Let’s all get excited about the draft!

Jonathan Willis
June 29 2013 11:19AM

Photo: VancityAllie/Wikimedia

Every year, it’s the same thing. This defenceman is the next Chris Pronger or Shea Weber, this forward the next Steve Yzerman or Ryan Getzlaf. Guys who realistically project as third liners get written up as top-line players.

It’s important to step back, and remember that whatever is getting written about these players, the end result is likely to be far more prosaic in most cases.

The Hype

Looking back through old copies of The Hockey News draft guide, it’s remarkable how everyone – in some cases even NHL scouts – get swept away in pre-draft hyperbole. Some examples from the 2002 and 2004 Draft Guides follow; the reader should not worry if he has never heard of the players.

Viktor Alexandrov:

“There’s a lot to like about this guy,” said a scout. “He is better than the other Kazak (Nik Antropov) player we all know about.”

Cam Barker:

What sets Barker apart from the other huge defensemen in the draft is his love for and skill in handling the puck. Scouts are reminded of Edmonton’s Eric Brewer or Florida’s Jay Bouwmeester when they watch Barker. Ask Barker, though, and he’ll tell you he patterns his game after New Jersey’s Scott Stevens.

Jeff Deslauriers:

Hockey being steeped in tradition, it’s only right the Quebec League offer up another stellar pick in net for the 2002 draft. This year’s nominee, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, is a chip off the old block. He plays in the butterfly mode of a Patrick Roy and reminds scouts of the other QMJHL goalies making names for themselves in the NHL.

Bruce Graham:

“There is no real deficiency,” said a scout. “Either you like him or you don’t. He’s one of those guys who either does it for you or he doesn’t.” The scout said people were saying the same things last year about Patrice Bergeron, a second round pick of Boston, who turned out to be a solid NHL rookie at 18.

Joffrey Lupul:

What makes Lupul attractive might have something to do with the comparisons to Mike Bossy, one of the greatest natural scorers in NHL history.

Alexandre Picard:

He finds ways to get the puck and he reminds people of a young Ryan Smyth because of his work ethic.

Marek Schwarz:

“He’s even better and quicker (than Hasek) at this age,” said one scout.

Barry Tallackson:

Said another scout: “I see a power forward in the making. If you are looking at an Erik Cole type of player, this guy fits the mold.”

Martin Vagner:

Vagner makes the easy outlet pass and doesn’t panic when his options are limited. “What you have is Kaberle-type skill and vision with some meanness to his game,” said a scout.

Boris Valabik:

“He is very competitive,” said a scout. “He is a clone of Chara and I know a lot of guys who are kicking themselves when they passed on Chara. There’s a lot of projection, though.

The Other Side

Photo: Brooke Novak/Wikimedia

Of course, not every scout gets swept away. Take, for example, this read on Jay Bouwmeester, the top-ranked prospect by THN in 2002:

“He’s no Paul Coffey, but he might be Bret Hedican at best,” said one scout. “He’ll give you 10, 15 solid NHL seasons, but they will not be spectacular. We want to see him at a higher level.”

The passages above are in part my work cherry-picking, but even a completely balanced consideration reveals far more Schwarz and Vagner-type comments than Bouwmeester-type comments. It’s a dangerous thing to compare a prospect to an existing NHL player, because it’s invariably a best-case scenario. To pick one example, Darnell Nurse has been getting comparisons to Chris Pronger, yet after adjusting for era we find Pronger’s offensive production was 50 percent better than Nurse’s – it’s simply not fair or realistic to compare Nurse to one of the best defencemen in the modern era, particularly given the huge gaps in their draft year (and, for that matter, even bigger gaps the year before) offensive production.

There are plenty of examples of exactly this sort of thing in the draft; it’s always a good idea to tone down expectation.

Recently around the Nation Network

TSN's Darren Dreger broke the news this morning that Canucks goalie Cory Schneider was being discussed in trade talks - and that the Edmonton Oilers were likely one of the teams interested. Here's Cam Charron of Canucks Army on the motivation and the asking price:

All of which is to say that trading Cory Schneider, a player who would theoretically net a significantly better return and is only likely to be somewhat better than Roberto Luongo over the short-term, instead of Roberto Luongo is the right move from a hockey perspective. The Cory Schneider asking price is rumoured to be a first rounder and a prospect, and that's probably a pretty good prospect too. If Bishop can net Conacher, and Bernier can net Frattin; then Schneider should be able to get you an NHLer on an entry-level deal and a first if the market for him heats up. Essentially it's clear that the combined value of Luongo and a Schneider return, would outpace the combined value of Schneider and a Luongo return.

Click the link to read more, or alternately, feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
#101 Rama Lama
June 29 2013, 07:54PM
Trash it!
Bucknuck wrote:

Exactly the moment he asked to be traded from my beloved team, of course.

Are you familiar with the Edmonton Oilers?

I don't this it was personal............he never really wanted to come here in the first place.

I believe that his wee wee was doing all the thinking.........so he was forced to leave town. I'm not saying I respect all of his reasons, but I very strongly believe that while donning the great Oil uniform, he did it justice.

#102 michael
June 29 2013, 07:56PM
Trash it!
TigerUnderGlass wrote:

I'm convinced that a subsidized Hemsky would have value to Boston.

Hemsky, #7, Marincin. I'd try to get their second round pick back too, but I'd do it without.

Then you hope Gagner buys you a good defenseman.

Hemsky at 2.5 to Boston for the 59th pick overall makes sense. They need what he can bring. Its obvious they need a player who has that skill level. Sure they are big and tough. Chicago said thank you to them all when they accepted the Cup on their home ice because Boston lacks that skill level. As to Seguin. What has he done? To warrant us giving the 7th overall pick who could be one of Nurse,Nichushkin or Monohan. Monohan would have rated #2 last year if his birthdate was not so late. If I get a shot at Monohan its money in the bank. Bigger center than Seguin with a two way game already in place. Let some other dumbass GM overpay for a player who has shown little but promises a lot so far. I for one will take the pick.Colburn. Give Philly number 37 and tell them take it or leave it. Let them wallow in their cap issues. They'll need relief if they go after Schneider or Lou. Send them a So sad. So sorry. And then take them to the cleaners. Draft day is not for the weak or the charitable. This is the one chance in the year where you can put the screws to the GM's who have made bad decisions in the past year/s and make them pay in picks and players you covet.

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