The NHL Entry Draft is right around the corner, which means THN’s annual draft preview issue is out. Over Memorial Day weekend and for the past couple weeks, I have been reading about prospects and these are a couple of the thoughts I had while reading this magazine.
This class contains a lot of question marks due to injury. This makes teams’ scouts’ jobs harder, and each club is hoping their scouts have done enough homework. In fact, of their top ten ranked players, seven suffered some sort of injury.
Many guys are described as a “safe” or “solid” pick. Usually in the top few picks of a draft, a team will want a guy who is a future star, often called a “home run” pick. There are a lot of good players in this draft but it sounds like not many will blow people away. More “doubles” picks than anything. Quality players, but not many franchise players. Although you never know who could be a star as a later selection, as a player like Claude Giroux was picked at #22.
There seems to be a lot of depth and equality in the draft, leading some teams to believe they get a steal in the second round. Tampa Bay has three picks in the second round, so they could stock their prospect pool with some solid players, or package them to move up.
Only four goalies were ranked in the top 100. Part of that is the lack of quality draft eligible goalies, but some of that goes to show that GM’s aren’t willing to risk an early pick on a goalie. Goalies can take years to develop, if at all, and teams need their early picks to be ready sooner rather than later. Guys like Carey Price (5th, 2005) are more the exception than the rule. Only four goalies have been picked in the first round of the last five drafts, and only one of those five (Jack Campbell, #11, 2010) was picked higher than 18th.
A couple of guys were knocked for being on the small side, but in today’s NHL, players shouldn’t lose position for size unless they were legitimate concerns a Nathan Gerbe-sized guy would get knocked around. Like it said in Prince Albert forward Mike Winther’s description, “nobody ever complains about Claude Giroux’s size.” Especially since many of these kids have not stopped growing yet, size shouldn’t be a huge concern.
I thought about certain teams possible picks and with the evenness of the draft, I think Columbus may be better served trying to trade down a few spots and pick up an extra pick for depth. Edmonton could also trade down too, but for a different reason. They’ve stocked up on so many forwards with their recent first round selections, that they may decide to target a defenseman, either by trading down or passing up Nail Yakupov for a blueliner. With the plethora of defensemen available, surely the Flyers will take one, either at #20 or by moving up.
We’ll have our annual mock draft coming real soon, so stay tuned!