When NHL teams defy draft day conventions

Thumbnail image for fowlercam.jpgPicking players in a typical NHL Entry Draft is akin to choosing your child’s future college by throwing a dart at a globe blindfolded. Rarely are such important decisions made with such little genuine, quantifiable information.

I stumbled across some interesting reads on the subject of players falling in the draft this morning. As you may remember, a few seemingly “blue chip” defensemen fell considerably in the draft; Cam Fowler (pictured to the right) was thought to be a No. 3-quality player who dipped to No. 12 with Anaheim while Brandon Gormley fell to No. 13 with Phoenix. Elliotte Friedman wrote an interesting tidbit about players plummeting compared to their perceived statuses by Central Scouting this weekend. One big factor that doesn’t go into Central Scouting rankings is personal character, Friedman reports.

“(We) stop a bit short of investigating … the personality of the players that are before us,” says Central Scouting Director EJ McGuire. “Rather we err on the performance side. We are more of a talent identifier. I can sketch a depth chart of the Oilers and say that Edmonton should take a right-handed centreman in Tyler Seguin. It’s easy for me to say.”

“But I’m not privy to behind the scenes discussions. Maybe the Oilers have decided that two years down the road they are not going to re-sign someone, or they’re going to make a deal so that someone else is a better fit.”

“Maybe (a team is) looking at a player who is high on talent, short on maturity but it has a mature dressing room,” he added. “The team is thinking, ‘We can put him between this player and this player.’ Conversely, if the dressing room is in disarray the team could be looking for a more mature player.”

Tyler Dellow of the well-respected stats blog MC79 Hockey had an interesting take on the discussion.

I’ve read Gare Joyce’s book in which he talks about scouting at great length and a lot of it just seems like modern day phrenology to me. I sort of think that any reasonably competent scouting operation is able to generally sort guys into roughly where they should be but that it’s really a crap shoot beyond that. All of these things that they look for to differentiate players from one another – Brian Burke apparently liked Ryan Kesler because he put his arm around someone who was having a bad game – just strike me as so much skull reading.

If the NHL as a whole barred scouting, doubled the budget of Central Scouting and forced teams to pick from the CSB list, I’m not convinced that the league would be appreciably worse at identifying players. I don’t think you’d suddenly see Ales Hemsky’s getting drafted at 200 or something like that.

That’s certainly an interesting point and perhaps mostly true, but it would obviously also affect the competitive advantages certain “strong” drafting teams enjoy. What would become of the Detroit Red Wings’ vaunted late picks such as Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg? Would they simply have been drafted sooner … or not at all? Would a bigger budget have allowed Central Scouting to identify such non-drafted gems as Martin St. Louis?

With very little access to how NHL front offices make their draft day decisions, it’s certainly interesting fodder for a mid-July day dry on hockey news.

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    BREAKING: Carey Price’s composure

    ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 29:  Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on during the third period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on November 29, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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    Even the best goalie in the world – one who makes it look easy – can lose his cool sometimes.

    (Heck, that used to be the domain of Patrick Roy, right?)

    It was quite the sight on Thursday nonetheless: Carey Price absolutely lost his cool and went after Kyle Palmieri during the Montreal Canadiens’ game against the New Jersey Devils. You can watch that spectacle in the video above.

    Palmieri received an interference penalty while Price received a roughing double-minor. Apparently fits of Price anger are rare:

    By Hockey Reference’s numbers, Price has accrued 39 penalty minutes in 465 career regular season games and eight in 54 playoff contests before tonight’s outburst.

    Video: John Tavares exhibits all-out-effort on this goal

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    Sometimes it feels like John Tavares is alone on an island. Even during such grimmer times, there are moments where it seems like he can do it all by himself, anyway.

    The New York Islanders have been quietly getting it back together lately (4-0-1 in their last five games), with Tavares averaging a point per contest during that span. Still, he’s obviously been getting some help lately.

    If you want an “all by himself” moment, look no further than the goal above, where he just out-efforts everyone. It’s an unusual sight, although especially jaded people may just come to expect this type of thing from Tavares. He’s that great.

    Niskanen will miss at least one game from that Bergeron hit

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    However you feel about the hit Patrice Bergeron delivered on Matt Niskanen, the bottom line is that the Washington Capitals defenseman is hurt.

    The Capitals consider the valuable blueliner day-to-day with an upper-body injury and noted that he won’t travel to Buffalo for Friday’s game against the Sabres.

    That only tells us so much, as the Capitals will face the Vancouver Canucks at home in their next game after that on Sunday. If that’s all he ends up missing, that wouldn’t be too huge of an issue. CSN Mid-Atlantic notes that he’s played in every game (all 189) since joining the Capitals, so he’s been healthy so far in his stay with Washington.

    Washington called up defenseman Aaron Ness to help give them some depth.

    As you may recall, Bergeron received a two-minute boarding minor for the check in question.

    Bruised Blackhawks will be without Seabrook, Toews vs. Rangers

    CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 13: Brent Seabrook #7 and Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks
celebrate a second period goal by Seabrook against the Anaheim Ducks at the United Center on February 13, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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    Scott Darling isn’t the only member of the Chicago Blackhawks who will be asked to step up with key players out of the lineup.

    The Blackhawks have already ruled out Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews for Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, as CSN Chicago notes.

    This will mark the eighth consecutive game Toews is missing, although the bright side is that Joel Quenneville didn’t dismiss the possibility of Chicago’s captain playing on Sunday.

    Seabrook is considered day-to-day after being shaken up by this awkward spill from Wednesday:

    A few days ago, Patrick Kane called upon others to step up with Toews out. That message can now apply to Chicago’s defensemen with Seabrook banged up.