A decade of NHL Draft debates

lehtonen.jpgDani Toth brought up an interesting “What if?” question today. She asked if the Tampa Bay Lightning drafted the right man when they chose Steven Stamkos instead of Drew Doughty. Depending on how you look at it, it’s a grizzly bear of a question: do you go with the electric goal scorer or the Norris-nominated defenseman? Ultimately, it’s like choosing between bacon and chocolate: do I want sweet delicious or salty delicious? (Wait, is it? Eh, let’s just call it good thing or other good thing …)

Anyway, it had me thinking: what are some of the great – recent – NHL Draft debates? This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, but instead a look at some of the more interesting recent decisions from 2000-2009.

2009: Hedman, Tavares or Duchene?: Obviously, the jury’s still out on this one but Matt Duchene had the best rookie year. All three have a chance to be the best when it’s all said-and-done.

2006: Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal, Backstrom, Kessel, Toews: Wow, talk about a hindsight-heavy question. Should the St. Louis Blues have taken Nicklas Backstrom or Jonathan Toews instead? Is a Stanley Cup enough to justify the fact that the Penguins could have drafted a “bigger star” instead of Staal? This draft shows that some years can produce better talent at #5 than others do at #1.

2003: M-A Fleury, Eric Staal, Vanek, Parise, Carter, Getzlaf: Speaking of loaded drafts, 2003 was just ridiculous. Zach Parise went at #17 … it’s not impossible that he’d go around that spot if the entire league was re-drafted. Fleury’s had an up-and-down career, but a Cup makes it difficult to be overly critical. Still, with the likes of Eric Staal, Parise and Getzlaf in that entry draft, it’s natural to wonder “what if?” (Then again, this gets into the danger of “replacing” … something I’ll discuss in greater detail on a rainy day.)

2002: Nash, Lehtonen, Bouwmeester, Semin, Ward: This draft might top the List of Atlanta Thrashers Regrets. Instead of landing Cup-winning goalie Cam Ward or a productive player such as Jay Bouwmeester or Alex Semin, they ended up with the mercurial Kari Lehtonen. Ouchies.

2000: Dipietro, Heatley, Gaborik: Another indication that drafting a goalie too high can lead to regrets. Then again, Gaborik and Heatley aren’t with their first teams anyway, so maybe there would have been heartache for the Islanders anyway?

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.