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12-12-2012, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ABasin View Post
Yeah, that's why I brought up Boychuk. I'm not down on Gaunce or anything. I've been pretty vocal in here over the years, discussing the subject of the Avs inability to develop a decent defensive defenseman through their system, so I'm watching Gaunce and Siemens in this respect.

I'm OK giving Gaunce the time (as it seems right now he'd be no more than a depth NHL defenseman, and more depth defensemen is something the Avs most certainly don't need right now), but was just wondering if the kid really has NHL skill. I suppose we'll just have to wait it out and see.
This has definitely always been a weak point with the Avs system, but isn't the biggest factor for a defenseman's development at the point where Gaunce and Boychuk were, the AHL coaching staff? Billington and others may have some input and advice, but I would think the coaching staff is by far the biggest development tool, and that changes fairly often, especially with the Avs.

Perhaps you could point to Billington and his staff in regards to the one or two years of development in junior prior to being in the AHL, but again I think the coaching staff and their teaching, and style of play and role for the player have the biggest impact.

I definitely think the Avs need to improve their track record for defensive prospects, but I think that has more to do with the fact they like to pick more defenseman in the smaller offensive mold like Cumiskey and hope they can eventually grow their all around game not to be a liability and it hasn't really worked out so far. The other guys haven't worked out just by the sheer smaller sample of defensive prospects in a different mold from the Cumiskey/Barrie/Elliott mold.

To me Boychuk is a guy that just didn't work out because there were guys ahead of him that were better or further along in their development, and more importantly he fit into Boston's system and the Eastern conference style of play better, so his defensive weaknesses weren't as big of a deterrent. He still has big holes in his defensive game, isn't the best skater, and despite a few big shots he isn't exactly an offensive dynamo.

It just seems like so far none of their picks seem to work out as hoped. Their talented offensive guys can't develop their overall game. Their big all around guys like Williams and Cohen don't have the hockey IQ to play at the NHL level. And their purely defensive guys don't seem to have the tools or foot speed to play at the NHL level either.

I think the main factor in all of this is the scouting and philosophy on which defenseman to pick. That may be the area that needs to be changed, or perhaps already has been since it's still too early to really evaluate the newer guys.

I'm gonna say something that may be unpopular, but I think we tend to overrate Pracey. I don't dislike him, or think he sucks, I just don't think he's gotten the results that we tend to imply. Outside of slam dunk picks like Lando and Duchene, there isn't a whole lot of success stories. O'Reilly is probably the only one because they could have passed on him like Detroit did, but even still he was rated as a 1st rounder by some and dropped a bit. We tend to base our views of Pracey being a genius on recent picks like Hishon, Elliott, and Barrie having strong seasons in junior, but if we're being results oriented, Hishon's career is in jeapordy because of an injury which was the gamble they took on a smaller forward, and Elliott and Barrie still have a lot of work to do on thier overall game to be NHL ready.

This isn't to say they won't every get there, but up until they do, Pracey hasn't really gotten the results that would warrant a successful draft strategy. It looked good at first based on junior success, but we need to temper our praise a bit, and reserve judgment until some of these guys really establish themselves as NHL players, because that's the end goal for why you draft a player. Just my opinion.

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