Updating the First Rounders

This is Michel Riesen in the uniform of the St. Louis Blues. No doubt he was thinking about spending the season in the town that invented Chuck Berry but it didn’t work out that way.

Riesen never did play a game in anger for the St. Louis Blues, but he has had an impact in Switzerland since leaving the NHL/AHL loop. In 06-07 he 37 goals in 44 games for Davos while playing with Alexander Daigle and Reto Von Arx.

I thought it might be a fine idea to update you on the first round picks who are outside the NHL these days going back ten years or so. Although these men didn’t find themselves playing at hockey’s most elite level it’s still fun to track their careers and see at what level they found the range.

2004: G Devan Dubnyk- The big man is trying to stay at par in the AHL these days and the organization considers him “on track” as a prospect. Our own blogosphere goalie expert (Asiaoil) says 08-09 is a pivotal “shyte or get off the pot” season which seems reasonable.

2004: C Rob Schremp- Sugartits had a real nice AHL season (7th in league scoring) and would be a lock for major league employment if the Oilers didn’t have so many youngsters knocking on the door (and another litter that has just established themselves) of the NHL. I think it’s reasonable to suggest he’s going to get his 500 MLB at-bats soon no matter the logo on his sweater.

2002: Jesse Niinimaki- Injuries, chronic skinniness and maybe a little bit of youth helped keep this young man from being an NHL player, and of course he may not have been good enough either way. This past season saw him take the “Jason Bonsignore is playing here now—no he’s not” tour that saw him play in Sweden, Finland and Switzerland in 07-08. That’s a nice schedule if you’re ABBA but for NHL prospects it sounds like a lot of failure.

2000: Alexei Mikhnov- See post below.

1999: Jani Rita- He scored a ton of goals in Finland in 06-07 (32 goals in 56gp) but was the man who fell to earth this season with only 10 in 37 games. He was on the Finnish World Championship team in 2005 and 2006 but is no longer a member of the team which would suggest he’s fallen another rung on the ladder. He’s not Jason Soules, but he’s getting there.

1998: Michael Henrich- He’s playing in Germany for the Wolfsburg Grizzly Adams. Seriously. Why would I lie to you? His signing was the last official point of business by Glen Sather as GM of the Edmonton Oilers. Thanks, Slats.

1997: Michel Riesen- Played for Davos again this season, he’s now 28 years old. The most interesting thing about him now is the group of former NHLers on his team: Janne Niinimaa, Reto Von Arx, Alexander Daigle, Josef Marha, Jesse Niinimaki (on the ABBA tour) and Gerry Odrowski all played for Davos (well, not Gerry but he’s 69 years old now).

Final note: Steve Kelly played 2 NHL games in 07-08 and has now played in 149 games.

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2 Responses to "Updating the First Rounders"

  1. Eetu says:

    I don’t think it is fair to say that Rita has fallen on the ladder. This year he suffered from a torn MCL and was out from early December to mid-February. It is true that he wasn’t even close to his pace from 2006-07 when he first got injured (8+10 in 27). To his defense, part of that was because Doug Shedden kept playing him with Kim Hirschovits – who had an off year – and Petri Varis – who isn’t getting any younger. He did play well in the playoffs once again (6+4 in 14).

    He hasn’t really progressed much as a player and it is hard to imagine that he’d suddenly develop a sense for the game at age 27, but he still has the same strengths he always had. I’m sure he’ll be a candidate for World Championships next year if he stays healthy.

  2. Lowetide says:

    Eetu: You see, that’s why I love doing this blog. I had no idea about the injury, that explains a lot. Rita is the one first rounder on this list who didn’t make it that most of us thought would be a certain NHLer (seriously), so you never know.

    He could be this generation’s David Vyborny among Oiler draft picks.

    Thanks for the info, eetu.

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