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The Draft: Did we focus TOO much on defense?

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05-28-2013, 01:02 PM
  #1
Crease
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The Draft: Did we focus TOO much on defense?

Here's a look at our first round selections in the past 10 years:

Year Num Name Pos
2003 12 Hugh Jessiman RW
2004 6 Al Montoya G
2005 12 Marc Staal D
2006 21 Sanguinetti D
2007 17 Cherepanov RW
2008 20 Michael Del Zotto D
2009 19 Chris Kreider C
2010 10 Dylan McIlrath D
2011 15 J.T. Miller C
2012 28 Brandy Skjei D

It seems that after years of poor effort and results from hired mercenaries, the Rangers made a conscious effort to start building from the net out. Montoya, after a sterling performance at the WJCs. Staal, Sanguinetti, MDZ, McIlrath. Their offense has been left in the hands of overpaid mercenaries like Drury, Gomez, Gaborik and Richards, without much of a supporting cast.

The results have not been terribly surprising.

I know hindsight is 20/20 but in the years we drafted defensemen, Kopitar, Oshie, Giroux, Berglund, Eberle, and Ennis were all available. And thats just first round selections. I would have liked to have seen more Cherepanov-type picks, in hopes of grabbing an offensive stud who could produce on a cheap ELC. It seems terribly inefficient to sign goal scorers in the UFA market. They begin aging before they even hit free agency.

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05-28-2013, 01:03 PM
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Kopitar wasn't available, he went one pick before Staal.

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05-28-2013, 01:04 PM
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broadwayblue
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Sure, you could make the argument 1 of those D selections should have been F...but it doesn't scream too much D to me. In theory you go with BPA, so if that BPA isn't a F then you go with a D.

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05-28-2013, 01:06 PM
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Probably, but if Cherapanov is still here, maybe we're not having this discussion.

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05-28-2013, 01:06 PM
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Brandy Skjei? Did he recently go to Thailand?

This team would have looked different with Cherepanov in it, but that is what it is.

Drafting where we have, it's tough to land a real superstar scorer. You have to get lucky. Would I rather have drafted Giroux over Sanguinetti? I think that's pretty obvious.

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05-28-2013, 01:10 PM
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well you could certainly argue about the D picks but then all you have to do is look at this season and last. And see that even with those picks and the D we have we ended up still being super thin on the blue line after important guys went down.

Would it have been better to have sangs vs. gilroy, bickel or hamr ?

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05-28-2013, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by aufheben View Post
Probably, but if Cherapanov is still here, maybe we're not having this discussion.
There you go.

If Cherry was here, we win the cup in 2011-2012.

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05-28-2013, 01:14 PM
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It's hard to believe the Rangers didn't draft any centers in the first round in the early 2000s - most successful offensive teams in this league build around a top line center.

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05-28-2013, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by BlueshirtBlitz View Post
There you go.

If Cherry was here, we win the cup in 2011-2012.
Haha I mean I don't know about a cup, I doubt we have the same roster too. But he definitely could have been that homegrown scoring stud this franchise perpetually longs for.

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05-28-2013, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by KreiMeARiver View Post
Brandy Skjei? Did he recently go to Thailand?

This team would have looked different with Cherepanov in it, but that is what it is.

Drafting where we have, it's tough to land a real superstar scorer. You have to get lucky. Would I rather have drafted Giroux over Sanguinetti? I think that's pretty obvious.
****, I still remember the day I logged onto HF that Cherepanov died. It was, wow.
Truly is a huge loss, always wondered where we'd be with him in the line up.

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05-28-2013, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by broadwayblue View Post
Sure, you could make the argument 1 of those D selections should have been F...but it doesn't scream too much D to me. In theory you go with BPA, so if that BPA isn't a F then you go with a D.
I was waiting for this.

Is BPA truly the best strategy? I contend that in a salary-capped league where UFA age is 27, forwards should be given higher priority in the draft than defensemen.

Prime offensive years are generally between 22-28. Defensemen take longer to development, their primes are later, and they age better. In other words, its more cost-efficient to sign defensemen via free agency than it is to sign forwards.

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05-28-2013, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Crease View Post
I was waiting for this.

Is BPA truly the best strategy? I contend that in a salary-capped league where UFA age is 27, forwards should be given higher priority in the draft than defensemen.

Prime offensive years are generally between 22-28. Defensemen take longer to development, their primes are later, and they age better. In other words, its more cost-efficient to sign defensemen via free agency than it is to sign forwards.
The last great d-man to go to UFA that I can remember is Chara, though. Suter, too, but he clearly had one specific place in mind. If we strike out on any above average D talent in UFA, then what? Are we the Flyers?

I like what the Rangers did with defense. If Cherry didn't tragically pass, right now we have a great defense and a great top 6.

I do agree that it's time to focus on offense, however. When healthy our D is fantastic, and set for years to come. Our forward group is a different story.

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05-28-2013, 02:28 PM
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My problem with drafting strategy is not that the focus has been on D, but, the lack of attention focus on the center position. The Rangers have passed on the opportunity to draft Getzlaf, Kesler, Richards. Zajac , Stastny, and Berglund...Stepan is probably the best center the Rangers have drafted since Savard. That is why you find yourself signing Brad Richards to the contract they did.

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05-28-2013, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by jas View Post
My problem with drafting strategy is not that the focus has been on D, but, the lack of attention focus on the center position. The Rangers have passed on the opportunity to draft Getzlaf, Kesler, Richards. Zajac , Stastny, and Berglund...Stepan is probably the best center the Rangers have drafted since Savard. That is why you find yourself signing Brad Richards to the contract they did.
Agreed.

Center is probably the most important position to have depth at in the NHL. Look at all of the teams left LA has Kopitar and Richards. Boston has Bergeron and Krejci. Pittsburgh has Crosby, Malkin, and Sutter. San Jose has Couture and Thornton. Detroit has Zetterberg and Datsyuk.

The only exception is Chicago, and while they don't have two standout centers, they do have Toews, who is better than most, and they also have four very, very good players in their top-6 (Sharp, Hossa, Toews, Kane).

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05-28-2013, 02:57 PM
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I remember listening into the radio for the 2003 draft really wanting Anze Kopitar. Was upset when was picked before us. But Staal has been good

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05-28-2013, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by poeman View Post
I remember listening into the radio for the 2003 draft really wanting Anze Kopitar. Was upset when was picked before us. But Staal has been good
2005 but who's counting..

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05-28-2013, 03:08 PM
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I don't think it's an issue of defense vs offense, but more so the organizational strategy as a whole. The concept of "Oh, we'll never get elite talent where we pick, so let's fill it in with free agents" is awful. We've drafted several offensive players in the first round in the last 10 years. Jessiman, Sangs, Cherepanov, Korpikoski, Kreider, Del Zotto, and even Miller are offensive talents. Unfortunately, some of them just never panned out. You can crap all over Jessiman, but if he had developed, he would have been a monster.

We've reached, we've taken sliders, and we've moved picks for proven talent. The real issue isn't what we're doing with the picks, it's that we simply just missed on many of them when we really couldn't afford to miss. 03 was a chance to get an elite talent and it set us back considerably. Cherepanov was likely going to be a very good player and he passed away. It's just been a combination of bad luck and unrealized potential.

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05-28-2013, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian Boyle View Post
Agreed.

Center is probably the most important position to have depth at in the NHL. Look at all of the teams left LA has Kopitar and Richards. Boston has Bergeron and Krejci. Pittsburgh has Crosby, Malkin, and Sutter. San Jose has Couture and Thornton. Detroit has Zetterberg and Datsyuk.

The only exception is Chicago, and while they don't have two standout centers, they do have Toews, who is better than most, and they also have four very, very good players in their top-6 (Sharp, Hossa, Toews, Kane).
I take it you're not a big fan of Toews?

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05-28-2013, 03:10 PM
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I take it you're not a big fan of Toews?
Actually, I think he's an incredible hockey player.

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05-28-2013, 03:13 PM
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Kredier has potential to be a solid offensive player. Give him quality line mates (not 4th line bums..Torts) next season, and I believe he'll do well.

Del Zotto's problem is consistency, but he's put up a 37 and 41 point seasons in his short career so far. I think he can bounce back easily next season.

Miller is still young, but I think his ceiling is a quality 3rd line centerman, which isn't a bad thing. Best case, he turns into Ryan Callahan.

The rest turned out to be busts, or bad luck. Although, Korpi is a solid two way player in this league. 20-20 guy.

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05-28-2013, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian Boyle View Post
Actually, I think he's an incredible hockey player.
Ahh okay, I misinterpreted what you wrote.

Crease you bring up a good point because based simply on the math, that the prime of a defenseman is later than forwards, if you wanted to fill a position through free agency it would be better suited to be the defense.

However, I don't think either strategy is particularly great. Not too many players elite in their positions make it to free agency and we shouldn't be overpaying for middling talent (Gomez, Drury, declining Redden). We've been down that path.

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05-28-2013, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Crease View Post
I was waiting for this.

Is BPA truly the best strategy? I contend that in a salary-capped league where UFA age is 27, forwards should be given higher priority in the draft than defensemen.

Prime offensive years are generally between 22-28. Defensemen take longer to development, their primes are later, and they age better. In other words, its more cost-efficient to sign defensemen via free agency than it is to sign forwards.
It depends on what you get out of it.

The Rangers haven't had a shortage of NHL quality forwards. Rather, it's been the dearth of true gamebreaker forwards that was the issue.

While a forward will provide more prime years before UFA age, a better defenseman will be worth more for the years that he is playing. I'd rather have a second pairing defenseman than a second/third line tweener forward (in a vacuum). I'd rather have a first line forward more than both, but that really depends on whether you think you can hit the home run, doesn't it?

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05-28-2013, 05:13 PM
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Beyond the discussion that is already taking place about BPA/draft strategy/how this impacts UFA-signings, there are a few things that I think are being missed:

First, just looking at the first round gives an incomplete picture of the drafting strategy. Here is the full list of the positions of players from 2003 to 2012 who NYR has drafted (with #s in parentheses representing # of players in each category drafted in the first 3 rounds):

Year D C RW LW G
2003 4 (1) 2 (1) 1 (1) 1 1
2004 1 4 (4) 3 (1) 4 (2) 1 (1)
2005 4 (3) 3 (1) 1 (1) 0 0
2006 1 (1) 3 (1) 1 2 (1) 0
2007 0 2 1 (1) 1 1 (1)
2008 3 (2) 3 (2) 1 0 0
2009 2 4 (3) 0 0 1
2010 1 (1) 1 2 (1) 1 0
2011 2 3 (2) 1 0 0
2012 2 (1) 1 (1) 1 0 0
Total 20 (9) 25 (14) 12 (5) 10 (3) 4 (2)

When you look at the whole picture, it doesn't look nearly as bad as your original table. Of 75 draft picks that they have had since 2003, one third of them have been on centers. Barely over one quarter of them have been on d-men. And even though I agree with you that the ability to draft good centermen is something that has been holding NYR back for decades -- I think that when you look at draft picks, you also have to take into account the team's needs and the roster slots that each position takes up when trying to determine if too much of an emphasis is being placed on one position or not. Centermen only take up 4 slots on the roster compared to the 6 slots dmen take up; so that pushes the already uneven #s even further in favor of centermen. Looking at all of that context, I'm not sure it is as skewed as you may be implying.

Granted, you have a better shot at picking a player who sticks - and who will develop into a superstar - in the first round, but that doesn't mean the rest of the rounds don't matter. Tell that to Datsyuk and Zetterberg... or looking to NYR - Hank.



The second piece of context that is lost with the way you frame this debate is that of looking at what the team's needs have been throughout those drafting years. So, even if we accept your premise and only look at the first round, I'm not sure you can say that the drafting strategy was a poor one for the first 5 or so years that you list (ignoring the wisdom of individual picks, like say, Jessiman).

What was NYR's two biggest weaknesses from '98 until about 2008? Defense and goaltending. And so I don't think it is a surprise that you see them drafting a decent amount at both positions in those years. This team doesn't look nearly as good without Staal, MDZ (despite all the crap he gets), and - last year at least - Sauer.

--

In my mind, however, you have a reasonable beef when looking at the last 3 years: 2 of Sather's 3 first round picks were d-men despite having developed a relatively good d-line, having decent d-prospects in the wings, and knowing that the team needed help on offense - especially down the middle.

If those picks were BPA picks, I'm not a fan. If they were based on perceived needs, then fine: As much as I wasn't a fan of the McIlrath pick at the time (and I still probably am not - though my opinion on that has changed somewhat) - you can clearly see the rationale behind why that pick was made. This team has lacked snarl on the back end and a crease-clearing defender for a very long time.

--

In the end, I'm not sure it is as much a failure of draft strategy but a failure in individual picks to draft/develop/scout/recognize as many quality center prospects as they have d prospects.


Last edited by Richter Scale: 05-28-2013 at 05:24 PM.
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05-28-2013, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richter Scale View Post
Beyond the discussion that is already taking place about draft strategy, there are a few things that I think are being missed:

First, just looking at the first round gives an incomplete picture of the drafting strategy. Here is the full list of the positions of players from 2003 to 2012 who NYR has drafted (with #s in parentheses representing # of players in each category drafted in the first 3 rounds):

Year D C RW LW G
2003 4 (1) 2 (1) 1 (1) 1 1
2004 1 4 (4) 3 (1) 4 (2) 1 (1)
2005 4 (3) 3 (1) 1 (1) 0 0
2006 1 (1) 3 (1) 1 2 (1) 0
2007 0 2 1 (1) 1 1 (1)
2008 3 (2) 3 (2) 1 0 0
2009 2 4 (3) 0 0 1
2010 1 (1) 1 2 (1) 1 0
2011 2 3 (2) 1 0 0
2012 2 (1) 1 (1) 1 0 0
Total 20 (9) 25 (14) 12 (5) 10 (3) 4 (2)

When you look at the whole picture, it doesn't look nearly as bad as your original table. Of 75 draft picks that they have had since 2003, one third of them have been on centers. Barely over one quarter of them have been on d-men. And even though I agree with you that the ability to draft good centermen is something that has been holding NYR back for decades -- I think that when you look at draft picks, you also have to take into account the team's needs and the roster slots that each position takes up when trying to determine if too much of an emphasis is being placed on one position or not. Centermen only take up 4 slots on the roster compared to the 6 slots dmen take up; so that pushes the already uneven #s even further in favor of centermen. Looking at all of that context, I'm not sure it is as skewed as you may be implying.

Granted, you have a better shot at picking a player who sticks - and who will develop into a superstar - in the first round, but that doesn't mean the rest of the rounds don't matter. Tell that to Datsyuk and Zetterberg... or looking to NYR - Hank.



The second piece of context that is lost with the way you frame this debate is that of looking at what the team's needs have been throughout those drafting years. So, even if we accept your premise and only look at the first round, I'm not sure you can say that the drafting strategy was a poor one for the first 5 or so years that you list (ignoring the wisdom of individual picks, like say, Jessiman).

What was NYR's two biggest weaknesses from '98 until about 2008? Defense and goaltending. And so I don't think it is a surprise that you see them drafting a decent amount at both positions in those years. This team doesn't look nearly as good without Staal, MDZ (despite all the crap he gets), and - last year at least - Sauer.

--

In my mind, however, you have a reasonable beef when looking at the last 3 years: 2 of Sather's 3 first round picks were d-men despite having developed a relatively good d-line, having decent d-prospects in the wings, and knowing that the team needed help on offense - especially down the middle.

If those picks were BPA picks, I'm not a fan. If they were based on perceived needs, then fine: As much as I wasn't a fan of the McIlrath pick at the time (and I still probably am not - though my opinion on that has changed somewhat) - you can clearly see the rationale behind why that pick was made. This team has lacked snarl on the back end and a crease-clearing defender for a very long time.
I think this takes the opposite direction from the first post. The first one only considers first round picks (obviously) and this one weighs the picks all equally. I think to get a legitimate comprehensive view of our drafting strategy over the past couple years, you need to find some sort of expected value per pick and then weigh.

That would obviously be a lot of work and I'm certainly not criticizing you for compiling the data you did (thanks for that ) but I just wanted to point out that there's other things that needed to be taken under consideration.

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05-28-2013, 05:45 PM
  #25
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Regarding "expected value" of picks -- that is fair, and a lot more work than I care to do. Breaking up the picks by 3rd rounders or earlier in the draft gives a general, though imperfect, sense of this (the #s in parentheses in the table); and has a similar distribution to the totals.

Anyway - not trying to derail. Understood, and agreed about how quality picks have been used over the years. Acknowledged as much regarding first round picks in the post. Just thought it gave a different perspective. With this information, I wouldn't necessarily characterize the drafting strategy as overly skewed away from centermen (or forwards).

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