2002 Draft Winners and Losers: Day 1
Every year, after the draft is all done and over, certain teams are recognized as winners or losers. Some are winners because they made some great selections and got good value for their picks, while the losers are the teams who could have done better. Obviously, the real winners and losers won’t be determined for four or five years when these prospects finish developing, but here is my take on which teams were the “winners and losers” after the first three rounds of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
(Jay Bouwmeester, Petr Taticek, Rob Globke, Gregory Campbell)
Any team that can come away with a talent like Jay Bouwmeester is automatically a draft winner. The Panthers were all set to select him first overall before Doug MacLean got desperate and needed to make a move in front of Atlanta to select Rick Nash, just in case the Thrashers wanted the forward from the London Knights of the OHL. Bouwmeester will thrive under head coach Mike Keenan and is expected to step right into the Panthers’ lineup and play perhaps a big role for their club. The Panthers swapped the 10th overall pick (originally acquired from the New York Rangers) and a 4th round pick to the Calgary Flames for the 9th overall pick to select center Petr Taticek from the Soo Greyhounds of the OHL. Taticek is a big, strong, highly skilled center who I projected the Panthers would take in my Mock Draft that I made last week. Taticek is the perfect example of a Mike Keenan type of player. In the 2nd round, with a selection they also acquired from the Rangers, the Panthers took a player that many think is one of a few who are close to stepping into the NHL right away in forward Rob Globke from the University of Notre Dame. Globke plays an all-around game and is a very versatile forward. Who can score, he can check, and best of all he can play defense. The Panthers dealt minor league tough guy Eric Godard to the New York Islanders for the 67th overall pick to select forward Gregory Campbell from the Plymouth Whalers. Does the last name sound familiar? Gregory is the son of Colin Campbell, a former coach of the Rangers and the NHL’s current disciplinarian. Fans in south Florida have to be extremely pleased with their team’s draft selections today.
(Steve Eminger, Alexander Semin, Boyd Gordon, Maxime Daigneault, Patrick Wellar, Derek Krestanovich)
Any time a team has three selections in the first round, it’s hard not to be considered a winner. Thanks to some pre-draft wheeling and dealing by General Manager George McPhee, the Washington Capitals put themselves in a good position to inject some talented youth into their organization. Steve Eminger is a steady, all-around defenseman who will be a solid NHLer for the next 10-15 years. I am surprised that he lasted until 12th overall but the Capitals aren’t complaining one bit. Eminger has played the past three seasons with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL and could possibly step into the NHL in one more year. Alexander Semin is a flashy Russian sniper who the Capitals nabbed with the 13th overall pick. He’s a player who increased his stock tremendously this season and has the potential to be a good goal scorer in the NHL some day. With the 17th overall pick, the Capitals played it safe by taking right winger Boyd Gordon from the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL. There’s nothing special or flashy about the way Gordon plays, he just goes out and plays hard. He has an incredible work-ethic and is a gritty, physical player who is responsible defensively and a leader on and off the ice. Some people question whether this was too early for Gordon but all you have to do is look how much Steve Konowalchuk, a similar player to Boyd Gordon, has made an impact on that franchise. At the end of the 2nd round the Capitals grabbed goalie Maxime Daigneault who led the Val D’or Foreurs of the QMJHL to the Memorial Cup finals last season. Some like Daigneault and feel he’ll be an NHL netminder, while others view him as vastly overrated and a likely bust. Time will tell. Patrick Wellar and Derek Krestanovich were decent selections in the third round.
|3||Columbus Blue Jackets|
(Rick Nash, Joakim Lindstrom, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, Jeff Genovy)
The Columbus Blue Jackets and GM Doug MacLean made a bold move at the top of the draft to ensure that power forward Rick Nash of the OHL’s London Knights would be available for them to select. MacLean dealt the 3rd overall selection and the option to switch 1st round picks in 2003 to the Florida Panthers in return for the first overall pick. The Blue Jackets got the future all-star that they wanted, but they better hope they are an improved team next season or the Panthers could wind up with another top ten selection in 2003 via the option that Columbus gave Florida in the deal. Nash could possibly step in to the NHL this season but more likely than not will be sent back to the OHL where he can continue to dominate and play for team Canada again at the world juniors. In the second round, through a few trades, the Blue Jackets selected Swedish forward Joakim Lindstrom with the 41st overall pick. Lindstrom is a physical, hard-working player who some scouts feel has potential NHL-captain written all over him. He was an excellent pick for the Blue Jackets and one that should pay dividends down the road. In the 3rd round Columbus selected Norwegian defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen at 65th overall and USHL forward Jeff Genovy 96th overall. Genovy is an interesting prospect who lit up the USHL this past season. At 6’3 and 197 lbs, he has the size to one day play in the NHL. Columbus could have done maybe a little better with their last two picks but their first two picks were superb and good enough to put them number 3 in my rankings.
|4||Los Angeles Kings|
(Denis Grebeshkov, Sergei Anshakov, Petr Kanko)
The Los Angeles Kings didn’t feel the need to make any deals involving their picks, and you can see why. They quietly just stayed put where they were and made some great selections. In the first round, 18th overall, the Kings selected Russian defenseman Denis Grebeshkov. He may be only 6 foot and considered soft, but his skating is excellent and he plays a solid two-way game. In the second round, the Kings selected sniper Sergei Anshakov who went from a nobody at the beginning of the year to a legitimate potential sniper come draft day. Los Angeles got a
steal by selecting Russian forward Alexander Frolov in the first round of the 2000 draft, and I think they’ve found themselves in a similar situation with Anshakov. He has the potential to climb up the charts much like Frolov did after being drafted. In the 3rd round, the Kings selected one of my favorite prospects, forward Petr Kanko, 66th overall. Kanko is only 5’10 but he’s a thick 195 lbs and is an aggressive and an extremely competitive player. He reminds me a lot of Vaclav Varada but with more offensive upside. He’s a pest and an agitating player. He’s the smallest one on the ice but definitely not the softest. There’s no fear in this kid and he’ll keep battling, battling and battling until he gets the puck. So far a very nice draft for the Los Angeles Kings.
(Ryan Whitney, Ondrej Nemec, Erik Christensen)
The Pittsburgh Penguins did an excellent job patching up their defense, selecting top defenseman Ryan Whitney from Boston University 5th overall and solid defenseman Ondrej Nemec from the Czech Republic 35th overall. Whitney is a big defenseman who has good speed and a high level of skill. He plays a two-way game and is solid in both ends of the rink. Scouts say he lacks the true hockey sense needed to be a number 1 defenseman, but he’ll be an effective NHLer nonetheless. Expect him to finish his collegiate career before turning pro. Ondrej Nemec is one of the more safer picks in this 2002 draft. He plays a steady game and tries to keep things simple. He likes to join the offensive rush and has underrated offensive skills, but by no means is a true offensive defenseman. He’s just an all-around good player and a great selection by the Penguins. Erik Christensen is a playmaking center from the Kamloops Blazers who the Penguins selected 69th overall. He has a good overall package of skills but will need to bulk up a little bit and get stronger. Christensen is a player who will need three or four years before he’s ready for the NHL.
|1||San Jose Sharks|
(Mike Morris, Dan Spang, Jonas Fiedler)
The San Jose Sharks always pull a few tricks out of their sleeves when it comes time to announce their picks. Over recent years, they are starting to become like the Boston Bruins, notorious for making shocking selections. This year for San Jose was no different. In the first round, 27th overall, the Sharks selected Mike Morris from St. Sebastien’s High School in Massachusetts. Wow. Hopefully they know something that the rest of us don’t that would justify this selection. This guy probably wasn’t on the majority of the teams’ radar until at least the third round and he goes ahead of such players as Jonas Johansson, Jeff Deslauriers, Ondrej Nemec, Jiri Hudler and Vladislav Evseev to name a few. If you told me that yesterday, I would have laughed in your face. Players have made the NHL after being drafted from high school, but it is rare. The Sharks dipped into the high school program again in the 2nd round, selecting defenseman Dan Spang from Winchester High School in Winchester, Massachusetts. Their first two selections, and two high school kids. Very interesting to say the least. Last year it was Germans, this year it’s high schoolers. What’s it gonna be next year, Norwegians? I’m probably being too harsh on the Sharks and hopefully these prospects prove me wrong, but at this moment I think there were better, more safer, options than the ones they chose.
|2||New York Rangers|
(Lee Falardeau, Marcus Jonasen)
The Rangers appeared to draft for need with their only two selections of the draft, in the second and third rounds. Lee Falardeau at 33rd overall is a bad pick in my opinion. There were definitely better players on the board still available and the Rangers blew this one. Falardeau has good size at 6’5 and 205 lbs but he doesn’t have very good offensive skills. He’s a good skater and a two-way forward in the mold of Joel Otto/Bobby Holik, although Falardeau does not posses the offensive skills that Holik inherits. Falardeau will likely find himself as a third line checker in the NHL which isn’t bad, but when their are more naturally talented players such as Jiri Hudler, Vladislav Evseev, Jarret Stoll and Joakim Lindstrom still on the board, how do you pass them up? The Rangers seem very pleased with the selection but I just can’t see why. In the 3rd round the Rangers were set to select at 75th overall but dealt the pick to Ottawa for the 81st and 127th selections. With the 81st pick, the Rangers selected a big Swedish winger by the name of Marcus Jonasen. The Rangers’ haven’t had much luck with Swedes in their past few drafts and I feel that again they could have done better with their selection. Daniel Fernholm, for one, was still on the board at 81st overall and in my opinion would have been a better option, as would have a few other players including Brandon Segal and Jan Kubista. We’ll have to wait and see with these selections, as both players are long term projects. But I can tell you that fans in New York, including myself, aren’t too pleased by these two choices.
|3||Tampa Bay Lightning|
The Tampa Bay Lightning made their only selection of the day a good one, taking Brampton Battalion power forward Adam Henrich in the 2nd round, 60th overall. Henrich has good potential but lacks consistency and that has affected his stock. The reason why Tampa Bay is noted as a loser in this draft because their deal with the Philadelphia Flyers can’t go unnoticed. Everyone outside the Lightning organization realize how bad they were robbed by the Flyers for the 4th overall pick. How good do they think Ruslan Fedotenko is going to be that justified acquiring him and two 2nd rounders and pass up on a chance to draft Joni Pitkanen? I know the Lightning said they wanted immediate players, but is this all they could get? Boy oh boy, things aren’t looking too good in Tampa Bay.