Wednesday, June 20, 2007


A Draft is Looming

An NHL Draft, that is.

This weekend is the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Columbus will be hosting the draft and Versus will be airing the first round this Friday (6/22) at 7 PM EST. TSN and the NHL Network will also air the first round. Just as a heads up, if you are fortunate to get the NHL Network, they will be airing the rest of the NHL Draft that will take place on Saturday starting at 10 AM EST. Hopefully, the NHL Network becomes available in the U.S. on DirecTV.

Aside: Do any of you fine readers have the NHL Network? If so, could you tell me what the NHL Network actually offers? I'm thinking perhaps vintage games, recaps, etc. not unlike the NFL Network.

If you can't tell the difference between potential #1 draft pick Patrick Kane and WWE Superstar Kane, don't worry. There are plenty of resources available online for you to get educated about the 2007 draft class. My understanding is that this year's crop of players isn't spectacularly deep in talent; however, you can't judge a draft class until about 5 years so for all I know these young men could become great players one day. If you're looking for an official NHL source complete with Central Scouting Services rankings and all sorts of additional information, the NHL website has a rather meaty section for this year's NHL Entry Draft. Official sources aside, the most comprehensive free site for prospects is Hockey's Future. All sorts of team specific draft previews, nationality specific previews (e.g. The top 10 Sweden prospects for the draft), prospect profiles (e.g. Angelo Esposito), and even a review of the 2007 NHL Draft Combine. Their message boards has an entire forum devoted to prospects and the draft. If you ever wanted to get opinions about, for example, who will be available in the third-round (note: the Devils have two of these), you may actually get a legitimate opinion in that regard.

There are all kinds of mock drafts available to get a feel for who will be selected in the first round. Via HFBoards, Red Line Report has put up a mock draft on USAToday's website which you can view here. The staff at Hockey's Future has their own mock draft up on their site. While the Devils do not have a first round pick, New Jersey-born James van Reimsdyk is projected to be a top 3 pick. Congratulations to van Riemsdyk; hopefully he becomes a great player, but not for, say, Philadelphia. Go West, young van Riemsdyk (heh). In any case, a mere 20 minutes of studying this and you'll be considerably more knowledgeable about the draft then most people.

Speaking of the Devils, while they don't have a first rounder and will not have their selection on television (aside from the NHL Network), James Ramsden of Hockey's Future has a solid preview of the Devils' current state of their prospects and where they can improve. I think it is a very fair assessment. I agree that there are not that many Devils prospects that display a lot of solid quality. Such is the result of drafting late in every round for the better part of the last 13 years or so, I think Ramsden recognizes that. However, I wouldn't go as far to state that the Devils have a lot of depth at defense and then state that there is a lack of quality there. Yes, none of the defensive prospects immediately jump out at you and say "Yes, I will be a future NHL regular." However, if I recall correctly, Matthew Corrente did impress at training camp, Mark Fraser did not look out of place in a few games with New Jersey this past season, and other players like Tyler Eckford has grown since being drafted. What I'm suggesting is that the Devils' defense prospects are a bit better than what Ramsden lets on. However, aside from the upsides of Nicklas Bergfors and Alexander Vasyunov, the Devils are quite weak at wing and they would do well to bolster that area either with draft picks or signing undrafted free agents.

That being said, expect the Devils to draft the best player available regardless of need. In hockey, prospects do take time (and need time) to develop and organizational needs are better suited to be met through other means (free agency, trades). With prospects, even a seemingly safe pick could become a bust. Given that the Devils do not have the luxury of an earlier pick in each round, this strategy is fairly sound (and successful when you consider Zach Parise, Paul Martin, Brian Gionta, and Travis Zajac as examples).

Anyway, if you're looking to see any kind of hockey on television before next season, this will likely be the last thing you'll get to see. Be sure to check out the the NHL Draft. I know I will despite the fact that the Devils won't be drafting anyone on Friday.

TELL THEM WHY: Pookie and Schnookie's Interchangeable Parts is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) of Devils-centric blogs on the Internet. And they want to hear from you. Well, first read their blog a bit, this way you would be a Gentle Reader(TM). You'd notice they are planning to list the 118 Reasons they Love Hockey. As it is they have plenty of solid reasons ranging from Jay Pandolfo to their mom to a very, very good reason to love hockey. However, they want to know why you (the aforementioned Gentle Reader(TM)) love hockey. So check out IPB and perhaps you'll be inspired to send them a reason of your own. I'll have a go at it in the near future.


As usual, great work dispensing news of the state of the Devils. Even though the state of the Devils is, well, sort of bleak, prospect-wise. If only there was some way to sugar-coat it...

And thanks for pimping IPB here! I have to say, while we have had a surprising popularity, sadly we seem to suffer a dearth of actual Devils fans who read us regularly... :-) I'm looking forward to hearing from you why you love hockey -- maybe with your help we can shift the balance away from all those Sabres fans who seem to think we're big fans of their team!
Well, there's no way to sugar-coat prospects; they'd probably hate being covered in any kind of powder.


OK, bad jokes aside, I really do think the Devils are fine in terms in defensive prospects. So there's no obvious #1/#2 d-man prospect. There's not going to be any if the team is drafting in the lower third in each round for the better part of the last 13 years or so. A #1 d-man is quite an asset - it's not as if they are everywhere in the league. That said, the crop of young d-men are fine; and I don't think there's any reason to worry now with goaltending (I think Frazee is going to be all right). At forward, things are thin now, but even then if the Devils need to fill a roster spot there are other ways that I think are better in the short-term. Not to mention they scored with two impact players there anyhow (Parise and Zajac).

I wrote an incredibly long ramble as to why I'm a Devils fan. I'll try to punch up why I love hockey into a more concise blurb.
Long rambles about why you're a Devils fan are my very favorite kinds of long rambles! (So says one Devils blogger to another... could that have been a more obvious statement?)

I like to naively think, on the rare occasions I ponder the Devils prospects, that part of the shallowness in the system is a result of so many first- and second-year players actually working impact minutes on the big club. I know it's simplistic, but the fact of the matter is, 1/3 of the Devils NHL d-corps is going to be second-year guys next season in Oduya and Greene. It really is a lot to ask a team to be able to plug in two guys like that and still have depth in the system after, as you've correctly pointed out, 13 years of crummy draft positioning.
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