Sunday, June 25, 2006

2006 NHL Entry Draft Recap

Well, the NHL Entry Draft for 2006 is long over and bloggers, pundits, and columnists have all over exaggerated the abilities to match the established hype for the current crop of rookies to enter the National Hockey League. Why bother having these kids play the game in the first place. At the opinions of the TSN, CBC, and OLN broadcasters these players should all be in the Hall of Fame right now. But as optimism is the grease that causes hope to spring eternal, this type of over-analysis is prevalent in all sports during their draft shows. The only thing is, I'm not seeing any NHL "draft expert" equivalent of a Mel Kiper - someone who only comes out of the woodwork once a year.

Of course, I am a draft expert. With some special help from my "Washington Insider", I was updated by his blackberry when the selections were made. We were in the middle of a wedding party. So, I guess James Duthie can escape my criticism for this year.

I've decided not to do what other bloggers have done and break it down pick by pick. I will just divide this up into two segments and talk about my overall impressions and then slot some observations in to the trades made this draft weekend. I'm sorry that this is so late, because I know a lot of people depend on my hockey knowledge. I was attending my sisters wedding and had to recover from that personal big event.

Draft Picks: St. Louis decided that a towering defenceman in Eric Johnson was probably going to heal the wounds of letting Chris Pronger go. If he isn't rushed with his development and utilized the way Pronger was, then Johnson will be a franchise player for the Blues in many years to come. The next pick was the Penguins and it was really a crap shoot as to who they were going to pick. I knew in advance that they weren't going to trade the pick, but if they couldn't land Johnson, then go with the Swede-native Backstrom. No dice there. Jordan Staal was hyped with the name recognition and progeny. All that proved to be the bottom line as all of the Pittsburgh pundits say out of their mouths that they hope Jordan is better than his brother Eric. The next pick went to Chicago and it seems almost criminal to reward this team ownership with a player like Toews. Central scouting says he is a great all-around player with speed. He is also highly regarded as a great international team player. The next pickup was Washington Capitals with Nick Backstrom. He rose on the charts after the World Championships and could certainly play in the NHL right now. The 5th pick went to Boston who chose Phil Kessel who a lot of people questioned weather or not he has the personal maturity and to play at the NHL.

Trades: Having Luongo find a new home this soon was really a surprise to me. But it does make much sense that it offers fresh starts to both Luongo and the troubled Todd Bertuzzi. "Bert" should flourish in the Coach Martin system and the Canucks get their franchise goalie to help get them over the stigma of the "also-ran". I'm surprised that Minnesota gave up on Patrick O'Sullivan so quickly having never put on a Wild jersey. But, to keep Gaborik happy, they want him to be partnered with fellow Slovak Pavol Demitra. I guess this is straight out of the Maple Leafs Management 101 course to cut off your nose to spite your face. Again, it's proving that the Maple Leafs still operate under an outdated management model. They gave away their future once again for the here-and-now. Andrew Raycroft was acquired from the Bruins for Tuukka Rask who was primed for future goalie stardom. Maybe the Leafs will learn after this move burns them up once again.

Other Notables: Did you notice a lot more North American kids selected? There were only 3 Slovak players drafted and it was theorized by Paul Steigerwald that the new CBA and Player Transfer Agreements are starting to scare away NHL scouts and GMs to drafting European-born players.

If you want to know anything special about your late round draft picks, just email me and I'll be sure to let you know what the media guide says about them and my assesment on the pick by the team.
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