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Old
04-28-2009, 03:58 PM
  #1
Lafleurs Guy
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Between a rock and a hard place

The club has been bashed lately (and to a large extent unfairly bashed) for its sub par performance this season and postseason. Now we come to a crossroads. Some of our older players may take off and there's some new blood coming up. Obviously Gainey is going to try to sign some FAs but we don't have a great track record of getting this done, so what's the solution?

A few years back I suggested that we go out and try to trade for high picks or elite prospects. Some of the guys I thought would be good have panned out better (Bobby Ryan) than others (Jordan Staal) but all seem to be good players to build on. Apart from Price, I'm not sure who we have that's at this level. Personally, I think its because we haven't drafted high enough.

We have a lot of good young players coming up, but apart from Price we have no superstars on the horizon. Not surprising because we haven't had a legit superstar for years (and no, Koivu nor Markov count.)

Now we're staring at the possibility of losing Komisarek for nothing (which is scary in itself) as well as some of the other guys who've been a big part of our team for years.

I look at the future of this team and I see a club that has to potential to be good but its still missing the Toews, Malkin, Getzlaff type young guys who are the kind you can build a team around. Other teams have more than one of these kinds of players.

Our problem is that we haven't drafted high enough and we can't attract free agents. Its a rock and a hard place situation.

I know people are excited at the prospect of going after Vinny and he is a premier player but I can't help but think that his contract is awful and he's got injury issues. Adding him could hurt us more than it could help. I'm not sure that going after higher picks now is the solution either because the team is supposedly a team that's good enough to compete in the short run, but how else do you get elite players to come here? We haven't had the patience to do this in the past and its killing us now.

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04-28-2009, 04:15 PM
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The only thing I don't agree on is Markov. When you've been selected two years in a row on the first all-star team, have been mentioned as a possible Norris candidate, finished among the best defensemen pointers in the last few years and your team looks like chite when he isn't there... shows just how much he is a superstar. He just doesn't have the recognition he sould have.

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04-28-2009, 04:44 PM
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Last year we had no injuries, and over acheived...this year too many injuries and we underacheived...curious as to what the key for the Habs is...

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04-28-2009, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lafleurs Guy View Post
The club has been bashed lately (and to a large extent unfairly bashed) for its sub par performance this season and postseason. Now we come to a crossroads. Some of our older players may take off and there's some new blood coming up. Obviously Gainey is going to try to sign some FAs but we don't have a great track record of getting this done, so what's the solution?

A few years back I suggested that we go out and try to trade for high picks or elite prospects. Some of the guys I thought would be good have panned out better (Bobby Ryan) than others (Jordan Staal) but all seem to be good players to build on. Apart from Price, I'm not sure who we have that's at this level. Personally, I think its because we haven't drafted high enough.

We have a lot of good young players coming up, but apart from Price we have no superstars on the horizon. Not surprising because we haven't had a legit superstar for years (and no, Koivu nor Markov count.)

Now we're staring at the possibility of losing Komisarek for nothing (which is scary in itself) as well as some of the other guys who've been a big part of our team for years.

I look at the future of this team and I see a club that has to potential to be good but its still missing the Toews, Malkin, Getzlaff type young guys who are the kind you can build a team around. Other teams have more than one of these kinds of players.

Our problem is that we haven't drafted high enough and we can't attract free agents. Its a rock and a hard place situation.

I know people are excited at the prospect of going after Vinny and he is a premier player but I can't help but think that his contract is awful and he's got injury issues. Adding him could hurt us more than it could help. I'm not sure that going after higher picks now is the solution either because the team is supposedly a team that's good enough to compete in the short run, but how else do you get elite players to come here? We haven't had the patience to do this in the past and its killing us now.

The best way to put together a team is too have about 5 awful seasons draft in the top 5 every year than sign a couple UFA's and make a couple key trades. A good example of this is the pens or the Nordiques before that. The problem with the habs is even when we do miss the playoffs we always finish outside the lottery, we can still end up with a decent player but we don't get that blue chip prospect. Whens the last time we drafted a star player with our first round pick? Koivu is the only guy I can think of, years of wasted first round picks in the 90's has really hurt this team. I don't know what the solution is, we've got a pretty good stable of prospects but depending on our UFA status little else. I guess we just have to hope Gainey can lure a quality free agent or two.

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04-28-2009, 06:43 PM
  #5
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Originally Posted by Bring_Bak_Damphousse View Post
The best way to put together a team is too have about 5 awful seasons draft in the top 5 every year than sign a couple UFA's and make a couple key trades. A good example of this is the pens or the Nordiques before that. The problem with the habs is even when we do miss the playoffs we always finish outside the lottery, we can still end up with a decent player but we don't get that blue chip prospect. Whens the last time we drafted a star player with our first round pick? Koivu is the only guy I can think of, years of wasted first round picks in the 90's has really hurt this team. I don't know what the solution is, we've got a pretty good stable of prospects but depending on our UFA status little else. I guess we just have to hope Gainey can lure a quality free agent or two.
That's exactly what I'm saying. When we were poor all those years we always tried to squeek in and its killed us. We're now at a point where our younger players are starting to establish themselves. We're too late to tank but we don't have the up and comer that will take us over the hump.

We've got a lot of prospects though, maybe we can trade up in the draft. We can give up some of the good young guys for a potential big center that we so desperately need. Any good centers with size in this draft?

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04-28-2009, 08:27 PM
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Look at pittsburgh and washington. They rebuilt on #1 draft picks. Tha's what it takes. Finishing 8th every year gets u nowhere unless your a UFA player, and even then, it hasn't gotten the rangers anything and this city is a non-UFA zone in this league so, yep, they are stuck. What's worse, they are turning into the expos. Whenever they do have young talent, it's usually out the door as soon as they get UFA status. For the expos, it was the money problem. For the habs, its the poisonous media and fan expectations.

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04-28-2009, 09:03 PM
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Well, you have to suck in the right years. You're not going to be able to build a franchise around David Legwand, or even Roman Hamrlik, so if you tank in the wrong year, you may end up with a guy who's a good player but not a superstar. That's mostly a matter of luck.

Then again, you can draft a guy in the middle who turns into a star, like Getzlaf, or even in the latter rounds. That's also, mostly, a matter of luck, given the imprecise nature of scouting. It's rarer than if you have a higher draft pick, but it happens often enough that you don't need to blow the team up if your drafting is good. If you pick quality players in the first round for several years, eventually you'll get that home run. It's not something a scout can predict effectively, however -- all a high pick buys you is a higher success percentage, barring supreme talents a la Malkin/Ovechkin. Heck, Montreal drafted their own superstar, Andrei Markov, as a center in the low rounds.

Third option is to be able to be in the right place at the right time and acquire your gamebreaker through a trade. That's also a matter of luck; you need to have a GM stupid enough to trade Luongo or Thornton, have them contact you, and happen to have the pieces they want to return it. These days, you have to be careful -- a guy like Lecavalier might be available, but the team that acquires him may find themselves hamstrung in the long term.

The bottom line? Getting a superstar requires a fair bit of luck. Drafting high helps, but it is no guarantee of success. And even drafting superstars with high draft picks, like Atlanta has done, does not guarantee success either.

I'm against blowing up a good team for five years just to pin its hopes on a high draft pick or "elite prospect" that may very well not pan out. There's no binary state between "Stanley Cup contender" and "lottery team".. A team that genuinely sucks will suck for several years as it slowly recovers; it won't happen overnight. And frankly, given the hit-or-miss nature of drafting, even with very high picks, sucking for several years is the only way to make it work.

Occasionally a team will take a one-year nosedive due to circumstances (like the Flyers did) and that may be the time to draft that high pick.

With the terrible fans, media, taxes, weather et cetera this team is saddled with, you're faced with a different problem -- a not inconsiderable chance the savior will demand to be traded when he fails to elevate a sucky team (as a team that tanked for a high pick would get) and gets reamed by the medias and fans for it.

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04-28-2009, 10:31 PM
  #8
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Originally Posted by momotan View Post
Look at pittsburgh and washington. They rebuilt on #1 draft picks. Tha's what it takes. Finishing 8th every year gets u nowhere unless your a UFA player, and even then, it hasn't gotten the rangers anything and this city is a non-UFA zone in this league so, yep, they are stuck.
Blackhawks, Blues, Pens, Lightning... all these guys are stocking up on top picks. Does it guarantee a cup? No. But it sure helps to get a number of top guys.
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What's worse, they are turning into the expos. Whenever they do have young talent, it's usually out the door as soon as they get UFA status. For the expos, it was the money problem. For the habs, its the poisonous media and fan expectations.
Its doubly bad because we can't offset our lack of high picks with the FA market. Players don't want to come here because of the language, media and most damaging... taxes.

More than most other teams going forward, we're probably going to have to depend on drafting.

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04-28-2009, 10:39 PM
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Unfortunately this is the handicap of being a Canadian team and specifically Montreal (with its additional handicap of retarded media who add on the hurdle of signing FAs..also Bob has been able to shut them out from his decisions, but this isn't the case with most GMs who've been here).

All the teams that are really good now (even ones that have gone up and down like Carolina) had several very good draft picks and you do need more than just one (Price). I'd have to say though that Markov has been a saving grace and I discount Koivu cuz that's too far in the past (but certainly a star player IMO who we drafted).

To be fair, with the moves that Bob made this year with Tangs, Bgl (he will eventually have an upside) and Lang, I was very happy with the situation. We got unlucky. Certainly, though your point is very valid about young talent. The only thing I see us being strong in is D. I don't know enough about Maxwell to judge and Max Pac is going to be good, but it will be a HUGE and unexpected result if either of them turn out to be able to play like a Staal or Getzlaf. You never know though, low draft picks (see Zetterberg and Datsyuk) CAN surprise and I just hope that this is the case.


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04-28-2009, 10:50 PM
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Well, you have to suck in the right years. You're not going to be able to build a franchise around David Legwand, or even Roman Hamrlik, so if you tank in the wrong year, you may end up with a guy who's a good player but not a superstar. That's mostly a matter of luck.
If you suck for long enough, you'll still probably wind up with a superstar. Look at Detroit in the 80s, tons of top picks. Despite not having great success at getting the best player available most years they still got Yzerman. Now look at Pittsburgh... Crosby, Staal, Malkin... Washington got Backstrom and OV, Chicago landed Toews and Kane...

When you don't draft high, it catches up to you.
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Then again, you can draft a guy in the middle who turns into a star, like Getzlaf, or even in the latter rounds. That's also, mostly, a matter of luck, given the imprecise nature of scouting. It's rarer than if you have a higher draft pick, but it happens often enough that you don't need to blow the team up if your drafting is good. If you pick quality players in the first round for several years, eventually you'll get that home run. It's not something a scout can predict effectively, however -- all a high pick buys you is a higher success percentage, barring supreme talents a la Malkin/Ovechkin. Heck, Montreal drafted their own superstar, Andrei Markov, as a center in the low rounds.
Look at the teams that have drafted high over the past few years... Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington... those teams have superstars, multiple superstars.

Look at the teams who haven't... us, Toronto, the Islanders... they have none.

We have one top five pick in the past 30 years and its no surprise that he's our only superstar prospect. Its a huge problem and its been that way for years.

Detroit has been the exception but I'm not sure how in the world we can duplicate what they've done. Even Ken Holland has said that he got lucky with his picks.
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Third option is to be able to be in the right place at the right time and acquire your gamebreaker through a trade. That's also a matter of luck; you need to have a GM stupid enough to trade Luongo or Thornton, have them contact you, and happen to have the pieces they want to return it. These days, you have to be careful -- a guy like Lecavalier might be available, but the team that acquires him may find themselves hamstrung in the long term.
That is luck. I don't think we can rely on luck. Lecavalier may work out for us, but even if we land him there's a huge amount of risk with that bad contract and his health issues. We've also missed out on some of his best hockey and we'd be committing to him until he's around 40. That's the problem with not drafting your own superstars, you have to settle for bad contracts or players with some kind of problem.

I trust our scouting group, they've done a good job for us. We just don't draft high enough. We need to make our own luck.
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The bottom line? Getting a superstar requires a fair bit of luck. Drafting high helps, but it is no guarantee of success. And even drafting superstars with high draft picks, like Atlanta has done, does not guarantee success either.
If you're looking for guarantees, go become a tax man.

If you're looking for a strategy for success, drafting high is a good way to go. It leads to superstars and superstars give you a better chance of winning cups.

Superstars make a huge difference. They can carry teams through a bad stretch and make the players around them better. People get on Kostitsyn's case and some have argued he's a bust. Imagine how much better (and how much faster he'd develop) if he had a superstar center to play with. His confidence grows and the team follows suit.

Look at the impact Kovalev had on us last year. Now imagine a 100 point player or a 50 goal scorer in our lineup. There are game breakers in the NHL that elevate their clubs. Even a 40 goal or 90 point player would help us tremendously. We don't have this guy and a lot of other teams do.
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I'm against blowing up a good team for five years just to pin its hopes on a high draft pick or "elite prospect" that may very well not pan out. There's no binary state between "Stanley Cup contender" and "lottery team".. A team that genuinely sucks will suck for several years as it slowly recovers; it won't happen overnight. And frankly, given the hit-or-miss nature of drafting, even with very high picks, sucking for several years is the only way to make it work.

Occasionally a team will take a one-year nosedive due to circumstances (like the Flyers did) and that may be the time to draft that high pick.
We can't blow it up now, the time for that has past. Unfortunately, this team shoudl've been blown up five years ago and we should've accepted bottomfeeding. It didn't happen. The impatient (and unrealistic) fans always wanted us to be in the thick of things. So we had a strategy of squeeking into 8th and it cost us the chance to draft the superstars when we were never contenders.

Now we have to build on what we have. We can't "blow it up" now. The only way we do that is if we let all the vets go and just play the rookies. Not going to happen.

The good news is that we are stocked full with good prospects. The bad news is that none (apart from Price) are elite.
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With the terrible fans, media, taxes, weather et cetera this team is saddled with, you're faced with a different problem -- a not inconsiderable chance the savior will demand to be traded when he fails to elevate a sucky team (as a team that tanked for a high pick would get) and gets reamed by the medias and fans for it.
The free agency market isn't going to work. The trade market might work but superstars usually aren't available until they're past their prime or have a horrible contract.

If we can bring back Komi and Kovy we might have a decent year next year with some of the young guys coming back. But we have a lot of good prospects coming up. I think it might be time to trade quantity for quality. We need a skilled center with size in the worst way imaginable and we've needed one since Bobby Smith left. We're probably not going to find him drafting somewhere around 20th again. I don't know about you, but I'd like to see a homegrown superstar again in my lifetime. Maybe Vinny is the guy but if he isn't then I think trading up in the draft would be a good idea.


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04-28-2009, 11:01 PM
  #11
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If you suck for long enough, you'll still probably wind up with a superstar.
No argument here, but you need to suck for a while -- 3-4 years of lottery picks and 3-4 more years while your picks develop and you're an 8-12 type team. I don't think the Habs will maintain their sellout streak after 6-8 years of sucktitude. Especially -- as is actually rather plausible -- if the announced drafted saviors DON'T bring the team over the top.

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Look at the teams that have drafted high over the past few years... Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington... those teams have superstars, multiple superstars.
Atlanta and Columbus also had multiple very high draft picks, and they haven't become world-beaters yet. It's not a surefire strategy by any stretch of the imagination.

On a side note, it's going to be really interesting to see what happens to those teams in the cap world. The new crop hasn't yet grown to the point where their big salaries will squeeze out the others. It's still early in the cap era.

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Look at the teams who haven't... us, Toronto, the Islanders... they have none.
The Islanders had them, they just threw them away.

Other teams without many recent high draft picks: San Jose, Boston. Doesn't seem to have hurt them too much.

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That is luck. I don't think we can rely on luck.
It's the only way to get superstars -- all the methods are fraught with chance to some degree. Even a high draft pick strategy is risky because your pick may not pan out.

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If you're looking for a strategy for success, drafting high is a good way to go. It leads to superstars and superstars give you a better chance of winning cups.
From the track record, it looks like it's got about as good a success rate as the Habs' current strategy. For every Pittsburgh and Washington there's an Atlanta and a Columbus. Seems like lots of successful teams were built without multiple high picks either.

And the success rate of top 5 picks is... well, as an experiment, looking at the top 5 picks in the nineties on hockeyDB can be a scary experience. Scott Thornton? Chad Kilger? And those are just the two that leapt out most. We've been especially treated in the last few drafts for top-end talent, but those results are not consistent with draft histories... and if the team HAD been blown up in those years, who knows what we'd have ended up with, considering how badly they drafted.


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04-28-2009, 11:18 PM
  #12
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No argument here, but you need to suck for a while -- 3-4 years of lottery picks and 3-4 more years while your picks develop and you're an 8-12 type team. I don't think the Habs will maintain their sellout streak after 6-8 years of sucktitude.
You don't need to suck for a while if you have a good scouting group, esp if you're trading for that pick.

Its moot anyway though. As I said above, that time has past for us. We missed the bus.
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Atlanta and Columbus also had multiple very high draft picks, and they haven't become world-beaters yet. It's not a surefire strategy by any stretch of the imagination.
Again, if you want guarantees go be a tax man.

And Atlanta drafted two superstars (three if you count their goalie who's been left to fend for himself) unfortunately, they had the misfortune of having one of them kill one of his teammates in an unfortunate accident. Columbus has Rick Nash.

And both of those teams were expansion clubs starting from nothing.


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On a side note, it's going to be really interesting to see what happens to those teams in the cap world. The new crop hasn't yet grown to the point where their big salaries will squeeze out the others. It's still early in the cap era.
All the more reason why Lecavalier might not make sense for us.
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The Islanders had them, they just threw them away.
Exactly. That's my point.
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Other teams without many recent high draft picks: San Jose, Boston. Doesn't seem to have hurt them too much.
Phil Kessel isn't too bad, how many goals did he score against us? And they drafted Thornton. San Jose has Patrick Marleau and lucked out on Joe Thorton. Both of these teams have drafted higher than we have in recent years.

Additionally, those teams can actually attract free agents.

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It's the only way to get superstars -- all the methods are fraught with chance to some degree. Even a high draft pick strategy is risky because your pick may not pan out.
Sure,

But if you consistently draft low, odds are you won't have a superstar. We're proof of this. I'd rather draft higher than lower... your scouting group gets to pick the player they actually want rather than having to settle for whatever's left over.

And top picks usually go on to become the best players in the game.

Crosby, Malkin, OV, Heatley, Pronger, Spezza, Nash, Niedermayer, Kovalchuk... all of these guys are top five picks. You can come back with superstars who aren't of course but you're picking from a much broader sample size. Its amazing how successful top five picks are vs. players selected elsewhere in the draft. The best players in the league are usually top five guys (goalies excluded because they tend not to be drafted top five because most teams don't need a goalie.)

Also, we have a good scouting group. I'd trust them to get us the right guy if we had a high pick. That would help out too.
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From the track record, it looks like it's got about as good a success rate as the Habs' current strategy. For every Pittsburgh and Washington there's an Atlanta and a Columbus. Seems like lots of successful teams were built without multiple high picks either.
Atlanta has gotten superstars, we haven't. They've been MORE successful than we have in this regard. Columbus has Nash, you could argue Markov and it might be a draw but they have some potential superstars in the system. We have Price and that's it. And again, you put our scouting group with the picks that Columbus has had and we'd probably do better than they would.

We've got a good core, better than either of those teams. If we get a superstar for the future we'll be in much better shape.


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04-28-2009, 11:23 PM
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habfaninvictoria
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In the past 30 years the 5 best players available in the draft have been.

Mario Lemieux
Sydney Crosby
Jagr
Ovechkin
Malkin

(Gretzky and Messier came from WHA)

How lucky is Pittsburgh to get 4 of the 5.

If we are to ever have a chance to be one of the elite it will have to be through free agency. We used to be able to swindle GM's into giving up their first pick (Lafleur). That won't happen today.

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04-28-2009, 11:29 PM
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Originally Posted by habfaninvictoria View Post
In the past 30 years the 5 best players available in the draft have been.

Mario Lemieux
Sydney Crosby
Jagr
Ovechkin
Malkin

(Gretzky and Messier came from WHA)

How lucky is Pittsburgh to get 4 of the 5.

If we are to ever have a chance to be one of the elite it will have to be through free agency. We used to be able to swindle GM's into giving up their first pick (Lafleur). That won't happen today.
You're right it won't. No team would ever deal away a Crosby type prospect.

That doesn't mean we couldn't get higher in the draft though if there was a player who we thought had superstar potential. Top ten isn't bad either.

Jagr went fifth right? Nobody knew how good he was going to be or they would've taken him earlier. Ditto with Yzerman. You'd never have gotten Lemieux but you might've gotten Jagr or Stevie Y if you offered up enough.'

Also, its rare for the truly elite to become free agents (at least in their prime.) And even if they did, good luck getting them to come here.


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04-29-2009, 06:21 AM
  #15
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You don't need to suck for a while if you have a good scouting group, esp if you're trading for that pick.
Then you have to be lucky enough to have that pick in a good year where there IS a superstar talent available, assuming your scouting staff figures out who it is -- no foregone conclusion even if your scouting staff is good, since scouting is such an imprecise science. And this assumes you have the first overall pick, which is a different level of sucktitude entirely. Lower picks, even in the top five, have a much lower chance of yielding such a player.

One top five pick may or may not net you a superstar player. That's regardless of your scouting staff. It's good to take that chance now and again if your scouting staff has a guy they really like, but then often the team you're trying to trade the pick from will realize they have a potential gem and will be reluctant to trade -- that pick may cost you a mint.

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Again, if you want guarantees go be a tax man.
I'm not looking for guarantees, but the suck-and-draft strategy isn't necessarily any better than the slow-and-steady approach.

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And Atlanta drafted two superstars (three if you count their goalie who's been left to fend for himself) unfortunately, they had the misfortune of having one of them kill one of his teammates in an unfortunate accident. Columbus has Rick Nash.
I'm not saying they haven't had good players. I'm saying drafting high has failed to make them contenders. I'm pointing out that the suck-and-draft strategy, as a way to build a winning team, has a significant failure rate.

It's not a miracle solution. It's a gamble. One that doesn't necessarily have a better success rate than the slow-and-steady method the Habs have been using. If you draft poorly neither method works. If you draft well, both can work... but slow-and-steady is safer and potentially just as effective.

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But if you consistently draft low, odds are you won't have a superstar. We're proof of this.
Enough star players have been drafted low and exceeded expectations to say that this only proves that the Habs have been unlucky with players exceeding expectations.

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And top picks usually go on to become the best players in the game.
Chad Kilger, Scott Thornton, Patrick Stefan, Roman Hamrlik... there are tons of top five picks that have amounted to good-but-not-great players, or worse.

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Its amazing how successful top five picks are vs. players selected elsewhere in the draft. The best players in the league are usually top five guys (goalies excluded because they tend not to be drafted top five because most teams don't need a goalie.)
Go look at the top five picks from the nineties. They are staggerignly hit-or-miss. Statistically the odds are probably better, yes, but the odds that you won't turn that top five pick into a superstarare pretty significant -- and some years, there might just not be such a player available.

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Atlanta has gotten superstars, we haven't. They've been MORE successful than we have in this regard. Columbus has Nash, you could argue Markov and it might be a draw but they have some potential superstars in the system. We have Price and that's it.
Columbus and Atlanta have zero playoff wins between them to show for it. That strategy is far from being the be-all end-all. It's an alternative, it's riskier, more expensive (you lose out on attendance) and the success rate in terms of team-building is similar.

Teams take that route when they have no other choice. The NHL not like junior where you expect a rebuild every three years.

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We've got a good core, better than either of those teams. If we get a superstar for the future we'll be in much better shape.
Certainly, but blowing the team up back in the nineties might very well not have yielded said superstar. Suck-and-draft isn't a surefire strategy and wouldn't necessarily have resulted in a better team in 2008-2009. It might have, or it might have resulted in a worse team with lower attendance.

I simply want to point out that drafting high, whether by drafting picks or sucking-and-drafting, isn't a panacea or a necessity. What it is is a gamble. It does have a higher probability of bringing you a superstar, but all you get is a probability, and it's a costly strategy to implement.

I'm not adverse to trading for a high pick to try for that star guy, I just don't think it's the make-or-break thing you seem to think it is, as far as team-building goes.


Last edited by MathMan: 04-29-2009 at 06:29 AM.
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04-29-2009, 08:29 AM
  #16
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Then you have to be lucky enough to have that pick in a good year where there IS a superstar talent available, assuming your scouting staff figures out who it is -- no foregone conclusion even if your scouting staff is good, since scouting is such an imprecise science. And this assumes you have the first overall pick, which is a different level of sucktitude entirely. Lower picks, even in the top five, have a much lower chance of yielding such a player.
Sure.

Again though, the point is moot. We aren't going to do this (at least not intentionally.) But we CAN trade for a top pick. Obviously we would not do this if we didn't feel the talent was there.

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One top five pick may or may not net you a superstar player. That's regardless of your scouting staff. It's good to take that chance now and again if your scouting staff has a guy they really like, but then often the team you're trying to trade the pick from will realize they have a potential gem and will be reluctant to trade -- that pick may cost you a mint.
You keep asking for guarantees. There aren't any.

We can only look at probabilities here. And if you draft low long enough, you're probably going to wind up without a superstar.

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I'm not looking for guarantees, but the suck-and-draft strategy isn't necessarily any better than the slow-and-steady approach.
You say that you aren't looking for guarantees and follow it up by saying "isn't necessarily any better."

No it isn't necessarily better, its just more likely to be better. Esp if you have a good scouting staff. Teams without superstars don't win cups.

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I'm not saying they haven't had good players. I'm saying drafting high has failed to make them contenders. I'm pointing out that the suck-and-draft strategy, as a way to build a winning team, has a significant failure rate.
Nobody denies this, that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about how to get a superstar. We don't have any and its because we don't draft high... ever. Unless of course we win a lottery in a season where anyone can win.

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It's not a miracle solution. It's a gamble. One that doesn't necessarily have a better success rate than the slow-and-steady method the Habs have been using. If you draft poorly neither method works. If you draft well, both can work... but slow-and-steady is safer and potentially just as effective.
Except that it isn't. There isn't a cup winner in history that didn't have a superstar on it (regardless of where they were drafted.) The closest one might be Calgary and they were packed with HOFers.

Slow and steady isn't bad, but you need a superstar to go along with it or you won't win. Price may be the guy and hopefully he is. But it would be nice if we could get him some offensive support. Its not coming via the free agent market.

The way we've built, we can be competitive in the future, but we'll be up against the Crosbys, OVs and Toews on other teams. Those players are going to get better and we don't have equivalent guys to match them.

You say slow and steady is "safer" well, "safe" doesn't get you a superstar most of the time. No risk, no reward. If we see the kid that we think can put us over the hump we need to go for it. We've got enough prospects that we can afford to do this.
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Enough star players have been drafted low and exceeded expectations to say that this only proves that the Habs have been unlucky with players exceeding expectations.
You can't continue to draft middle of the pack and expect to draft superstars. It certainly hasn't happened for us.

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Chad Kilger, Scott Thornton, Patrick Stefan, Roman Hamrlik... there are tons of top five picks that have amounted to good-but-not-great players, or worse.
Right, there are no guarantees. If you draft higher, the odds are better. And again, we wouldn't make the trade if we didn't think it was worth it.

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Go look at the top five picks from the nineties. They are staggerignly hit-or-miss. Statistically the odds are probably better, yes, but the odds that you won't turn that top five pick into a superstarare pretty significant -- and some years, there might just not be such a player available.
You think top five is hit or miss? Go take a look at the 15-20 slots or 25-30 positions. How do they stack up compared to those top five players? 1-5 is the best by far. Then comes 6-10, then 11-16. Your odds of drafting a superstar are exponentially higher in the top five.

The biggest risk comes in not taking one. That's why we don't have superstars and other teams do.

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Columbus and Atlanta have zero playoff wins between them to show for it. That strategy is far from being the be-all end-all. It's an alternative, it's riskier, more expensive (you lose out on attendance) and the success rate in terms of team-building is similar.


Teams take that route when they have no other choice. The NHL not like junior where you expect a rebuild every three years.
Again, you're avoiding what I'm saying.

We need a superstar. We've done a good job with the 'slow and steady' method (partially because we got lucky on the lottery) and now its time to augment what we have. I'm not saying we should tank for five years. We should've done that five years ago because we'd be in better shape now. Unfortunately that time has passed.

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Certainly, but blowing the team up back in the nineties might very well not have yielded said superstar. Suck-and-draft isn't a surefire strategy and wouldn't necessarily have resulted in a better team in 2008-2009. It might have, or it might have resulted in a worse team with lower attendance.

I simply want to point out that drafting high, whether by drafting picks or sucking-and-drafting, isn't a panacea or a necessity. What it is is a gamble. It does have a higher probability of bringing you a superstar, but all you get is a probability, and it's a costly strategy to implement.
Your odds are better if you do it. Detroit's the only team that has won a cup without a top pick in their lineup in recent memory. And they had a dynasty that started with Yzerman.

As I said above, superstars can carry a team and they speed up the development of younger players. Kostitsyn would have been a lot better by now if we had a superstar to play with him.

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I'm not adverse to trading for a high pick to try for that star guy, I just don't think it's the make-or-break thing you seem to think it is, as far as team-building goes.
Do you think that a team needs a superstar to win? I do.

If Andrei Markov is your best player, you won't win the cup. Ditto with Koivu. I'm sorry but its true. We'd better hope that Price turns into the star that we all hope that he can be because I don't see another superstar on the horizon for us. If you agree that we need a superstar, then it becomes a discussion about how to get one. Personally, I'd say the best way is to do it via a pick. They're easier to get than established superstars, cost less and you get to develop them yourself. Plus you get to enjoy them during their early to mid 20s.

The other way is FA. Probably not going to happen and I'm fine with that because most of the time they aren't worth the cash. Regardless, we won't get them anyway.

Right now, I see us going after Vinny. Hopefully he's the answer but I just can't help but think that we're going to regret that contract down the line.


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04-29-2009, 09:30 AM
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Team definitely needs a player to build around offensively, preferably a centre. Drafting one is easier said than done though, and the team and media environment hasn't been looking too great for player development at the major league level recently. It would probably be best if the team could trade for one, but then whether we have the assets or not comes into play.

As for Lecavalier, he makes sense and seems willing to play here. Plus I doubt more than a couple of other teams aside from the Canadiens can easily accomodate his salary. I don't understand any complaints regarding his cap hit, it's certainly reasonable at 7.7, but the issue is more the 10 year length of the contract. His point totals have gone down, but this guy is definitely not done and I'm not judging him based on a crappy year with a crappy team. Given the little tiff between Gainey and Lawton though, I think the ship's sailed on that one.

And I can't really see much else becoming available. Patrick Marleau? Talk about a floater when it matters.

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04-29-2009, 11:13 AM
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Lafleurs' Guy:

Sure, we could use another star player -- but blowing up the team and sucking-and-drafting is not much more likely to generate a Cup contender than building slowly and then adding a star player afterwards. There's plenty of teams that tried that route and failed. The strategy may result in spectacular success... and spectacular failure. It's a much bigger gamble.

And that's my point: going after high picks is a big gamble, one that's highly likely to fail, and it needs to be approached with that in mind. I'm not looking for a guarantee, but I want to emphasize that swinging for the fences in this way is a low-percentage move, one that maybe you need to make, but one that's most likely to net you a good-but-not-great player.

It may also not be possible most years because the players are not available or, if they are, the team with those picks will be unwilling to deal it. Which means that most likely you need to take your chances in a year where the high pick yields a player that's not a surefire prospect, or else you pay a team-crushing high price for the surefire star.

Trading for an established star is much safer, if more expensive. The likelihood of getting someone willing to trade a star player is about the same as someone willing to trade a high pick in a year where that pick may yield a surefire star.

You're presenting this as "trade for a high pick and draft a superstar". I'm not against it in principle, but it is nowhere near as simple as you make it sound.

Let's put on a concrete example... the last time I know of that the Habs made a serious pitch for a high pick, it was the Kovalchuk pick. IIRC, the asking price was a package that included high picks (including the Komisarek pick if I'm not mistaken), Jose Theodore, and Andrei Markov, no less. Had they made that trade, the Habs would have had a superstar forward... and yet, probably be further from being a Cup contender now.

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04-29-2009, 11:39 AM
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Team definitely needs a player to build around offensively, preferably a centre. Drafting one is easier said than done though, and the team and media environment hasn't been looking too great for player development at the major league level recently. It would probably be best if the team could trade for one, but then whether we have the assets or not comes into play.
I agree. We need a center really badly.
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As for Lecavalier, he makes sense and seems willing to play here. Plus I doubt more than a couple of other teams aside from the Canadiens can easily accomodate his salary. I don't understand any complaints regarding his cap hit, it's certainly reasonable at 7.7, but the issue is more the 10 year length of the contract. His point totals have gone down, but this guy is definitely not done and I'm not judging him based on a crappy year with a crappy team. Given the little tiff between Gainey and Lawton though, I think the ship's sailed on that one.
Lecavalier is a big risk. We'd be stuck with that contract for the next decade. Its very possible that his best hockey is behind him. Still, he is a premier center and he has some size.

Personally, I'd rather go after a higher pick. Its lower cost and lower risk too. Plus, if we lose Komisarek and Kovalev, I'm not sure Vinny would help us anyway. Signing him only makes sense if we can keep what we have now.
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And I can't really see much else becoming available. Patrick Marleau? Talk about a floater when it matters.
That's the problem. Try getting a Toews once he's produced, its impossible. We might have had a shot at Bobby Ryan last year (some were calling him a bust) but now we can forget about it. Once they produce, they're untouchable.

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04-29-2009, 12:08 PM
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Lafleurs' Guy:

Sure, we could use another star player -- but blowing up the team and sucking-and-drafting is not much more likely to generate a Cup contender than building slowly and then adding a star player afterwards. There's plenty of teams that tried that route and failed. The strategy may result in spectacular success... and spectacular failure. It's a much bigger gamble.
Like I said, its not going to happen now anyway. Personally, I think we would've been better off if we'd have done it though. We would've rebuilt with higher picks. Instead we squeeked into 8th (sometimes 9th) and have nothing to show for it but picks who we had to take later on. We did well for where our picks were but we could've done better.
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And that's my point: going after high picks is a big gamble, one that's highly likely to fail, and it needs to be approached with that in mind. I'm not looking for a guarantee, but I want to emphasize that swinging for the fences in this way is a low-percentage move, one that maybe you need to make, but one that's most likely to net you a good-but-not-great player.
I don't think its a low percentage move. Also, I don't think the cost would be that great. If there's a center out there that could help us we could swap 1st rounders and give up one of our prospects. We've got tons to offer up.

Dealing for Lecavalier would be more expensive, cost us more in the way of talent and its just as risky as he might not pan out either and then we're stuck with a bad contract for years.

Maybe he puts us over the top, but if he doesn't its going to really hurt us. I'd rather go the other route. If that young guy is a bust, we don't give up as much and at least we're not tied to a stupid contract.
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It may also not be possible most years because the players are not available or, if they are, the team with those picks will be unwilling to deal it. Which means that most likely you need to take your chances in a year where the high pick yields a player that's not a surefire prospect, or else you pay a team-crushing high price for the surefire star.
Sure, it may be impossible to get that high pick. I think we should try though.

For the past couple of years I've suggested that we try for Bobby Ryan or Jordan Staal. Others have disagreed with even trying for those guys. You and I will never know who is and isn't available. We aren't GMs, we can only deal in speculation.

The question isn't CAN we, the question is WOULD you if you were in the GMs seat? This is a message board and its about all we can do.
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Trading for an established star is much safer, if more expensive. The likelihood of getting someone willing to trade a star player is about the same as someone willing to trade a high pick in a year where that pick may yield a surefire star.
Is it safer? Lecavalier is frought with risks of a different kind.

Sam Polloch built his career on trading established players who's best days were behind them for high picks. He knew how the system worked. Trading for Lecavalier now is like trading for Denis Savard in '91. The guy is still good but he's reached the half life of his career. How many of those years on his contract will he be worth the cap hit? 5 out of 10? If he can't win us the cup now, it really doesn't make sense to make the trade.

The Lightning are going to be a really good team in a few years. They've got Stamkos, they'll get a high pick this year plus whatever they get for Vinny.

If you trade for higher picks you give up less, aren't tied to a contract and get to develop the player yourself.
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You're presenting this as "trade for a high pick and draft a superstar". I'm not against it in principle, but it is nowhere near as simple as you make it sound.
Its not as simple as that, yes it is a risk. I just think its one worth taking and I don't think its the crapshoot that you're making it out to be.

You're right, we could draft a bust. But I think we have to at least try. With the exception of Price we haven't drafted top five since 1980. Its coming back to hurt us now. I can accept trying to do something and not getting it right. I have a hard time when we just sit there and draft in the middle rounds. Its a recipe for mediocrity.

Besides, look at the flipside of your argument if we're trading away prospects and picks in return we could be trading away a bust too.
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Let's put on a concrete example... the last time I know of that the Habs made a serious pitch for a high pick, it was the Kovalchuk pick. IIRC, the asking price was a package that included high picks (including the Komisarek pick if I'm not mistaken), Jose Theodore, and Andrei Markov, no less. Had they made that trade, the Habs would have had a superstar forward... and yet, probably be further from being a Cup contender now.
Look at the team we have now. We have tons of prospects/young players we can give up. Fischer, Subban, Weber, Chipchura, D'Agostini, O'Byrne, Higgins, McDonnaugh, Halak, Pleks, Paciorretti, Kostitsyn x2, draft picks...

We don't have to strip the cupboard bare. But we could give up one of these guys and swap draft positions. We have the depth that we didn't have back then.

Gainey has done a good job for us. He's been 'slow and steady' and held on to his picks. We've also done well for where we've drafted. Not all of these kids are going to play for us though. Its time we took a look at who we want for the future and deal some others away and try for an upgrade. The longer we put it off, the more its going to hurt us. I don't want us to be in the same position five years from now without a superstar.


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04-29-2009, 12:33 PM
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Is it safer? Lecavalier is frought with risks of a different kind.
No doubt, and I'm not entirely keen on acquiring Lecavalier either.

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The Lightning are going to be a really good team in a few years. They've got Stamkos, they'll get a high pick this year plus whatever they get for Vinny.
Don't be so sure. Teams without superstar forwards may not win Cups, but teams without supporting casts and star defensemen don't even make the playoffs. See the Bolts this year, and especially Ottawa.

Hopefully for Tampa, they will draft Hedman and get some good defensemen. Star forwards are flashy, but defensemen have a much higher impact.

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If you trade for higher picks you give up less, aren't tied to a contract and get to develop the player yourself.
On the other hand, you risk drafting a good-but-not-great player that's not really worth the assets you deal for it -- especially since high draft picks tend to be in the hands of sucky teams, so the assets you give up for such picks are likely to be "future" assets -- namely high-quality picks and prospects.

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Besides, look at the flipside of your argument if we're trading away prospects and picks in return we could be trading away a bust too.
There is that, but prospects are further along on the development track than picks so they're less of a risk.

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We don't have to strip the cupboard bare. But we could give up one of these guys and swap draft positions. We have the depth that we didn't have back then.
I'm not against the idea in principle, just make sure Timmins is 100% sure of his guy. It would suck to trade a youngster and a pick for a guy who turns out not to be an upgrade on the youngster.

Maybe now is the time to do it, but it just needs to be realized by all that it's a risk (depending on what upgrading the pick costs, of course).

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04-29-2009, 10:42 PM
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No doubt, and I'm not entirely keen on acquiring Lecavalier either.

Don't be so sure. Teams without superstar forwards may not win Cups, but teams without supporting casts and star defensemen don't even make the playoffs. See the Bolts this year, and especially Ottawa.

Hopefully for Tampa, they will draft Hedman and get some good defensemen. Star forwards are flashy, but defensemen have a much higher impact.
I agree on both counts. I'm pretty sure Tampa will take Hedman. I think they're going to be good. If we do wind up with Vinny... I guess we just hope for the best. The good news is that he really is a terrific player. I'll comment on this if/when it happens.

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On the other hand, you risk drafting a good-but-not-great player that's not really worth the assets you deal for it -- especially since high draft picks tend to be in the hands of sucky teams, so the assets you give up for such picks are likely to be "future" assets -- namely high-quality picks and prospects.

There is that, but prospects are further along on the development track than picks so they're less of a risk.
Maybe. But if you're going for a top pick the reward is higher. I think we're at the point where we can take this risk. Actually, we need to take this risk because I don't see us matching up against some of the other up and coming teams in our conference. Pittsburgh, Washington, Philly and now maybe Tampa all have multiple superstars who are on the way up. Its going to be really tough getting past those teams.

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I'm not against the idea in principle, just make sure Timmins is 100% sure of his guy. It would suck to trade a youngster and a pick for a guy who turns out not to be an upgrade on the youngster.

Maybe now is the time to do it, but it just needs to be realized by all that it's a risk (depending on what upgrading the pick costs, of course).
Its a risk. But its one worth taking. I'm glad you're open to the idea at least.

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