Draft Schmaft?

If you only read one article today (besides this one of course) check out the hockey news story by Ryan Dixon. It’s another story on how securing a top draft pick is not the only way to build a winner:

Consider if you will:

” the more you look around the league, the more you realize the folly of this sentiment. High picks are to NHL GMs what miracle diets are to the lumpy couch potato; sure, they can give you an immediate jolt, but if you want sustainable results, you have to hit the gym. In the case of NHL GMs, you need your scouts to scour gyms, arenas and any other place you’d expect to find a burgeoning hockey player who has yet to be spotted or has, at the very least, been underrated. That way, your ability to select impact players isn’t restricted to the 20 minutes immediately following the chorus of boos Gary Bettman receives right after saying, “Welcome to the NHL draft.”

There is no question about this. It’s never about 1 guy, it’s a team game and you will win and lose by your roster.

“Want three examples of why you don’t need famine in order to feast in the NHL? Start with Detroit, San Jose and Boston, also known as the three best teams in the league. The highest any of those clubs have chosen since 2000 is No. 5, which is where the Bruins got Phil Kessel in 2006. Boston has selected in the top 10 on two other occasions over that time frame, while San Jose has three top-10 picks, the highest coming at No. 6 (Milan Michalek). Detroit, as you’d expect, has none.All of those teams got to the top – and can expect to stay there – because they’ve done an exceptional job of drafting in the mid-to-late first round and beyond.”

Keep in mind folks this is in the new NHL era. It is the one reason I have hope. The old days of building teams are over, the need for an influx of new minds is every present.

“Once upon a time, the Sens were among the NHL’s best at unearthing draft gems. In 1997, they nabbed Marian Hossa with the 12th overall pick. Two years later, with the 26th selection, they grabbed Martin Havlat. But Ottawa’s depth has been undermined by its inability to continue finding players of that quality. In the virtually idiot-proof first round of 2003, Ottawa drafted Patrick Eaves 29th overall. Boston took Patrice Bergeron with the 45th pick and Nashville hit a home run with Shea Weber four slots later at No. 49.
The year before that, in 2002, Ottawa took Jakub Klepis No. 16 overall. Oops.”

Again, stories of pre salary cap NHL aren’t overly relevant. Teams operated completely differently back then (look at our leafs). The Sens much like the leafs (but to a different degree) haven’t adapted to the post war era. Their GM is still stuck in the old mindset. He has over priced talent that he can’t move and remains steadfast in their value despite their lack of production. Detroit isn’t a fair comparison. They were SO bad for so long that when they started to get it right they had built a system that was for lack of a better word recession proof. The machine was built pre Cap and still works post Cap. Let’s see what they do next season and the season after. The pressure will be higher because expectations are high AND the cap isn’t supposed to increase, rather it’s supposed to go down. The pressure to draft properly especially from the bottom of the rounds will go way up.

“I completely understand why bottom-feeders like the Islanders, Atlanta, St. Louis and Toronto are drooling at the prospect of drafting a John Tavares or Victor Hedman. Those teams are, to some degree, devoid of talent and need a new cornerstone around which to build. But being bad and picking very high for a number of years does have its perils. First of all, the boom only comes after a bust and who knows how many fans a prolonged down cycle alienates if you’re not in a market where hockey is the undisputed No. 1 sport.”

Thankfully that isn’t a Toronto problem. At least not right now. We have suffered so long without a marquee name (an elite, best of the league type) for, well almost ever! ( i know certain Sundin lovers will throw shit at me for that, but the truth hurts).

“Secondly, at some point you’re going to be paying out a huge amount of salary to a small portion of your team. For example, the Chicago Blackhawks will have to pony up for both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews after next season when their entry-level deals both expire.”

Having two young studs is a problem I can live with. Dixon brings up the Pens with this problem too. I have a difficult blaming the fact that they have 2 guys who are going to make big bucks as the problem. It’s a problem when you don’t have a GM who knows how to put the right pieces around them. I mean no disrespect to Detroit’s grind line, but they are the type of team that they are because their muckers and grinders- Plumbers as Burke calls them are better then anyone elses. That’s where the good teams make the big difference. Great players are great. It’s the guys who get dirty where you need to seperate yourself from the pack.

“Fans of struggling teams can cry for a complete rebuild if they want, but a steady diet of top picks can leave you with nothing more than a bloated salary cap if you’re not supplementing it with a nice dose of hidden gems.”

Or some great plumbers!

you can read the story here

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