Monday, June 23, 2008

NHL Draft Thoughts

I didn't do very well w/ my pre-draft picks. I guess I had faith that Patrick Wiercioch would go before Justin Schultz, but other than that I wasn't very right. I thought some NHL teams would take fliers on a few of our recruits in the 6th and 7th rounds, maybe even the 5th.

All in all, I'm kinda glad I wasn't home to watch the 2nd day of the draft. It was an exciting 2nd round no doubt, but after that, a long wait. I was surprised to see Patrick Johnson drafted initially, but after thinking about it, I guess its not anymore of a stretch than a handful of other recruits who weren't drafted. I don't think anyone would argue that Patrick was one of, if not the hardest worker on the team last year. Sure he benefited from playing w/ KT and Geoffrion (pts wise), but Patrick made a lot of his own stuff happen through hard work. I'll be interested to see who his linemates will be this season, but I know one thing he'll bring his best every night, and hopefully that included a beat down of Joe Finley at some point.

Jake Gardiner was no surprise. After reading more about him, he certainly sounds like a project w/ his recent conversion to the blue line. Sure sounds like he has the talent, now Coach Oz needs to start molding him into a NHL caliber player. I think its fair to say that next season will be a rollercoaster ride for young Jake. The WCHA will really test him. Hopefully Jake understands the time this development will take, and won't rush himself.

The 2nd Round was impressive for other blue line recruits too. Cody Goloubef is a great pickup for Columbus, hopefully they don't need his services for a few seasons. He is a favorite of 60's, but really grew on me too as the season went one, and I would like to see 2 more years of him in Madison. Wiercioch and Schultz should be interesting to watch in Juniors again this season. Derek Stepan definitely went higher than I expected (but I don't know much), and I keep getting the feeling that after him, Jordy Murray and Matt Thurber get a few WCHA games under their belts, we'll forget all about the void left by Kyle Turris' departure.

Nick Pryor joined Wiercioch and Schultz as 2009 recruits when he was drafted in the 7th round. He must have had an impressive 2008, because he wasn't even on Central Scouting's mid term rankings, and just made the final cut. Looking forward to seeing him play in the USHL next season. He deserved to be drafted after providing our humble blog with the great reports from Russia awhile back.

As for the guys not drafted, Matt Thurber, Tyler Barnes and Jordy Murray were surprises for me. Someone commented somewhere either on Buckyville or USCHO, that Barnes didn't have much ice time against other great talent to gauge his true abilities. That makes some sense I suppose, he should get a better measuring stick next year in the USHL. Jordy Murray and Matt Thurber on the other hand, both were on championship teams this year, and both played huge roles in their teams achieving that level of success. As Andy Baggot said in his blog, NHL teams will regret not taking Thurber, and I think the same will be true for Murray. I believe they are both eligible for the 2009 NHL Draft still, and after good showings in the WCHA, a lot of teams will wish they had spent a 6th or 7th rounder on one of these kids. Hopefully they go much higher next season.

I think similar can be said for Barnes, Brock Montpetit, Chase Drake and Aaron Crandall. They weren't drafted this season, but should all be eligible next season (feel free to leave a comment if I'm wrong). Good seasons in the USHL should help their stock rise. That list doesn't include Jefferson Dahl and Gavin Hartzog either. Prehaps their names will be in the mix next season at this time as well for the 2009 NHL Draft.

Though the 2009 NHL Draft is a long way away, I wouldn't be surprised to hear 5+ more Badger player's names called, most of them being 19 year olds. I'm sure there will be great 18 years from around the world anxious to be picked, but the coaching staff has put together a great group of players who after another season of development, will prime for selection.