The 1999 draft was the last draft I followed without the benefit of a bunch of other prospect nuts at HF. By 2000 (or thereabouts) I was reading some pretty impressive stuff by various posters (mostly Oiler guys, but there were others) and was well informed enough to know the Oil needed to draft Jarret Stoll (and they did, 2 years later).
I thought the 1999 draft would be a watershed. TWO Finns is almost too much me to hope for in an Oilers draft, and Rita looked all world. Salmelainen was too small I knew, but he was a guy to cheeer for but pretty much from the start was pegged as a second tier guy (behind the mammoth talents like Rita, Semenov, Comrie).
These 8 years later 4 terrific talents have turned into one (Comrie), with one other having an NHL contract (Semenov) and hanging on for dear life on the left coast, the other in Finland ripping up his league with league best goal scoring totals, and the other one getting traded about once a week.
Today it looks like Tony Salmelainen has landed in Toronto, and I think it might be a very nice place for him. Toronto has 3 guys making 5M each on the blueline and some high paid forward talent, so they need players at a really good price and it looks like Salmelainen has a chance at a roster spot this fall.
When he last played in the NHL (06-07, two teams ago), Salmelainen was putting up nice numbers (relative to team) at EV/60 (here’s the Hawk list) :
- Havlat (2.83)
- Hamilton (2.25)
- Salmelainen (1.89)
- Ruutu (1.83)
- Vrbata (1.78)
- Sharp (1.59)
- J Williams (1.46)
- R Bourque (1.36)
- Alexeev (1.26)
- M Lapointe (1.19)
- M Holmqvist (1.14)
- Arkipov (1.04)
and getting very little PP time. I think he could help the Toronto Maple Leafs, and if he ends up getting enough minutes it would not surprise me in the least if he put up better boxcar numbers than Robert Nilsson (whose NHL points-per-60 is about 1.56).