Sunday, 11 September 2016

Kerby Rychel was obtained for a song by the Leafs.

Here is an article which reminds us that the Leafs obtained Kerby Rychel for nothing, essentially. They got him from Columbus by swapping Scott Harrington, or a conditional 5th-rounder if he doesn’t make the 23-man roster next season, and is claimed by another team on waivers when sent down to the AHL.

Now, I don’t know Kerby Rychel except that he was a sexy name during the 2013 draft, one who we hoped would be in range with our #26 pick, along with Anthony Mantha. I didn’t know Kerby Rychel, hadn’t seen him play, so I wasn’t a cheerleader for picking him, left that to others who’d seen him in the OHL or who liked his profile. I was tempted by the sales pitch though, that of a big bruising forward who can skate and put up points, he seemed to be what the doctor ordered.

During the draft, Marc Bergevin tried to move up a couple of times, once apparently to get a chance at Samuel Morin, and once more to move up in the late teens, possibly to draft Kerby Rychel. He explained later that he couldn’t find a deal that worked for him, anything affordable.

And this was captured on video, as we saw on a Blue Jackets’ behind-the-scenes video, when Jarmo Kekalainen shortly before he’s to be on the clock to make a pick, gives a cursory listen to someone on the phone, but curtly answers “No, we’re making the pick.” And when he’s asked who was calling, says “Berj.”

But Scott Harrington caught my eye in this trade, and earlier when he was a throw-in in the Phil Kessel trade. It made sense to me that he might be acquired by Toronto, since he’d played for Mark Hunter’s London Knights. But he was also someone who was nearly lampooned by a blogger on “That’s Offside”, as everything that’s wrong with Hockey Canada, and things like drafting intangibles.
“One of the things that drives me off-the-wall crazy about Hockey Canada at the junior level is the fetishization of stuff as nebulous as “heart” and “grit” and “toughness.” Consequently, we get guys on our international junior teams who, when they appear to exhibit some of these intangible qualities, are lauded for their on-ice defensive abilities.

Take, for example, Scott Harrington. A Penguins 2nd round pick in 2011, he was named the captain of the OHL champion London Knights this past season (leadership!), was a finalist for OHL defenseman of the year (defense!), and was guaranteed a spot on Canada’s World Junior Championship team’s blueline because he was there before because he blocked shots (heart!). Corey Pronman lists him as one of Pittsburgh’s top-10 prospects, saying that his upside is a 3rd or 4th NHL defenseman due to being a “high-end thinker” with stellar defensive ability.

And yet he’ll more than likely be out of NHL hockey by the time he’s 25, doomed to a career bouncing around the minor leagues and Europe, mostly because he’s not a very good hockey player, relatively speaking.”

The blogger’s main thesis, which I’ve leaned on since then when analyzing drafts, is that point-generation is the most important factor you can look at when drafting CHL defencemen, that they have to have produced 0.6 points per game in their draft year to have a reasonable chance of making the NHL. Anything below that level, you have a vanishingly small probability of making it.

And of course Scott Harrington didn’t come anywhere near that level. And we can argue that neither did Jarred Tinordi, who wasn’t in the CHL in his draft year, but couldn’t manage it in his Draft+1 year, or even his Draft+2 year.

In the death throes of Jarred Tinordi’s Canadien career, a lot of trial balloons were floated on social media whereby we’d swap Jarred for Kerby Rychel, see if either stalled prospect could revive his career in a new locale. That seemed fanciful at the time, but seeing how eventually Kerby Rychel was had for a song, it makes you think this was an eminently reasonable trade proposal, not the lopsided steal in our favour some thought he’d be.

Of course, now that he’s a Leaf, I hope that he never pans out, that he’s as long a shot as Stefan Matteau, or even longer.

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