Friday, June 20, 2014

Composite players are nice, but not this guy's cup of tea

Reprinted with permission from

Yesterday, the afternoon host on WGR used a bleacher report slide-show he'd read to offer a very simplistic approach to the top-10 picks in the NHL Draft. The author of the slide show gave a composite player based upon the previous picks in that particular draft spot and the host rather liked it.

For instance, if you are picking 1st overall, based upon the average, the composite would be a Rick Nash-caliber player. 2nd overall would get you a player like Danny Heatley. At the three spot Jay Bouwmeester, at number four, Steven Weiss and so on.

It's all well and good, and the angle is sure to generate hits. But coming up with a player profile based upon the median talent over the course of "x" amount of years is a statistical average adds little to the conversation. It tells nothing of the player drafted, the team drafting him, the scouting department that drafted him, the situation he'll be finding himself in, or even the luck of landing the first overall pick.

The bleacher report piece takes everything and puts it into a nice, tidy package that's easily digestible with none of those nasty variables that would come into play at any draft.

The 2014 NHL Draft is gonna be a tough one to figure out for scouts, from the top-four on down. TSN's Craig Button said it's filled with a lot of unfinished players, which is what a draft should be. And it's coming on the heels of one of the best drafts of all time last year.

Perhaps that's why there are so many different angles being offered for consumption.
The 2013 NHL Draft was deep up-top with elite talent like Nathan MacKinnon (COL,) Alexsander Barkov (FLA,) Jonathan Drouin (TBL,) and Seth Jones (NSH.) It's a top-four that could end up being amongst the best of all time including the 1983 Draft which kicked off with Brian Lawton, Sylvain Turgeon, Pat LaFontaine and Steve Yzerman.

Also, the 2013 Draft was touted as having NHL-caliber players stretching deep into the second round. And one might even take that a step further as new Sabres GM Tim Murray signed third round pick Nicholas Baptiste to an entry-level contract. Baptiste was drafted by the previous regime last year.

In Buffalo's case, 2013 was a great year to have five of the first 52 picks including two in the first round. And, Murray also added two more when trading for William Carrier (#57, STL) and Hudson Fasching (#188, LAK.)

Luck is another factor, as is timing.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were "lucky" enough to have the first overall pick in 2005 when Sidney Crosby was there for the taking.

The Chicago Blackhawks lucked out and won the 2007 draft lottery jumping up five spots to land Patrick Kane.

In 2008 the Tampa Bay Lightning had great timing and landed Steven Stamkos first overall while the NY Islanders (2009) and Colorado Avalanche (2013) also "timed it well" to land John Tavares and MacKinnon, respectively.

Fortunately for Stamkos, he walked into a situation where two probable Hall-of-Famers were leading the way in Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis. Along with 2003 Conn Smythe-winner Brad Richards, those three carried the weight in Tampa while Stamkos cut his teeth.

Unfortunately for Tavares, he walked into a perennial rebuilding organization in the Islanders. This will be a defining year for the team as they'll either head to the playoffs with a strong group moving forward or drop to the lower third of the league without the benefit of a 1st round or 2nd round draft pick in 2015, which is said to be a very strong draft.

Out in Edmonton, they had three consecutive 1st overall picks (2010-2012.) Unfortunately they weren't in that spot when a Crosby, Kane, Stamkos or MacKinnon were available. And those three picks went to an organization that offered them very little support. The Oilers have been struggling mightily and finished with the third worst record in the NHL last year.

And then there's the Detroit Red Wings.

It doesn't matter where they pick, they always seem to get a player that's top-notch. They have a scouting department that's second to none.

Sabres fans gotta love how this four-year stretch is panning out. Four first round picks the last two seasons and at least four first rounders over the next two. Nineteen total first and second rounders at this point.

They snagged three potential difference-makers with an 8th overall, a 14th and a 16th. They stocked the system with four second rounders and a third rounder in Baptiste.

And they're set to have three first round picks in 2015 that's said to have some serious talent in the upper half and depth that stretches deep into the first round.

You can take the law of averages and toss it out the window and you can send the composite along with it.

There are too many factors involved when it comes to the NHL draft, and to snuggly fit all of them into a package for mass consumption doesn't do anyone in the hockey community any justice.

But, hey. There's a ton of air-time to fill these days.

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