July 1, 2003
Who's Better, Who's Best?: INCH's Draft Wrap

By Mike Eidelbes

Last week's 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 you.

(College picks)
Our Take
Anaheim (4)
The 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.
Atlanta (3)
Don 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 player remember his horrific injury at a World Junior Championship practice session who reminds some of Dino Ciccarelli. 
Boston (3)
My 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. 
Buffalo (2)
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. 
Calgary (1)
Maine’s 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. 
Carolina (3)
Danny 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
Chicago (3)
Apparently 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). 

Colorado (3)

They 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. 
Columbus (1)
Their 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. 
Dallas (3)
Not 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?
Detroit (1)
The 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? 
Edmonton (2)
The 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.
Florida (3)
The 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. 
Los Angeles (6)
The 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 snap shot. Have you figured out yet that we love Tambellini's shot?
Minnesota (1)
In 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? 
Montreal (1)
Les 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. 
Nashville (1)
This 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.
New Jersey (3)
The 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. 
N.Y. Islanders (1)
The Isles tabbed Nebraska-Omaha defenseman Cody Blanshan in the eighth round. No, I didn’t feel the earth tremble, either. 
N.Y. Rangers (5)
The 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. 
Ottawa (2)
At 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. 
Philadelphia (1)
Whatever 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. 
Pittsburgh (2)
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 in alliteration. 
Phoenix (1)
The Coyotes drafted Sean Sullivan, who's headed to BU in the fall, in the ninth round. Hey, he could get traded to the Penguins. 
San Jose (3)
New 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. 
St. Louis (3)
Size 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. 
Tampa Bay (2)
The 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. 
Toronto (1)
The 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. 
Vancouver (3)
Some 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. 
Washington (3)
While 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. 

Send this to a friend

About Us | Advertiser Info | Site Map | Privacy Policy
© 2002, 2003 Inside College Hockey, Inc., All Rights Reserved