Tuesday, February 26, 2013

TSN Top 60 Draft Thoughts

I’m not going to beat around the bush and waste time, so here are some thoughts as TSN released their top 60 NHL prospects for the 2013draft:

  • The MacKinnon-Jones debate will rage on well after they are drafted until we know for sure who is better. For now though, TSN will hype up this “battle to go first” until one of their names is finally called. My two cents is this, and I doubt it’s changing anytime soon, all things being equal I’ll take the forward over the D-man, thank you very much. The best recent example we probably have of a similar situation is the 2008 draft in which Steven Stamkos ended up going first, and Drew Doughty went second. Both players are elite, and I think it’s safe to say they are both top 5 players at their position. If we had to redo that draft right now though, who would you take first? It’s not even a discussion for me, I’d take Stamkos hands down. I think Doughty is a hell of a player, and he was instrumental in the Kings Cup run, but philosophically speaking, I’d build my team down the middle instead of getting an elite D-man. Forwards just dominate the game much more easily and consistently.
  • So with that in mind, I take MacKinnon over Jones. If you’re telling me Jones is head and shoulders above MacKinnon, that’s a different story. But I think they’re close. Heck, even if Jones is a shade better, I’d still take MacKinnon.
  • The last time a D-man was drafted first overall was when the Blues selected Erik Johnson in 2006. The next four picks? Jordan Staal, Jonathon Toews, Nicklas Backstrom and Phil Kessel.
  • On the note of the 2006 and 2008 drafts, the next part of the draft also reminds me of them. Back in 2008 there was a run on D-men in the first five picks. After Doughty was selected, the Thrashers picked Bogosian, the Blues snagged Pietrangelo, and then the Leafs traded up to draft Schenn. In a similar fashion, you can expect a comparable run on players of the same position early on in the draft. The 2006 draft also had a run of similar position players as previously mentioned (as already mentioned, Staal, Toews, Backstrom and Kessel). This year, you can expect Jonathon Drouin, Aleksander Barkov, Elias Lindholm, and Sean Monahan, with a chance of Valeri Nichushkin joining this group, to go in some sort of order after the top two picks are selected.
  • From what I’ve seen, though, I think the next four players will be much more similar to what the quartet of Staal, Toews, Backstrom and Kessel ended up being, in comparison to what Doughty, Pietroangelo, Bogosian, and Schenn have become as a group. (One was a mixed bag, the other was a group of top end talents).
  • Nothing against Hunter Shinkaruk, but if I’m drafting between 8-12 and it’s between him and fellow winger Valeri Nichushkin, who I just mentioned might sneak up the list, I’m taking the 6’4 Russian. Both are extremely talented, but drafting is about projecting, and the difference between 5’11 and 6’4 is huge. With guys like Vladimir Tarasenko and Evgeny Kuznetsov both going in the later portion of the first round and looking like studs, something tells me Russians aren’t just dropping because of the so called “Russian factor.” I’d bet a lot of it has to do with limited scouting of these players. Think about it, where do organizations send their premier scouts most likely? A league full of kids like the CHL, or a league full of men and maybe a few kids playing limited roles? And when push comes to shove on draft day and your best scouts are telling you to draft one kid in the CHL, while another guy is saying draft a kid who played sparingly in the KHL, who are you going to take? That means these kids have to basically look great in international tournaments when everybody is watching. 
  • I’m not saying Josh Morrissey is being ranked incorrectly as TSN puts him at 20th –and many other drafting services are dropping him lower and lower- but I think whoever picks him is getting a hell of a player. I haven’t seen him play a ton –would ballpark it between 8-10- but every time I have, he has been impressive. His hockey sense is great, and his puck movement is fantastic.  Obviously, 41 points in 60 games for a D-man who hasn’t even been drafted yet is no joke. He’s a bit on the smaller side, but he’ll muck it up. Whoever selects him is getting a good prospect. 
  • Building on that note on Josh Morrissey, and another similarity to the 2008 draft, is that there are going to be some very good players available in the second half of the first round this year. Curtis Lazar and Jason Dickinson are two guys who come to mind.
  • Might be one of the better drafts in recent memory to get a late pick. Recent drafts have been about getting solid players in the 20s, but this draft could see legitimately top line talent potential going late in the first round.
  • Ryan Pulock is another guy that is dropping for what appears to be nothing that he has done, but because other guys like Darnell Nurse, Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov are climbing the charts. It kind of reminds me of Del Zotto’s drop a few years ago where everybody knew he was talented, and he was always highly touted and suddenly a bunch of D-men have passed him in the draft and question marks arise regarding his game. Del Zotto was part of that Doughty, Bogosian, Pietrangelo, Schenn draft in which Tyler Myers, Colton Teubert, Erik Karlsson, Jake Gardiner and Luca Sbisa also all went before Del Zotto got picked 20th.
  • Finally: If there’s one guy I’d love to draft at the end of the first round, it’s without a doubt Ryan Hartman. He has skill, he hits like a train and will fight anyone, and he was the only draft eligible player on Team USA this year. The sky isn’t the limit with this kid necessarily, but I think he’s a kid who finds a way to be productive in the NHL whether it’s as a Steve Ott type, who was also drafted at the end of the first round, or more of a scorer who can play tough. Maybe like a Tuomo Ruutu or Andrew Ladd.

I decided to do this on a whim. I’m not going to sit here and say I watch all these guys religiously because I don’t, but I comment on who I have seen and decided to cut off my writing here. If some of you enjoy it and want me to write more, I will. If not, I hope you enjoyed this much at least. 

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