Sunday, 30 June 2013

Liveblog: 2013 NHL Draft

So I'm going to try to liveblog the entire draft, if I don't have a callout I have to attend.  I've gone for a morning walk in the baking heat, attending to a couple chores, so I can feel semi-okay about being indoors on a day like this.

- Renaud Lavoie asks "Is there an NHL player who isn't traded right now?", in reference to the crazy amount of rumours going around.  He says the scuttlebutt is that there will be ten big trades today.

- Stéphane Leroux thinks the Canadiens might trade up in the first round, to the 15-18 range if a player like Samuel Morin or Bo Horvat is still available there.

- Leroux expects a couple of French-Canadian players to be drafted by the Canadiens.  He mentions Émile Poirier or Laurent Dauphin or Philippe Desrosiers as likely targets.

-  I wrote this about the possibility of signing P.A. Parenteau last summer, and I still believe this, and it applies to this draft.

In the very long view, it is important that kids growing up in Québec love the Canadiens and recognize themselves in the team, and a bit of the team in themselves. This generates more lifelong fans who will support the team, and more players who dream of making it to the NHL and wearing the bleu-blanc-rouge. In the salary-cap world we live in, this is an important strategic edge we have on the St-Louis Blues and the Florida Panthers. If Geoff Molson understands anything, it needs to be that there must be a strong, visceral, emotional connection between the fans and leurs Glorieux.

Having accepted that, we can begin to accept that signing Mr. Parenteau, or drafting local players and signing local free agents, and hiring homegrown coaches is not just a cynical pander to the unwashed masses, but a natural fit for this team and one that yields long-term dividends that are harder to quantify.

-  Anthony Mantha, seated on the RDS set with his grandfather André Pronovost, states that he's been a fan of the Canadiens since he was a child, and doesn't think he'd have any trouble dealing with the pressure of being a local star on the team.  I don't think he'll have to worry about that, he'll be snagged before we get close.

-  Alain Vigneault chortles that his team has a 'good goalie'.  He says he wants to have an assistant coach who's familiar with the Eastern Conference, but other than that thinks that hockey is hockey.  He doesn't believe that Glen Sather will try to trade up to get a pick in the second or first round, they'll be satisfied with their three third-rounders.

-  Trevor Timmins says his most cherished moment was the draft in Montréal when he got to pick Louis Leblanc.  He refuses to go into specifics about mistakes he made, but does say that the important part is to learn from mistakes.  While he doesn't have a high pick like last season, he still thinks he'll have a shot at some quality players.  He says that he wants to eventually win a Stanley Cup with the Canadiens, his boyhood team, but ultimately he would like to progress to a GM role somewhere.  He doesn't commit to the chance of drafting a goalie in the first round, he says he'll pick one when he's the best player available.  On the subject of Ryan McDonagh, he's glad to see him or other players he picked in the league and turning out as projected, but he wishes he was helping the Canadiens.

-  Luc Gélinas repeats that seven years ago there wasn't one dedicated LHJMQ scout on the Canadiens' staff.  We now have Donald Audette and Serge Boisvert scouting our backyard.  Serge Boisvert's marching orders are to not drop the ball on anything in the Province of Québec.

-  TSN using the "Hockey Night in Canada" theme is plain wrong, on many levels, but especially so on a Sunday June 30th before the draft.

The big reason that song is so good is because of its association with HNIC.  If that song had been published in a vacuum, and not been inextricably linked to our most cherished childhood memories, it would be long-forgotten now.

-   Gary Bettman is such a putz.  He tries to pull off David Stern's cringe-worthy performance, but that smirk of his just rankles.  If I had to swerve my car out of the way to avoid hitting him as a pedestrian, it wouldn't be a reflex, I'd have to think about it.  Love the way he uses a eulogy to quiet down the boos.

-  Nathan McKinnon taken first as expected, but Sasha Barkov second is a mild surprise.  Do the Lightning take Jonathan Drouin or Seth Jones?

-  By the way, good job New Jersey fans in your lusty booing of Gargamel.

-  Nashville ends up with Seth Jones at #4.  I wonder how much scouting they did on him, were they ever expecting him to be available?

Also,  is Popeye not in the house?  Did I miss him, or did he really not attend his son's draft?

-  Everyone says Carolina wanted a defenceman, and might trade the #5 pick.  Do you think they were hoping Nashville would let Seth Jones slip down to them?

-  Prediction: Calgary goes Sean Monahan.  Calgary is desperate for a frontline centre.

-  Pick #7:  Do the Oilers go with a defenceman like Darnell Nurse, or can they resist the big talented Russian forward?  Valeri Nichushkin would be hard to pass up.

-  They pick the big tough D-man, although I read his skating is suspect.  Tough, big, mean, sure, but maybe not a great talent.

- Pick #8:  Do the Sabres go for Valeri Nichushkin?  Add him to Mikhail Grigorenko from last season?

No, they take Rasmus Ristolainen.  It would have been great to see both Russians on the same line, but they go with the Finn d-man.

-  The Islanders trade away their former #5 overall pick Nino Niederreiter to the Wild for Cal Clutterbuck.  Hope the change in scenery does the young man some good.  Of course, leaving Long Island is pretty much always a positive.

-  Vancouver gets the #9 pick for Corey Schneider.  Good trade for both teams.  The Canucks solve their goaltending dilemma, get a great asset back, and the Devils get the heir apparent to Martin Brodeur.

I guess the Devils won't draft Anthony Brodeur in the 7th round after all.

-  Pick #9:  The Canucks spend the Devils' pick they just acquired on Bo Horvat, with Valeri Nichushkin still on the board.  Is this the same as picking Mike Ricci with Jaromir Jagr still on the board?

The Canucks want to get grittier, probably wanted to stay away from a Don Cherry-unapproved skilled European, even a big one.

-  Roberto Luongo gets to stay in Vancouver.  Of course, he is the one who asked for the trade in the first place, then stood in the way by restricting the trade options, negating many destinations.  He wears some of the blame.

-  Pick #10:  The Stars get Valeri Nichushkin at a relatively low slot.  Hope he helps sell hockey in Texas.

-  Pick #11:   I don't want the Flyers to take Samuel Morin.  It would be like Moose Dupont all over again.  Of course, they may also get Nikita Zadorov, which isn't much better.

-  They take the Rimouski d-man.  I hate this, hate cheering against local boys, but I hope the 'project' lasts longer than anyone had hoped.

-  I guess the Canadiens need to take Jonathan Ismaël Diaby in the second round now.

-  Pick #12:  The Coyotes take Max Domi.  I don't dislike the young man, nothing against him, but that last name...  Ugh....   I couldn't have stomached seeing Tie Domi at the New Forum running around like he owned the joint.

-  So for some of the draftees the Canadiens want to 'fall', some surprises have to happen, like Calgary last year with Mark Jankowski.  So far, none of that has happened.

Still, fingers crossed:  Nikita Zadorov, Frédéric Gauthier, Anthony Mantha...

-  Pick #13:  The Jets take Josh Morrissey.  A bit of a surprise according to Bob McKenzie's ranks, which is good.  Come on boys, keep falling.

-  Pick #14:  Both Sasha Barkov and Rasmus Ristolainen are gone, so we don't have to hear about Jarmo Kekalainen picking a countryman, as if he had no other choice.  Instead, he goes with Swede Alexander Wennberg.

-  Pick #15:   Sure, Ryan Pullock has a great writeup, but the Islanders go for a D-man again?  Their entire draft last season was defencemen.  Is Garth Snow on a lifetime "Punk'd" mission?

-  Pick #16:  Crap, the Sabres nab Nikita Zadorov.  We have to play that kid eight times a year for the next decade.  Friggin' lovely.  He was the impossible dream, I wasn't holding much hope, but this smarts.

-  Pick #17:  The Sens grab a player compared to Ryan Kesler in Curtis Lazar.  Relatively undersized, he may not have fit in with the mix the Canadiens need, so no big loss.

-   What a condescending twit Gary Bettman is.  He's talking to the audience as if they're kindergartners.  He richly deserves the booing.

-  Pick #18:  The Sharks grab Swiss d-man Mirco Mueller.  Good.  HIO would have had a meltdown if the Canadiens had added another Swiss defenceman to the organization.  Traded with the Wings to move up two spots.

My heart did flutter there while the trade was being announced.

-  Anthony Mantha and Frédéric Gauthier are still available.  A better chance now that one of them slides down.  I'd prefer Frédéric Gauthier, based on what I read.  Nothing wrong with a Keith Primeau clone.

-  Pick #19:  The Blue Jackets swoop down and claim HIO favourite Kerby Rychel, a kid who we thought was in range for #25.

-  Pick #20:  Stupid Red Wings.  They nab Anthony Mantha.

Pffft.  I didn't want him anyway...

-  So Frédérik Gauthier, or trade down if he's not there anymore at #25?  Grab an armload of Poirier, Dauphin and Diaby later?

-  Pick #21:  I want to throw up.  After the Flyers with Samuel Morin, now the Leafs grab Frédérik Gauthier.  Think about the conniptions Don Cherry will have?  Have they no mercy for an enfeebled old man?

-  Pick #22:  What the hay?  Now Émile Poirier is gone to the Flames?  Stay out west, grab some Alberta beef why don't you?

I wish it was like the old days, when we automatically had the two best French players in the world reserved to us every year, as every Leaf fan knows very well.

-   Last time I felt this deflated was while watching the results of the B.C. provincial election.

-  Pick #23:  Caps go with Andre Burakovsky.

-  Pick #24:  Boooooom!  Another dream shot down.  Hunter Shinkaruk goes to the Canucks.

-  Marc Bergevin, please trade down, grab more picks.

-  Pick #25:  The Canadiens pick Michael McCarron, a 6'5" winger out of the U.S. National Development Program.  He was ranked as an early second-rounder.  Big size, aggressiveness, skill is a bit in question.

Sure, he'll bring size and toughness, but we kind of scoffed at Tom Wilson and Tyler Biggs the last two drafts, so I'm not sure why this guy is any better.

In Trevor Timmins I trust.  Ommmmmmm...

-  Pick #26:  The Ducks grab Shea Theodore.  Oh hum.  Who cares, let's get these out of the way and get to #34.

-  The fact that the Canadiens had a jersey with Michael McCarron's name on it is an indication that they chose a guy who they wanted, and not just as a reaction to all their guys being snapped up.  So there's that.

-  Pick #27:  The Blue Jackets take a complete dark horse, as in Marko Dano, an Austrian centre I've actually never heard of.  Not that it means anything, but maybe my man crushes will be requited at #34 and 36.

-  Picks #28, 29:  Flames take Morgan Klimchuk, Dallas takes Jason Dickinson.  Good, William Carrier and Jonathan Diaby are still possibilities.

-  Pick #30:  Chicago takes Ryan Hartman, a guy some Montréal fans wanted.  I'm not sorry to see him go.

-  William Carrier, Jonathan Diaby, Jacob De la Rose, Robert Hagg, Valentin Zykov, Laurent Dauphin,Justin Bailey still left on the board.  We'll get some good players with our next two picks.

-   I don't know if I would prefer Michael McCarron went to London to play at a higher level, or go to college and have more time for skill development.  I don't know anything about the Western Michigan program.

Michael Matheson last year talked about how he preferred to go to U.S. college instead of Junior so he could lift and get bigger, and work on his skills.  He said the game schedule in the Q hampers that.  So you get a lot of games, lots of game conditions, but you don't get to work on specific areas of your game.

-  We're going to have lots of options at #34.

-  Pick #34:  We get Jacob De la Rose, a guy who got lots of hype, good size.  Swedes I find tend to be undervalued compared to CHL players, so I'm happy with this pick.

-  I say again: William Carrier, Jonathan Diaby, Robert Hagg, Valentin Zykov, Laurent Dauphin, Justin Bailey still left on the board.

I vote William Carrier or Valentin Zykov, but what do I know.

-  I'll stand by my Carrier or Zykov comment, but I'll be white-knuckling it to #55 if we don't snag Jonathan Diaby.

-  Pick #36:  The Canadiens draft Zachary Fucale.  Not necessarily happy with this pick, but I have to trust their judgment on this one.  I would have preferred another sizeable forward or defenceman.  Taking the best goalie in this class this low is a steal I guess.

-  Bruce Arthur tweets:  "All in all, I think we can agree Roberto Luongo is the Michael Jordan of not being traded."

-  Who's the old man calling the picks at the podium?  Way better than the Buttman, but the poor guy isn't the most polished public speaker.  He's hacking up a lung on the microphone now.  Should the NHL have hired an announcer?

-  Canadiens combine star Justin Bailey gone to Buffalo.  We still have William Carrier and Jonathan Diaby on the board.

-  Pick #54:  A puzzling pick, the Canadians grab Arturri Lehkonen.  Not happy.  He plays the role already filled by Sebastian Collberg and Charles Hudon.

Look, I'd never heard of the kid before, so my opinion is worth a hill of beans, but a 163 pound shifty winger is not something we needed to add to the mix.  What we needed to complement our assets in the farm system was size and toughness.

-  And William Carrier, a bigger homeboy, is snapped up the very next pick by St. Louis.  As a very uninformed fan, I'm disappointed we didn't take him instead of the Finnish pipsqueak we got.

-  Talent is being proven to be unimportant, a marginal consideration by the current state of the NHL with its laissez-faire refereeing.  Talent is wiped out by size.  Mr. Lehkonen will have to work hard to prove me wrong, but in this day and age, I think it's a wasted pick.

-  Actually, Marc-Olivier Roy went to Edmonton before the Blues picked Mr. Carrier.  My point remains.

-  In the third round, I'd like one of Mason Geertsen and Jonathan-Ismaël Diaby.

-  Just as fast as I typed the above, Nashville get Mr. Diaby, to pair up with Seth Jones.  I'm losing my excitement for this day.

-  Not to beat this dead horse, but I really believe that when the Canadiens rush to pick up a player who's fallen to them, like Sebastian Collberg or Charles Hudon or now Arturri Lehkonen, it's not so much that the other teams failed to discern their great talent or puck skills, but rather a case of other teams making the cynical, counter-Gainey decision to sacrifice skill in favour of outright size.  Looking at the Blues or Kings or Sharks or the Bruins, they're basically daring us to pick those players.

"We'll see you in the playoffs," they're thinking as they rub their hands with glee.

-  Pick #71:  To help us forget about Erik Cole, with the third-rounder we got from them, we pick up Connor Crisp, an overage Junior with massive size but little talent to speak of.

We've got this weird pendulum swinging back and forth, with size but no skill at one end, and skill in a very small package at the other.  McCarron, to Lehkonen, to Crisp.

-  Pick #86:  Sven Andrighetto, an overaged 5'9" forward at #86.  I'm going to barf.

This was supposed to be an opportunity to correct the size imbalance in our system, with an injection of bigger players to surround those smaller, less physical prospects already on the farm.  We're failing miserably at that.

Mason Geertsen is still on the board, and we let him go for this guy.

This isn't fun any more.

-  I'm taking some flak, people are telling me we already picked three big forwards, I shouldn't worry about the small players.  These three guys will bring all the size we need, I'm told.

The thing is, it's not a guarantee that these three very large forwards will make it to the NHL.

We're already stocked with many, many small skilled prospects.  What we were supposed to do was now stock the shelf with many bigger prospects, to even out the odds.  Not alternate, as we seem to be doing.

-  Brian Bickell re-signed by Chicago.  That dream is dead.

-  Sample response to my increasingly histrionic posts: "In McCarron, De la Rose, and Crisp, they’ve drafted a heck of a lot of size today…."

The thing is, our forwards beside Steve Quailer in the system are overwhelmingly average-sized guys, or smaller.   Drafting three bigger guys now is great, but in reality the odds are that one of those guys will make it.  And we'll still have a preponderance of the smaller guys that Senators and Bruins love to feast on, to the complacent neglect of the refs.

I would have been comfortable getting big guys, or tweeners like Jackson Houck if that's what was on the board, but we're adding shifty forwards to a system that already has a surfeit of them.  Our prospect mix is all out of whack with what the rest of the league is doing.

-  Picks #93, 94:  Mason Geertsen goes top of the fourth, 93rd overall to the Avalanche.  His Vancouver Giants teammate Jackson Houck goes next to the Oilers.  Right around where I thought Mr. Geertsen would go, we should have grabbed him with our second third-round pick.  Mr. Houck I'm not so high on, think he's the second coming of Mike Hough, but some analysts thought he might go in the second round, which was insane.  Fourth round is appropriate for him also.

- Pick # 110:  Ryan Graves, a 6'4" d-man from the PEI Rocket goes to the Rangers.

- Pick #115:  Jordan Subban to the Canucks.  This really displeases me.

Sure, I'm being inconsistent, in wanting to draft the smallest Subban now, after ranting that we needed to size up, but at the fourth-round level, it's an acceptable cost given his pedigree and upside.  Call me sentimental.

-  It's much too early to pronounce on this draft, but I'm waffling between a debacle or a fiasco.

-  Pick #116:   And I pronounced it as such before I found out we'd drafted Martin Reway, a 5'9" forward who scored 22 goals in the LHJMQ this year.

Debacle?  Fiasco?  So hard to make the call.

En français, on dirait 'une débandade.'

-  Let me restate that the only reason these mini-players are available is because every other team understands that, as skilled as they are, the refs and Jeremy Jacobs won't let them be successful.

-  Congratulation P.K., interrupt your little brother while he's answering James Duthie's question, on his big day, and wrestle the topic of conversation back to you.

It's behaviours like these P.K., that make people wince and heap scorn on you.

-   I'm taking some flak on this, but my strongly worded objections are partly a product of the Liveblog effect, where you have to state an opinion on everything, as opposed to giving it a 'sober second thought'.  I tip my hat to Mike Boone, this ain't easy.

As far as never seeing these kids play, guilty.  My points still have value though, and repose on a philosophical basis I've already stated before.

So again, I don't doubt that these smaller kids aren't a wiz with the puck and aren't loaded with talent.  I do think the NHL as presently administered, and the Canadiens as currently constituted, do not offer these kids any chance of making an impact in the NHL.

The Bruins can inject a Torey Krug in their roster, and he adds to their mix.  On our roster, he just adds to the problem of Diaz, Kaberle, Weber, St-Denis...

A team has to have balance, with players who bring different attributes to the table.  We already have the attributes that Messrs. Lehkonen, Andrighetto and Reway bring, in Brendan Gallagher, Sebastian Collberg, Tim Bozon, Michaël Bournival, Louis Leblanc...  We're all out of balance.

- Pick 176:  The Canadiens take Jérémy Grégoire in the sixth round.  Again, I've seen some good writeups on this kid but haven't seen him play.  Funny that lists him as either 5'11" or 6', depending which page of their website you look at.

Happy to take a local boy here, might as well.

-  Did the Canadiens trade their seventh?  TSN shows Florida drafting at #25?

-  Looks like we trade the pick to Florida?  For a sixth next year I hope?  Or Erik Gudbranson?

-  Apparently traded for the 2014 7th of the Panthers.  Weird, usually the premium is to go up one round the succeeding year.  Maybe the Canadiens were the ones offering it, as opposed to the Panthers, uh, panting for it.

-  And that wraps it up, thankfully.  I had high hopes, pretty much all of them dashed.  Let's hope that Trevor Timmins and Marc Bergevin are better judges of hockey talent than I am.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for live blogging the event Normand. No excuses for Mike Boone, Stu Cowen or someone at HIO not to cover it but good to see someone try to add some colour from a Habs perspective.

    I share your disappointment; not so much in the guys Timmons selected but more about the ones he passed up on. There's nothing TT can do about the players snapped up beforehand but to overlook some glaring needs to get bigger, grittier forwards who can skate and grind is inexcusable. EG;

    William Carrier, TT passed on at #55, is exactly the type of player the Habs prospect pool desperately needs but Timmons true to form goes for skill over size with Artturi Lehkonen. Theres nothing wrong with smaller players as you so eloquently write but didn't last year's draft address the need for speed and skill? Carrier a local talent, with the speed, size to drive to the net and play along the boards not the type of player we saw on display the entire playoffs?

    When I read the comments at the HIO site I just keep shaking my head. Yes, Brendan Gallagher was a revelation as a 5th RD pick but are you going to insulate a 5'7", 170lbs forward with more 5'7" or 5'11" skill guys? Where is the logic here?

    Calgary selects at #67 Keegan Kanzig, 6'5", 240lbs defensive Dman who can really fight. Too high in my opinion but selecting a role player isn't that bad of an idea. TT goes for Connor Crisp and Sven Andrighetto. At this point I'm seriously disillusioned.

    Hasb select #116 Martin Reway, C over #118 Hudson Fasching, RW to LA. For TT another swing at a home run pick. For the Kings; a safe bread and butter pick. Fasching, a big winger that fits their style of play. Crash and banger. Too bad we don't draft players like this. MARK MY WORDS; Fasching will play more games in the NHL than Reway.

    As Anthony Fucale is a shot across the bow to Carey Price, I have a feeling the addition of Shane Churla, the ex Stars Chief Scout, to the staff is the same for Timmons. Wouldn't be surprised if this was TT's last draft for the Habs. Heck, even Andre Savard would be a welcome addition to at least cover the Q. Why is their a reluctance to draft locally? The last 3 Memorial Cup Champions where from the QMJHL yet looking over the last 3 drafts; its been a steady stream of Euros and Americans.

    I leave this draft now starting to question if Timmons is still the right person to be handling the Habs amateur scouting. As you say, "THIS DRAFT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AN OPORTUNITY TO CORRECT THE SIZE IMBALANCE IN OUR SYSTEM " but I leave wondering if there is not a problem in their evaluation matrix where there is too much emphasis on speed and skill and an inability to accurately assess bigger players?

    Timmons has had more than a fair chance to prove himself. Like you, I also hoped MB & TT are better at this than a frustrated fan sitting at home with noting but draft publications and hype to make my evaluations on. A wasted opportunity.