We should remark right here and now, that there can be no gauging on the NHL drafts winners and losers for a good 3 to 5 years. Maybe even 6 years down the line, ultimately.
However, we can comment on VALUE. Value in many cases was blown up this draft as many teams started drafting based on position instead of projection on “best available”. This is a cardinal no-no, and my guess is many a team will have been burned as we look back on this draft as many teams scrapped their best-laid plans for what turned into a bit of a free-for-all.
So here are the winners and losers based on draft value.
Tallon just refreshed the entire organization prospect pool. Florida’s additions make sure that they will have a bright future.
Fowler and Etem? Wow. Not bad for a team that was stuck at #12, and then watched in a stupor as the NY Rangers took McIlrath, who some teams consider only a pugilistic/intimidating 3rd or 4th dman. Etem was highly rated by many, yet dropped. Ducks lucked out in two instances of draft value, getting two top end 1st round picks.
Poised to move past Kovalchuk and never look back as they get his potential replacement in Burmistrov.
Was not suckered by a Phoenix call asking to trade their pick, knowing full well that Phoenix would take their man. They stick and grab Jack Campbell.
GM-under-fire Howson ignores those who think he should trading picks and instead assures the Blue Jacket a future prospect pool. Some draft guides and pundits projected Ryan Johansen ahead of El Nino.
They get the big man Derek Forbort and then in the 2nd round, get what many felt was a 1st rounder in Tyler Toffoli. One should not make a splash or blow their load just because they are hosting. LA carefully moved in on what their scouts and staff wanted, not to appease crowds or blogosphere.
Ignored the silly projections by many assuming their would draft for position, which they haven’t done since Milbury stepped-down. Isles had two dynamic dmen already in their prospect pool. They add 3…yes….3 dynamic forwards to that pool with El Nino, Brock Nelson, and their ballsiest play of all….Kabanov at round 3 which is a low risk that deep with what could be a very high reward. Other teams had Brock Nelson pegged at top of 2nd round, so Isles stepping into end of 1st to grab him was a countermeasure. The unflappable and cerebral Garth Snow, Janks and their system have not only replenished the farm, but added a high level of potential talent to it to breed healthy competition.
LOSING MOVE: Islanders invited a HBO show co-star to actually sit at the draft table and even announce the Brock Nelson pick. Still a draft winner, but didn’t quite lose the organizational moniker of: circus.
WINNER AND LOSER:
Having been spurned by Dallas in trying to get Campbell as goalie, they instead collect a great consolation prize in Gormley. Their later round pick of Mark Visentin, goalie seemed way too soon to many. This was shown true when Colorado took 2nd highest rated goalie, Calvin Pickard all the way at 49. Phoenix had two picks right after where they still could have picked him up.
Dylan McIlrath might have fists of fury, but most teams projected him a 3rd or 4th dman. You don’t take that in the top 10 of a first round, which can produce a top 6 forward or top 2 dman Fans are irate that they passed over Cam Fowler. Some others think they also ignoring Jack Campbell when their system is depleted of goalies is also unconscionable. What makes it worse? Washing of their hands of their previous draft failure of Bobby Sanguinetti. Since Don Maloney left the organization, the Rangers have had a serious draft and prospect problem and it continues. When does their draft guru Gordie Clark start paying that price? Or their GM, Sather? Until they do, it might be not only tough during the season, but their future prospect pool is really starting to look far less healthy than it once did.
Trade for Ballard? Meh. Not pick until 4th round. Duh.
Calgary is starting to sink with Sutter at the tiller. Their future prospects, with no top 1 or 2 round pick, is starting to dwindle. Still have a few that can push to NHL, but beyond Backlund…serious dropoff. They needed to replenish and didn’t.
Holmgren was on the firing line last season had the Flyers missed the playoffs. Their run keeps him on, but with no picks till round 3 and then basically giving away former 1st rounder Ryan Parent for a 3rd rounder by failing to sign Hamhuis was a risk they could not afford and should have done their homework that he didn’t want to be the 6th dman on the depth chart. Big mistake. Flyers have had a terrific prospect pool but post-Pronger trade, they put all their eggs in the playoff basket. Will they pay a serious price down the line?
MOCK DRAFT GURUS, GUIDES AND PUNDITS:
Everyone of them looked rather silly. Mock drafts blew into smithereens after pick #4. Guides…ISS Hockey has a credibility problem now that Mike Oke moved on and some very disturbing ownership issue where his kid pops up over 100 spots. Without Oke, ISS loses a lot of weight. But their mock caught a few surprises, actually, including the Isles pick of Nino. THN’s openly dismissed by many team staffs. Red Line: “The guy is a #$*!@!, but they really know what they are doing”.
TEAMS THAT WANTED TO MOVE BACK:
Nobody wants to admit that this draft was very weak. Once the top 2 went it wasn’t about defense, it was about dynamic forwards only because they assumed that someone was going to take dmen thanks to the draft gurus and pundits declaring it. Nobody wanted to pay anything to move up at top of first, rendering all that early trade rumor and innuendo moot. Why? Wasn’t worth it. So teams just took their later pick early. NY Rangers, Islanders, Columbus and others wanted to move back and could not really make a deal happen. Once that happened, the rest of draft blew up as picks went early, and then many did not rate the dmen as high as everyone else did in their armchairs.
THOSE LAUGHING AT AVS TAKING OF HISHON:
Several guides and draft gurus actually had Hishon as a 1st round pick, boys. Maybe time to start reading something other than THN or the TSN website. Highly touted guy who had a tough year, but still considered a kid with a lot of potential. Avs did their homework.
About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He writes about Hockey, NY Islanders & the NY Islanders venue situation for CBS New York. BD has been written up in Sports Illustrated, TSN.ca, the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo's Sports and SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, as well as owner, lead writer, and managing editor at HockeyIndependent.com.