This time of year, every year, I look forward to the articles that come out about the upcoming NHL Draft. Since they aren’t coming, I am writing one. I’ve been preparing my own draft lists since the Sens came into the league. This year, I have 290 guys on my list, and there are only 217 picks in the whole draft.
I believe that there is a kind of awakening coming in the NHL drafting world. Teams that lust after offence by drafting only the best offensive dmen and the most skilled highest scoring forwards, are coming to realize that there is more to hockey than offence.
Teams constructed this way are not winning in the playoffs unless they have a strong mix of defensively well-rounded players within the mix of their teams, they don't win the close very defensive games.
With that in mind, in this particular draft there is a lot of room for teams to hang themselves with the choices they make. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out who the top five or six players are in this draft. But once you get past the top 10, there is no agreement among all of the SUPPOSED "experts" as to what order the rest will follow. This leads to a lot of possibility for mistakes that we can capitalize on..
There are 23 dmen that at least one "expert" has predicted they should go in the first round. Think about that for a minute. That means when the Sens get to the second round (currently holding #s 33, 48, 52 and 53 in that round, there will be several of these guys available.
The same kind of thing is happening with all of the offensive talent in the first three rounds. Once you get past the top 10, there is a ton of disagreement about who is going to get picked where. This has not happened in other years, because the top talent available has usually lasted until about the middle of the first round or so. This year I like several of the players that are predicted to go in the 60 – 75 range which is late second / third round material.
What We Have to Look Forward To
Now that I have generalized alot, let’s get to some specifics for the Sens. In the first round, we currently have numbers 1 or 2, 3 and 17 (he said confidently). We will take some combination of two of Lafrenière, Perfetti, Stutzle, Byfield and / or Drysdale at the top.
Number 17 is intriguing. At least one of Dylan Holloway, Hendrix Lapierre (if he passes physicals) and Jack Quinn (scored 52 goals for the 67s this year, and is one of the go-to defensive guys when the game is on the line) will still be available. Or the Sens could jump on Braden Schneider or Justin Barron the two right-handed dmen that I’d love as partners for Chabot if available. That is very exciting. Just imagine some of the combinations so far, and we haven’t even gotten to the 2nd round yet.
I expect teams to have loaded up on offense in the 1st round. Number 33 is fascinating because potential steals Helge Grans (another right-handed dman) and forwards Will Cuylle (pronounced Cooley) or Tyson Foerster will be available. These guys are all middle 1st rounders in other years. Cuylle or Foerster could be the biggest steals in this draft.
At #48, is where the biggest mistakes could be found. Theodor Niederbach from Sweden or Antonio Stranges a small 5’ 10 player who fell out of the 1st round could still be available. I always like players coming through the London Knights organization. He doesn’t have the point production that GMs like for 1st rounders. Again, a well-rounded two-way forward who’s learning the offensive side, and I think will figure it out.
By the middle of the 2nd round, it is hard to know who will be left on the board, but there are still lots of players with alot of potential that will be left. I like Jack Ratzlaff and Daniel Ljungman. Ratzlaff will depend if we have already reached our quota on right handed dmen or not. There is such a shortage of good young rightt-handers on the back end that imo, we should load up on those for their trade value.
I love this draft. We just have to pick the right guys.