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U18 and the draft

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04-24-2005, 08:34 PM
Blind Gardien
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U18 and the draft

Just trying to think "aloud" about what effect this U-18 tourney might have had on the draft rankings... some thoughts (with a particularly Canadian slant, of course):

Players who raised their stock:
- I think Bourdon firmly established himself as a top-20 pick, and perhaps the #3 defenseman in the draft. He was clearly the top defenseman on Team Canada in all situations.
- Ryan O'Marra basically did the same thing from the forward position. He may not be very glamourous out there, but he battled adversity and led the team in scoring. All of his goals were about 2 feet out from the net. He might be top-10 now.
- Several of Canada's grinding forwards, notably Pyatt, Clune, and Hobson IMO probably earned a boost in their draft rankings. None of them are first rounders, but they probably have some fans in the scouting community now who will watch for them in the 2nd or 3rd round.
- Pelletier in net, as has been mentioned before, has closed the gap with the top-ranked guys.
- Most of Canada's defense IMO made themselves more noticeable, and therefore probably found a fan or two amongst scouts. Letang, Gragnani, and Mikkelson probably earned themselves a look ahead of some of their peers in the 2nd-4th rounds. Possibly Kurceba too.
- I bet a few of the Swedes got themselves noticed more too. People are talking about Backstrom, and I personally was intrigued by some of their blueliners. Bergfors at least proved he's everything they said he was.

Players who held steady:
- As I said in other threads, I think Latendresse and Parent probably did nothing to change their ratings as first rounders. They basically did the same things that most scouts expected of them.
- Most of the rest of Canada's grinding forwards basically went out and did their thing, but in my mind didn't quite raise themselves the way those mentioned above did: Clutterbuck, Bertram, Lawrence, Neal, Bass... fair enough performances, but I don't think they stood out as much as say Pyatt and Clune did. Ditto Setoguchi on the more talented side.
- On the other teams, I'm glad I finally got to see a couple of games from the Americans... Jack Johnson certainly stood out and proved why he's being talked as a top-3 pick. I don't suppose that Stoa and Skille hurt their rankings anyway, but to be honest I wasn't really seeing their potential as top-10 picks (based on just 2 games, though).

Players whose stock might fall(?)
- Carey Price will still be a 1st rounder, but I have to wonder if he hasn't let the gap between himself and all the other NA goalies close quite a bit with his performance this tourney. It's not that he was bad, exactly. At times he was spectacular. But at other times he just seemed to have those mental lapses, and he was down so much... I dunno... he couldn't possibly have helped himself. Perhaps Rask had a similar tournament (we didn't see Finland). But right now, the goalies behind those two top-10 candidates must be catching up to them in some scouts' eyes.
- It might seem unfair, because J.P Paquet didn't see much ice after the first couple of games, but just to be edged into the spare slot by lesser-rated guys like Kurceba and Gragnani... well, it can't help his draft hopes any.
- I personally can't think this draft will do a lot for the Russians... Zubov and Anikeenko certainly had holes exposed, IMO. Istomin looked a bit more solid to me, but didn't accomplish much.

I'm sure there are lots more comments that could be made on such an important tourney, and lots of details left out above, but anyway, FWIW, there's a few rambling impressions. What it means for us and the Habs draft: I'm less sold on Parent than ever, and more open to the idea of Bourdon. I'm also not a big Latendresse fan, but I'm more interested in O'Marra. I'm more sure than ever before that there's a goldmine of defense depth in the 2nd-4th rounds. If we had a couple of extra 2nd/3rd rounders this year, we could really do something to plug our depth chart there. There are obviously lots of "heart and soul" bangers and grinders from the NA side there in those rounds too, but, as much as I like some of those guys, I think we need to steer clear in our draft.

Last edited by Blind Gardien: 04-24-2005 at 08:40 PM.
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04-24-2005, 10:04 PM
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I think what struck me the most about this tournament is just how deprived of top talent the Swedes are. Outside of Bergfors, there really is nothing to get excited about, and Bergfors is no Forsberg either. Too many years of passive defensive systems have caught up to them. Their system starves for talent right now.

O'Marra grew on me during this tournament, but not enough to consider him above Bourret, Setoguchi, Staal or even Bourdon, who I already liked before, but not enough to consider him a legit top-15. Well he now is, and if there's a guy that might skyrocket because of this tourney, it's Bourdon.

I must agree that Parent for me was a bit of a disapointment in the U-18, especially when it comes to physical play. He wasn't agressive and pro-active enough to compensate for his lack of offensive skills. Apparently he's a good leader, so that's an intangible, but his game lets me indifferent. He's composed and mature out there, but there's nothing that I really like about him, contrarily to Staal, Johnson and Bourdon.

Also, Anikeenko was dreadful. I wouldn't touch this guy with a 10-foot pole in the first 4 rounds. He's horrible positionally, sleeps in defensive assignments, slashes left and right but avoids contact in pressure situations and takes bad decisions after bad decisions. I don't want anything to do with him and I hope we pass.

Overall, I feel this draft class is unspectacular and there would not be a lot to get excited about if Crosby wasn't there. Lots of good NA grinders so it's time to stock up in that department, but the European side and top NA talents are unimpressive. There is no Phaneuf, Zherdev or Carter in this draft (I know, 2003 was amazing). All those guys up to the very best like Bobby Ryan have flaws. Very few complete packages in the elite talent level. So much that I wouldn't have any problem trading down this year if we pick around #18 again.

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04-24-2005, 10:11 PM
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Good analysis/recap of the tournament.

I realize there's more to drafting than just one tournament, but head to head, Bourdon came out on top over Parent, no question. I agree with you, I think I've gone back to him as my pick for a defenceman.

In terms of 2nd-4th round talent, I completely agree, I think there will be some real gems in there. I wish we had more picks in there because I think there will be some nice players.

As for the "heart and soul" players, I agree as well. There will a lot of NA players who are like Clutterbuck, Clune etc... but personally I think we need to stay away from them in the early rounds. Later on we can take a chance on a guy who "never quits but has limited offensive talent" but in that 2nd to 4th range, I think we should really look at some of the more offensively gifted guys. One guy who caught my eye was Morten Madsen. I don't know where he's slated to go, but I think he'd be a nice pickup. He's a pretty big guy too at 6'2 and he didn't seem to shy away too much from traffic/hits. (Granted it was only one game, but it seems like he put up some good numbers for Frolunda's U20 team.)

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04-24-2005, 10:44 PM
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I agree with most of those asessments.

I don't think Latendresse hurt his draft standing all that much - but I'm also of the opinion that he's held in lower esteem by the professional scouts than the majority of the "Backseat scouts" here at HF boards. All one had to do was look at Latendresse's game objectively to realize that he's not only in question as a first rounder, but in danger of falling late in the second round as well. I cringe at the thought of him trying to cover a Sakic or Forsberg on the backcheck, let alone a Martin Madsen.

There is a lot better European talent than first advertised. One player who really impressed me was Lelkes from Slovakia; I see him as a late riser, and a first rounder.

Other that impressed included Hanzal, From Bjork, Backstrom, and Mihalik. I see the latter three rising up in the final rankings substantially.

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04-24-2005, 10:51 PM
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I really liked O'Marra. I knew he was good but he really impressed me with is overall play and hard work.

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04-25-2005, 12:43 AM
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Latendresse was a disappointment. He has slow feet and seemed invisible for most of the tournament. Parent was also a disappointment, in that I had expected more. He looked like a Craig Rivet type of player -- useful, dependable, but nothing to get really excited about.

O'Marra showed some great qualities, but his skating was exposed against the shifty Czechs. He was often off-balance and reaching. Nevertheless, he's worth a 1st round pick in the teens. Setoguchi seems to lack either confidence or hockey sense. He was awesome at times, but at other times he looked like he was thinking the game rather than playing it. I'm not sold on him. Pyatt and Clune were the best grinders, but neither one is particularly big. Likewise, Bertram had some nice moments, but he seems awfully small.

I really liked Canada's defence as a group. Enough has been said about Bourdon. Mikkelson got better and better as the tournament wore on. He skates well for a big guy and he showed some good offensive instincts. Kurceba was steady. He has good size, and he should develop well in Red Deer. I also really liked Gragnani for some reason. This may be the year where drafting for need and BPA will coincide, as there should be lots of quality d-men in the early rounds.

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04-25-2005, 04:58 AM
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Another great post Blind Gardein... i always apprecaite when you guys can drop us a bit more info on young prospects especially at WC tounrnies! I normally get my info from you guys, or the prospects board and the web. You know not being as fortunate as you lot having the chance to watch varying hockey levels on TV every day.

I'm still sticking to my guns though that we've got to make a push for Bourdon, the more i read about him the more i think he has to be our pick, unless we end up with the Numero UNO pick.. then thats a different story. I'd also like to see how the Bigger Grinders would do in our organisation. once again we're still yearning for bigger forwards and i think like most of you guys have said we might be able to pick a few gems in latter rounds.

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04-25-2005, 08:15 AM
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I admit, the attitude to QMJHL defenders may changed in Canada after this tournament -
they've been considered as too much soft . However,everything was on the contrary in this case - they were very well in a physical game (Letang,Bourdon...) , and besides, Luc Burdon has became the best def of the tournament.

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04-25-2005, 02:10 PM
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Don't forget that a lot of the players of this draft class weren't there (i.e. Kopitar, Ryan, Staal, Pouliot, Bourret, McArdle, Zagrapan, etc) at this tournament. That's a lot of talent we couldn't see in action.

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04-25-2005, 03:04 PM
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I Don't think Latendresse has hurt his standing. He's a project! And I think that if we draft around 15 and he's still there, we should take a chance on him.

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04-25-2005, 05:33 PM
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For big forwards, Hanzal impressed me most - you can see that he has skills and a nose for the net. Both Latendresse and Stoa left me indifferent, though all seem somewhat raw. Each brings varying degrees of talent to the table - Hanzal's hockey sense seemed more acute.

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04-25-2005, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Blind Gardien
Istomin looked a bit more solid to me, but didn't accomplish much.

I haven't seen Russia yet but Istomin was injured early on, although who knows how bad it was or wasn't.

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