Declaring a winner regarding often-raw 18 and 19-year-old hockey players is almost as absurd as pinning the future of your NHL franchise on them. Still, that being said, if I had to pick a “winner” of the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft it would be the Anaheim Ducks.
The team landed much-ballyhooed defensive gem Cam Fowler with their No. 12 pick and turned boos to uproarious cheers when they drafted California-product Emerson Etem with their Pronger trade-fueled 29th pick.
Many mock drafts tabbed the offensively gifted defenseman Fowler as high as No. 3. In fact, the Ducks didn’t even interview him at the Combine this year; they figured it was unlikely that he would drop that far. Often times in sports, a player will see his value free-fall out of nowhere due to health or even personality concerns (see: the NFL’s Randy Moss). It’s unclear if there was some “intel” on Fowler that made teams sour on him, but if not, the Ducks might have landed the steal of the draft. Here’s a quick video that shows the young D’s impressive speed.
Long beach-native Emerson Etem has serious draft day bargain written all over him, as well (and not just because of the ovation he received from the crowd) Anaheim Calling features a nice write-up on the intriguing prospect who lit up the WHL last season.
The book on Etem is that he’s got a great shot, incredible speed and a strong work ethic. He gives a solid interview, and he’s worked hard to develop his game and his body, which he put on display with Combine Fitness Testing Top 10 finishes in Aerobic Fitness Test Duration, 4 Jump Average Height, Vertical Jump, Leg Power, Curl-Ups, and Pull Strength.
His flaws? He relies on that speed to the outside a little too much i.e. not all that creative offensively, and that gives the impression of a player who’s a little bit raw.
Again, it’s important to emphasize that draft analysis is akin to lottery forecasting. Some of the most criticized picks (such as Ryan Johansen to Columbus or Dylan McIlrath to the Rangers) could end up being the best players in the draft.
You never know, but if I had to guess, the Ducks improved themselves the most … at least during the higher-spectacle first round. At least without the advantage of hindsight.