Tuesday, June 12, 2012

GM Draft Review: Central Division

GM Draft review is a record and indication of how each current general manager has fared strictly in a drafting sense. It takes into account their entire tenure as GM on the team that they currently manage and nothing else. Past draft jobs with other teams aren't taken intoaccount because they simply aren't important anymore when it comes to measuring their current success. For example, Brian Burke drafted the Sedin's in Vancouver with a very different scouting staff than the one he currently has with him in Toronto, thus the Toronto staff is what's important right now when evaluating Burke's drafting tenure. When deciding whether a player was an "NHLer" or not I tried to use 200 games as my objective cutoff but I was subjective when necessary. For example, Travis Hamonic was drafted outside of three years and has yet to play 200 games, but I consider him an NHLer and a guy who will be one for a long time, so he counts. These numbers aren't exact science and should not be treated as such, they are simply a rough indication of how each GM has done. The embedded link for each GM directs you to the HockeyDB draft results of that team so you can look for yourself. Ask me any questions on Twitter here

Unless otherwise stated, all quotes are taken from the book Behind The Moves by Jason Farris.


Chicago Blackhawks
GM: Stan Bowman
Tenure Began: 2009 

Number of Drafts: 2
NHL Players drafted outside of three years: Not Applicable
NHL Players drafted in the last three years: 1 (sort of, Andrew Shaw)
Promising players drafted in the last three years: 10
First round pick success: So far Bowman has drafted Mark McNeill, Phillip Danault and Kevin Hayes in the first round. It's much too early to tell for any of them. Chicago has a tough roster to crack, too.
Notable players drafted: Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Adam Clendening, Kevin Hayes, Rob Flick, Mark McNeill, Phillip Danault.

Comments: As everyone knows, Stan Bowman inherited quite the roster and basically was able to sit back and watch them win the Cup without having to do very much.

After that though, his job became a lot harder. With a roster that was facing salary cap problems, Bowman was able to trade off numerous players and in turn he received several good young players, prospects and draft picks. Due to that, he has drafted 21 times in his first two drafts with the Blackhawks. 

Over the last two years he has specifically drafted three times in the first round, six times in the second round and another three times in the third round. 

Considering the kind of quality Chicago had to part with (Byfuglien, Ladd, Versteeg, etc.) for those picks, plus their first round exits in the last two years, how these picks (and other young players he got in return) pan out may very well define the Bowman post-Cup era because the core is already largely in place (Toews, Hossa, Keith, Sharp, Kane -- for now).

With his first two picks in each draft, Bowman has selected forwards. Two of those forwards are 6'3, one is 6'2 and the other is 6'0 so there's a bit of a size theme. The Hawks in general as an organization have tried to become more gritty and tougher in the last little signing guys like Dan Carcillo, Jamal Mayers and Steve Montador, so there's obviously a theme here. 

Bowman also drafted a potential steal, albeit in the second round, in Brandon Saad and he's also a 6'1 power forward. There's also Andrew Shaw who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 draft and made the jump right to pro hockey successfully.

The Hawks have also drafted one goalie in each draft, so they really have had all their bases covered under Bowman. 

In general Bowman has a few players that could very well be on the cusp of cracking the Hawks, and a handful more to get excited about. He appears to have had a nice start to his drafting career as a GM but it's still very early and we simply need more time to see how his picks turn out. 

Columbus Blue Jackets
GM: Scott Howson
Tenure Began: 2007 

Number of Drafts: 5
NHL Players drafted outside of three years: 1/16= 6% or .5 players per draft
NHL Players drafted in the last three years: 2
Promising players drafted in the last three years: 6
First round pick success: 3/4 
Notable players drafted: Boone Jenner, Ryan Johansen, John Moore, David Savard, Jakub Voracek, Matt Calvert, Cam Atkinson.

Comments: Scott Howson officially became GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets six days before the 2007 draft began. Since then, he has had an interesting time at the draft table. His first pick as GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets was Jakub Voracek. Since traded, Voracek is just now coming into his own as a player and looking like the guy the Jackets thought they were drafting. Other than that, there are only a few other players that still hold some promise from that draft in Allen York and Maksim Mayorov. At one time, Stefan Legein was promising as well but off-ice issues derailed his career and life. 

Howson's next draft saw Columbus selecting in the top seven once again, and this time he took Nikita Filatov. I think we all know how that's gone. Interestingly, some believe that the Jackets really coveted Luke Schenn that year, but Toronto jumped from seventh to fifth (Columbus selected sixth) and took him before Columbus could.

That said, between Matt Calvert, Cam Atkinson and Cody Goloubef, there's a chance the Jackets still come out with a couple of NHLers from that draft which is, as we've seen, a solid draft. 

The following season it gets forgotten, but the Jackets actually made the playoffs. That resulted in them selecting 21st that year (a result of draft day trades that also saw them trade a first and third for RJ Umberger and a fourth). There are two pretty promising defencemen from that class in John Moore and David Savard, but much like the 2008 draft before it, there is nothing yet for us to hang our hat on and declare "NHLer."

Under Howson the Blue Jackets have been all over the board when it comes to drafting location, too. They've picked players straight from Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, CHL, USHL, MJHL, AJHL, NAHL, and even a few high schoolers. 

In five drafts he has selected four goalies and in general has brought up some of his higher picks almost immediately.

Ryan Johansen may very well turn out to be the best player Howson drafts in his tenure with Columbus. The big center played the year with the Jackets and did not look out of his place. We won't discuss his low ice-time or role because that's more on the NHL coaching staff, but from a scouting perspective he definitely looks like a gem. As long as Columbus doesn't mess up his development he will be a keeper. 

Interestingly enough, Columbus had the option in moving down their very first draft under Howson with St. Louis at #9. And who went there eventually? Logan Couture. Here's the video link:http://video.blues.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=4611.  At around 31:40 it appears the Blues wanted Voracek, but you can't falter the Jackets for taking their guy. The next year they got side-swiped by the Leafs leapfrogging them for their guy and then the following year they traded out of two pretty good draft picks to add RJ Umberger. So it's been very interesting to see how Howson has worked the draft floor. It's been a bit of everything. Plus, of course, he traded a day before the draft even began for Jeff Carter. 

Overall, it's tough to evaluate Howson when it comes to drafting. Five years is certainly a long enough time to start churning out NHL players but we've seen few and far between lockup permanent roster spots on what is a pretty bad team. On top of that, the guys he drafted in the first round in his first two drafts with Columbus are no longer with the team and one of those guys, Voracek, is the only player he's drafted that Howson can truly claim is a legitimate NHL player. 

As was mentioned, Columbus has drafted all over the place during Howson's tenure. Most good organizations tend to dominate a certain league, style or country and Howson can't say that for anything. He's drafted some talent high at forward, some defencemen, and now some good character players with size, but so far none of it has worked. I certainly wouldn't call what he's doing "picking name's out of a hat" but I'm sure some could make that case. 

Detroit Red Wings
GM: Ken Holland
Tenure Began: 1997 

Number of Drafts: 14
NHL Players drafted outside of three years: 18/88= 20.4% or 1.3 players per draft... But Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith should easily push that to 20 shortly.
NHL Players drafted in the last three years: 0
Promising players drafted in the last three years: 7
First round pick success: 2/2 not counting Jakub Kindl, Thomas McCollum or Brendan Smith because I'm not really sure what to make of any of them right now. 
Notable players drafted: Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Kronwall, Jiri Hudler, Thomas Fleischmann, Valtteri Filppula, Kyle Quincey, Johan Franzen.

Comments: "I'm not doing anymore rentals, because [Detroit's] system is about getting [players] from Europe, college and junior into [minor pro] and then you've got to get them into [the NHL], and if I [acquire 'rental' players, I] don't have enough picks."

That quote should tell you everything you need to know about the Detroit Red Wings and how much they value the draft. It's no wonder that the majority of their talent is indeed homegrown. 

Ken Holland has been working in the NHL in some capacity for a very long time, and when you've been around as long as he has you end up seeing a lot. He learned how to scout from Neil Smith, and former Wings GM Jimmy Devellano taught Smith how to scout, so you see the chain. 

Bryan Murray actually tells this great story from 1990 in Behind The Moves and I'll just let his words carry it: "When Jimmy [Devellano] was a GM, Nick [Polano] was his main scout and in particular in Europe... [Nick says] 'We wanted to draft Jaromir Jagr.' ... So, Ken Holland was doing [North American scouting]  at that time, and I guess Nick wanted to draft Jagr. Detroit had an experience with one Czech player and Jimmy said, 'No more Europeans' so they drafted Keith Primeau [3rd overall]."

Only experience and mistakes teach you those lessons. And now, of course, the Red Wings draft from all over.  In particular, the Wings have drafted a strong contingent of Swedish players during Holland's tenure. Of the 14 drafts he has presided over, there have only been two in which the Wings did not select at least one player from Sweden. 

In fact, Brian Burke has a fun comment on that, "Detroit hit a bunch of home runs with late picks on fucking Swedes. It cracks me up because even Kenny Holland and I laugh about this. He was a sheer genius with his scouting staff? Oh yeah, sheer genius. I said to him, 'I know you guys had a meeting and said, "We know Nick Lidstrom is going to be a star, but let's wait and take him in the sixth round."' He's like, 'Yeah, fuck.' They did the same thing we did. They just picked names who they thought had a chance, and they hit three home runs -- Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Lidstrom."

It's interesting when it comes to Detroit, because the amount of NHLers they produce via the draft is not eye opening. Frankly, it's average. But what they have been able to do is find core players later on. In 14 years he's only drafted in the first round six times. Six. They don't even have their first rounder this year, too (traded it for Kyle Quincey). And as we've shown so far, that's where GM's get the payoff from the draft as the first round is in a league of its own when it comes to the chances that the player being chosen will pan out. Frankly, the guys they have drafted in the first round aren't even that great, save for Nicklas Kronwall. Jiri Fischer may have been a stud if not for health problems, but Jakub Kindl, Thomas McCollum and Brendan Smith (right now) are hardly anything to write home about. 

You almost look at Detroit's drafting and say, "Imagine they held onto their first round picks and made those count too? How much better would they be if they did?" From a numbers stand point, Detroit hasn't been as great at drafting as everyone thinks. It's not as if everything they touch turns to gold. However, they have been able to find a lot of quality later on in the draft .

Nashville Predators
GM: David Poile
Tenure Began: 1998

Number of Drafts: 14
NHL Players drafted outside of three years: 25/127= 19.6%
NHL Players drafted in the last three years: 2
Promising players drafted in the last three years: 8
First round pick success: 8/11, with Ryan Ellis and Austin Watson being the only unaccounted for first rounders.
Notable players drafted: Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Kevin Klein, Dan Hamhuis, Scott Hartnell, Pekka Rinne, David Legwand, Martin Erat, Karlis Skrastins, Alexander Radulov.

Comments: When you look at Nashville's drafting since their expansion season, it's easy to understand why they are the organization they currently are. 

The Predators put a premium on good, solid, two-way character hockey players and defencemen. They have also drafted 16 goalies in Poile's 14 drafts. They've generally speaking avoided the "risky" players and after selecting one in Alex Radulov and having to deal with that headache, it's worth noting that the Predators have yet to pick a Russian player since. 

It often gets forgotten, but Poile has been around for a very long time, in fact, Poile entered the 2011-12 campaign ranked third all-time in both wins (1,049) and games (2,164) by a general manager. During this year, the Predators had a franchise record 19 homegrown draft picks play for them, and of the 22 guys that dressed during for Predator playoff games, 14 of them were Predator draft picks. 

The Preds aren't a flashy team and that comes straight from their drafting. Look at most of the guys they've picked in the first round: David Legwand, Scottie Upshall, Ryan Suter, Scott Hartnell and Dan Hamhuis. There's a noticeable trend there in player values and it's evident in Nashville's on-ice product. Further to that, they've done very well in the first round at 8/11.

Beyond that, the Preds have also unearthed some gems. Guys like Martin Erat, Patric Holmqvist and Pekka Rinna were all drafted extremely late.  It also helps when you have as many draft picks as the Preds have had. Look above at Detroit, a team who says they value picks, and compare how many times they've drafted to Nashville. Ken Holland has been in charge of Detroit the same amount of time that Poile has been in charge of Nashville and the Predators have drafted a staggering 39 more times than them in that span. That's over five extra drafts worth. As a result, again in that same time, the Predators have found seven more NHLers than the Wings in the same time. 

Imagine Poile started with what Holland did.

Nashville also makes great use of their AHL affiliate, the Milwaukke Admirals. They won the Calder Cup in 2004 and were in the finals in 2006. They are also the first team in AHL history to post 40-or-more wins and 90-or-more points for a eighth consecutive season, each season with a team predominately made up of Predators prospects (this is an ongoing record as they finished first this year).

Well the Predators have done very well at drafting tons of solid players and have even hit a few homers in Suter, Weber and Rinne, they have yet to bring in that high-end top line talent. Alex Radulov obviously could have been it, but we won't go there. The David Legwand's, Scottie Upshall's and and Martin Erat's of the world are all great, but you also need some top end talent if you're going to win a championship. That's really been the stumbling point for Poile thus far. 

That said, it's tough to complain about a small market franchise being as consistent as Nashville has. Especially when the reason they've been so successful is because of the draft. 

St. Louis Blues
GM: Doug Armstrong
Tenure Began: 2010 *but somewhat 2008

*Armstrong technically became GM in 2010, but he's been with St. Louis since 2008 as director of player personnel and he was actually hired knowing he would be GM in 2010 once Larry Pleau retired. Thus I'm starting at 2008, where even though he didn't have final say, I'm sure he was extremely influential in the process. Plus it's just a bigger sample size.

Number of Drafts: 4
NHL Players drafted outside of three years: 1/15= 6% or .5 players per draft
NHL Players drafted in the last three years: 2 (I'm counting Schwartz)
Promising players drafted in the last three years: 6
First round pick success: It's premature, but I'm pretty well ready to give the Blues a 4/4 here. They've drafted Pietrangelo, Rundblad, Tarasenko and Schwartz in the first round. 
Notable players drafted: Alex Pietrangelo, Ty Rattie, Dmitrij Jaskin, Joel Edmundson, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, David Rundblad, Phil McRae.

Comments: It is fitting that in the same blog post that we discuss the Red Wings, the St. Louis Blues are also on the docket to review. Why is that? Because it's the organization GM Doug Armstrong thinks is the best and wants to emulate. 

So Armstrong says, "To me, everything has to fall through that [the draft], you have to have home-grown assets, players that you've drafted to be able to play in the trade market."

You can read the rest of the article: here

And since becoming GM, Armstrong has certainly shown that he's willing to trade young draft picks, even before the selected player gets NHL time. He traded Lars Eller and Ian Schultz as part of a deal to get Jaroslav Halak. He also moved Aaron Palushaj for Matt D'Agostini, David Rundblad for a first round pick used to select Vladimir Tarasenko, and even the Ben Bishop deal for a draft pick as well as the big Erik Johnson trade. Obviously, Armstrong is not shy when it comes to making the big deal. 

It clearly shows he also believes in the Blues system and organization. That said, they just fired their head coach in Peoria (the Blues AHL affiliate) after only two seasons, so that will be interesting to monitor moving forward. 

As far as drafting goes, the Blues have definitely swung for the fences. Their first few picks the last two years have been Ty Rattie, Jaden Schwartz, and Vladimir Tarasenko. The first two players are undersized but ooze skill and Tarasenko had the "Russian factor" which did look like a legitimate problem at one point but considering he just signed recently all is good there. 

Armstrong was also around when the Blues selected Alex Pietrangelo fourth overall and David Rundblad 17th the following year. It's tough to say how much input he would have had in the Pietrangelo pick but it is worth noting that some thought Luke Schenn was better heading into the draft so let's call that a home run if there ever was one. 

Overall the Blues have shown a willingness to trade freely if they have their target locked in. They draft for talent early on and they will draft from any league. The Blues have basically all leagues covered in their selections from the KHL to Minnesota high school hockey. 

It's still early in Armstrong's tenure and the Blues are only now coming into their own. His selections of Schwartz and Tarasenko could very well push them over the edge in the next few years and it will be interesting to see how he supplements that moving forward. After all, he said he wants to be good for a decade, like Detroit, right? 

No comments:

Post a Comment