Sunday, 28 June 2015

Hot takes on the 2015 NHL Draft, Rounds 2-7

Stream of consciousness as I watch the second day of the 2015 NHL Draft.

1)  I’m looking and looking at my TV channel guide, and scrolling through my channels, and can’t find where Round 2-7 are being broadcast.

Sportsnet has eight channels, they can’t fit this in somehow? Have they run out of loudmouths to bark over the proceedings?

I guess I have to watch it in standard def on the NHL Network.

2)  Disappointing return for crowd-favourite Eddie Lack for the Canucks, They get a third-rounder from the Hurricanes.  Some fans were apoplectic, they started a petition when they thought he was getting traded for a 2nd rounder.  And people laugh at Canadiens fans for dialing 911 and reporting to police Zdeno Chara’s assault on Max Pacioretty…

3)  Jérémy Roy leads off the second day, he goes 31st overall to San Jose.  You have to wonder how close the evaluation was between him and Noah Juulsen for the Canadiens.

4)  TVA Sports also isn’t televising the 2nd round now, just a replay of last night’s first round proceedings.

Take a bow, Gary Bettman! Your partners Sportsnet and TVA are sure doing a bangup job. As a fan, I concur with you that I’m very well served by this new deal. That still has a decade to go. As a fan.

5)  The Senators just snapped up Gabriel Gagné of les Tigres de Victoriaville. 6’4″ forward who can score goals.  I was hoping that Marc Bergevin could get into the second round and get him.

I saw him play on TVA on Friday nights, they had a couple of games by the Tigres, but it’s not like he caught my eye really, just his size and potential are enticing.

6)  Boston goes for giant defenceman Brandon Carlo right after. You can take the goon out of Boston…

7)  Patrick Roy and the Avalanche take A.J. Greer from Joliette, Québec, and Nicolas Meloche of the Drakkar back to back at 39 and 40.

8)  James Wisniewski is traded from Anaheim to Carolina.  Love the Wiz. We should have signed him pre-emptively, before he got too close to UFA, and got that massive contract.

9)  Daniel Sprong, another LHJMQ product, is a Penguin. How soon before he’s on the wing with Crosby or Malkin?

10)  Interesting that the Ducks sent Emerson Etem to the Rangers, with Carl Hagelin coming back. When he was picked 29th overall in 2010, Mr. Etem was the poster boy for how hockey was growing in Southern California, and how great it was that the Ducks picked a guy from their backyard, etc.

11)  About the Oilers acquiring Griffin Reinhart from the Islanders, the timing, his development curve matches up really well with the rest of the young stars on the Oilers. And they knew him inside out, since he was an Oil King.

The Oilers have a GM. Finally.

12)  Ah man!…

The Bruins just picked up Jérémy Lauzon from les Huskies de Rouyn-Noranda. He was ranked 42nd overall, 65th at the midterm, for N.A. skaters. He was a dark horse I hoped we could sneak in the third round, but he caught a lot of eyes late in the season.

There’s going to be no one left…

13)  Truculence is dead in Toronto. The Leafs drafted Jeremy Bracco, the pipsqueak of the draft.  This is the guy the anti-Smurf brigade was afraid Marc Bergevin might acquire. Not for any definite reason, just to pursue a narrative.

The kid looks like he’s fourteen on camera.  It’s unfortunate for him that while he's running through his canned, rehearsed comments during an interview, he says “I couldn’t be happy to be a Maple Leaf…”, when he meant to say ‘couldn’t be happier.

14)  Kids who come off the board in the 3rd round:

Dennis Yan, the Shawinigan Russian kid by way of the U.S..

Guillaume Brisebois, another highly touted LHJMQ defenceman.

Keegan Kolesar, cool name, tough guy, bit of a dinosaur checker-enforcer out of the Seattle Thunderbirds.

J.C. Beaudin, one of the guys I was hoping for in the third round, centre with size.

Alexander Dergachev (it seems his name will be spelled differently), a prospect that some on HF Boards absolutely loved, others thought would be too, too slow to play in the NHL.

Samuel Montembeault, the goalie from the Armada.

15)  And the Canadiens pick a kid in the 3rd round who, despite all my diligent gleaning of scouting reports, I’ve never heard of.  Lukas Vejdemo, an overage centre from Djugarden in Sweden.

16)  Carolina gets Callum Booth early in the fourth, Zach Fucale’s backup.

They also get 6’4″ Chicoutimi centre Nicolas Roy, who was projected as a first-rounder at the start of the season, but fell to the fourth. Oh well, I guess Trevor no likey.

My original plan to draft the best Roy available is seriously in the weeds now.

17)  Nashville picks up a nifty little centre, Anthony Richard, who put up 43 G , 91 points in 66 games.

18)  Trevor Linden looks subdued during an interview, explains that it was tough getting good value in return for Eddie Lack, but they wanted to resolve it so they pulled the trigger.

He kind of winced when discussing the aborted Kevin Bieksa trade.

He started a sentence with: “Ultimately, at the end of the day, …”

This media buzzspeak is getting out of hand.

19)  What are the odds that Christian Wolanin isn’t Craig’s son, or that Michael Spacek is Jaro’s son?

The Senators trolling Habs fans, get a big player we coveted, Philip Ahl.

The Preds going back to the LHJMQ well, pick smallish but productive defenceman Alex Carrier.

20)  Looking at the differences between Peter Chiarelli and Mac T (and Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini), and how the new guy seems to know what he’s doing, it seems like night and day.

Think about the fiasco last fall when they signed Alexander Tkachev. Except they weren’t allowed to, he wasn’t eligible to sign as a UFA, he had to go back in the draft.

I was making allowances in the past for them, how it’s hard to get around all the No Trade Clauses, but it seems that it was incompetence more than anything that was a barrier to excellence.

I sense a plan, rather than the 'just sit back and wait’ approach from the former administrations. Remember Homer with his fifty lottery tickets before the big draw?

“With so many tickets, how can I possibly lose?…”

21)  I don’t know anything about Matt Bradley, the Canadiens' fifth-round pick, but I’ll affirm that he’s the grand-nephew of five-star general Omar Bradley.

He's described as a 'good skater, high hockey IQ, good both ways, wins faceoffs, relentless on the forecheck, protects the puck well on the cycle, decent shot, might not have the hands to be a top 6 guy' kind of player.

Is this Brady Vail all over again?

The kid has a lot to live up to, being a Trevor Timmins-approved fifth-rounder and all…

22)  The Lightning snooping around in our backyard again. Stay in Florida!

They get Mathieu Joseph, who some were touting as a possible undrafted Prospect Development Camp invite, in the fourth round.

And you can’t ignore Connor Garland anymore, or at least Arizona can't, not with his production this season. 129 points!  They get the overager in the fifth round.

23)  Toronto at it again, pick a smallish brainy player in Dmytro Timashov. Not necessarily a good skater, but great passer, was knocked for not scoring enough goals this year. David Desharnais clone?

24)  Remember Matt Schmalz? He was an invite to the Prospect Development Camp last summer, didn’t get a contract. The Kings (surprise, surprise) get the 6’6″ Sudbury forward.

25)  Martin Brodeur interviewed on the NHL Network, talks about how much he's learning as a new executive with the Blues.

Would St. Louis be a better place to live than New Jersey?

26)  I don’t know if I’m remembering correctly, but didn’t some tout Ryan Pilon as a 2nd-rounder? He’s drafted at the end of the fifth. I guess scouts thought his game depended on his partner Ivan Provorov to a great degree.

He was actually ranked 24th by Central Scouting. Ouch, that's quite the drop.

The Leafs nab Stephen Desrocher in the early sixth, the kid made an impact in the playoffs and Memorial Cup, big, threw some hits, moved the puck well, scored a few goals.

I like this pick in the 6th. The Sportsnet crew was getting carried away during the Memorial Cup, saying he could sneak into the second round he was playing so well, but this low it’s a great shot to take.

27)  The Canadiens take Simon Bourque, one of the dark-horse defence prospects from the LHJMQ, definitely not on that first tier, but described as intriguing. If he’s half as good as his namesake Raymond, I’ll take it.

It's nteresting that Ben Kerr of Last Word on Sports had him in the same range as Jérémy Lauzon, who I’d seen elsewhere ranked in the third round or so, and Alexandre Carrier, and they both got picked much higher than him.

I would love to hack into these NHL scouts' computers and read the notes and get the lists from different teams, see how they compare, how one team will see a guy as a first or second-rounder, and others as a DND or very low-round pick.

28)  I’m guessing Sens fans will be okay with Joel Daccord (it’s a thinker…)

29)  The Canadiens pick Jeremiah Addison with their seventh round pick, an Ottawa forward.

I wouldn’t mind a little more Québec content, maybe sign an undrafted player or two after the Prospect Development Camp?

I believe RDS and TVA might be heard on this subject too.

30)  Well I’ll be darned. Those T-Bay jerks in our backyard again.  They pick Bokondji Imama at the end of the sixth round, I'd missed it.

I was excited about his potential after the Canadiens Prospect Development Camp last season. The big thing is they said he could skate, and he’d taken up the sport ‘full-time’ only recently, instead of also playing other sports.  Also, he was the youngest invite at camp, hadn’t turned 18 yet, so I figured there was a lot of upside.
This season didn’t quite follow the appropriate growth curve though.  He didn’t produce much after an initial outburst when he returned to the Drakkar.  He had a couple of disciplinary issues, one where he shoved a referee out of his way, got suspended.  Add in that the Age of the Enforcer is over, and that’s three strikes.
So while I fretted that we'd missed an opportunity by not signing him as a free agent last summer, my qualms subsided.  I wasn't sure that he was worth the bother.  Now that another team snagged him though, I'm green with envy.
But good on the kid, 6th-round pick, now he has to work and become a hockey player, he won’t have a career by just punching people.
31)  So the Canadiens only make 5 picks this year.  By comparison, Tampa had 9.  For them, Dennis Yan and Anthony Cirelli, the hero of the Memorial Cup, both jump off the page in the third round.
I’m not blaming anyone, and I understand that the second and fourth-rounder used to acquire Jeff Petry were well spent.  With that in mind, it’s still worrisome that as loaded as they seem to be with young prospects, Tampa is still adding more, at a faster rate than we are.
Our division isn’t getting any easier, what with the Sabres also now stacked with prospects, and the Leafs under actual management now.
32)  About the discussion on social media whether the Canadiens should have traded or tried harder to trade for a second-rounder, or to trade down, with the counter-argument that maybe there were no partners to dance with, I think there’s one point that’s important to bear in mind.
When the Canadiens’ turn came up, they weren’t dithering on the phone, they got up and went to the stage.
Further, there were multiple trades for first-rounders at the end of the first round. The Maple Leafs traded down from 24 and 29, and Tampa traded down from 28. So there probably were opportunities for Marc Bergevin to flip the pick, there were teams looking to come up.
But the fact that he kept the pick means that they felt strongly about Noah Juulsen, they saw good value at that point, didn’t want to risk going down and losing him. They didn’t think other players they might come up with were equally good prospects.
So let’s accept that the Canadiens really wanted the kid, they got to know him through the Silvertips-Scherbak connection, and felt he was their boy.
Now, a caveat I’ll introduce is that this was the way we landed David Fischer in 2006, some of the scouting staff got to know him in minor hockey at various tournaments, and tagged him as the guy they wanted years in advance. Some teams had him as Do Not Draft, and the Canadiens managed to trade down from 16 to 20 and still get him.
Let’s hope that this year isn’t also a case of tunnel vision, of ‘falling in love’ with a prospect and failing to properly evaluate others in comparision.
But that’s just a bone to chew over, something to pick at. I believe the Canadiens staff is as qualified as any to make this pick. If it doesn’t pan out, it won’t be because they réjeanhouled it.
33)  And to finish off with a theatrical snap of my suspenders, here's a post from HockeyInsideOut, from way back in early June:
Un Canadien errant    JUNE 11, 2015 AT 4:22 PM
Submitted for your consideration as a first-round pick target, Noah Juulsen, a defenceman ranked 22 among North-American skaters by Central Scouting.
-6’1.5″, 174 lbs right-shot defenceman
-put up 9 G, 43 A in the WHL
-grew up idolizing Kevin Bieksa and patterns his game after him
and here’s the kicker:
-plays on the Everett Silvertips, the same team as Nikita Scherbak, so the Canadiens would have viewed him a few times this season.
The Canadiens have gone back to the same well before, drafting Darren Dietz in 2011 from the Saskatoon Blades, then taking Dalton Thrower in 2012 from the same team, and last season taking Brett Lernout, a kid who started his WHL career in Saskatoon. Player Development Coach Patrice Brisebois and the scouts must have been talking.

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