Every June, the NHL holds its annual talent replenishment in the form of the Entry Draft. Each draft is unique in that a particular position, or perhaps one league, team or country ends up being the main fixation of NHL GMs in the draft’s early going. With that thought in mind, the theme for the first couple rounds of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft will almost certainly be “The Russians Are Coming!”
By the time the 1st round is completed next Saturday, there will likely have been 9-10 Russian players drafted, a figure that represents 1/3 of the 1st round choices. When the 15th pick comes up, a pick held by the Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo may well be one of those teams that looks toward the talent-rich former Soviet Union for their top pick in the draft.
As the Sharks head into the 2000 draft, barring any draft day trades, the Sharks will not end up with any bluechip prospects, or anyone ready to fill holes immediately. Being a weak draft, and since the Sharks enter this draft with no first round pick, the chances of them picking up anyone of substance are slim.
Holes the Sharks may try to fill this year are up front, as their defense is set for years to come. Unless a top goaltending prospect drops into the 3rd round, I don’t expect them to pick a goalie until the 5th round. Their most important need at this point resides at left wing where the Sharks remain thin and center, which is still a question mark.
The Sharks’ 1st round selection belongs to the Montreal Canadians as a result of the deal that brought Vincent Damphousse to San Jose. Barring any draft day trades, which I would not be surprised at, the Sharks will enter a draft for the first time without a first round draft pick.
The Sharks hold the option whether to give Montreal this year’s 2nd round choice or their 2nd round choice in 2001 as a result of the Damphousse trade. My opinion is that the Sharks should give Montreal this year’s pick for 2 main reasons. First, this draft simply isn’t very good, and 2001′s draft is very good. Next year, the Sharks could easily acquire a 2nd tier prospect in the 2nd round (a player normally a late 1st rounder). Second, next year’s pick is likely to be lower given an expected improvement next year. Read more»
Finally the Oilers may discontinue their horrendous draft record from the years 1984 to 1992, where not one of their first round picks made the team, by having another solid day at picking and choosing the hope for the future. Under the Current salary restrictions of being a small market team Edmonton must build through the draft since it has very little chance of competing on the free agent market. Also, development of these players is even more crucial because of the recent resignation of Glen Sather who made one savvy deal after another to keep his team from falling into the basement of the league.
This years war room is headed by director of player personnel Kevin Pendergast who has been with the Oilers for nine years and is on the lookout for players who might eventually have to replace Doug Weight since he is a free agent in two seasons. A big scoring center is at the top of the list, and preferably one that could possibly come and play in a couple of seasons. This would be a luxury they have not had since Jason Arnott.
When the 1999 NHL draft came and went everyone seemed excited with the idea that the Rangers had managed to reel in two blue chip prospects. One fact that was ignored however, was that the cost of adding these players was the loss of a first round pick in the 2000 draft. The Rangers would have drafted 8th overall and they may have ended up with a solid player, but the fact of the matter is the 1999 draft was far superior to the 2000 version in both depth and initial talent levels. A year later the Rangers have two kids who should fight for an NHL spot while it appears Tampa Bay will merely get a “good” player with a chance at the NHL. While nothing is for certain the Rangers should end up with the better end of the stick on this one. With a new GM in the fold the team attempts to pull off the feat of drafting a solid NHL prospect in the second round, something they have had very limited success with in the past 4 years.
The Los Angeles Kings face a critical couple of weeks as they will hope Minnesota and Columbus do not clean them out in the expansion draft and then hope a skilled forward lasts to their pick in the expansion draft.
The Kings expansion protected list was a couple players shy of what the Kings were hoping for. After potentially holding their cards too long the Kings had to protect two goalies and therefore could not protect Sean O’Donnell and Pavel Rosa. The loss of either or both of these players would hurt the Kings. Rosa is the most tradable forward in the Kings organization and after suffering through some horrible seasons, Sean O’Donnell has turned himself into a solid blueliner and an imposing fighter whose lack of penalty minutes speaks to his evolution. He is also one of the top scrappers on the team. Since O’Donnell knocked out Jeff Odgers a couple years ago, most enforcers have steered clear of Odie.
Rosa is still an attractive offensive forward that the Kings could package with a goalie after the draft and possibly get a major contributor. Rosa is also the best of a poor collection of forwards in the Kings system and his departure would leave the cupboard bare.
The 2000 entry draft is vital for the Kings future. They seem to be solid at goalie and defensemen, so drafting some forwards with size and skill who can contribute will be key.