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Silver Nuggets: Drafting Strategies

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How should you approach drafting after the first few picks?

2015 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Drafting isn't too hard when you're picking near the top: you take the best player available. Anyone will tell you that. If you absolutely think using your pick on the best player available would be a waste, you're welcome to trade down to fill a position of need while also getting something in return. If the Maple Leafs decided they needed to prioritize defencemen in the draft, they wouldn't just pick Olli Juolevi. They'd have to get an impressive ransom for the 1st-overall pick, and hopefully still be able to pick Juolevi in the position they traded down to.

But what happens when there isn't a clear best player available? Should organizational need creep into the picture? That's a tougher question. There was some debate in the comments of Trevor's article yesterday about whether organizational need should play a role in decision making. Trevor's argument was that the Sens have needs everywhere, so they really should pick the best player available, whether it's up front or on defence. (The Sens could also use a strong goalie prospect, but the highest-ranked goalie is going around 30th.)

Personally, I think it's flawed to draft for current organizational need. The Sens right now are in need of at least one more top-four defender. The problem is that a player taken 12th-overall probably won't make the NHL for at least one more season, and won't be a key contributor for another couple years from now. Four years from now, will defensive depth be the Sens' biggest weakness? It's hard to know. It's easy to look back at the Oilers and think they should've taken a defenceman rather than Nail Yakupov first-overall in 2012 (though Ryan Murray hasn't exactly lived up to his billing either), but one trade or free agent signing can change things a lot. If the Predators had traded Seth Jones for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins instead of Ryan Johansen, the Oilers' needs would be very different. The team's current roster shouldn't factor too much into draft philosophy, because current rosters tend to change so frequently.

That being said, I think organizational depth should play a role as you move further along. Right now, the Sens' cupboards are rather bare, so I don't think position should play a role in what this team chooses 12th-overall. But if the team had several good forward prospects, maybe prioritizing D would make sense. It's good to have a balanced set of prospects, because drafting and and developing is not an exact science.

I believe that balance is one of the most important things to have in a drafting strategy. Especially as a team moves into later rounds, where things become tougher to project, balancing out the prospect pool becomes important. As an example, the Sens didn't draft a single goalie in 2010 or 2011, so they drafted two in 2012 (Chris Driedger and Francois Brassard), and another in 2013 (Marcus Hogberg). 2014 they didn't take a goalie, so last year they took one with their final pick (Joey Daccord, 199th overall). Because goalies are so hard to project, it seems smart to always have a couple young ones in your system in the hopes that they work out. But young players in general are difficult to project, so it makes sense to balance out your bets in the hopes that a good proportion work out in each category.

I realize this isn't very insightful. My tips basically boil down to a) don't draft for your current organizational needs but rather to have a balanced prospect pool, and b) try to have balanced drafts positionally. But theories don't have to be complex to work.

Sens Links:

  • The aforementioned piece by Trevor, looking at who the Sens should draft 12th overall [Silver Seven]
  • Jeff continues his look back at the Calder Cup run of five years ago, this time looking at the Eastern Conference Final sweep of the Charlotte Checkers (and with the greatest video clip of Kaspars Dauagavins) [Silver Seven]
  • In a FanPost, Colin4000 looks at the top-five drafts in Ottawa Senators history [Silver Seven]
  • Chirp looks at the best 10 games in Sens history [SensChirp]
  • A reader-submitted post, looking at the best defencemen in the NHL in a few categories [SensChirp]
  • Nichols talks about the news that Alex Chiasson's agent expects his client to be moved [6th Sens]
  • He also has the transcription of Pierre Dorion's latest TSN 1200 interview [6th Sens]
  • The latest from Peter Levi, including some criticism of my positivity over Luke P's latest on WTYKY [Eye on the Sens]

Other Links:

  • Elliotte Friedman's latest 30 Thoughts, including an interesting anecdote on Brad Shaw interviewing for the Sens' head coach job [Sportsnet]
  • The Ducks are looking at bringing Randy Carlyle back to win them another Cup [TSN]
  • A good luck at the mild redemption story of Justin Schultz [TSN]
  • Rangers fans are already fearing the worst for their offseason [Blueshirt Banter]
  • And finally, if you haven't heard this call from Punjabi HNIC in Game 1, you owe it to yourself to listen to it now: