Subscribe to Bourne's Blog Grab My Feed!Subscribe to Bourne's Blog Subscribe to Comments

FJM’ing Lambert’s Links – What We Learned



In this weeks edition of “What We Learned“, Ryan Lambert went black and white on us – he looked at each team’s performance at the NHL Draft, and declared them either a winner, or a loser.  Let’s weigh in with our thoughts:


What We Learned  

Anaheim Ducks: Winners, no question. How happy was Bob Murray to get Cam Fowler at No. 12 and then pull a native Californian at No. 29? Have a look at the smile on his face. Tells you all you need to know. Now maybe he’ll think about giving Bobby Ryan(notes) a call.

Man it must take the pressure off when some highly touted prospect drops to your spot.  You’re completely off the hook for your pick.  Even if the guy’s a bust you have the “Right, but who wouldn’t have picked him, everyone had him as a top five prospect…. when he drops to 12 you have to take him” card.

Atlanta Thrashers: Winners. The Thrashers wanted Alex Burmistrov for a while. “We targeted this player from Day One,” Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley said. See? Plus, Dudley did not make any completely insane, terrible trades, so you gotta figure that’s a positive as well.

My guess is, the 2010-11 Thrashers would beat the 09-10 Thrashers in a best of seven series.  Unfortunately, I don’t see the 10-11 Thrashers finishing higher in the standings than the 09-10 ones did.  The whole league gets better every year, and I just don’t think they’ve improved more than the next team.  Yet.

Boston Bruins: Winners. Settling for Tyler Seguin is pretty OK, especially since they didn’t need to finish 29th in the league to get him. I also really like the Vladimir Sobotka-for-David Warsofsky swap. Warsofsky’s an undersized defenseman, but he’s also pretty much the definition of a big-game player.

I couldn’t pick Sobotka or Warsofsky out of a police line-up. 

The B’s are lookin’ scary, but so is this Savard rumour.  How did their cap situation get so befuddled so quickly?  I feel like I never heard a peep about it til it was about to explode.

Mark Pysyk

 Buffalo Sabres: Losers for now. The Sabres took a project in Mark Pysyk, who even they admit is at least three years away from playing in the NHL and there were draft-day questions about his bladder. Pysyk was highly ranked by Central Scouting but dropped into the mid-20s, and the Sabres clearly wanted Riley Sheahan.

He tried to explain his “growing problem” to the Sabres before, but Buffalo was insistent that, as in the Tyler Myers case, they liked big d-men. 

…Yep, that’s a Flomax joke, people.

Calgary Flames: Losers. “The only splash I would have made is off the surfboard,” Darryl Sutter said Saturday as the seventh round drew to a close. “There’s not much happening here.” That’s what happens when you trade your first- and second-round picks for Olli Jokinen(notes) and Rene Bourque(notes), you dope.

This has nothing to do with his draft performance, but I’m continually boggled by franchises that hire GM’s/Coaches that clearly couldn’t pass the SAT’s.  These jobs have to require some level of social skill and intellect, don’t they?  You can’t just hire “hockey people”.  And if you insist on hiring a “hockey person”, you couldn’t find someone a little more cerebral, like a Joe Nieuwendyk type?  Also, the Sutter’s are family friends, so I apologize for my previous remarks.

Carolina Hurricanes: Winners, at least over all. You can easily criticize them for passing on Fowler and Brandon Gormley, but they targeted Jeff Skinner and got him. Plus they traded for Bobby Sanguinetti(notes), who is instantly one of their better D-men (though what that says about the state of the ‘Canes blue line is obviously not so good).

Wait, so if you target the wrong player and get him, it’s a win? 

I don’t know what to make of Carolina these days, but if Bobby Sanguinetti really is one of their better d-men as Lambert pointed out, that’s some cause for concern. 

Chicago Blackhawks: Winners, clearly. They won the Stanley Cup, got a first-round pick for a mediocre forward that overachieved in the playoffs thanks to a never-ending series of favorable zone starts, and had five picks in the first two rounds. Plus drafting a guy named Ludvig is gonna be an easy W every time.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up. 

It’s a shame that the Hawks pressing cap concerns have made everyone chuck some footnote on how good they are and how great their Cup win was.  For months its been, “yeah, but next year, they are in truh-ble!”  Yeah, here comes the cellar, Hossa-Toews-Kane-Keith-Campbell-Seabrook-Sharp-Versteeg and crew!  Even if they lose one of those guys…. they’re fine, ebberyone.  Calm down.

Colorado Avalanche: Losers. The Joey Hishon pick was high comedy. Ranked as the 55th-best North American skater, he went No. 17 overall. Even he couldn’t believe the Avs picked him, and not in that whole “I never thought this day would come,” way, but rather that whole “I literally could not believe I went that high,” way. The Calvin Pickard selection, though, almost made up for it.

The Avs aren’t lacking for young talent, but I have the same question about them that I do the Isles – GM careers aren’t exactly all that long.  Why build for another GM’s success? 

Turn a couple of your assets, your “maybe’s” (picks and prospects that aren’t obvious future stars) into support for your young gunners and try to win today.  You’re laughing if you just get off your wallet and get in the mix!  I’m all for the Brian Burke theory of “building?  Patience?  Nnnno.”  (For every Chicago/Pittsburgh that went through years of futility to build through the draft and win, there’s three Pathers/Isles/Columbus etc. that are perpetually trying the “success through prolonged failure” method. Win when you can, fellas.)

Columbus Blue Jackets: Losers for now. I dunno, maybe the Ryan Johansen pick works out big-time and Rick Nash(notes) finally has someone that can get him the puck forever. But it’s more likely that leaving Fowler waiting until No. 12 will prove to be one of those “How did they pass on THAT guy?” picks in about five years.

I agree with Lambert.  Columbus is one of those teams that needs actual NHL talent, not a guy who could possibly/maybe work out as a pretty good player.  If I’m them, I’d have done one of two things:

1) Take Brandon Gormley, who’s widely recognized as a cerebral, definite NHLer.  Not a “he could be good”, but a “he’ll definite be a regular on an NHL roster ASAP.” Columbus needs another cornerstone to build on.

2) Or, fuck it, take Kirill Kabanov, who’s thick with problems, but LOADED with talent, something that team desperately needs.  Maybe he’s so moved by them taking a chance on him with a high pick he pulls it together.  At the very least, he shakes up a team that’s just so…. Ohio.  Isn’t it?

Dallas Stars: Winners, I guess. I wasn’t alone in thinking they had a more pressing need at the blue line than they did in goal, but Jack Campbell is a proven winner — unlike noted American loser Mike Lee — and they loaded up on D with three of their four other picks. I’d say they did the best they could have.

Nieuwendyk’s comments on not extending a contract to Modano were insanely understanding, logical, calculating and professional.  He’s one of my new favourite GM’s.

Detroit Red Wings: Winners. I like the Riley Sheahan pick, but Kenny Holland better hope his history-bucking works out. It’s the first forward the Wings have taken in the first round since 1992 when they drafted some fellow called Curtis Bowen, who played exactly zero NHL games and never scored more goals or points in a season at any level than he did in his draft year.

I mean, most people have their highest stat years when they get drafted - it’s junior hockey.  But that’s beside the point.  The point is, I’ve learned to trust Ken Holland.  He’s too young to start going Belichick on us (resting on his rep).

Derek Forbort

Edmonton Oilers: Winners. Taylor Hall may be odd-looking and boring and probably dumb as a bag of pucks, but that has very little effect on his game, which is obviously outstanding.

Good for Edmonton, honestly.  They deserve a good team there.  Passionate fans, and not much else to focus on. 

Also, I really, really hate the Oilers.  Not just that they’re “the Oilers”, but their entire roster too.

Florida Panthers: Winners. You can’t say Dale Tallon doesn’t know how to rebuild a hockey club. Three first-round picks, another two in the second, 13 overall. They’re going to be terrible for several more years, but they could, in theory, become the 2017 version of this year’s Blackhawks. They had the best weekend of anyone, no question.

Yup, if I were a fan of that franchise, I’d be thrilled to know that “best weekend of anyone” equates to a potentially decent team in like a half-dozen years.  Excuse me while I stop following the team until then.

My theory on “rebuilding” teams like NYI and Florida is that the GM’s want some job security.  By playing the “I’m not trying to win now” card, and developing some prospects, it’s real easy to make it look like you’re headed in the right direction…. while you keep collecting those paychecks and years of experience.

Los Angeles Kings: Losers. Love the Derek Forbort pick (think of that blue line in about four years! Doughty, Hickey, Teubert, Forbort!). But this is a Kings team that’s not really in a position to sit back and take safer, project picks just yet, and that was their stated goal coming in. They hosted the draft and needed to make a splash, and I’m sorry but they just didn’t.

The Kings are another team that could be good enough to get in the mix if they just drop the hammer on some trades or free agents.  Move one of those two goalies and add a puzzle piece!

Minnesota Wild: Winners. The Wild loved Mikael Granlund. Had him ranked third overall in the draft, in fact. Then they had three second-round picks. They had four picks in the first two rounds in the last THREE drafts.

I’m not so sure “quantity” is the goal when it comes to prospects, but that’s great that they got a guy they wanted.  A lot of my readers are Wild fans, and I love LOVE Minnesota (I’ve only been to the WCHA cities, but enjoyed them all).  So, I want to discuss them more.  But they’re f**king BORING right now.  I could just run Russo’s bit on their mediocrity everytime in this spot and most of their fans would go “yep, that’s about right.”

Montreal Canadiens: Losers. The Habs liked Jarred Tinordi so much they moved up five spots to get him and so did the Canucks (he was the condition on that conditional 25th they sent to Florida), but he was also their only pick in the first three rounds. Maybe they just figured that at 6-foot-6, he was equal to picking two normal Canadiens forwards.

Hey look, an entire sports franchise has small-man’s-syndrome.  Never seen that before.  They traded for the little speedy guys, got made fun of (a lot) and immediately took on this odd, Napoleon complex of a personality (could be the whole French thing too, I guess).  Now they’re like “look!  We’ve got big guys!  There’s Hal Gill!  He’ll crush you!  Ahhh forget it, eff you all.”

Nashville Predators: Losers for a few years. Austin Watson was a nice if unspectacular pick; but not unlike the Habs, they only had two picks in the first three rounds. This is a team that drafts well, though, so maybe a couple of those late-round picks will turn out to be the next Patric Hornqvist(notes). Till then, I’m unimpressed.

I’m with Lambert.  They did a crappy job at this year’s draft, unless it turns out that they didn’t. Smiley :) face.

New Jersey Devils: Losers unless Jon Merrill gets his act together. Merrill may well be a talented, very smart hockey player, but he’s also a thug who has been suspended by USA Hockey for off-ice incidents stemming from the harassment of some high school girls, and his Combine interviews were notably poor. Maybe he puts it all behind him, but until then, you have to question this pick a little bit.

New Jersey is another team that annoys me.  I feel like they could play the most open, European style game in the world, win like 7-6 tens times in a row, and I’d still be screaming about their stupid slogging trap and boring play and dumb logo.  Kovalchuk doesn’t want to live in New Jersey, there’s no way!

New York Islanders: Winners. Third-best draft of any team behind the Panthers and Ducks, and I thought they had the best draft last year too. Because of Nino Niederreiter and all their current forwards, they could gamble on taking a huge question mark like Kirill Kabanov in the third round. That might work out fantastically for them.

As I mentioned yesterday, I loved their draft performance.  Niederreiter was nasty at World Juniors, Nelson’s been killing Minnesota high school hockey and is big (two awesome things), and Kabanov is exactly the injection of excitment and high-end talent that this team needs.

As I mentioned before the “building process” is a nice way to keep a GM’s job.  But in our case, I feel like Snow has validated fans patience.  The key is making the switch from “give those young kids ice time for experience” to ”okay, play time’s over.”  And you do that by adding, say, Ilya Kovalchuk. 

The Isles need to commit to winning and their fans again.  Personally, I’m over waiting, we have a FORTUNE in cap room to spend, and I expect playoffs this year.  That’s the “experience” you want your young kids to have (see: Penguins 07-08, Blackhawks 08-09), so spend some money to get it for them.

New York Rangers: Losers. Any time I literally laugh out loud at a pick, as I did when they took Dylan McIlrath at No. 10, you’re having a bad go of things. “A special player doesn’t have to be a top-end scorer or goaltender,” said player personnel director Gordie Clark. “He’s a special player. With the size, toughness and grit we project, he’s that player.” Know who else was a big, tough player the Rangers picked high? Hugh Jessiman(notes).

You’d be AMAZED at how talented some NHL tough guys are.  That’s why you end up with absolute heavyweights in the AHL – they’d be in the NHL if they could make the “hockey” part happen as well.  My point is, this pick only makes sense if McIlrath can play too.

Ottawa Senators: Losers. Maybe you’re the kinda guy that really really loves David Rundblad, but the Blues aren’t exactly overflowing with forward talent, so why would they deal him? Otherwise, the Sens had just four picks, none in the first two rounds, and then they take a big body with little to no evident skill in Jakub Culek. The kid had 13 goals and was eighth on his team in scoring last year. In the QMJHL!

Wow, that’s really, really horrible if that’s true (and I doubt Lambert’s lying).  13 goals.  QMJHL.   Drafted.  Hmm… he must do everything else REALLY well.

Philadelphia Flyers: Losers. OK, so things crashed out with Dan Hamhuis(notes) and they’re right up against the cap, but they have an agreement in place with noted playoff warrior Evgeni Nabokov(notes) and.. oh what’s that? He might still hit the open market? Well at least you had those two seventh-round picks.

I’m entertained by the idea that the Flyers know they need a few more pieces.  They want a few more pieces.  But they don’t have money for a few more pieces.  Yet they keep moving forward.  It’s like if I went into the Sunglass Hut with enough money to buy gas stations glasses, but tried to buy Ray-Bans. 

JB: “I recognize the sun is super-bright in Arizona, so I need polarized lenses.  Thus, I’m going to try to buy them.” 

EMPLOYEE: “But sir, you don’t have enough money to buy those.” 

JB: “Well, right. But I really need them.”

Phoenix Coyotes: Winners? Brandon Gormley at No. 13 was an unexpected, great treat (thanks Darryl!) but the Mark Visentin pick was a bit off-the-board and the Phil Lane choice was just befuddling.

You need top-end guys to win (have I mentioned that before?), so I’m stoked for Phoenix to get a highly touted d-man at 13.  I’d rather have a first round pick become a star than make good picks later for guys that just become fillers.  A stud per year would be a nice draft pace.

Brett Connolly

Pittsburgh Penguins: Winners. I don’t care about anything besides the fact that they took four Americans. Beau Bennett will turn into the next Mark Messier, just you watch.

Lot of American pride getting tossed around hockey circles lately.  I’m gonna go ahead and say the US has lost the right to play the ”we don’t care” card about puck.  And actually, the shouldn’t have any left after how many times it was played after the Ghana loss.

San Jose Sharks: Losers, prohibitively. The Sharks apparently had almost no interest in Major Junior players. Top pick Charlie Coyle (TONY AMONTE’S COUSIN!!!) is one of six future or current college players they drafted this year. Some odd picks, but they’re almost all going to programs with histories of developing pro players (BU, BC, Michigan, Ohio State and MSU Mankato).

Are the Sharks going with Greiss as their starter?  Craziness.  I know it can be done (the Hawks), but that doesn’t mean starting a back-up is the new great idea.  And yes, I know, Greiss is actually pretty good.

St. Louis Blues: Winners, but just barely. I did not love the Jaden Schwartz pick (I found it a bit sentimental), but I quite liked the Tarasenko pick. I also think the Vladimir Sobotka deal was one they’ll like just fine this year.

The “winner or loser” method doesn’t offer much wiggle room.  The Blues still have money to spend… I expect they’ll field an annoyingly good team next year.  Annoying for team’s like Dallas, who need SOMEBODY to get worse if they hope to move up the standings.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Losers. In terms of the on-ice product I think the Brett Connolly pick is a winner even if it is a bit risky (the kid basically lost a year of development), but the rest of it? Meh. Brock Beukeboom? I mean, really? He’s not his father, and his father wasn’t very good either.

I like it, Lambo (I’m calling Lambert “Lambo” from now on) – breaking the for-some-reason-unwritten-rule of “never say an old player was bad”.  We keep having to pretend that all past players were good.  No sir, they weren’t.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Losers. Brian Burke got his requisite tough guy/truculence in Brad Ross. Even PPP thinks it’s merely an “interesting pick.” As for the other selections, well, one of them is named Greg McKegg (with a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg). So they’ve got that in their favor.

Meh, what could you expect from Toronto in this year’s draft?  Making Burke even be there was akin to Chinese water torture.  His splash will be made in the next week, when he gets real players to help the Leafs now, not a bunch of maybes for later.

Vancouver Canucks: Losers. The Canucks needed a top-pairing defenseman. They got a defenseman that is not one of those. Then they didn’t pick until the fourth round. Not good, Gillis. Not good at all.

Check out friend-of-the-blog Jeff’s comment on yesterday’s entry about the Ballard situation.  He feels like the Canucks were winners (or will be).  If they field the starting six d-men he thinks they might, they’ll be laughin’.

Washington Capitals: Winners. They drafted a Russian with their first pick and another in the third round. They’re both going to turn into superstars almost by default.

And like Lambo, I’m mailing in my last comment.


11 Responses to “FJM’ing Lambert’s Links – What We Learned”
  1. JDP says:

    Re: Avs GM

    When Greg Sherman (and before him, Francois Giguere) were speaking, you could barely see Pierre Lacroix’s lips moving. Not saying he’s still the real GM of that team, but…yeah, he’s still the real GM in Denver. The Hishon pick was a quintissential “we’re smarter than the rest of you, watch this!” move, to the point that even that TYPE of move should be called a “Lacroix”.

    And if that “Lacroix” didn’t excite you, wait til Thursday when they swoop in out of nowhere and gobble up Kovalchuk. Teams can have two or three players making over $6.5, $7 million per year. Having that type of high-end talent in your lineup doesnt guarantee a Cup, but NOT having it guarantees you wont win a Cup. They’ve been too smart for too long to let an opportunity like this slip.

  2. Kennedy says:

    Every hockey blog should include a Dr. Nick reference.

  3. jtbourne says:

    Yup, you pretty much nailed the point I love to make – “having them doesn’t guarantee a Cup, but NOT having them guarantees you won’t”

  4. JC says:

    I’d love to see the Islanders grab Kovy.

  5. St. Cloud Gopher says:

    The Bad news: I’ve seen Nelson play several HS games in the past two years. The thing I take away from them? Thin air. As in, “Where did you go, Brock?” I had the same feeling watching Ness as a prep. Both could flip the switch and dominate entire periods, and sometimes whole games. But when Ness hit the size and speed of the WCHA, I think it went so dark that the light switch is too far above his head.
    The good news: Nelson is large, can skate, and will get to go through a UND program that manufactures good-to-great pros. He got to dominate 1A (small class) schools in NW Minnesota, but his 6-5-11 showing in the state tournament may have been what got him into the final 1st round spot.

    A good outing for you to blog about, if you make a trip up north. Moorhead (Fargo) is hosting Hockey Day Feb. 12. Two HS games outdoors. 5th annual deal put on by cable TV FSNorth and the Wild.

  6. St. Cloud Gopher says:

    Forgot to add…Okposo, Lee, Nelson, Clark? Are the Isles planning to invade Minneapolis?

  7. mikeB says:

    Culek is big… 6’4″ and about 200. Also one of the youngest players in the draft (still 17). And plays LW.

    Although this quote doesn’t inspire confidence “Jodoin [Rimouski Oceanic Coach, where Culek plays] echoes Houston’s concerns about the big Czech’s mobility, admitting that, “his skating is probably not his greatest asset,” but also is quick to point out that ‘he works hard to make plays.’”

    I like the trade. I wasn’t in love with anyone in that spot. I wasn’t a big fan of many of the players available, but I wouldn’t have minded Ottawa trying to move up and take Kabanov somewhere. Ditch your stupid 7th round pick and move up 12 spots in the third for a player who can go big. Because I don’t see jakub Culek going big.

  8. KForbes says:

    hehe…That’s a quote from my article!

    I like the Culek pick and that’s pretty much where I thought he would be drafted.
    I had some scouts tell me that they preferred Culek over his teammate Straka, because they felt that he was more of a sure-thing, that even if he didn’t develop as hoped, he could still be a useful player nonetheless.

    But he’s the definition of a project, where the Sens are hoping he’ll put all the pieces together, but I really think he can pull it off.
    For one, he’s got a great chance in Rimouski who have very quickly put together a young core and Culek and Straka are expected to help carry that time. Expect loads of icetime and opportunity.
    Another thing going for him is Clem Jodoin, his coach. I’m a huge fan of him and really think he’s one of, if not the, best coaches in the QMJHL.
    Finally, it’s Culek’s own work ethic. His main issues are just growing into his body. He’s big, but still young and there’s an awkwardness to him. It’ll take some time before he catches up with his growth. Puts on some muscle, becomes more comfortable playing the body and improves his first few steps.

    I heard him compared to Martin Hanzal and I think that’s probably a goal he can reach.

  9. Mike says:

    Great blog entry but you out-did it with your piece for USA Today. As a less-than casual fan, I’m continually amazed at the layers of the sport that I’m just not aware of. Nice one.

  10. Joe G. says:

    Tallon needs to put a couple of years together like he did in Chicago when they iced a minor league team and ended up with the first and third overall picks two years in a row. Amazing how quickly the rebuilding goes when you have consecutive drafts net you Toews and Kane.

    Justin, that was the best explanation I’ve seen of the so-called rebuilding process. While Tallon, and to a lot greater extent Bob Pulford and Bill Wirtz, “rebuilt” the Hawks, they almost killed NHL hockey off completely in Chicago. Look at who he signed as free agents coming out of the strike year. The true rebuilding of the Hawks started the day Wirtz died and his son took over.

    I’m not saying Tallon didn’t have a big hand in building that team, but there were plenty of missteps along the way. He should stay away from free agents, though, when you see those disasters (the aforementioned after strike signings, and the Huet / Campbell fiascos).

    So if he’s given time and pulls off a Cup winner eventually down in Florida, more power to him. Can they possibly bottom out anymore, anyway? They can only go up, and that will buy you a few years of job security.

  11. whaturr says:

    You probably hate the Oilers because they ended your dad’s Islanders’ dynasty early, right tardnugget?

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!