Jeff Farkas-Prospect or Suspect?
The is a school of thought out there that is starting to have doubts about Baby Bud winger Jeff Farkas. Picked out of that NCAA hockey factory Boston College in the 3rd round of the 1997 draft with the first choice the Leafs had in that selection process (thanks Cliff, thanks a lot), the knock on him has always been his size. He is equally adept at finishing and dishing and skates like the wind, but many wonder why he hasn’t become a regular at the ACC as of yet. Those that do point to such players that, drafted in later years, are already mainstays with their teams. Some were picked lower in the draft than Farkas, but by and large most were top ten, top twenty picks. That said, Farkas will be 23 years old when training camp rolls around and therein his critics find their most tangible point. But take a look around the league, specifically at those teams who’s farm system is the envy of all others. Ville Nieminen, the latest in a long line of Colorado blue chippers, got his first taste of NHL action when he was, you guessed it, 23 years old. Chris Drury, another NCAA product and a Hobey Baker Award winner made the jump when he was 22 as did Czech product Milan Hejduk. All were 3rd or 4th round selections. The fly in this ointment, Alex Tanguay, who was playing with the Avs at the age of 20, was picked 12th overall in 1998. Or how about the New Jersey Devils? Pierre Dagenais, widely tipped to take Alexander Mogilny’s spot in the line-up will be 23 when he reports in September. If it isn’t him, then it will surely be Jiri Bicek, another 23 year old. Dagenais was a 4th rounder, Bicek a 5th. Even with higher picks like Patrick Elias (2nd) and Petr Sykora (1st-18th overall), they didn’t nail down a permanent spots in the line-up until they were both 21 years old. Bottom line: Farkas, when compared to his contemporaries, hasn’t really fallen behind at all. The feeling here still is that he needs one more year of domination at the AHL level, but a Ville Nieminen type split-season between the AHL and NHL is probably more accurate.