A TALE OF TWO TEAMS: Building Through Draft vs The Other Guy

Interesting article on the Maple Leafs over on InsideHockey.com. In it, the author puts forth the notion that Brian Burke should have taken the mystery door than the safe pick of Phil Kessel. If you look at the standings and struggles since, one has to agree.

What he describes is the vast difference of building through drafts, as opposed to what Toronto has done when though they took Schenn and Kadri, they gave away what would have been Tyler Seguin and next drafts pick as well.

You can bet those of the braintrust on Long Island are noting that difference. It is what is commitment to a rebuild through drafts as opposed to what usually many times does not work: player swapping for the win-now.

As some Isles fans have gnawed at the bit, the Maple Leafs situation is a strong reminder to why the Isles take the long but they feel sure route here. Shortcuts, inherently by probability, do not usually work. Players who are available are usually…expendable for a reason or not quite to the proper template/chemistry schema.

Will Kessel, who has an upside and downside be the difference maker on Toronto? Clearly the standings and stats say no at this juncture.

Toronto has limited options on who to surround him with, and as a player like Seguin seems to develop quickly on Boston, you have a sobering reminder of staying the course…for the standings might have looked the same without Kessel anyway.

But in few years a stable of Seguin, Kadri, and Schenn could have been cornerstones…not to mention this coming draft year as well. A draft that is erroneously marked as a “weak draft”.

According to a NHL source this is not the case.

“People need to stop expecting Crosby and Ovechkin.”

Evidently there is considered to be elite top line and pairing players in this draft even if there is no wunderkinds to make more hype to those who look for the next big thing.

A draft is about the eligible new crop of potential NHL players, not the next big star.

The point is, succumbing to the win now philosophy and pressure goes against the slow yet surer solution of a patient rebuild. If you trust your scouting, measuring and analysis, you can find those cornerstones to turn a organization around.

Not a guarantee, yet nothing is. One only has to look at last years Stanley Cup champs however to remind ourselves how the long route can pay off. Blackhawks didn’t start spending until they had sealed up their core.

The Isles very likely watch with a keen eye what transpires in Toronto. It is proof positive of why they do what they do and the path they took. Of course, we will have to measure in a few more years, but there are some interesting notes and observations to be taken even already.

Having met and interviewed Seguin at the Draft in LA, I’d have never traded away that pick of #2. But hindsight is 20-20, and the move to get Kessel seems a lot about succumbing to fan pressures over the best practices policy for an organization who needs and deserves to be turned around.

A draft and scouting program that is geared to find those NHL potential players has become key in the new NHL that has a salary cap and very little room for error. It has become almost a necessity to get max value for your picks. And becomes necessary, unless poised for a cup run, to retain those picks at all costs.

This is why the Isles will never trade their top picks in this coming draft and have not bowed to the pressure even in the slide on the ice. Any vets come with draft pick or prospect costs. Something they are absolutely unwilling to pay out.

The Isles own vets for picks and prospects is another story altogether, as we have seen them gain picks and more. As other teams deal away picks, they are a commodity for the Isles who are convinced and committed to this route even if the time is has taken, especially in lieu of venue and history factors have made the fanbase less than patient.

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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.

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  2. Bob E says:

    Rebuilds while painful work. Isles were very short on prospects. With only a few in Okposo, Bergenheim, Joensu and Nielsen.

    Since 2008, we have added Bailey, Hamonic, Poulin, DeHaan, Niedereiter, Nelson, Martin and Cizikas as strong prospect. Add Wishart to mix now as well.

    We have come along way. Lets not forget all the injuries we have had this year.