There are few things in sports I enjoy more than a draft and follow. I discovered the practice during my years as a baseball fan. A team would take some kid who barely played and say “well, he’s a kid we like the look of, if he can get a foot on that fastball of his maybe we have something” and it stuck with me as a chance to cheat the system. Long odds, mind, but better to take a player whose photo hasn’t quite developed than one who is fully developed and unimpressive. And at the end of the draft, that can happen.
Six summers ago, I wrote about draft and follow and said the following:
- The Oilers draft players all the time who have slipped through the previous season. Guys like Mathieu Roy, Kyle Brodziak, Danny Syvret and yesterday Jordan Bendfeld. Edmonton has been able to get a lot of quality out of that area of the draft. So, why would they wait the season and risk a spike in value? If Kyle Brodziak was on the Oiler radar a year before he was drafted (and he was) then draft the guy. Right? And you’re taking a kid who has just completed his 17-year old season over a just-turned-20 prospect who you can sign for just dollars after the draft.
The Oilers had just drafted a kid (Bendfeld) they could have SIGNED a few weeks later. That’s just silly, especially if there was no lineup for his services (and please please don’t argue that Jordan Bendfeld had a lineup for his services). It might have been a favor for a friend, or maybe one of those moments where they were tipping the cap to a scout for passing over several years worth of talent in his area (don’t laugh, this happens in baseball and hockey).
Travis Toomey did not turn into an NHL player, but I cheered for him all down the line. Draft and follow. These are my people.
Key points on draft and follow:
- they are draft eligible for the first time (just completed their 17-year old season)
- they are NOT key players on their team at this time
- they show some signs of being a prospect
This brings me to Keven Bouchard. He’s a draft and follow. On draft day, I was critical of the pick (why you use two out of six picks on goalies in any draft is beyond me. It’s like drafting one pitcher and six catchers) for reasons beyond the player (well, his save percentage was no screaming hell, either). Upon reflection, something an instant analysis on draft day doesn’t allow, Bouchard is exactly the kind of pick I like: draft and follow.
- More MacGregor: We had a bit of an eye on him from the previous year, and I just happened to be at a game that he did play, and he did get a period at the Memorial Cup that I was there at. He’s a guy with potential … he’s very fit, he’s very strong, so he’s willing to put in the work to get better. Freddy Chabot and Sylvain Rodrigue know him really well, so that helps. They’ve been involved with him, and they used that experience to [advise] that he’d be a prospect.
- InGoalMag.com: The Oilers added another goalie late with the 10th-ranked North American goalie in Bouchard, who backed up Memorial Cup star Antoine Bibeau for the QMJHL champs in Val D’or. He posted an impressive 17-6-1 record but only a .897 save percentage.
We’ll see how this turns out, but Bouchard has a decent resume, and could blossom in his final two season in junior. There’s some knowledge of the player, and his save percentage from January through the end of the regular season was .929.