Who's Better, Who's Best?: INCH's Draft Wrap
National Hockey League Entry Draft in Nashville went pretty much
to form for the college players eligible to be selected. Sure, maybe
Dartmouth's Hugh Jessiman went sooner than some expected and Zach
Parise of North Dakota dropped a little further than most people
thought. But nothing out-of-the-blue, such as Buffalo selecting
Minnesota's Keith Ballard in the first round of the 2002 draft much
higher than expected.
Once the draft
is completed, the first question that jumps into the minds of hockey
fans is which teams did the best jobs of acquiring young talent,
and which organizations took the gas pipe. Of course, we here at
INCH have our opinion on who acquitted themselves nobly by taking
college players and/or college-bound prospects and which teams left
room for improvement. And naturally, we share those thoughts with
Ducks went CCHA-heavy by taking Northern Michigan skaters Juha
Alen and Dirk Southern and grabbing Michigan State recruit Drew
Miller. Cornell’s Shane Hynes is a big winger with the
ability to develop into a contributor at the pro level. And
don’t forget the Ducks’ free-agent signing of Ferris
State All-American Chris Kunitz.
Waddell, a G.M. who always has his eye on college talent, was
probably a little disappointed when Nashville took Ryan Suter
with the seventh overall pick (he did get Braydon Coburn, who’s
no slouch). The Thrashers did nab three college prospects, the
best being Colorado College’s Brett Sterling, a tough
remember his horrific injury at a World Junior Championship
practice session –
who reminds some of Dino Ciccarelli.
colleague, Nate Ewell, said it best when he compared Mark Stuart
to a bigger version of Don Sweeney and added, "You won’t
know he’s there, but you’ll be glad to have him."
And they give the fans a reason to smile by taking local product
and UNH recruit Kevin Regan with their ninth-round pick.
The Sabres, desperate for some scoring punch, feel Vanek can
be a contributor at the NHL level this season, which doesn’t
bode well for his return to Minnesota. And, as Buffalo Director
of Player Personnel Don Luce pointed out, he brings with him
instant recognition with fans in western New York thanks to
his performance in last year’s Frozen Four. Let’s
not forget Thomas Morrow, a BU recruit whom a lot of prognosticators
say was a good value pick in the fifth round.
Greg Moore was the lone collegian selected by the Flames. A
fifth-round pick, he needs to develop consistency. Still, he
has the size to play a role in the pro ranks.
Richmond is an interesting second-round pick. Having seen him
play on multiple occasions, it’s clear he has talent but
whether he’ll be effective in his own end is another story.
Besides, didn’t the ‘Canes just trade a guy (former
Badger David Tanabe) who is similar to Richmond? Carolina nabbed
CC freshman-to-be Jamie Hoffman in the eighth round. Not a bad
acquisition, considering the guy was rated among the top 100
North American skaters by the Central Scouting Service.
every Russian prospect had been chosen prior to the Blackhawks’
seventh-round selection, because they took eligibility-challenged
Wisconsin recruit Mike Brodeur and tabbed incoming freshmen
Michael Grenzy (Clarkson) and Chris Porter (North Dakota) in
the ninth round. G.M. Mike Smith, please pick up the white courtesy
phone: two of your better players in 2002-03 were college guys
(Tyler Arnason and Steve Poapst).
don’t have a history of developing college-bred talent
Dan Hinote is the only skater with NCAA ties that’s come
through the Avs’ system –
but they do have about a half-dozen college players in their
system. Of the three players they selected in this year’s
draft, Cornell recruit Mark McCutcheon has the biggest upside.
lone pick from the NCAA ranks was Massachusetts prospect Kevin
Jarman. Interesting, since their scouting staff only needs to
make the 15-minute trip from Nationwide Arena to Value City
Arena to see Ohio State and its opponents.
sure what to think about the Stars’ picks. Minnesota’s
Gino Guyer, taken in the fifth round, has the potential to develop
into a pretty good pro player. Doesn’t Matt Nickerson
– a 6-4,
230-pound Michigan recruit who racked up 277 PIMs with the Texas
Tornado in the North American Hockey League last season –
seem like a guy who has major junior written all over him?
Red Wings solved their goalie problem for 2008 and beyond by
grabbing Maine’s Jim Howard in the second round. Now if
they could just figure out their current goalie problem. Speaking
of which, is there anyway the Wings don’t take Hasek over
Joseph? That’d be like passing on Joe Montana for Boomer
Esiason. And is there any doubt that some goalie-starved team
(Philadelphia, for instance) is going to get a pretty good netminder
for a bargain?
consensus was that the Oilers needed to get bigger up front.
So why did they trade down to pick Marc-Antoine Pouliot who,
at 6-1 and 188 pounds is two inches taller and two pounds heavier
than Zach Parise, whom New Jersey selected with the pick they
obtained from Edmonton in a draft-day trade? I don’t know
much about Pouliot –
outside of the fact that his last name rhymes with "Coolio"
but I do know the Devils don’t make many draft mistakes.
The Oil did take Providence recruit Colin McDonald in the second
round, a 6-2 forward who will get bigger.
Panthers nabbed Providence-bound defenseman James Pemberton
in round four, added UNH freshman-to-be Dan Travis in the next
round and closed the day by taking Tanner Glass, who’ll
play at Dartmouth in 2004-05. Pemberton (6-4, 215) and Travis
(6-3, 220) are bigguns and, as just about every coach will tell
you, you can’t teach size.
NHL’s version of the United Nations, the Kings grabbed
two players from both the CCHA and WCHA, and selected one skater
from Hockey East and the ECAC. See the comments above on teaching
size and apply them to Brian Boyle. At 6-6 and 220 pounds, he’d
be one of the few players who could look Zdeno Chara in the
nose. Jeff Tambellini is eight inches shorter than Boyle, but
that’s irrelevant. He’s a competitor with a wicked
Have you figured out yet that we love Tambellini's shot?
a vein similar to letting the boss play right field on the company
softball team, the Wild grab a token college player in third-rounder
Danny Irmen, who’ll play at the University of Minnesota
next season. More important: what’s the over-under on
how many years it will take a Wild front-office type to admit
they blew it by passing on Mark Stuart to select widely panned
reach Brent Burns? Did they get their blueprint on draft-day
strategies from their friends in the Vikings organization?
Habitants, who feel they’ve struck gold with recent
picks such as Ron Hainsey, Mike Komisarek and Chris Higgins,
took just one college skater in this year’s draft. They
did stick to their trend of drafting giant defensemen, however,
by choosing 6-5 defenseman Ryan O’Byrne, who will attend
Cornell in the fall.
space could easily become blank if the Preds decide to ink Wisconsin
recruit Ryan Suter, their first-round pick. We should know more
about Suter, who was no worse than the third-best defenseman
in this year’s draft, and his future next week.
Jersey Geniuses did it again. Their move up the draft ladder
to select North Dakota’s Zach Parise was greeted with
roughly the same enthusiasm as pre-teen girls greet Justin Timberlake.
The Devils also get props for taking Sacred Heart-bound goaltender
Jason Smith in round six. Any positives created by that pick,
however, were wiped out in the eighth round when New Jersey
picked OHLer Joey Tenute, whose name sounds frighteningly similar
to unfunny, accordion-playing comedian Judy Tenuta.
Isles tabbed Nebraska-Omaha defenseman Cody Blanshan in the
eighth round. No, I didn’t feel the earth tremble, either.
good news: Glen Sather picked up some college kids who can play
Dartmouth’s Hugh Jessiman, BU recruit Ken Roche, Michigan
State sleeper Corey Potter, future Nebraska-Omaha goalie Chris
Holt (called "the best goalie no one has heard of yet"
in one draft review) and NAHL standout Dylan Reese, who’s
off to Harvard in the fall. The bad news: By 2008, the Blueshirts
will deal most or all of these in order to obtain fading stars
with huge contracts.
first glance, Patrick Eaves looks like a roll of the dice, what
with the injuries, suspensions and unfortunate collision with
Merrimack's Joe Exter limiting the Boston College forward to
just a handful of games. But the prevailing theory –
one we buy into –
is that tabbing Eaves at the end of the first round was an astute
selection by GM John Muckler. Good news for college hockey fans
in the Heights: Muckler says he has no intention of signing
Eaves for at least two years.
the reason, the Flyers welcome college players to their ranks
in the same manner Philadelphians would greet Michael Irvin.
Still, the team used a third-round pick on Minnesota recruit
Ryan Potulny. If the North Dakota native is anything like his
older brother, the Flyers are getting a gamer.
The Penguins, who've officiallly changed their name to "cash-strapped
Penguins" a few months ago, grabbed St. Cloud State's Joe
Jensen in the eighth round and selected Matt Moulson of Cornell
in the ninth round. Say this about the Pittsburgh Penguins:
what they lack in financial acumen they more than make up for
Coyotes drafted Sean Sullivan, who's headed to BU in the fall,
in the ninth round. Hey, he could get traded to the Penguins.
general manager Doug Wilson used a second-round selection on
Denver-bound defenseman Matt Carle, who possesses an offensive
flair. They also grabbed Badger recruit Joe Pavelski in the
seventh round. Pavelski, who won't arrive on the Wisconsin campus
until the 2004-05 season, will be one of the top players in
the United States Hockey League next season.
up front was a priority for the Blues in this draft, as they
took Minnesota State-Mankato recruit David Backes in round two
and chose Dartmouth’s Lee Stempniak in the fifth round.
Both are taller than six feet, but need to put on some pounds.
St. Louis also picked Jonathan Lehun in round six; he’s
recognized as a product of St. Cloud State but has left the
Huskies’ program for the major junior ranks.
Lightning thinks the two college players it drafted –
especially North Dakota signee Matt Smaby, a 6-5 defenseman
– have tremendous potential. The team also grabbed blueliner
Brady Greco, a former Michigan Tech player who’ll attend
Colorado College this fall after spending last season with Chicago
of the USHL, in round eight.
first player the Leafs took in this year’s draft was Phillips
Andover defenseman John Doherty, a second-round choice who’ll
play at New Hampshire this season. At 6-4 and 215 pounds, he’s
already got the size scouts love. More surprising is that the
Leafs, a franchise whose attitude toward college skaters is
about the same as a USO audience to a performance by the Dixie
Chicks, used their top choice on an NCAA-bound player. Yet,
the planet didn’t spin off its axis.
intriguing picks here, led by first-round choice Ryan Kesler.
The Ohio State forward has been compared to Trevor Linden for
his ability on both ends of the ice, although Kesler is unlikely
be the type of scorer Linden was early in his career. Ty Morris,
a Denver recruit whom they took in the fourth round, is a sturdy
winger at 6-1 and 200 pounds. The Canucks also added Minnesota
State-Mankato defenseman Chad Brownlee in the sixth round.
the Caps grabbed local boy made good and UMass standout Stephen
Werner in the third round – a good pick for more than
just his ability – many draft watchers think the team
scored big when by taking Wisconsin-bound Andrew Joudrey, a
forward who played at legendary Athol Murray College of Notre
Dame in Wilcox, Sask., last season in the eighth round. Don’t
get us wrong: We still think Werner should be a solid pro.