There are times when you just can not win no matter how hard you try. Not even 24 hours after telling people that Micheal Del Zotto deserved a chance to play for a gold medal next season came word that Hockey Canada thinks otherwise.
Once again a Ranger prospect gets the snub from his hockey federation despite being more deserving than some of those who earned the invite. We watched this happen to Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan but Micheal Del Zotto did deserve a shot at making Team Canada.
Del Zotto had better numbers than most of those invited despite playing less due to injury. Only 3 of those invited were drafted higher than Del Zotto yet once again despite being a 2 time OHL All-Star, despite being the 3rd leading scoring among OHL defensemen Del Zotto gets bypassed.
In a way Ranger fans should thank Hockey Canada for this snub because we remember when Team USA snubbed Brandon Dubinsky and it motivated him to show that he was a player. Del Zotto is going to do the same.
One of the things about covering prospects is that you get to hear a lot of whispers about players a couple of years before their name gets mentioned to the rest of the hockey world. When you run into someone who grabs your attention you get mixed feelings about whether or not you want to talk about him.
Zac Budish is a great example as a couple of years ago, a friend told me about some kid who had already signed a letter of intent to play at Minnesota. "You got to check this kid out; he is a 2 sport HS athlete in HS and he is going to be a player" is what I was told.
My first response was "2 sports mean nothing" as I knew more prospects played baseball and golf during the spring to stay in shape.
The response back was "The 2nd sport is HS football and this guy is great at both"
My buddy also knew that I watched wrestling so he described the Budish hockey style as the Road Warriors on ice. "Budish is going to redefine the power forward position as he does make his teammates look that much better"
That was enough to get me to take a look at a kid who they were inscribing his name on Minnesota's "Mr. Hockey" months before hockey season was going to start. The more I saw of him the more I knew this was going to be a top 10 pick and thought what a shame it would be that the Rangers would never have a chance at him.
When the word got out that Budish had torn an ACL during football season, as bad as this sounds I got hope for the "maybe it could happen". The thought of a Budish/Grachev/insert name power line was the kind of dream you want to have.
So you bite your tongue and only talk to those who are like you wanting to keep quiet a prospect like Budish for their own reasons. Most of us were projecting because of the ACL that Budish would drop to the second round.
The NHL combine though put any hope of that to a quick death as Budish's name is getting more and more play. The best laid plans of hoping Budish sneaking to the Rangers in the 2nd round DOA before they ever got off the ground.
Maybe it is just my own mindset but if prospects from the USA are the ones who typically lead the combine in throwing up then maybe USA Hockey might want to do something about it with a better training program?
But it goes more than just losing cookies as US players traditionally do not do well in the various exercises held at the combine. Canada holds more evaluation camps, more programs designed to help their players get better on and off the ice.
Any wonder why Canada has owned the World Under-20 Championships as of late? Here is an excellent example of what Canada does that the US needs to copy called the "Program of Excellence"
Take the 14 of the best young Canadian goalies and bring them in for a camp; what a concept as of this group we already see no less than 7 future NHL starting goalies attending this camp. Scary thought when you think that Canada can pick almost any 3 out of this group and still win the 2010 World Under-20 Championship.
Someone might want to send USA Hockey a message about that.
(Pictures Courtesy of: Del Zotto/New York Rangers, Budish/NHL.media.com, Schroeder/NHL.media.com, Road Warriors/Sporting News)
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