Lessons from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft

 

It's Joe Sakic

Back in June of 2011, as excitement for our newly returned Jets gripped the city, I made my way down to Minneapolis for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. For a hockey-crazed fan like myself, it was memorable, to say the least. All the hockey media is out in full force – the boys from TSN, Sportsnet, The Hockey News, and many more. Continue reading

NHL Draft and Free Agency – The Victors

Big Winners

Washington Capitals

In:

F: Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer (from Chi), Jeff Halpern

D: Roman Hamrlik

G: Tomas Vokoun

1st and 2nd round picks in 2012 (Colorado)

Out: 2011 1st round pick (to Chicago), Semeon Varlamov (Colorado)

A very good defensive group got even better with the addition of Roman Hamrlik, who many think was Montreal’s best defenceman last year. Up front, Joel Ward provides them exactly what they need – a big, gritty, two-way winger who saves his best for playoffs. Troy Brouwer is a top-6 forward with good size and some grit, while Jeff Halpern is a solid veteran who will make small but important contributions in the bottom-6.

But the crowning jewel for Caps GM George McPhee is the cloak and dagger artistry he displayed with his goaltending. McPhee dealt young Russian netminder Semeon Varlamov to Colorado in exchange for first and second round picks in next year’s draft – the first of which will almost certainly be in the top 15, and even has the potential to be a lottery pick (top-5). Meanwhile, he managed to sign veteran Czech netminder Tomas Vokoun, giving them a bonafide #1 goaltender, and a mentor to young Czech goalie Michal Neuvirth. While a conference rival like Philadelphia blew up their roster to sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a mamoth 9 year, $51M deal, Washington managed to get an equally good goalie on a 1 year, $1.5M deal, and an early first round pick to boot. The man is a magician. His team, elite.

Buffalo Sabres

In:

F: Ville Leino, Ales Kotalik, Joel Armia (2011 1st round pick)

D: Robyn Regehr, Christian Ehrhoff Continue reading

2011 Jets Draft Prospects

1st round pick Mark Scheifele (shy-fil-lee)

Here’s a preliminary look at the new recruits, with a statistical bias (since I haven’t really seen them play yet.)

Mark Scheifele: A similar story to last year’s 4th overall pick, Ryan Johansen in that he didn’t play in the CHL at age 16 as most top prospects inevitably do. (He was previously committed to Cornell University). Instead, his draft year was also his rookie year in the OHL. Thus, he was nowhere to be found in the top-30 prospects at the beginning of the year, but steadily shot up the rankings, after finishing second among all OHL rookies in points. However, it was his play at the Under-18 World Championships that really endeared him to scouts, as he led Team Canada forwards in scoring (6G, 2A in 7GP) and was named the top Canadian forward as selected by the coaching staff.

While a –22 rating is normally some cause for concern, it was actually quite good considering that his team was outscored 231-348 on the year, and the two players near him in scoring (presumably linemates for some part of the year) were –42 and –50. Scheifele is in fact a very heady player who plays both ends of the ice well, and at 6’3, 175, he’s still very much growing into his body. With 53 assists on the year, he appears to be more of a puck distributor, but his performance at the Under-18’s showed that he can also find the back of the net when the pressure is on. Continue reading

2011 NHL Mock Draft


***WILL BE LIVE AT THE DRAFT IN MINNESOTA ON FRIDAY***

After several weeks of anticipation, it’s finally time.

Some may wonder what the process is. One way to start is by looking at a team’s draft history – some teams have a clear preference for players out of Canadian junior hockey, others for US college hockey, and still others for European leagues. You can look at team needs – team ‘A’ badly needs a centre; team ‘B’ a defenceman. Or you can assume that teams will just take the ‘BPA’, or best player available – a strategy which becomes more arbitrary as you get further down the list. Continue reading

2011 NHL Draft – Scouting Reports

Highly skilled forward Jonathan Huberdeau is a lock to be a top-5 selection

***MOCK DRAFT COMING TOMORROW***

While it’s difficult to say exactly who the top-10 players will be in this year’s NHL draft, most scouts have no problem telling you who the top 9 available prospects are. They include 6 forwards – Nugent-Hopkins, Huberdeau, Landeskog, Couturier, Strome, and Zibanejad; and 3 defencemen – Larsson, Hamilton, and Murphy. With an eye to the top-10, here is a small scouting report on all the potential top-10 selections (grouped by position) in this year’s draft.

Forwards

Sure-fire top-10 selection

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: The most skilled player in the draft. He’s a classic playmaker who makes all those around him better. His vision and hockey IQ are off the charts, drawing some comparisons to #99. The only knock on him is his size, as he’s around 6’, 170 lbs. However, he’s extremely quick and shifty, with an unbelievable ability to avoid ever being hit. He has the rare ability to do incredible things with the puck at high speed. He looks a bit like Blackhawks star Patrick Kane when handling the puck; and while he prefers to set up teammates, he has no problem scoring either. His offensive game could be compared to Avs great Peter Forsberg, minus the power-forward type of approach. Overall, Nugent-Hopkins is a near-sure bet to be a first line centre, if not a franchise centre. Continue reading

Top Draft Prospects

(#1 ranked prospect Ryan-Nugent Hopkins)

This list should cover most of the first round picks. It includes 27F and 11D. It also specifies the players that are likely to make up the top-10. (Though Beaulieu could sneak in ahead of Bartschi). After the top-10, the remaining prospects are only somewhat in order, with ‘rank’ becoming more arbitrary as you go down the list.

I’ll take an in-depth look at the top-10ish players later this week. Continue reading

Path to Glory: The NHL Draft

(Top Prospect Ryan Strome of the OHL’s Niagra Ice Dogs)

I’ll be at the NHL draft in Minneapolis on June 24th, so feel free to follow me on twitter for live draft-day tweets. (HouseOfPuck)

If there’s any question as to the importance of June 24, look no further than the Chicago Blackhawks. Or the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Detroit Red Wings. Of course, these are the last 3 cup winners, all of which have been built primarily through the draft. The first two were fortunate to get a string of very high picks, while the Red Wings have simply drafted well for years without the fortune of a lottery pick.

In terms of hockey operations, Friday June 24th is without a doubt the most important day for the Winnipeg (Blanks). It gives the team the opportunity to add a key piece of their future at virtually no cost – apart from the cost of well-paid scouts and the youngster’s inevitable entry-level contract, which will range from about $1.75-$2.5 million including bonuses. Here are the teams that are ahead of Winnipeg in the draft queue: Continue reading

Atlanta Thrashers: State of the Union

Thrashers’ Organizational Audit

 

Here’s the Thrashers’ depth chart (as of May 20, 2011):

C: Antropov, Burmistrov, Slater, Cormier

LW: Ladd, Kane, Thorburn, Maxwell

RW: Little, Wheeler, Stewart, Schremp

D: Byfuglien, Enstrom, Bogosian, Hainsey, Oduya, Stuart

G: Pavelec, Mason

Salary commitments: $37.5M

Cap space: $21M Continue reading

How They Slipped Through the Cracks

Most of the top skaters (non-goalies*) in the NHL were drafted in the first round. In fact, if you take a close look, most of them were drafted in the top 5 overall. This is particularly true of forwards. Think of the top players in the game and you think of guys like Crosby, Oveckin, Sedin, Stamkos, Toews, etc.

(*Goalies are a different beast, and will be dealt with in a separate post)

This is actually a fairly recent phenomenon. Two of the best teams of the last 30 years – the Oilers of the 80’s, and the Red Wings of 97, 98, and 2002 were built in large part from late picks. Mark Messier, the 2nd leading scorer of all-time, was a 3rd round pick, while Glen Anderson and Jari Kurri were 4th round picks. (Those three account for almost all the goals not scored by Gretzky or Coffee). The Red Wings managed to get Nick Lidstrom AND Sergei Fedorov in the same draft (3rd and 4th rounds respectively in 1989). They also got Tomas Holmstrom in the 10th round and Vladimir Konstantinov in the 11th round. Continue reading