I’ve been reading Montreal Canadiens fans go through the seven stages of grief over the loss of center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to the Carolina Hurricanes via offer sheet. Late last night I read “good riddance” so there’s some miles to go, but the early afternoon “our scouts suck!” seems to have abated.
I think someone has to point out that Montreal’s drafting record is good over the last 20 years, with talents like Carey Price, PK Subban, Ryan McDonagh, Jaroslav Halak, Ron Hainsey, Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, Mikhael Sergachev and Cole Caufield procured for les Habitants. Not just first-round picks, either, Montreal’s scouts uncover talent in lots of exotic places like Cretin Derham Hall High, Kladno, Salem, Prince Albert and Guelph. Habs are good. They can’t outrun luck though and that’s true of every team.
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THE 2007 DRAFT
My friend Troy and I spent the Friday night of the 2007 draft’s first round at Schanks in the west end. Troy is normal, so he didn’t care who Edmonton took at No. 6 or No. 15 or No. 30.
Me? I was laser focused on Sam Gagner or Jakub Voracek at No. 6, grabbing David Perron or Ryan McDonagh at #15 and then dealing the pick at 30 with Matt Greene for a veteran blueliner. Don’t believe me? The proof is here.
Others thought Edmonton should take Alexei Cherepanov or Angelo Esposito or even Mikael Backlund. Edmonton stayed the course at No. 6 (Sam Gagner) but Guy Flaming pulled me aside as the pick at No. 15 was getting closer and told me Alex Plante was a player he knew Edmonton valued.
It happened just that way.
Edmonton did trade up, and could have drafted Backlund or Perron, but chose checking center Riley Nash instead. Montreal? That draft weekend, the Habs walked away with Ryan McDonagh, PK Subban and Max Pacioretty.
If you look around the league, most of the scoring leaderboards are populated by top-10 overall selections. Oh sure Brad Marchand beat the odds, but guys like Alex DeBrincat are rare. That’s one reason Kailer Yamamoto represents a draft victory, a change in long held bias, and the season to come is an important one for him.
As was the case with Ethan Bear one year ago, Yamamoto is staring at a contract far less than hoped, and with no good options. I’d say we are a week to 10 days from either side sweating in the least, but we’re in the range now where getting this done is important. Sucks for Yamamoto, but the season just posted does bring some doubt (I have none) into his ability to perform on a skill line and lost offense:
- First 26 games: 6-7-13, 32 shots, 18.8 shooting percentage, 1.28 pts-60, 32-14 (+8) five on five goal differential
- Second 26 games: 2-6-8, 37 shots, 5.4 shooting percentage, 0.80 pts-60, 14-10 (+4) five on five goal differential
I was impressed to see his overall game stayed constant despite the shooting woes. If you add four goals to his second half, everything tops up perfectly. Huh. So much for young players allowing goal slumps to impact their game. That second half is going to cost him some coin. I remain a believer in this player.
Lots of media reports about Holloway’s hand/thumb injury and how things might impact. Previous drafts tell us that player and organization have to be careful, there’s a laundry list (led by Doug Lynch) of prospects getting derailed by it.
On the other hand, the Holland Oilers did the same thing with Kailer Yamamoto in the summer/fall of 2019 (he didn’t play any preseason games, first time he dressed came in Bakersfield on October 4, 2019). We could see the same kind of handling with Holloway. Better safe than sorry.