There will be more than a little bit of nail-biting going on in Toronto this weekend as the Leafs attend the Entry Draft for the first time since super scout Anders Hedberg and Mike Smith, no small fry in the field either, left the Buds organization. This is a club that has been cursed for nearly 25 years by having Harold Ballard associated with the franchise and suffered at the draft table because of it.
Remember when the Leafs had 3 first round picks in 1989? Instead of actually spending some money on hiring good scouts, Gord Stellick was left to run this Mom ‘n’ Pop operation relatively alone when compared to other clubs. In the end the Leafs ended up taking Scott Thornton (after a decade of limbo has finally developed into a 3rd line checking winger) 3rd overall, Rob Pearson (out of hockey for years now) with the 12th pick and Steve Bancroft (career minor league defenseman) in the 21st slot overall, all from the Belleville Bulls. This in a draft class that included Bill Guerin (#5 to New Jersey), Olaf Kolzig (#19 to Washington) and Adam Foote (#22 to Quebec).
Or how about Benning, Boimstruck, and Gill starting on the Leaf blueline in the same season as rookie 18 year olds so King Harold would have a box office draw that year? That was the beginning of the end of the first two and the last only stuck it out because of expansion. It’s highly doubtful that Todd Gill would still be in the NHL today if there were only 21 teams, like there were 10 years ago. The draft and development fiascos go on and on. Read more»
As the 2000 entry draft approaches, the Flyers are stocked at the goaltending position. 1995 first round selection Brian Boucher is coming off a stellar rookie season and waiting in the wings are highly touted 1999 first rounder Maxime Ouellet and SM-Liiga rookie of the year Antero Niittymäki. The Flyers depth in goal allowed the organization to trade yet another well-regarded prospect, Jean-Marc Pelletier, to Carolina as part of the Keith Primeau deal.
Moving out from the goal line to the blueline, even with Andy Delmore and Mark Eaton likely to stick for a full season with the Flyers in 2000-2001, there remains a decent pool of young defensemen in the farm system, although there are no likely #1 or #2 defensemen to be found. It is possible that the Flyers will use the 28th overall selection to take a defenseman. The Flyers like their defensemen big. The franchise has little or no interest in small defensemen, at least at the NHL level; the smaller blueliners the team has drafted or signed as rookie free agents tend to either be traded before turning pro (Mike Crowley, Ray Giroux) or converted to wingers (Dan Peters). However, there has been increased emphasis on finding mobile defensemen for the organization. Because most of the defenders who have been drafted by the Flyers in recent years tend to be big punishing types (Jason Beckett, Jeff Feniak, etc), the organization has signed undrafted rookies such as Delmore and Eaton to provide some speed on the blueline.
After an abysmal inaugural season in the NHL and a mediocre draft last year, the Atlanta Thrashers will look to build more organizational depth and acquire desperately needed talent at the 2000 NHL Entry Draft this weekend. The decisions made by general manager Don Waddell and the Atlanta scouting staff on Saturday and Sunday will be critical to the future health of the franchise. With very little talent on the current NHL roster and very few legitimate prospects on the way, the Thrashers must use every pick wisely.
It all starts with the second overall selection this weekend. Atlanta has many options available and its selection will likely depend on what happens with the first overall pick. The New York Islanders currently own that pick, but may trade it or swap picks with another team. If that happens, it can impact what the Thrashers plan to do.
Atlanta is perhaps most interested in Dany Heatley, the top rated North American player in the draft. Many scouts believe he is ready to step into the NHL immediately and the Thrashers could definitely use his dynamic offensive ability. The only potential problem is that Atlanta already has two excellent left wing prospects in Tomi Kallio and Zdenek Blatny. Still, there have been consistent rumors around Atlanta that Heatley is the team’s first choice. But nothing is certain at this point and Heatley might not be available if he is taken with the first pick.
Ricky DiPietro may be cocky, flashy and some have even said arrogant, but even if all those things are true one fact remains, he will be one of the top five picks in the upcoming NHL entry draft and will most likely have a long successful career in the NHL.
The first time I saw Ricky play I was in Portsmouth, New Hampshire for a job interview. I flew in from Portland, Oregon and was turning the channels on the TV looking for some hockey. I hadn’t seen much college hockey (except for the frozen four on ESPN a couple years back), so when I came across a Boston University game I have to admit I wasn’t all that excited. I watched for a few minutes and was mesmerized by the BU goalie. Not only was he making saves and playing smart hockey, he was also taking several chances and virtually dictating the pace of the game himself. The most incredible display of skill was his ability to handle the puck. It has been said that he is like having another defenseman, but I honestly think he is like another forward. After my long flight and a big dinner I was falling asleep, when the BU goalie launched a perfect outlet pass opening up a forward for a breakaway and a goal. Needless to say, I watched the rest of the game and have been hooked on college hockey ever since.
What does Columbus need? Answer: Everything; scoring, defense, goaltending, a captain, a coach, prospects and a new mascot. Of these items only prospects will be partially filled on June 24th and June 25th. Don’t expect any draft day trades by MacLean, opting instead for the 4th overall pick in the first round.
So who will be chosen? Answer: Nobody knows for sure. Heatley and Gaborik will probably already be chosen by the time Columbus takes the podium. After the 2nd spot who knows what will happen; the draft has few consensus picks after the top four. Players may rise and fall like Ty Jones’ chances of making the Blackhawks. There are some very good players in the 2000 Entry Draft, as for who they are it depends on which scout you talk to.
Here is the list of the likely suspects to be taken 4th overall by the Columbus BlueJackets, including a couple of darkhorse options:
Rick DiPietro - a superb college goaltender that really shined in the WJC for the U.S.A. What makes him so enticing, besides his competitiveness, is his flashy stick handling which forces the opposition to play him like he was a Rover in the 1800’s.
Rostislav Klesla - considered the best all around defenseman in the draft, Klesla combines toughness (174 PIM) with good outlet passes. He projects to be a # 2 Dman.