Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Post-draft wrap

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.

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