Can't speak too much to the past, other than to say that Serge Savard was terrible and that very often the search for the missing "gritty" player or "big centre" or "poward forward" led them down the road of drafting Lindsay Vallis, Jose Charbonneau, Mark Pederson, Turner Stevenson, Eric Chouinard, Jason Ward, Matt Higgins, etc.
However, over the last roughly ten years, things have improved significantly. How do I know? Well, as I've pointed out many many many times before, Detroit's supposedly wondrous drafting, esp for Euro talent is entirely mythic and actually sucks in comparison to ours over the last ten years. Check here for Detroit's draft history. Zetterburg was a 1999 draft and Datsyuk a 1998. What have they done since? 2002 was not a bad draft for them, but of the players drafted since 1999, which one besides Franzen do you want? Why don't you all count how many years from which the magical Detroit scouting staff produced ZERO (0), NHL players? From 1995 to 2005, I count 5 years when the Red Wings supposedly infallible scouts produced no really viable NHL players for them or only produced guys who played coffee calls. There would be another, if you counted the year they only drew Howard and Quincey, since Howard is forever being replaced and Quincey plays elsewhere.
Sorry, but it's time people realized that the NHL evaluation methods are the most unpredictable, imprecise and fallible of all sports. It's time the "feel" garbage is replaced by better evaluative measures.
Well if I'm the wings I don't really care about how my team drafts since they won 4 cups in the last 13 years and almost made it 5. They have easily been one of the best organizations in hockey since the mid '90's.
But if your talking about their current drafting, well the wings bring their players along slowly. Since 2000,
'00-Nichlas Kornwall, Tomas Kopecky
'01-They had trouble with their Russians Grigorenko and Bykov
'02-Hudler, Fleischmann, Filppula, Meech, Ericsson
'05-Abdelkader looks good, Helm, (Ritola has looked ok in the AHL since he's on one of the Dog's rivals, same for Kindl, don't know what they will do in the NHL)
'06-Still early for Matthias, Emmerton, Axelson (heard he is going back to the SEL) Pyett had a good year in the AHL after some good years in the dub
'07-Smith won the Hobey Baker award was Wisconsin's best player imo
'08-Nyquist just ripped up the NCAA as a sophmore, better season then any Hab prospect has ever had in the NCAA that I can recall (damn another good Swede) many felt he should of won the Hobey this year
My only thought is what's the point in discussing the last 30 years ?
Are you expecting to find a common tread ? Are you expecting a pattern ?
30 years is too small a sample to attribute it to one thing anyway. It's most likely a combination of failures.
The first 10 of those picks might be the failure to recognize talent in Europe, the next 10 are on Houle's regime, and the last 10 on Gainey's.
I don't subscribe to the theory that the pressure in Montreal makes players bust. If we had had awesome teams filled with good players and there had been no reasons for players to bust other than the pressure then I could buy it, but all of our failures are easy to explain. And none of them have anything to do with pressure, or the medias.
25 years and one top five pick. That's the common link.