October 29 2011 09:24AM
A few weeks into the 2011-12 NHL season, there are some similarities emerging for the 2010 and 2011 entry drafts. In both seasons, the top 2 selections made the leap to the show, both drafts boast a defenseman who adjusted seamlessly to the show and then a later pick in the top 10 who made some teams look foolish for passing them over. It'll be years before we make the call, but how is this trending?
2010 saw 6 kids jump right to the show and 5 would play complete seasons:
- Jeff Skinner 82, 31-32-63
- Taylor Hall 65, 22-20-42
- Cam Fowler 76, 10-30-40
- Tyler Seguin 74, 11-11-22
- Alexander Burmistrov 74, 6-14-20
- Nino Niedereiter 9, 1-1-2
I'd argue there were three (Skinner, Hall and Fowler) legit everyday players in the lineup and that Seguin was a bit player at times and a regular at others. Burmsitrov played an elevated role for the Thrashers but was not a major contributor (sure looks like one now, though).
Five players spent the majority of the season in the NHL, one slipped away at the deadline. All of these players were selected in the top dozen choices on day one 2010 entry draft. The top 2 selections (Hall & Seguin), a defenseman (Fowler) and a surprise forward in the top 10 (Skinner) were the headliners for the year.
The 2011 entry draft looks very similar from here. The top 2 selections (RNH & Landeskog) made the grade and a defenseman (Larsson) has made a seamless adjustment to the show. A pick later in the top 10 (Couturier) is making some teams look foolish for passing over him--but it's early.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 10, 5-4-9
- Grabriel Landeskog 10, 4-2-6
- Sean Couturier 10, 2-2-4
- Mark Scheifele 7, 1-0-1
- Mika Zibanejad 9, 0-1-1
- Adam Larsson 8, 0-0-0
- Brandon Saad 2, 0-0-0
RNH and Landeskog appear to the the class of the group, but Couturier has survived the cut and could have an impact on the Calder race ala Skinner one year ago. All reports on Larsson have been extremely positive, so he also looks like a quality pick. The others have been sent back, meaning there are 4 players who passed an extremely difficult test this fall.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
We've just counted arrows and there's a long way to go. More than their on-ice boxcars, health and progress of any kind are the watch words for the next year or so. You don't want to hear "Tyler Seguin has a hip condition" unless he was at a Hip concert the night before. You can say that Taylor Hall has been more productive than he was a year ago (10gp, 2-3-5 -4 a year ago and 10, 3-5-8 +4 this time) but you'd rather see better boxcars at year end as an arrow. **NOTE: The Seguin story linked to above is now being disputed by HNIC's Cassie Campbell via twitter.
NO REALLY: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Sometimes you have to look at something for a long time before you can realize how significant it is historically. The draft is no different--2010 still looks deeper and stronger than 2011 and the Oilers do appear to have grabbed two jewels in their grab for glory.
But we're barely on the freeway and these days are just snapshots. Somewhere in the top 10 there's a chronic hip problem and the back pages contain great value we can't see from here. "All the news that fits" didn't mean one damn thing once upon a time, and that's the beauty of watching things unfold. Sometimes life surprises you in the best possible way.
Nation Radio is back on the air today at noon. Among the guests scheduled to appear:
- Kirk Luedeke from Redline report. Kirk and I are going to talk about the 2011 draft so far. Are there any surprises? Is RNH the best of the bunch out of the box? Do those of us who felt Sean Couturier was the 2nd or 3rd best player in the draft enjoy early bragging rights?
- Cam Moon from the Red Deer Rebels. With Nugent-Hopkins in Edmonton to stay, I'll ask Cam about the impact on the Rebels this season. Moon was vehement in the spring (BEFORE the draft) that size, bulk, speed--whatever--wouldn't be enough to keep RNH from having an impact at the NHL level. He was right.
- Ryan Batty from Copper and Blue. Ryan always has a strong opinion and doesn't waiver when it's unpopular but worth defending. Such is the case this week, as Batty wrote a fine article entitled "Why Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Should Go Back to Red Deer." I'll ask him about that and a few other Oiler related items this afternoon.
- Danny Gray from Leafs Nation. I'll ask him about Kessel's fast start, why Ron Wilson hates people and we'll discuss Phaneuf's lack of Phaneufiness this season.