Changing our draft strategy
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02-02-2013, 12:36 PM
Heart and Soul
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Taking risks is part of drafting. The issue is to value risk/reward based on the selection used to take the risk. It's one thing to take a risk in the 2nd or 3rd round. It's another thing to take a risk with a lottery pick. As much as I disliked McIlrath as a prospect before he was drafted, I would have had minimal objections to him being picked if he was selected later in the draft.
It's the fact that he was selected with the 10th pick in the draft by a team that doesn't figure to get another selection that high any time in the near future that made me cringe. It's the fact that the team so desperately needed offensive talent in the organization (just as much as they needed defensive help at the time), and that high-end offensive talent will always be more valuable than any other type of asset.
Big, tall defensemen very rarely become the dominant shut-down defensemen that their admirers envision them becoming.
As I posted in the past:
2006: Erik Johnson, Ty Wishart
2005: Marc Staal, Sasha Pokulok, Matt Pelech, Joe Finley, Vladimir Mihalik
2004: Boris Valabik, Jeff Schultz, Andy Rogers
2003: Braydon Coburn, Brent Burns
2002: Jay Bouwmeester, Ryan Whitney, Anton Babchuk
2001: Mike Komisarek, Shaone Morrisonn
1999: Branislav Mezei, Kristian Kudroc
1998: Bryan Allen, Mathieu Biron, Christian Backman, Jiri Fischer
1997: Paul Mara, Nikos Tselios
1996: Jon Aitken, Dan Focht, Mario Larocque, Matt Descoteaux
1995: Kyle McLaren, Jeff Ware, Max Kuznetsov
1994: Wade Belak, Jeff Kealty Yan Golubovsky
These are the defensemen 6'4" or taller that were drafted in the first round from 1994-2006. 35 players, 6-7 have gone on to become notable players in this league. 2 or 3 are top-notch defensive defenseman. In that same 1994-2006 span, only 4 other defenseman 6'4" or taller who were drafted in any other round have gone on to become notable: Souray, Chara, Byfuglien, and Kubina.
I don't mind taking risks on players with desired physical attributes. Sometimes, that is a risk worth taking. But taking such risks with important, high draft picks is one of the biggest blunders that NHL GMs make in the Entry Draft.
Other than the "Russian factor," what risk did Tarasenko exhibit? Even before being drafted, he was an excellent all-around offensive player with a heck of a shot, with the ability to create for himself and others, and with good positional instincts. He wasn't a Selke candidate, but he never shirked defensive responsibilities. He wasn't a primma donna. The only flaw in his game at the time was that he lacked blazing speed, although he always displayed excellent balance and was not the sort of offensive player that you could take the puck away from consistently with ease as a defender.
He's exactly what this team needed, and posed practically no risk for THIS team. The need for a goalscorer this season could have been filled from within, but instead, we had to saddle ourselves with Rick Nash's horrible contract for the next 6 years to fill that need.
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