I do this because several years ago Kevin Lowe would gush each summer over Jason Chimera and each fall he would be sent out by the coach.
So, even though Kevin Lowe acquires the talent, Craig MacTavish is the guy who puts the roster together. Other indicators (where a player is taken in a draft, who was traded in order to get the prospect) are less important than MacT’s decision making process.
Fortunately for us, he’s pretty forthcoming in terms of where these kids stand in his eyes.
March 2007: “I liked the way he read the game defensively, he’s got some speed and he had a good opportunity to score just before he got the goal, jumping off the boards on the power play. He certainly stands out with this puck-handling ability and his speed. It was nice to see him get the goal.”
March 2007: “He showed he’s got the skill level, but he has to develop more speed. If he’ll apply himself to that, he’ll create a lot more. It’s very questionable whether he’ll be an impact player on our team next year. “
April 2007: “Maybe he could get a bit more efficient in terms of helping out, retrieving the pucks and so forth, but you get the sense that when he does get the puck that he’s going to make a play with it, especially through the neutral zone . . . I thought he played ok.”
April 2007: “It looked like the pace of his game has marginally improved (since training camp). He’s got to get a little more efficient when it comes to retrieving the puck, but you get the sense that when he does get it, he’s going to make a play with it –especially through the neutral zone.”
September 2005: “He fits one of the team’s skill packages and that’s the power play. He’s been very impressive. He’s as good a passer as I’ve seen in a while and the play doesn’t die with him very often.”
September 2006: “We haven’t had that in a while, a player from Europe come in here and be as polished and complete and effective as he’s been. Right now he looks like a guy who will not only make the team, but really help us. I haven’t seen any weakness in any facet of the team so far.”
Jean Francois Jacques
September 2005: “He’s the hardest hitter that we’ve seen here in a long time with that combination of strength and power. He gets a couple big hits every game so he’s been able to provide a big physical presence for us.”
November 2006: “We’re looking for a bit more inspiration. He hasn’t had a lot of playing time and he’s the type of player who seems to look better in the games than in the practices. We want to see if he’s in the mix here.”
September 2005: “We always value toughness and we have a lot of that now. The other guy that always slips through the cracks is Stortini; he always finds a way to be a physical factor in the game and he’s in the mix as well.”
March 2007: “Marc plays a responsible game so there’s no reason why he can’t play a third-line role if he can’t fill a top-two-line spot. There are a lot of players (in the NHL), and we have a few, who have to play on the top two lines or they’re not going to play. Marc isn’t one of those guys. There’s a future for him.”
April 2006: “I was pessimistic about putting a young player into this situation so late in the season, but I don’t have any reservations now about putting him out there. He’s played exceptionally responsibly for a young guy. He’s strong on the puck. He’s pretty good positionally.”
June 2007: “We just felt there wasn’t a lot more he could do at the collegiate level. We felt he was ready to make the jump — whether it’s to the NHL or the American league.”
June 2007: “There wasn’t a lot more he could get out of the college game, in our minds. He’s accomplished a lot of the things you need to do to position yourself where you can compete for a job. He has a lot of experience. I’m sure he’s feeling like he’s ready to play. We’re going to give him a look, that’s for sure.
June 2007: “We think he’s ready to make that jump. Whether it’s the NHL or the AHL depends on what he does through training camp. But we think if he has to go to the AHL, he’s a player who can come in and help us halfway through.”
March 2007: “I have got high expectations for him coming into the game. I think he is going to be way further ahead than what he has been in the past, from what I hear.”
Draft 2003: “When you watch them walk down the stairs, they all look like they can play,” MacTavish said after seeing youngsters like Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Colin McDonald and Jean-Francois Jacques pull on Oiler jerseys in Music City. “Especially with the size of them. Most of them look good in suits.”