If Curtis Hamilton had been eligible for the 1976 Amateur Draft, I swear to God the Montreal Canadiens would have taken him. Hamilton’s scouting report coming out of junior was a “top dead center” perfect match for the Habs. Stu MacGregor said on Hamilton’s draft day “An extremely smart player, a great two way player. Strong, has good size, works hard along the boards. Very strong on the puck, has good vision, very good penalty killer. A guy who plays hard and smart.”
In the last 10 years, Edmonton graduated Fernando Pisani (an 8th round selection) to the NHL. He was drafted in 1996, made his debut in the big leagues in 2002 and was so good so soon the club flushed Daniel Cleary the following summer. Cleary had been taken in the 1st round in 1997, and had several ups and downs in a solid career before arriving in Motown.
Long story short, you never know. Hell, we know the 1st overall picks are going to play in the NHL, but what about the kids from pick 15-210? For some of us, following their progress is a big part of the game’s appeal.
The wingers from last night offer fans a look at pretty much every level of sponsorship North American pro hockey:
- NHL: Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle
- AHL: Magnus Paajarvi, Teemu Hartikainen, Dane Byers, Curtis Hamilton, Phil Cornet
- ECHL: Toni Rajala
The beauty of pro sports (at least baseball and hockey) is that the pecking order is in constant movement. Hall and Eberle couldn’t move down this depth chart this side of their 40th birthday, but the guy at the end (Rajala) could make life miserable for the guys ahead of him.
Rajala’s problem goes like this:
- Toni Rajala (5.10, 163)
- Phil Cornet (6.0, 196)
- Magnus Paajarvi (6.02, 204)
- Teemu Hartikainen (6.02, 211)
- Dane Byers (6.03, 204)
- Curtis Hamilton (6.02, 214)
Now, I’m not saying he has no heart or jam, but there is a bias for a player that small. I’m cheering for him, but I keep coming back to the big man Hamilton. I find myself wondering why he doesn’t enter more battles because with his size he’d win a few. Maybe I’m just missing them, but it seems to me the points would come if he forced the issue.
That’s an option Hamilton owns that Rajala doesn’t possess. It’ll be interesting to see which of those 6 wingers ends up playing more games in the NHL.