. So if you want to do that, why not take the absolute best prospect you can? After all, if it's something you don't necessarily need you can always trade that prospect to fill a hole, right?
However, I wonder if that's always the best possible approach.
Let's say you're the GM of a team. You draft 13th overall. So your pick comes up and it just so happens that there's a defenceman on the board who was rated at 11th overall. However, your system is filled with d-men. Your real need is a scoring forward, and it just so happens that the guy commonly rated at 15th overall would be a good fit. Still, BPA demands you not pass up the defenceman.
Here's where I think the theory starts to fall apart.
Trades are very rarely done in a one-for-one fashion. That means if you need to address a need in your system later on, that defenceman you drafted is unlikely to be easily flipped for the scoring forward you really need. That means adding extra pieces to the trade becomes necessary. So instead of taking what you really needed in the system, you are forced to trade more than the worth of that 1st round pick to address it.
Furthermore, what if the team that has the guy you need isn't in the market for defencemen? Now what? The asset you stockpiled under the BPA mentality isn't going to be able to even help you get what you need. So then you've got something you can't necessarily use sitting in your system and stagnating.
In the end, it just seems to make more sense to take whatever will fit best into your prospect pipeline, rather than taking what you don't need and hoping you can plug the hole some other way between now and when that hole becomes a liability for your team.
With all that said, I'm not saying that you should make big reaches. Don't take a guy rated to go far beyond your pick. Crazy stuff like the Oilers taking Jesse Niinimaki is not recommended. However, if your choice is a higher rated player who would be redundant in your system or one who's a few spots back but a far better fit, that need should outweigh value. As you progress through the draft, the applicable range widens. If you're drafting 5th, maybe you don't look down the board farther than 7th or 8th. But when you get into the 30s, it doesn't hurt to take someone ranked in the mid to late 40s or even the early 50s.
And if someone has had a tremendous fall, then go ahead and pounce. A player ranked 10th overall who makes it down to 18 should be snapped up regardless of what you need, unless there's serious concerns about him. In those cases you probably are going to get enough value out of that player to be able to address something later on.
It's also worth noting that I do not advocate drafting by current needs of the team. A team currently short on good goalies at the NHL or AHL level shouldn't take a goalie just because they need one. The "needs" I talk about are within the prospect system. If you're not developing a potential starting goalie in your system, that's when you worry about picking one up in the draft. For example, a couple of years ago in my mock draft, I made a case for the Isles to take Kyle Okposo (who they did take) because their farm system had some speedy skilled forwards, some jammers, and they had a good young goalie in DiPietro. At that point I didn't see them taking a d-man, so I felt that Okposo, as a big banging powerful scoring winger, would be the best pick for them.
But Nem, you say, teams don't know what the team will need in 4 or 5 years. Yeah, that's true. But most teams plan to try and build their core through the draft. When's the last time you heard a GM say that he's drafting someone as a bargaining chip? The era of the cap means that you can't plug holes via free agency as easily as you could in the past. So does it make sense for a team with 3 good center prospects to draft yet another center? Sure they could shift one or more of them to the wing, but that's not always the best move.
So in the end I'm not so much against BPA as I am in favor of tempering the definition of "best" to include the ability to address needs of the team, rather than simply judging by talent level.
That's my take on things.
Before that I have a rant I want to go on about peoples' views on handicapping a draft.
Because I will from time to time be talking about non-Sharks stuff, I also wanted to make header graphics for the various topics, in order to make it clear what the content of my posts will be.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
This time that won't happen because I will not be doing big things like that. If there's something I can't get done in one or two posts, it won't get done. No league wide previews, no team-by-team draft analysis, no trade deadline tracker for every single team, nothing like that. It'll just be me and my rambling opinions.
So stay tuned, I might just have spiffy new banner graphics too.