Sunday, June 29, 2014

Some Thoughts on the Draft

Personally, the draft is my favorite event of the NHL season.  There is so much mystery, intrigue, uncertainty, and possibility.  And personally, I love watching or reading up on any number of young players to see where they might go and what they might become.  So with another Entry Drat officially in the books, there is a lot going through my mind.  Not really on one topic in specific, just on what happened at the draft as a whole and in particular what it means for the Leafs.  So in a kind of unorganized, 30 Thoughts-esque post, here are just some things I have to say about this weekend:

-The Leafs have only made 11 picks in the last 2 drafts since Dave Nonis became GM.  Only three other teams have made 11 picks or fewer in that same window: Carolina (11), Pittsburgh (11), and Anaheim (10).  I don't like that.

-It's probably a good thing the Leafs didn't trade into the second round though.  There were a handful of names I would have been interested in, but most went early.  In what was all things considered a pretty shallow draft, it would make a lot more sense to go get a second rounder for next years draft (which should be loaded).

-I understand that numbers aren't everything, and I'm not going to pretend like I've seen any of the Leafs picks past Nylander play a game before, but the one pick that didn't sit well with me was Dakota Joshua.  To me, a player that only had 38 points in 55 USHL games is an immediate red flag.

-First-rounders who have posted a clip of 2 points per game or better in a given U18 tournament: Phil Kessel, Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Mikhail Grigorenko, Vladimir Tarasenko, Andrei Kostitsyn, Mikael Granlund, Joel Armia, Patrick Kane, Magnus Paajarvi, J.T. Miller, Daymond Langkow, and William Nylander.  That's pretty good company.

-That list gets even better when you are considering only players taken in the top 10 of the draft: Phil Kessel, Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Andrei Kostitsyn, Mikael Granlund, Patrick Kane, Magnus Paajarvi, Daymond Langkow, and William Nylander.  Looking good.

-Check out this burst of speed by Leafs 7th rounder Pierre Engvall.  For someone that's 6"4', that's pretty exciting:


-Engvall (and Nylander) are Thommie Bergman picks (Leafs Swedish scout).  Bergman has gotten a lot of praise from people, especially of late.  Here are the list of Swedes the Leafs have drafted between 1998 (when Bergman joined the organization) and 2009, with the number of NHL games played by that player in brackets: Pierre Hedin (3), Mikael Tellqvist (114), Alex Steen (605), Staffan Kronwall (66), Johan Dahlberg (0), Anton Stralman (394), Viktor Stalberg (314), Carl Gunnarsson (303).

-To put that in perspective, 7 of 8 (87.5%) Bergman picks between 1998 and 2009 have played in the NHL, 6 of 8 (75%) have played at least 50 NHL games, 5 of 8 (62.5%) have played at least 100, and 4 of 8 (50%) still have NHL careers that are going strong.  

-Conversely, the Leafs have drafted 89 players between 1998 and 2009 that aren't Swedish.  34 (38.2%) have played an NHL game, 19 (21.3%) have played at least 50 NHL games, 17 (19.1%) have played at least 100 NHL games, and 13 (14.6%) are still playing in the NHL.

-The Swedes drafted by the Leafs between 2010 and 2014: Petter Granberg, Daniel Brodin, Tom Nilsson, Viktor Loov, Andreas Johnson, William Nylander, and Pierre Engvall.  Granberg played an NHL game in his first season in North America, and Nilsson and Loov have signed contracts with the team.  You would think Johnson and Nylander will be signed soon.  That's another strong mix of guys that are at the very least helping your organizational depth.

-In time, Daniel Brodin may make the jump to North America as a potential bottom-six guy.  The thing that hurts though, is that he was taken 1 pick before the Montreal Canadiens took Brendan Gallagher.

-On a concluding note, there's one guy that went undrafted I'd really like the Leafs to invite to their prospect camp/rookie tournament.  Stephen Desrocher, a defenseman for the Oshawa Generals, is a guy that caught my eye while watching Michael Dal Colle.  Listed at 6"3' and 188 pounds, Desrocher actually has a really nice skill-set.  He's a good skater with some decent puckhandling ability and he's also got good on-ice awareness.  He only had 8 points in 43 games this season, but there's some real upside both offensively and defensively there.  Whenever I watched, I wandered why he wasn't playing more.

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