Saturday, June 21, 2008

NHL Draft: Round 1 Thoughts and Observations

I was at work so I missed the beginning of the draft on Versus but followed online and was at the bar in time to watch the Rangers draft the Jason Biggs look-alike, Mike Del Zotto. The Blueshirt Bulletin has a good look at him, pointing out that he tumbled in the draft and fell in the Rangers lap. When I had made my top five choices for the Rangers pick at No. 20, I had figured he would be off the board. Then again, I probably wouldn't have picked him anyway. From all of the scouting reports that I have read, he is a lesser version of a prospect we already have - Bobby Sanguinetti. (And, as I just read, Inferno over at Rangers Review sees it the same way.)

Don't get me wrong, I am glad the Rangers went after Del Zotto as opposed to one of the seven kids picked who come in under 170 pounds, but it isn't like this kid is a physical defenseman by any means. And let's face it, that is what this organization sorely needs so Sather had better put some of those types in Ranger jerseys on Saturday (or on July 1st). Del Zotto has great offensive skills but is surely at least two years away from challenging for a blueline slot on Broadway.

As for the other local teams, the Islanders shrewdly turned their first round draft pick into four picks - all within the first three rounds of either this year and next. Oh yeah, and they still got the type of player they wanted most: a playmaking center to work with Kyle Okposo. Joshua Bailey seems to have all of the tools and I have to say its very disappointing to see the Isles do so well.

The Devils also managed to procreate picks by dealing their selection twice. They went from 21st to 24th and added second and third round picks. However, I do think Lou stumbled with the first rounder in taking Mattias Tedenby. The Swede was the third-ranked Euro skater, but he is also 5'10, 176 and years away from the NHL. I thought it was certain that they would take Scott Stevens wannabe John Carlson as he was still on the board but whatever, one less dominating physical defenseman to face in the division (Carlson ended up in Washington).

A few other notes:
*In another questionable move, the Flyers got rid of their playoff hero R.J. Umberger for a first round pick. Umberger, who went to Ohio State, should be a nice draw for the Jackets, but what was Philly thinking? Their boy finally develops into an NHL player and they deal him for a first round pick? I am sure money came into it as they are rumoured to have re-signed Jeff Carter for five million a year for three years but still, a first round pick for the one Flyer other than Mike Richards who consistently performed in the playoffs? Eesh.

*Credit to Don Maloney for adding Olli Jokinen but I am not sure losing Keith Ballard was worth it. Jokinen is sure to boost the Desert Dogs offense, but you would think Maloney would want the Phoenix youth to learn from a winner, not some guy who hasn't ever played in the playoffs. Ballard has a big upside still while Jokinen is on the downslope. And Nick Boynton may have never developed into the stud he was supposed to be in Boston, but he was still pretty dependable for the Coyotes.

*Once the dust settled from their two moves, Calgary essentially dealt away Alex Tanguay for Mike Cammalleri and a second round pick while dropping eight spots in the first round. I can't say I care as neither Tanguay nor Cammalleri have been fantasy sports studs over any prolonged period of time (I knew I shoulda traded Camms after that red hot start last year. I knew it!).

*I am against plastering broadcasts with graphics, but TSN needs to be a little more proactive. Sitting in a loud bar with no audio, I had no idea what was going on. GMs were flipping picks and there were no graphics explaining the deals to be had that I saw until Washington dealt Steve Eminger.

Let's hope TSN, and the Rangers, do a better job tomorrow. Until then, cheers!

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