Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Getting Ready for the Future

Now that the CSB has released the final rankings for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, it is time for us to start focusing our own efforts towards how see the 2008 Entry Draft breaking down.

We think that while our fellow prospect evaluators have done a solid job breaking down the players and where they should be ranked. We decided to look at the draft based on where a prospect would actually help both himself and his drafting team.

When we look at 2008 it really is the year of the defenseman as there are so many very talented defenders out there worthy of becoming solid contributors to the NHL. What makes this crop so special is because this is also such a diverse group with each prospect offering up some very special talents.

Having said that at the same time there are also some very talented forwards out their as well but in all honesty the majority of them will all come with the same catch: “smallish in size and physique”.

And before anyone really tries to do the good old mock draft there is a potential that once again hockey politics will become a factor in whether or not players from Europe are selected. However this time it could be more than just those from Russia who are not selected.

With the current NHL/IIHF Player Transfer Agreement now up for negotiation; there have been rumblings that the Czech Republic and Sweden are considering also joining Russia in not signing the agreement. If that happens then those 2 countries might also find their prospects on the outside looking in.

At the very least it will offer some drama at the draft as we think there are at least 5 Europeans who deserve to be selected in the top 20. For now we will include them since we are also going to redo this mock draft at least 2-3 times given how the NHL Playoffs and Draft Combine go.

So here are OUR First 5 picks:

Tampa Bay: The biggest of problems facing the Lightning starts with an ownership that is in disarray and can not finalize the sale of the team. That leads to handcuffs placed on General Manager Jay Feaster as he will not be able to use free agency to fix the problems this team has.

There needs are at every position but we think that while they can point at Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Dan Boyle as great starting points; at the same time those star players are going the lack of change and will want out.

Whether it is Lecavalier or St. Louis who ask out first does not matter as Feaster will select
Steve Stamkos
of the Sarnia Sting as the future replacement. Stamkos is an amazing offensive talent who can do it all on offense.

Stamkos is a very poise young man who one day will wear a “C” for someone, in the meantime we think he could make the jump right away to the NHL as Stamkos can pass, create and has several different shots. The one other thing Stamkos does which is expected of any star player is that he makes those he plays with that much better.

Stamkos put up a 58-47-105 season on a not so talented Sarnia Sting team while also helping Team Canada win another gold medal at the World Under 20 Championships. Have to acknowledge that if the Lightning can keep Lecavalier, St. Louis while adding Stamkos then the Lightning will become one of the best scoring teams in the NHL very quickly.

However we also have this gut feeling that if the Lightning ownership issue does get resolved and Feaster actually is allowed to spend some money then do not be surprised if the Lightning shift gears and address a serious hole on the blueline by selecting instead Zach Bogosian of the Peterborough Petes (more on him later).

Los Angeles: The Kings need help on the blueline and this is the perfect draft for them as they have their choice of what kind of defender to take. We think that the Kings will select Alex Pietrangelo of the Niagara Ice Dogs.

Pietrangelo is a 6’3 200 is one of the smartest players in this current crop. This is one of the most mature 17 year olds we have seen in years, He adapts to the situations without losing a beat; whether it is a read on the power play or trying to kill a penalty, Pietrangelo rarely makes mistakes or gets caught out of position.

If Pietrangelo had a better supporting cast then more people would understand why we say he will go to the Kings with the second pick. Pietrangelo is coming off a 13-40-53 season

Atlanta: In the perfect world the Thrashers select Drew Doughty a 6’ 200 pound defender. The NHL is not the perfect world and we think that Thrasher General Manager Don Waddell is more worried about losing the support of his last remaining star Ilya Kovalchuk.

That said we expect to appease the Thrasher superstar that the Thrasher will select Nikita Filatov of CSKA in Russia. Filatov is perhaps Stamko’s equal in terms of offensive skills and perhaps give Kovalchuk a reason to stick it out in Atlanta.

We saw Filatov playing with Ranger prospects Artem Anisimov and Alexi Cherepanov and Filatov was flat out impressive, 7 games 4-5-9 as in our eyes Russia’s best player.

What would you like to choose from? His speed, his skill set or his creativity? The only concern (for the Thrashers) might be how long will it take for Filatov to fill out his body but they will still select him to add him to Angelo Esposito who they got in the Hossa trade.

Even if Kovalchuk wants out of the Thrashers then at the least they have some firepower to replace him with.

St Louis: The Blues had a decent half a season before their veterans fell apart and left what was looking like a promising rebuild in the toilet. The Blues will snatch up Zach Bogosian of the Peterborough Petes to give Erik Johnson so help on the blueline.

Bogosian is a 6’ 1 190 lb defender who most like better than Alex Pietrangelo as he is a very mature US born player who if he was a tad more selfish would have much better numbers than his 11-50-61 showed.

Crafty player not afraid of contact to make a play, and does not get enough credit for his defensive play but what the Blues need is a prospect who is willing to work hard and sacrifice for the team. Bogosian will do exactly that.

New York Islanders: They wind up with the best offensive defenseman out of the first round as Drew Doughty falls right into their laps here. Doughty was selected as the winner of the Max Kaminsky Trophy as the OHL's Most Outstanding Defenseman for the 2007-08 season with good reason.

We start with his 13-37-50 numbers, toss in being the best defenseman at the World Juniors and carrying the Guelph Storm on his back all season. Add in that despite Doughty being the smallest of the first drafted defensemen; Doughty also happens to be the best two-way defender.

We are talking just as much an offensive weapon as Bobby Sanguinetti and just a shade less a defender as Marc Staal.

Doughty though was asked to do too much by the Guelph Storm and even Team Canada (he averaged close to 30 minutes a game) so the wear and tear along with his barely 6 foot frame is why he drops to here.

The Islanders luck out here until they do their typical trading away of superior prospects.

Coming up will be picks 6-10

1 comment:

steve said...

Do you think the Rangers should do everything in their power to trade for Stamkos?
He would be there answer for the crosby's and malkins and ovenchens of the world.
They would probably have to give up Staals and Tyutin, plus a couple of prospects and their own 1st pick to get him.
What do you think jess, would you do it?