Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tomorrow Starts In 2-3 Years

Drafting if you have not figured out is a very imperfect science whether you are a New York Ranger or a New York Islander fan. Trying to gauge what either team is going to do is never going to be an easy chore no matter how well you think you do your pre-draft homework.

There are a couple of things though that we just never see when we look at other people's profiles. The first one is how will the player fit in with what you already have or are planning to do?

Another which happens a lot is looking for reasons why not to draft someone who otherwise would be a very good prospect. Sometimes just because nobody lists a prospect's warts means there are or aren't any.

If you are going to look at a prospect do not look first at where he is ranked but rather does he have the skill set you are looking for. Ranking players like drafting is a very imperfect science but in this case a lot of what leads to where a prospect is ranked is personal likes and dislikes.

A lot of times rankings are not as up to date as they need to be as you almost never get the full picture of a player reading somebody's scouting report. Do you know when the prospect was scouted? How many times was he looked at before the judgement was rendered?

Has anything changed for the prospect or his team? Someone like one of the prospects we will suggest for the Islanders missed most of the season because of an injury. In the end you have scouts trying to guess how a 17-18-19-20 year old will develop which just might be the most impossible task.

Another part that is overlooked is the scout himself could be having a bad day for various reasons. Is the prospect playing on a good team or a poor one where he is asked to do more than he should.

In the end you yourself should look at some tape if you can not see the prospect in person rather than trust what someone says in a scouting report. The Rangers when they find a prospect they like say in the WHL will send in another scout from say the OHL to look at the prospect.

They try to get as many different eyes on the prospect because nobody is perfect and it is easy to miss something. That happens more often than not which is why if you get 1-2 players out of a NHL draft then you are having a winning draft.

Most people are looking at those they are wanting as if they would step in tomorrow and that really is the most unfair thing to do to a prospect. When teams draft they are looking at down the road 2-3 years; they are looking for someone who will fit into their system as well as with the other prospects they already have.

What about if you change coaches? You might have a bunch of prospects who were drafted to play one system but are out of place if there has been a new system is put in.

Are you sure that you know what the Rangers or Islanders are needing? What might look like a need today may have already been addressed or a different plan is in place to address the need.

If we are the Islanders then we see a lot of size among the forwards but barely any on the blueline. We keep saying Doug Hamilton for that very reason as here is a complete 2 way defender with size as well as skill.

If Hamilton is gone when you get to 5 then for the Islanders trading down is their best option as you can still get a good defender with size in the first round but you can also pick up a lot more for that spot. The Islanders have gone mostly for NCAA players in recent drafts and trading down would put them in a spot to go for a Connor Murphy.

If you have no idea who he is then you are not alone as Murphy missed most of the 2010-11 season with an injury but he wound up 25th on the CSB North American list. Murphy had a very good Under-18 tournament scoring the gold medal goal in overtime.

Murphy is 6'3 with already good offensive skills and he is headed to Miami in the CCHA when we can guarantee that his defensive skills will be sharpened under Enrico Blasi. Murphy we see is someone who can fit in with Calvin de Haan or Travis Hamonic in a couple of years.

But that is just it in a couple of years, not tomorrow or the next day.

On the Ranger side, the safe pick everyone loves is Mark McNeill of Prince Albert. A solid 2 way center with size and a very good hockey IQ but even better is he likes playing in pressure games and does well.

McNeill would be an ideal pick for the Rangers except for one thing; try to fit in him your system with what you have in the next 2-3 years. There is the rub when you try squeezing him in then you run into problems not with McNeill but rather what is already there.

Stepan, Dubinsky, Boyle, Anisimov, and Lindberg are what you are projecting but wait you also want to go out and sign Brad Richards who is asking for a 5-6 year deal. So why are you drafting McNeill then as while he offers size, he would have trouble finding a spot in the lineup with what you already have.

So where is the weak area you ask to use a draft pick on with 15? We say look at the right wing as where to project ahead. Why you ask? There is not a lot of size on the right side, Gaborik is struggling to score while Grachev has had trouble developing.

Sure you have Christian Thomas but what else coming down the pipe? More smaller Right Wings as the one you have with size Grachev is not developing as fast as you wish. So there you can find someone like a Niklas Jensen who has size 6'2 but can play both sides of the wing.

There is Joel Armia of Finland who is 6'3 with some very nice hands and high hockey awareness, our favorite remains Tyler Biggs who we have already said it the perfect compliment to Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan.

But wait we have to toss a curveball at you and mention that Gordie Clark is the guy who once drafted a then unknown 6'7 Zdeno Chara.  Everyone thought Clark was nuts to pick Chara who was more knuckle-dragger at the time than who he is today.

Oh did we mention that Clark along with Jeff Gorton his right hand man happen to live in the New England area? In that case then do not discount that the Rangers could see 6'7 Jamieson Oleksiak at 15.

Before you say but they have a ton of defenders; remember this is 2-3 years away and a lot can happen during that time. Yes the Rangers have a lot of quality defensemen but do you know how many times I have heard someone saying "We had a shot at taking Tyler Myers and passed on it"?

Do not discount for a second that the idea of sending out a 6'5 Dylan McIlrath with a 6'7 Jamieson Oleksiak is not making Jim Schoenfeld or John Tortorella smile. 2 monsters with heavy shots from the point while making life horrible for other teams.

When you are looking at the draft you have to open up your mind to all the possibilities. Whether they are positive or even negative, when it comes to forming your plan for drafting you have to look to try to plan for anything.

From a prospect who suffers a career ending injury to the prospect simply just not meeting the standards you were wanting from him when he was selected. You have to try to fit the prospects with your roster, your system and then cross your fingers and pray you are right.

If you think this is being too dramatic think again as jobs as well as careers can be made/ruined by who you pick.

And of course come draft weekend you can watch everything written here get thrown out the window too.

After all anything is possible when it comes to drafting

(McNeill courtesy of Prince Albert Raiders)


Joe said...

Didn't you just get done saying in the first few sentences that you don't draft for need? If McNeill is the best player available at 15, Rangers have to take him, regardless of position. I feel like you said two opposite things here.

Jess Rubenstein said...

Are you sure that you know what the Rangers or Islanders are needing? What might look like a need today may have already been addressed or a different plan is in place to address the need.

But if you are going after Richards then the need for McNeill disappears since Richards will be your 1, Stepan your 2, Dubinsky or AA your 3 and Boyle your 4.

Why draft a McNeill if the need has been addressed? You move to the next area which would be adding size and skill to the RW which is also another need of the NYR

Horatio Alger said...

You just contradicted yourself again! You said "2 to 3 years down the road" right? And a lot can happen. Well, the Rangers don't have ANY top-flight centers in the system, save for Lindberg(not really top flight). Yet they have a full complement of young defensemen, plus a bunch of promising prospects(Kundratek, Valentenko, Pashnin and now Erixon) in the pipeline.

Maybe you're right about Clark drooling over this 'future Chara.' That doesn't mean its even close to the right move.

Drafting a center is an imperative.

Jess Rubenstein said...


Really? They need a center? Are you sure, I mean why draft a center if you are going to piss money away on Richards?

Guess they should just toss Stepan in the trash since clearly nobody has any hope of him developing into that first line center.

After all you only get 1 season to prove yourself before being discarded right?

The Clark comment if you paid attention was to show that anything is possible at a draft.

That is in fact using Clark's own words to me that "Options are Limitless" when I asked him about the draft.

Sorry if you could not see that. (well honestly not at all sorry)

Horatio Alger said...

I'm surprised someone who's been doing this as long as you have hasn't developed thicker skin or a flavor intelligent debate. Thanks for your snarky sarcastic response when I was really simply try to point out(rightly) that you contradicted your own argument.

I personally believe Stepan and Anisimov are all the Rangers need at center right now(though neither of them could be considered top-flight right now) and don't think Richards should even be signed.

But why bother responding to you. I'll just get your same holier than-thou-snark. I won't bother chiming in next time, since discussion is clearly not on your high priority list.

Jess Rubenstein said...


Intelligent Debate? If you actually were looking for that then your first remark is not how I contradicted myself.

Yes I have been doing this for a long time and seen your kind before. You take a shot and when it was returned you play victim.

Funny you say I contradicted myself but who said they do not have any top flight centers (but you already think Lindberg who is totally unproven at the NHL level is)

Then you say drafting a center is an imperative.

But then say that you think the all the Rangers really need is Stepan and Anisimov.

So which is it? Do they have centers, do they lack them or what?

And since I can control comments with moderation if I really did not wish to engage in debate I would just not allow comments.

But see I know you will be back to read what kind of response I send your way.

It is real easy with me, if you wish to exchange views then treat me with the same courtesy that you want for yourself.

I only cover 3 CHL leagues, the NCAAs, several Junior A leagues and the USHL. I am the first to know that I make mistakes.

And one last thing you missed the theme of the post sadly, it was not a contradiction but sadly the view of how the mindset of the Ranger fans can work.

They want the kids but they want them yesterday, they want Sather to not waste money on the Drurys or Reddens then in the same breath say they need a Richards.

That is the real contradiction as few wish to show the patience needed to allow a prospect to grow.

The contradiction is repeatedly trying to solve a problem by making the same mistake.

And of your center points, yes I would draft one but given what is around at 15 I just do not see the kind needed to be a number 1.

So I think adding some size on the wing with a scoring punch is the better option at 15.

I give Stepan the chance to show that he can or can not be the first line center. If he can not then you can use some of those extra defensive prospect to find one young enough to develop chemistry with the wingers who are on their way.

Have a nice day