Overagers in the NHL Draft

by Mark Schwarz
The NHL Entry Draft is an event which is, first and foremost, about the future. Teams are attempting to bolster their organizational depth and set their organizations on a course which should keep them competitive into the next decade and beyond. The stars of the day are young players who won’t impress themselves into the minds of casual hockey fans for years, if at all. Despite that, winning now will always be the primary issue in the eyes of NHL General Managers, and after the TV cameras are shut off and the National Car Rental Center in Miami begins to empty, teams will have an opportunity to address their current rosters by delving into the ranks of European players they’ve ignored in the past. Players initially deemed too small, too slow, or lacking the skill to succeed in North America continue to hone their skills in their respective domestic leagues, and every year a substantial group will advance to the point at which they’ll merit a draft selection and receive chance to prove themselves in the NHL.

It wasn’t always this way – the top European players were drafted into NHL organizations as teenagers, and those who were passed over would be extremely unlikely ever to get another chance. However, as the NHL reached the mid-1990s, this suddenly began to change. The calibre of the top European leagues was continuing to rise while the pace of the NHL was dropping due to expansion and a diluted talent pool so the gap between the level of play on the two continents narrowed like never before. Those teams on the cutting edge who came to this realization fir Read more»

Flyers past drafts

by Bill Meltzer

Projecting the future is, at best, a tricky proposition. That is especially true when the future you are trying to predict is that of teenage hockey player. There are so many variables at work that there are bound to be more misses than hits, even in the early stages of the NHL draft. Predicting the future, however, is exactly what NHL scouts are paid to do and there are certain franchises that seem to regularly come up with players who go on to become contributors at the NHL level, while other organizations seem to come up empty year after year.

There are generally two components to a team’s drafting philosophy. The first is whether they try to fill a positional need or whether they go for what they think is the best player available at that point, regardless of his position. The second facet is the order in which teams rank the following criteria when assessing a potential draftee’s upside: size and strength (either current or “projected”, i.e., after a young player’s frame fills out); skating ability; level of competition; offensive statistics; and reports on the player’s coachability.

A team’s drafting record is often credited to (or blamed upon, as the case may be) the organization’s general manager. Although they rarely have the opportunity to scout the players directly, the GMs are the ones who have the final say and the ones who decide which of their scouts’ recommendations to trust when there is not a concensus on a pick. It is also the GMs who have selected many of the scouts in the first place, although there are usually carryover scouts from previo Read more»

Toronto’s Bid For AHL Team Very Slim

by Andrew Bourgeois


The Toronto Roadrunners sound extremely hopeful of one day joining the AHL, but the chances of that happening appear to be very slim.

The Roadrunners were scheduled to join the International Hockey League in 2002, but the IHL folded,with six other teams from the now-defunct league absorbed by the AHL. The Roadrunners say they will apply for an AHL expansion franchise this summer, but there may not be any room.

The AHL will have 27 teams next season and league president and CEO Dave Andrews hopes to see that number increase to 30 for 2002-03 with the activation and relocation of three mothballed franchises – the Louisville Panthers, who recently suspended operations; the Adirondack Red Wings (owned by Detroit); and P.E.I. Senators (owned by Ottawa). That would provide one affiliate for every NHL team. And since Andrews says the AHL will not have more member clubs than the 30-team NHL (which has no plans for expansion), it’s unlikely any application from the Roadrunners would get much support.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have taken a more than cool attitude to the possible presence of the Roadrunners in their backyard. St. John’s general manager Bill Watters, who is also the assistant to Leafs’ president Ken Dryden, says the NHL team has no interest in the future of the Roadrunners.

“The only thing we’ve said to them is that we have absolutely no interest in being their affiliate,” said Watters. “St. John’s is where our farm team is located and we’ve made it clear we’re very happy with that arrangement.”
It may b Read more»

2001 Draft Profile: Mark Popovic

by Jonathan Litterine
There may not be any defenseman in the 2001 draft as solid in his own
zone as Mark Popovic. The St. Mike’s defenseman is amazingly steady. He’s
always in position taking care of his man. He also is a steady offensive
player. I mean he insn’t Brian Leetch or Nick Lidstrom but he is solid in
the offensive zone as well.

At 6’1 , 195 he isn’t the biggest defenseman in
the draft , but he plays a lot bigger. He is not a goon or a tough guy , but
he certainly will bang and take the body to help out his team in any

There seems to be a different set of opinions, as to where
Popovic will go in the draft. He will be a first round pick. Yet he might go
as high as about 10 or so, or he could drop closer to 20. All depends who’s
left and who has the current picks at the present time. Yet nobody doubt’s
Popovic’s ability to play in the NHL very soon. He might be the closer to
being NHL ready then any other defenseman in the field. Someone will get
Popovic and some franchise will be very happy. Expect his steady game to be
on the blueline of a NHL franchise for a long long time.

Pen’s Dome Another Bust

by Richard A. Plisco
The Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1997 NHL entry draft with their first
pick, 17th overall, selected Robert Dome. Dome was such an unknown
quantity at that point that even ESPN archives had little or no actual
game footage of the young Slovakian forward. The one fact that most
critics cited as a reason for Pittsburgh’s choice was that Dome had
spent time playing in the IHL, which was primarily stocked with men, as
opposed to toiling further in the junior ranks. This exposure to
“grown-up” hockey was supposed to be a key factor in his development and
speed his entry into the NHL.

Reality set in quickly however for the Penguins’ scouting staff as Dome
arrived for training camp out of shape. This would become habitual
behavior for the Slovak youngster. Although he produced respectable
numbers in the junior ranks for Dukla, he did not display that scoring
touch in the IHL. In fact, he never managed more than 30 points. The
Penguins, hoping to find another Jagr, or at least someone that could
blend well with the big cast of European talent on the team, put him on
the ice immediately.

In his first 30 NHL games in 1997, Dome tallied just 5 goals. The team
sent him to their AHL affiliate in Syracuse for conditioning. With the
Crunch, he was able to pocket 21 goals in 36 contests, just enough to
keep the Pens interested in his development. The following season saw
Dome remain in the minors, never to crack an NHL lineup. He squeaked out
20 goals in 68 games, hardly exhibiting the sniper like talent that the
team claimed he possessed. In fa Read more»

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