by PuckStopsHere on 06/27/09 at 03:06 AM ET
The NHL Entry Draft is underway. It is a media spectacle that I tend to avoid. Most of the players who will be drafted are players I have never seen play a game. Even the few that I have seen, I probably haven’t seen very much. Scouting reports can be found for just about anyone online, but I think it is quite reasonable to be skeptical of them most of the time.
Of the players selected in the draft, few will make an impact in the NHL in the immediate future. Often people selected may be five or more years away from impact and when those players become ready they will have done something that will make the avid hockey fan notice them, even though they are nearly anonymous today. It is nearly impossible for anybody, including an NHL scout, to indentify those players reliably. In general, the draft is a crapshoot.
There are a few things we can say about the draft which are probably true.
On average three players selected in the draft will go on to have Hall of Fame careers. It is hard to identify them at this point. It is a reasonable guess that John Tavares may be one of them, but that is far a certainty. Probably at least one of them is not yet selected after the first day of the draft and may be found in the very late rounds of the draft. Several more players will go on to have significant careers, but fall short of Hall of Fame level. Again, identifying them is all but impossible. Some players who are highly rated and have scouts gushing over them today will fail to have any significant NHL career. Your guess is as good as mine for their identity.
It was NOT a surprise that the New York Islanders selected John Tavares with the first overall pick. I don’t care what was written by the media in the days leading up to the draft that suggested it wasn’t a given and tried to create a false controversy to gather further interest in draft coverage. Tavares looks like the best player at this point, he has looked like the best player for quite a while, he outplayed Victor Hedman at the World Junior Championships, if you are paying attention there is no reason not to pick him.
In terms of impact next season, this draft will have little. Maybe a handful of players selected will play an NHL game next year. About two of them will remain in the league all season, while the rest get quickly returned to their junior teams. I think the news that makes the biggest impact next season is the trade of Chris Pronger. The Anaheim Ducks traded Chris Pronger and Ryan Dingle, an AHL forward with little potential to make an NHL impact to the Philadelphia Flyers for Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, two first round draft picks (this year’s and next) and a third round pick to be taken in 2010 or 2011. It is a hefty price for Pronger, who will be 35 this October. I am surprised the Flyers believe they have salary cap room for Pronger. I don’t think they do. I think they are forced to make further moves to make the salary cap. I think this means Daniel Briere will be moved, likely for limited return, in order to do this. Anaheim will likely win this deal over the long term, but they should be weaker next year as much of their take is futures that won’t be ready to make an impact yet. I am not convinced Philadelphia will be any better with Pronger in the line up, given the other moves that will be necessary to make the salary cap. I think the big winner next year could be the team that gets Philadelphia assets (like Briere) at a cut rate price. If Briere can be healthy, that team will see a big benefit.
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