Monday, April 7, 2008

Cmon Let Us Confuse the Heck Out of You

Hey since we do not have any prospect news to report on then we decided to torture any of you who have to courage to read today's report. Why you ask? Simple because we want to share with you some of the frustration we are facing as we try to prepare for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

If you think that just because the Rangers finished 5th in the Eastern Conference that they will automatically draft before the Devils when the NHL holds it's next Entry Draft June 20th and 21st then think again.

Yes the NHL did hold their draft lottery on Monday evening but all that did was decide the selection order for the 14 teams (or teams holding those selections) that did not make the playoffs. The other 16 slots there is a good chance will not be decided until the winner of the Stanley Cup is decided.

It gets very confusing and for the most part one can thank the Detroit Red Wings for this mess. We say blame the Red Wings because it was the Red Wings who lobbied for this change in how the draft order was determined.

For years the draft order was determined by where a team finished in the regular season and in the case of the Red Wings; this normally meant they were drafting 30th since they would wind up with the best regular season record in the NHL.

What wound up also happening is that the Red Wings also had this habit of being eliminated in the first or second round by the 6th, 7th, or 8th Seeded teams.

That led to the Red Wings still having to select behind teams that went in some cases all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. To be blunt the Red Wings were upset that they were getting punished for choking in the playoffs so changes were made effective with last year's draft.

Unless the NHL has made further changes then the 4 Stanley Cup semifinalists, will receive the last four selections in every round of the draft, regardless of how they finished in the regular season. The conference final losers will select 27th and 28th, the Stanley Cup loser 29th and the Stanley Cup champion will select 30th.

So if you are the Rangers you have to prepare your drafts as if you were going to select 22nd, 27th, 28th, 29th or 30th. For those of us who are trying to prepare those mock draft that everyone wants to have these cause a lot of headaches and frustrations.

But wait once you think you know when the Rangers might pick then we move on to the next problem which is who to draft. Last year the lack of a Player Transfer Agreement (PTA) with the Russian Hockey Federation helped give the Rangers a possible Top 5 talent in Cherepanov.

This year there are a few new issues that could make things even more confusing or frustrating depending on your point of view. We have to start with the IIHF and NHL needing to sit down and work out a new Player Transfer Agreement for those drafted players that come from Europe.

For starters it is no longer just a Russian issue as both Sweden and the Czech Republic have hinted that they are also unhappy with the current agreement as well and might opt out of it too. You are talking about the 3 biggest providers of European talent so can one picture teams being afraid to draft talent from those 3 nations?

Then there is another serious issues that the Europeans are wanting addressed which deals with the NHL sending drafted European who come over but are not NHL ready to the AHL or ECHL. The Europeans are wanting the NHL to return Europeans back to their original clubs in Europe instead of sending them to either the minor leagues.

It is a complex issue that in many ways the NHL teams on the surface would not mind sending players back to Europe but there are complex areas to work out that also will require the NHLPA's consent as well.

It is very possible that NHL teams will avoid drafting Europeans period just to avoid the possible headaches which in turn will make trying to figure out who might select which players almost impossible.

So at this point in time we figure the only thing we can do is just start profiling prospects that we like and depending on the situation we would be praying the Rangers select. Since at the moment of this writing the Rangers are technically holding the 22nd pick and that is where we will use.

If we were Gord Clark and the scout team then the player who we would grab at 22 is Joe Colborne of Camrose in the AJHL. Colborne is a player who we believe is very misunderstood because he is not playing in the WHL but we also would not be surprised if someone grabs him in the teens.

Why you ask? Because Colborne is a 6'4 left wing who has soft hands and the skill to make one drool. He is playing in the AJHL because he is headed to the University of Denver next season. In addition to his hands, he can skate very well for a player his size and people think that Colborne lacks a mean streak (translated many think he is soft).

We do not that Colborne is soft, instead we believe too many have only paid Colborne one visit scouting trips and are trying to devalue him in order to stash him. With the Rangers lacking size on the wing (sorry Jessiman's stock rises and falls too much for us to count on) this is a player worth allowing to grow into his body while spending a couple of years playing college hockey.

Our second player is a Russian Evgeny Grachev a 6'3 202 lb center who we first got a peek in 2007 at the World Junior A Challenge and have been stashing away ever since. We know everyone loves Nikita Filatov we do not believe that any one (we believe Toronto) will let him go by.

Grachev is a smart player who is still growing, we like his smarts, his instincts and his skill sets. Someone is teaching the Russians to play defense first and if he is there at 22 the Rangers we believe will snatch him up.

We will offer up a 3rd prospect we like and that is Greg Nemisz a 6'3 right wing who plays for Windsor in the OHL. A 34 goal scorer that we have some video to show you from a 2 goal effort Nemisz had against Saute Ste Marie in February.

Give this skinny kid to Reg Grant (Ranger strength and conditioning coordinator) and watch him grow into a monster sized power forward who can skate, shoot, pass and put a licking on people. The scary part is we do not think Nemisz has any idea just how good he can be.

However what really sold us on him was how after the passing of his captain Mickey Renaud, how Nemisz raised his game when his team needed it. Going 8-7-15 upon the Spitfires return to action showed us a maturity and presence that strongly suggests this player will become a leader down the road.

Our QMJHL prospects return to action Tuesday evening and we will have that for you.

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