Draft talk: Living up to hype, Hall-Seguin update

tavaresdraft.jpgSince the lockout forced the NHL to finally enforce its rules (and therefore allow speedy, talented and young players to shine), the draft has become the cheapest and often quickest way an NHL team can rise from infamy to  become a contender. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few draft related tidbits.

Like it or not, they’re meeting expectations

Number one draft picks have seemingly become a fool-proof commodity lately, but that simply hasn’t always been the case. Instead of complaining about all the attention heaped on Sidney Crosby and Ovechkin, we should be counting our lucky stars that they’re producing at elite levels.

Just looking at past No. 1 draft picks tells the story. Here are the picks from ’92 to ’96: Roman Hamrlik, Alexandre Daigle, Ed Jovanovski, Bryan Berard and Chris Phillips. Now let’s compare that list to the last six drafts: Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Erik Johnson, Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos and John Tavares. If it weren’t for one dastardly golf cart, that comparison would be even more astounding. You can’t blame Oilers fans for smiling about this trend. (Brian Burke? Not so much.)

More drafting tidbits after the jump.


The Worst Drafting Teams

ESPN’s Alvin Chang broke down the NHL’s worst drafting teams (subscription needed), using a formula that took into account a) how many players a team drafted who actually made it to the league and b) how well those players played once they made the league. His bottom five teams go as follows.

5. Carolina – Chang points out that the team’s biggest failing is in drafting defensemen with their most prominent blueliner (Jack Johnson) already in Los Angeles.

4. Columbus– The Blue Jackets were dinged by not having as many draft opportunities, but it’s clear the team hasn’t produced much aside from Rick Nash, Steve Mason or Derick Brassard.

3. Phoenix – They haven’t been able to have much draft success aside beyond Shane Doan and the center position.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning – Most of their Stanley Cup roster came from outside the draft.

1. Calgary – Despite having some high picks in the ’90s, the Flames have had little success in the draft. They only managed to draft 3 players who average at least 40 points per season: Dion Phaneuf, Matthew Lombardi and Jarret Stoll. Naturally, all three of them are on different teams now.

Tyler Seguin vs. Taylor Hall Update

Taylor Hall is getting the best of Tyler Seguin in their much-ballyhooed series. The Vancouver Sun shares that Hall’s Windsor Spitfires lead the Plymouth Whalers 2-0 and the numbers are pretty staggering for Hall.

Hall has three goals and four points in the two head-to-head games while Seguin has been snake-bitten with zero points and a minus-5 rating. Now, there might be a considerable disadvantage based on the strength of each player’s teams, but no doubt NHL scouts must be aware of the disparity between the two young players’ performances.

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    Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks

    VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 15: Goalie Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers shares a laugh with teammate Antti Raanta #32 after defeating the Vancouver Canucks 7-2 in NHL action on November 15, 2016 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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    If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.

    Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).

    Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:

    1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
    2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
    3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
    4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
    5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP

    Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:

    Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:

    Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.

    Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings

    DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 01:  Boone Jenner #38 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is congratulated by his teammates after scoring the go ahead goal against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on December 1, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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    As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.

    For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.

    They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.

    Columbus is now at 16-5-4, giving them 36 standings points. They’re once again in breathing distance of leading the Metro Division when you consider games in hand.

    Update: Here’s how the standings look after the Rangers beat the Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime:

    1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
    2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
    3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
    4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
    5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP

    That’s a stout division, and the Blue Jackets remain shockingly effective. Then again, with results like these over and over again, it might be time to merely expect such impressive work.

    ***

    For Detroit, it was a rough night. Jonathan Ericsson couldn’t play, Mike Green was a little banged up and Petr Mrazek was pulled for Jimmy Howard. This goal summarized some of their struggles:

    Blues blaze through Devils, even in New Jersey

    NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 09: (L-R) Brad Hunt #77, Robby Fabbri #15 and Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues celebrate Fabri's first period goal against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 9, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.

    On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.

    It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.

    This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.

    That’s impressive stuff.

    This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:

    The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”

    Oh yeah, don’t forget about Jake Allen, either.

    Leon Draisaitl continues hot streak with silky smooth goal (Video)

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    Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”

    Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).

    Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.

    Read more about his rise here.

    Update: The Wild were able to shake off that goal, ultimately beating the Oilers 3-2 via a shootout.