As the date of the NHL draft comes closer, people look forward to this big day in the life of these 18-20 year old prospects. Slovak fans are no exception to this rule.
Many scouts and GM’s could take a lesson from past drafts in order to avoid missing out on some good Slovak prospects. I can draw your attention to the fact that many scouts think Slovakia is just Bratislava (Slovak capital located in western part of the country) and maybe 50 miles from there. They have omitted and still omit the kids from central and eastern Slovakia where some teams e.g. Martin, Poprad, Banska Bystrica, Kosice, Zvolen, are grooming very talented prospects – Svehla, Bondra, Suchy, Bartecko, Handzus, Zednik, Orszagh, Petrovicky, Nagy, Vaic etc. All these players grew up neither in Bratislava nor in western Slovakia. Dear scouts, do not forget to travel across Slovakia to see other rinks, not just Bratislava, Nitra and Trencin.
However, I do not want to write about new prospects (it will be in my next article). My target is to review the players who have already been drafted.
I will start in 1988 because the other players drafted before this year retired except for two 40-year-old veterans – Igor Liba (37 games on L.A. and N.Y.R.) and Miroslav Ihnacak (56 games on Toronto).
Name, year of birth, NHL team and No. of pick, position, team in draft year, mother team, last season team
With the entry draft on the horizon, and the Capitals coming off what might be their best draft ever, I thought I would take a look back at what is considered the Caps’ worst draft of the 1990s. In 1996, Washington had twelve picks – including seven of the top 100. Not only that, but there was an NHL-calibre player on the board every time their turn came up. Now, just four years later, they have only one player to show for it.
This season the Capitals dealt former first round picks Alexandre Volchkov to Edmonton and Jaroslav Svejkovsky to Tampa Bay. That left the Capitals with young centre Jan Bulis as the only player under contract from their entire 1996 draft.
Washington held all of their picks 1 through 9 except the 4th rounder (98th) that they traded to Colorado for Anson Carter. They had acquired four extra selections through trades: L.A.’s 1st (4th overall ) and Dallas’ 4th (85th) from the Kings in exchange for Byron Dafoe and Dimitri Khristich; Dallas’ 3rd (58th) from Colorado for John Slaney; and Chicago’s 4th (74th) for Igor Ulanov.
Let’s take a look at the selections that David Poile and the Washington Capitals made in 1996, and try to determine what they were thinking on draft day and where they went wrong.
RW Alexandre Volchkov 6’1″ 194 – Barrie Colts (OHL)
(1st round, 4th overall – originally Los Angeles’ pick)
C.S.B. Ranking: 2nd, North American skaters
Actually drafted: 3rd N.A. skater taken
The Sarnia Sting had modestly high hopes for the 1999-2000 OHL season. They had lost quite a bit after the 1998-99 season as they lost 2-time league scoring champion Peter Sarno as well as 40-goal scorer Ivan Novoseltsev.
Things were looking good for the Sting early in the year as they sat 3rd in the 5-team West Division behind the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds and the Windsor Spitfires. The Sting remained consistent throughout the season and finished the season 3rd in the West Division and 4th in the Western Conference.
Going into the playoffs the Sting felt that they had a shot at going a fairly long way in the playoffs. Sting overager Mike Van Ryn told me before the playoffs, “I think we have the makings of going a fairly long way in the playoffs.” With the team that they had I can’t say that I disagree with him considering what they had lost coming into the season.
In goal the Sting boasted two strong goaltenders in overager Greg Hewitt and rookie Andrew Sim. Both were consistently good throughout the season. Sim posted the best Goals against average of any rookie goaltender with a 2.93 GAA.
On defense the Sting boasted the likes of overagers Dan Watson, a former league All-Star, former Canadian World Junior Team captain Mike Van Ryn and veteran Ryan VanBuskirk. All three of them provided the Sting with veteran experience on a fairly young team.
Past failures, and recent pressure indicate that the Canadiens will be looking to Europe for their early draft picks this year. The Montreal media have been quite vocal concerning the Habs’ past failures at the draft table. Serge Savard’s legacy still lives on in this regard. The past 10 years have seen too many players drafted for size rather than talent. Look for the Habs’ to be calling names like Nordqvist, Krykov, and Jonsson rather than names like Boyes, Taffe, and Dipietro.
Dave King’s presence in Europe during the past season is a huge indication of the team’s latest direction change. King has spent most of his time scouting players and working his contacts. Leading up to a draft there is usually 1 or 2 opinions that carry more weight than all the others. GM’s and scouting directors listen more attentively to these voices than to all the others combined. Look for Houle and Dorion to be paying especially close attention to the voice of one Dave King.
Another indication of the Canadiens’ draft plans is the recent agreement reached between the Habs and the Djurgarden Ice Hockey Club in Sweden. This agreement will allow both hockey clubs to send some of their top prospects to participate annually in the other teams’ rookie camp. The teams will also share information on player evaluation methods. Thereby allowing the Habs access to Djurgarden’s personal scouting reports.
The Hawks have confirmed that they have elected not to sign three 1998
draftees who are on my Hawk depth chart. Unlike other teams whose signees
and re-enters were reported on Thursday, the news trickled slowly out of
1901 West Madison.
They are Jonathan Pelletier (26 ), Sean Griffin(31),and Alexandre Couture (3
4 ). The numbers in parenthesis after their names indicate where I had them
slotted on the Hawk depth chart, all in the long shot area.
They will be reentering the draft since their agents wanted salaries and
signing bonuses quite higher than the organization wanted to pay.
More and more teams will be rejecting ridiculous negotiations when the player
seems a long way from being an NHL level talent.
I don’t think it is as much a negotiation tactic as it is fiscal
responsibility by the owners. The Mike Van Ryn ruling will determine once and
for all if drafting college players(along with drafting Europeans) will give
NHL teams an added time span in which the team holds the players rights, even
if they eventually play Major Junior for a year. Presently taking a European
player or college player gives you more time for them to develop and secures
them as team property as opposed to a junior player who you must sign with
the big league club after their final year of play in Canadien junior.
Van Ryn started out as a collegian and then dropped back into the OHL with Read more»