Tracking the ’09 Draft

This is Fred Williams. He was a high draft pick by Detroit in the mid-’70s. I’m absolutely certain he was picked so high (4th overall, 1976) because the GM in Motown (former NHL great Alex Delvecchio) saw a lot of himself in the young Williams.

Fred Williams was not a gifted scorer and in fact was not the top center on his team (Saskatoon Blades). That honor belonged to Bernie Federko (in 75-76, Federko outscored Williams 187-118) and the reasoning (I have the old Hockey News to prove it) was that Williams was a better fit for the Red Wings because of his two-way play.

Detroit took Williams 4th overall in 1976, St. Louis settled for Federko at number 7 the same year.

Seriously.

Fred Williams played 44 NHL games before everyone realized that (despite the checking) he was never going to score enough to make the grade. Federko also played in 44 NHL games, and then added a few (he played in 1000 NHL regular season games) after it.

Drafts have always held my interest because of little things like the battle between Williams and Federko 40 years ago. You can find them in every NHL draft going back forever although teams are much better now (an organization surely has more checks and balances on the overall scouting than just allowing the GM to make the pick) at picking the right players in the top 50 each season.

Every once in awhile someone will post here or pm me at HF and ask how I follow each season’s draft. If you’re interested, here’s how I do it:

  1. I start about this time of year, probably because of the World Juniors (although most of the kids at the tournament are already drafted so the actual games don’t matter much in this regard).
  2. I read posts on HF by Blue Bullet, speeds, Seachd, Mr Bugg and a few others. You can get a real feel for a season following BB’s posts. Excellent writer, too. speeds doesn’t post much at IOF but when he does it’s usually prospect or draft related and supplies good info. Mr Bugg seems to be writing a lot for outside publications lately and is an interesting source.
  3. There’s a scout on HF who posts on the prospect/draft board. I’m not going to tell you his nick at HF but if you guess it I’ll confirm. This fellow has supplied outstanding info for several years (and under different names) at HF.
  4. I read Redline report at USA Today. Grumpy as anything and they are wrong at times (didn’t like Hemsky) but they also don’t sugar coat things. They called Schremp better than anyone else.
  5. I look at the stats and use logic. If a 17-year old is lighting it up in junior but is also listed at 5-5, 170 then he has issues as a pro prospect. Ask Al Hillier how that goes. On the other hand, if a 6-8 defenseman had 40 points in a full junior season he’s a fellow that you should pay attention to as the draft nears.
  6. I avoid “saw him good” scouting reports, even from experts. Reason? Scouts aren’t going to give out real info before a draft unless it’s obvious and no one in the media is a scout. The closest you can get are Redline and the guy at HF.
  7. I read Guy’s blog every day.
  8. I watch the top prospects game. I don’t tape it and play it back because I have zero idea about what to look for. I can tell you who I like but that’s probably not terribly valuable.
  9. I pay attention to players who improve markedly (stats-wise) after Christmas.
  10. I use Bob McKenzie’s top 30 as a draft guideline. Buddy’s connected.

I’ve been following this year’s crop for about three weeks now (since the weather turned) and can tell you there’s one guy I’d target at #3 after Tavares and Hedman (Evander Kane) and another I’d like to see drafted by the Oilers later in the first round (Scott Glennie).

More to come.

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16 Responses to "Tracking the ’09 Draft"

  1. Jonathan says:

    Here are some fun goals and points per game numbers for a top prospect:

    16-yr old: 1.07 GPG, 2.00 PPG
    17-yr old: 0.68 GPG, 2.00 PPG
    18-yr old: 0.81 GPG, 1.68 PPG

    That’s Tavares, of course, and three seasons of decline from his performance as a 16-yr old has me firmly in the Hedman camp for the first overall pick. Kid makes me nervous. The GPG numbers, when combined with the scouts latest (positive) take make it pretty clear that scouts like goals.

    On the other hand, here’s how Tavares’ +8 matches up vs. the rest of the team’s forwards, arranged by points total:

    -1, 1, -6, -4, -16, -12, -3, +1, -3, +1, -2, 0, +2, -3, -3

    Kid’s clearly a difference maker on a bad team, which helps restore some confidence.

  2. DeBakey says:

    Scott Glennie
    Height: 6’1. Weight: 182.

    That certinly would be a nice change of pace

  3. Jonathan says:

    DeBakey: Looking at the plus/minus (because that's the kick I'm on tonight) it sure looks like Glennie, Schenn & Co. are getting the softies.

    Not that it makes either of them bad picks, but it does help inflate the numbers, if accurate.

  4. HBomb says:

    Ok, it’s “all Eberle, all the time” starting at 5pm on Friday afternoon. THAT is whom I’m watching.

    The guy I’m most intrigued by for the draft (this Jared Cowen kid), he’s not even in the tournament, so I’m going to focus on the Oiler property.

  5. Lowetide says:

    There was a time when Oilers kids didn’t get much love at the WJ’s (Comrie got sent home at least once, etc).

    But with Cogliano, then Gagner and even Schremp, it seems the Oilers have at least one player of interest each Christmas.

    Don’t be fooled though. Jani Rita scored one of the prettiest goals in WJC history and look what it got him.

  6. Traktor says:

    Zack Kassian please.

  7. HBomb says:

    Zack Kassian please.

    DEFINITE player of interest.

  8. doritogrande says:

    I’ll take Schenn on my team anyday. Many people discount the fact that he’s Luke’s brother. He’s got the ability to play the same kind of crash and bang game, and would have fit in effortlessly alongside DellaRovere and Cormier. Tough break for the kid.

    All his offense may not translate to the NHL game, but he’s got the other skills to make it and succeed, kind of similar to the American, Colin Wilson. He’s got size and can use it. Schenn’s probably 5th on my list of players to draft, behind (in order) Hedman, Tavares, Kane, Cowan. I’m nicking the London Knight phenom Nazem Kadri simply because he plays for the Knights and their track record in the NHL seems spotty at best, especially when it comes to the Oilers picking them.

    The wildcard is going to be this Ellis kid. He’s the perfect candidate for a team looking for the Bryan Rafalski home-run.

  9. Lowetide says:

    dorito: Good point on the London thing.

    Anyone have an opinion on Matt Duchene?

  10. doritogrande says:

    “Anyone have an opinion on Matt Duchene?”

    Yeah, we have 5 of these in the system already.

  11. Lord Bob says:

    We’ve drafted three Knights. Syvret was picked so late that, by playing a couple games and fetching an asset, he covered the bet. Schremp might be a miss. Gagner is touched by the hockey gods. That’s two for three. I can live with that.

  12. Scott says:

    Count me in on being unconvinced about the London phenomenon as well. The only guy significantly underperforming is Schremp. It would be interesting to see some sort of study but I don’t think that London guys underperform their NHLE any more readily than other juniors coming to the big leagues. Kane and Gagner both covered last year.

  13. alphahelix says:

    Evander Kane is awesome, and personally I expect to see him go in the top 5… (not that I’m any sort of expert). But he is another smallish scorer, and IMO theres no chance hes going to be around where we draft even if we trade up…

    My darkhorse pick for the Oilers is Landon Ferraro… he has 20 goals so far in the dub.. he is going to crack the 40 marker and probably be ranked around our pick come draft time… but that sort of thing is virtually impossible to judge at this point. I guess I’m just flapping my gums.

  14. jon k says:

    The younger Schenn seems like he would compare very well to Doan in terms of style and offensive upside.

    Some reviews from coaching staff and the like has Tavares spending his past season working on the weaker points in his game, namely defensive play and playmaking. Haven’t seen any of him, nor any reputable sources (i.e. RLR) mirroring those remarks however, so that should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Hedman worries me somewhat as well. His skating ability is truly remarkable, regardless of his size. It seems like it hides a lot of his warts.

    For what it’s worth I take Hedman though.

  15. Schitzo says:

    Man, if I wasn’t already out of patience on this whole rebuild thing, I would throw a lot of assets Vancouver’s way to unite Eberle and Hodgson on a line for the next 15 years.

  16. Rob says:

    Sergei Kostityn was a London Knight too. Montreal took him 200th

    Kostitsyn 82gp 15-25-40
    Gagner 109gp 15-42-57

    Give Gagner two years and he should be clear of kostitsyn but Sergei is a great pick at 200.

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