In a Very Competitive NHL, GM’s can’t Afford to Hesitate

CHICAGO (FOX Chicago News) -

On Friday night the Blackhawks selected forward Teuvo Teravainen as their first selection in the NHL Entry Draft. Some believe Teravainen was a steal at number 18. That belief could be validated a few years from now. Some think the reason Teravainen fell out of the top 10 was because of his size – 5’10″ 169 pounds – and the fact this draft was very deep in defensemen. There are so many variables it is hard tell but sometimes players slip for the wrong reasons.

For anyone wanting to understand more about the inner-workings of prospect evaluation and the NHL Draft, there was a very good book written a few years ago. It is called “Future Great and Heartbreaks” by Gare Joyce and it featured the Jonathan Toews draft of 2006. The book also dealt with prospects in the 2007 draft and included some interesting views on Patrick Kane as well as Toews.

In 2006, Flyers stud Claude Giroux was selected 22nd in the first round. Giroux was another slightly built forward and had some other baggage attached to his profile. There were questions about Giroux’s drive and ability to bounce back from adversity. Giroux was also from a very small town and was not as well scouted. Obviously the character issues weren’t accurate and although Giroux isn’t very big in size he has proven to be a top NHL player.

The biggest lesson in the book is although there is a great deal of time and money spent to make the correct draft selections it isn’t a science. These are very young kids and they can change a great deal in the next few years, and it isn’t always for the better. There are also many reasons why a player may slip in the draft and sometimes it isn’t purely based on hockey ability.

Sometimes prospects are a poor interview, they are shy or appear awkward in a new setting. Then there are the parents who could be considered overbearing, or problems with a past coach or other players. The important point is once these things come to the surface they sometimes take on a life of their own. Players are hung with some baggage which might be deserved and often not.

Selecting young prospects is risky so a franchise could easily lean toward being conservative, especially with early round selections. Hawk fans will find out if first round pick Teravainen turns out to be a gem like Giroux, but the jury will be out for awhile.

With their eight selections, the Hawks took four forwards, two defensemen and two goalies. The goaltenders are both well over six feet tall and were taken in the seventh round with the Hawks final selections.

Popular opinion is it could take two or three years for Teravainen to be NHL ready. The others, especially the goaltenders could take much longer.

Al’s Shots

To no surprise, the rumor mill is buzzing with Niklas Hjalmarsson trade chatter. In my view, there is a better than 50 percent chance Hammer will be dealt, but the Hawks could play their current hand.

There are two good reasons Hjalmarsson could be in a new home soon.

First, Hjalmarsson has trade value. He would be a top four defender on most teams and his salary in that case isn’t excessive. If my tea leaves are correct, the Hawks are leaning to Johnny Oduya and Nick Leddy to be the second pairing for next season. My feeling is that will be the case if a Ryan Suter or another top defenseman isn’t acquired.

The second reason has to do with cap allocation. Under the Joel Quenneville regime, and more so with Mike Kitchen steering the defense during games, the number five defender doesn’t get a lot of playing time. So $3.5 million in cap space used for a 8 to 12 minute per game defenseman probably doesn’t work here.

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  1. pete doni says:

    Great article Al: wish Ribiero was a hawk for a 2nd & any prospect.
    Hey, when is the new hawk nightmare of Bowman jr. gonna end ?
    Or is it McDonaugh ?
    Wouldn’t Neil Smith look good as a GM being a little more
    direct w/his own powers .

    Oh well, Thanks Dale for the assembly of guys, but who’s left. Same
    thing happened w/Avalanche getting rid of some players (though not many)
    after their 1st cup. Ricci… Corbet . Quenneville behind the bench.
    Hey despite the risk, Peter Mueller would be nice for even 40 gms !
    Thanks for all your past & present work .

  2. 11th September 2001 was an inside job