Sunday, June 25, 2017

2017 NHL Draft Post Rankings

What I've elected to do is as opposed to providing a grade to each player or team based off of draft performance, something I've embarked on in previous occasions, I have ranked the National Hockey League club 1 through thirty one taking into effect the entire draft summarization. Enjoy!

1.Colorado Avalanche:

Not taking into account the tomfoolery that has become the Duchene debacle, Joe Sakic and company had a VERY productive weekend in Chicago. The supposed knock against third overall pick Cale Makar was the calibre of competition in the Alberta Junior Hockey League was not up to snuff with it's Major Junior and European counterparts but this is a long disproved fable(ie Tyson Jost). The conclusion that I've drawn up is that Makar projects as the second most potent player from the 2017 class only behind first overall pick Nico Hischier. In the later rounds, they zeroed in on a gem from an individual who just completed his first year with Penn State in Denis Smirnov. A trend that has increased exponentially are Europeans coming overseas and stationing themselves in North America at a young age and beginning their development cycle in the USHL. In Makar and Smirnov, the apparent drafting strategy was to target unconventional sources and this blogger is adament that for this reason the Avs win the weekend.

2.San Jose Sharks:

Not the flashiest of drafts but under the watchful eye of Doug Wilson and Tim Burke the Sharks were able  to accumulate a collection of workmanlike players at the top combined with committing heist in the  sixth with Ottawa 67 Alexander 'Sasha' Chemelevski. The selection of Chemelevski totally won me over as I maintain he possesses first round pedigree.  I'm not naive enough to not realize that a couple things contributed to his late round selection billing. For starters he suffered through an injury riddled 2015-2016 campaign which resulted in a mid-season trade from the Sarnia Sting to Ottawa. However one of the primary reasons that I can't wrap my head around the slip was because in the world that revolves around recency bias, he was unarguably America's best player at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. Puzzling fall to the say the least. The other pick that had me intrigued was that of Mario Ferraro. Another USHL disciple(I swear this lovefest wasn't planned), Mario came on strong in 2016-2017, really demonstrating his versatility and by year's end became Des Moines top defenceman. As surmised in the opening with the exception of Chemelevski, stockpiling character and on ice responsibility was the name of the game for the Sharks regime.

3.Detroit Red Wings:

No, I didn't insert the Red Wings in the third position for perhaps landing the name of the draft in Kasper Kotkansalo. The logic for instilling the Wings in the third spot was aside from sixth round pick John Adams who I will confess was not familiar with prior to the draft each and every selection that was made was a player that I had ranked higher then he got picked.Coming from Western Hockey League circles, the player I want to discuss is Red Deer Rebel Lane Zablocki. It's been said, a theory for which I'm not in agreeance with let it be known that Zablocki needed a change of scenery from the Regina Pats to re-invigorate his vast potential. Unfortunately for us Pat supporters, the pendants got their wish with Lane shipped off to Red Deer. His 'suspect' skating abilities gets overblown as in truth his skating stride is complimentary. Where he thrives is with unrivaled aggressiveness,borderline over the edge at times but it's that very aggressiveness that allows him to win puck battles and showcase the lethal shot of his. He was dynamite in the 2017 playoffs and that should serve him well as we enter the 2017-2018 campaign for which he'll look to justify the Red Wings selection. It really was a record setting third round as along with Zablocki they landed hulking Peterborough Petes center Zach Gallant. The comparison that keeps coming back to Gallant is Nick Bjugstad and for a third round steal, Detroit will be thrilled if he lives up to the billing.

4.Vancouver Canucks:

Everyone and their grandmother was convinced that when Jim Benning and staff stepped up to the podium that Windsor Spitfire Gabe Vilardi would be the natural selection but he opened the skeptic floodgates when it was announced that Elias Pettersson from Timra was the newest member in Canuck nation. Now, for myself I had pegged Petterson to the 'Nucks in my mock so I'll take this millisecond to pat myself on the back for correctly prognosticating the teams direction. I wasn't certainly as feverish with Vilardi as some others in the hockey community and after breaking down the landscape of their forward department it donned upon me that to steal Brian Burke's favourite word, it already had enough truculence and aside from the aging Sedin twins it lacks a lot of pure skill.  I don't know whether Elias and the twins will ever cross paths in B.C but nonetheless it creates an interesting diverse set of centers up the middle for years with Pettersson and Bo Horvat. Everytime I see a high school player from Minnesota drafted, I automatically ask myself whether I'm staring at the next Jordan Schroeder(consensus bust) or Ryan Suter(stalwart for years). I honestly believe that when it comes to the analysis of fourth rounder Jack Rathbone, I see enough promise in his game that he could be someday project as a 3/4 defenceman. A little like Troy Stetcher in the sense that they're both diminutive and are excellent skaters but where I believe Rathbone differentiates in a positive manner is he plays a meaner game.  Fascinated  to see how his game will develop over the next couple of seasons as he's slated for the Ivy League with Harvard.

5.Anaheim Ducks:

The Ducks draft maneuvering got going on Saturday after not holding on to a first round selection on Friday. They may as well of picked on Friday as with the fiftieth overall selection they landed Victoriaville Tigre star Maxime Comtois. In the fall, the majority of scouting services had Comtois projected as a top five selection and I'm not implying that his production in 2016/2017 justified maintaining that premium ranking however in my viewings I don't think he deserved to fall as far as he did. Something to keep in mind, particularly those that will scoff at myself handing the Ducks the fifth best draft grade is sometimes to reach the pinnacle of the sport you have to take chances and be prepared that their is an oft chance that it could flop back in your face. I compare this particular selection to that of the 2012 NBA draft when the Golden State Warriors selected Draymond Green. Comparing hockey to basketball is comparing apples to oranges but the essence of my theory that while in his last year Draymond was just one of many on a stacked Michigan State team and a lot of high ranking basketball scouts were weary that if he was just a benefit of a star studded lineup.  I feel this makes for an apt comparison because the point needed making is in order to remove biases you sometimes have to look beyond the individual and determine if the player is getting dragged along or hindered by the team he or she plays on. In Maxime's case, it very well could be a case of a mediocre Tigre unit weighing hi down. As you can ascertain, I commend the pick.

6.Montreal  Canadiens:

It's as if the mandate from director of scouting Trevor Timmins was to stay out identify defenceman. Amazingly, four of their seven selections were defenceman from the Western Hockey League and when you account for the fact that their arguable best defensive prospect is Noah Juulsen, also a Western Hockey League alumnus, then it should be no surprise if in a couple years if there's a heavy dub flavour on the backend. Out of the four d-man taken(Walford,Brook,Tyszka and Fleury) it's Josh Brook from the Moose Jaw Warriors and Jarrett Tyszka from the reigning champion Seattle Thunderbirds that stand out. Josh Brook is somebody that in the Jaw this year was forced to assume an important role due to the suspect, young depth around him. From the outset there is nothing that jumps off the page with his game but after a Josh Brook performance you have difficulty pinpointing any mistakes. He's steady Eddy out on the ice and as the Moose Jaw Warriors begin gearing towards next year he will again be bestowed with first flight minutes. In regards to Tyszka, his physicality goes unnoticed and at the tender age of seventeen he's already begun to impose his will against opposing forwards. His offensive game needs work but if he can continually to steadily develop then filling into the mold of someone like Marco Scandella. Some may be skeptical over their insistence to stay within one region but kudos to the Bergevin regime for a job well done.

7.Toronto Maple Leafs:

A diverse draft from the standpoint that they ventured into a couple picks via overseas, a couple from the Canadian Hockey League and one from the Ontario Junior A ranks. What seals the deal for player selection in the Maple Leafs draft room is the teachability factor. Some teams undoubtedly the 'Best player available' mantra but other teams like the Maple Leafs view each pick with a purpose to ensure a deficiency is met. Look no further then the gentlemen at the top of their board in Tim Liljegren. It's no secret that the biggest hole on the squad is locating legitimate top four defenceman. Similarly to the Ducks Max Comtois, Liljegren was at the top of draft boards as the year began but perhaps after getting out of his  element in a Swedish men's league and after a nasty bout with mono his stock had soured but a fluke ailment wasn't about to scare off the defensively deprived Leafs. We can laugh about it now but some of the same red flags were waved at a little known defenceman from Ottawa named Erik Karlsson and how silly would've the Sens have looked as some other organizations did straying away from Erik? The upside is endless and I genuinely believe we may look back perplexed how he(Tim) wasn't a top ten lottery snag.  The other pick worth mentioning was in the sixth round where they landed Ryan McGregor from Sarnia. I admittedly didn't know what to expect in terms of which round Ryan could see his name called but the 411 on McGregor is leadership. The Sting were marred in a transitional phase losing New Jersey Devil blue chip Pavel Zacha but in a rare occurrence a 1999 born took and thrived upon being named team leader. The inclusion in te leadership group speaks volumes for Ryan.

8.Tampa Bay Lightning:

Stevie Y ain't scared of the Russians. When you take a dive into Yzerman's past, I'm certain this shouldn't surprise anyone as the Red Wing ninety dynasty was spearheaded by  a strong Russian presence and I guarantee the biggest takeaway he took from his mentor Ken Holland was to not be scared off by nationality. The "Russian factor" is real but in my opinion the fear that this factor presents to respective General Managers is overblown.It boils down to research and risk versus reward. The two Russians coming over to Tampa in this draft, Alexander Volkov from St.Petersburg and Alexei Lipanov who's reportedly en route to the Barrie Colts have been heavily scrutinized to ensure compatibility and at the end of the day the risk is worth taking as the potential optimization far exceeds the inherent risk. Some will work out, Nikita Kucherov and Vasilevskiy are core members of the organization now while someone like Nikita Gusev who never found his way to Northern Florida has since had his rights shipped off to Vegas. A 2:1 ratio when it comes to high end talent is deemed acceptable from the Lightning brass.

9.New Jersey Devils:

When I was determining my pecking order for these rankings, one of the main criteria was whether I felt a player was brought in much lower then I had projected them to go. In my eyes the right choice was made making Nico Hischier the first Swiss national to become a first overall pick but you're not given a pass just because you accomplished the obvious. One of the steals of the draft is with the thirty sixth selection when playmaking center Jesper Boqvist was tabbed.  I fully understand if timidness is attached to this pick from the Devil fan base as I vividly recall a certain playmaking Swede from the 2008 draft who I had massive expectations in Matthias Tedenby flop harder then  Zidane in a FIFA World Cup match.  This is a new era in Swedish hockey, the development programs implemented in  Sweden are night and day from say even 2008. The prospects coming over are more well rounded then ever in all facets. Boqvist has the knack of being a premium passer but don't let his creativity take away from his adequate penalty killing abilities Coach John Hynes if he's there long enough to see the progress of Boqvist(they better start gaining respectability) will have no issue throwing Boqvist out in all situations. Additionally beyond the Boqvist pick, shout out for tagging New Hampshire sensation Reilly Walsh in round #3. Here's the cold hard truth, for whatever reason controversy gets labelled to an American high-school kid because pendants don't believe they're receiving enough quality competition. Would I imagine these kids would be harder to judge from a professional standpoint? I do but it's only fair if we reserve judgement until said players reaches it's next destination(heading to Harvard). If you haven't noticed by now I favour risk taking for the most part and the expending the third on Walsh falls under that category.

10.Carolina Hurricanes:

Some ceilings are higher than others and when it comes to the game of Martin Necas,his ceiling is one of the highest.  I'm fairly sure they touched on this on the Sportsnet telecast this past Friday night but it can't be stressed enough that he was absolutely electric playing for the Czech Republic at last year's Under eighteen championships. Low and behold, Czech Republic's best player and it's my personal opinion that Martin was the most impressive when grouping all players together. Only fifteen points in forty one games playing for Kometa Brno which I find troubling and it probably speaks to the fact that he'd be best served coming over to North America and playing a year in the Canadian Hockey League.....maybe to the Regina Pats as the Memorial Cup?(This Pat fan can hope). Throughout that tournament that I've referenced the player that kept coming back to me was a fellow Czech Jakub Voracek. The comparison to Voracek is an apt one because the way he's able to slow the game down and utilize his teammates is uncanny. Simply put the game is played at his pace. In  my books he's a top five selection in any draft and residents of Raleigh should be jubilant. How about the third round selection, seventy third overall from the Brandon Wheat Kings Stellio Mattheos? The knock on Matteos is that he's never been asked to carry the load playing behind some pretty special player over the last couple seasons, especially the dream team that was the 2015-2016 Wheaties. Second overall pick Nolan Patrick was essentially a no-go the entire season with injury and some scouts were anticipating better production but the reason I like this pick is because we need to keep mind that forgetting about Patrick for a second, Brandon was decimated with injuries and the individuals David Anning had playing with Stellio were not first  line calibre but his hands were cuffed with limited options.This most definitely stymied his production.  While he has yet to show a propensity of leading a line, put him with comparable players and he'll flourish. Great pick!

Okay for the rest from 11-31.  While I could continue delving into detailed synopsises, this is strictly recreational for the time being as I'm not getting paid and I've went into enough detail with the top ten teams.  I'll list my teams regarding draft performance 11-31 whilst notating my favourite pick of there's..................................

11.Boston Bruins:Jack Studnicka 53 OVR(Oshawa Generals)

12.Winnipeg Jets:Skyler McKenzie 198 OVR(Portland Winterhawks)

13.Los Angeles Kings:Gabriel Vilardi 11 OVR (Windsor Spitfires)

14.Nashville Predators:Grant Mishmash  61 OVR (USNTDP)

15.Calgary Flames: Adam Ruzicka 109 OVR(Sarnia Sting)

16.Florida Panthers:Max Gildon 66 OVR(USNTDP)

17.St.Louis Blues:Klim Kostin 31 OVR(Dynamo Moscow)

18.Vegas Golden Knights:Nick Campoli 158 OVR(North York OJHL)

19.Arizona Coyotes:Mackenzie Entwistle 69 OVR(Hamilton Bulldogs)

20.Edmonton Oilers:Stuart Skinner 78 OVR(Lethbridge Hurricanes)

21.Ottawa Senators:Shane Bowers 28 OVR(Waterloo USHL)

22.Chicago Blackhawks:Evan Barratt 90 OVR(USNTDP)

23.New York Rangers:Morgan Barron 174 OVR(St.Andrews College)

24.Minnesota Wild:Mason Shaw 97 OVR(Medicine Hat Tigers)

25.Philadelphia Flyers:Isaac Ratcliffe 35 OVR(Guelph Storm)

26.Columbus Blue Jackets:Daniil Tarasov 86 OVR(Ufa Russia)

27.Buffalo Sabres:Marcus Davidsson 37 OVR(Djurgarden)

28.Dallas Stars:Miro Heiskanen 3 OVR(HIFK Finland)

29.Pittsburgh Penguins:Jan Drozg 152 OVR(Leksand Sweden)

30.New York Islanders:Robin Salo 46 OVR(Sport Finland)

31.Washington Capitals:Benton Maass 182 OVR(Elk River Minnesota)

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