The Hockey News 2012 NHL Draft Guide

The Hockey News 2012 NHL draft guide is out and here’s a look at their top-30 rankings along with my thoughts about the publication:

1. Nail Yakubov
2. Filip Forsberg
3. Mikhail Grigorenko
4. Ryan Murray
5. Matt Dumba
6. Morgan Rielly
7. Alex Galchenyuk
8. Griffin Reinhart
9. Jacob Trouba
10. Cody Ceci
11. Radek Faksa
12. Teuvo Teravainen
13. Derrick Pouliot
14. Sebastian Collberg
15. Hampus Lindholm
16. Zemgus Girgensons
17. Brandan Gaunce
18. Matthew Finn
19. Ludvig Bystrom
20. Olli Maata
21. Andrei Vasilevski
22. Pontus Aberg
23. Slater Koekkoek
24. Tomas Hertl
25. Thomas Wilson
26. Brady Skjei
27. Mike Matheson
28. Ville Pokka
29. Dalton Thrower
30. Stefan Matteau

The Hockey News (Adam Proteau wrote the blurb) believes the Sens need secondary scoring along with depth and sandpaper on their blueline.  They see Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad as the next players in the pipeline, but say they “lack size.”  Silfverberg doesn’t have a big frame, but no one who has looked at Zibanejad (in person or on paper) would mistake him for a small player.  There’s no mock draft included in the issue, but purely by the rankings Hampus Lindholm would be their candidate.  Ottawa ranks fifth in THN’s “Future Watch”.  Their list of shrewd post-lockout picks are (they actually mean lockout onward, given that they include 2005 picks): Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Zack Smith, Erik Condra, Colin Greening, and Robin Lehner.  Their list of poor selections are Brian Lee and Jim O’Brien.

I’m not a huge fan of THN’s draft prognosis (last year they were the worst among sources as far as they ranked (three rounds)), but it’s the least expensive option available and it does provide profiles of the top-100 players.

Senators News: May 30th

Bruce Garrioch continues to pump out trade rumours by giving us his top-five Sens likely to be traded:
1. Nick Foligno(RFA), “At times, Foligno has left the Senators wanting more and that’s the message Murray delivered during their post-season meeting: If Foligno is going to be back, the team wants him to a be consistent, top two-line [top-line] player. If Murray decides to deal Foligno, there will be plenty of interest. Teams love his potential.”  All Ottawa would get back for Foligno is another player with the same issues–unrealised potential–so I don’t see him moving unless he was signed and part of a package deal.
2. Sergei Gonchar, “He won’t be shopped, but you can be assured Murray will listen to offers. The Senators were pleased with the way Gonchar finished last season. He was a strong, consistent performer.”  If anyone can figure out how this adds up to being moved they are welcome to explain it to me.
3. Robin Lehner, “The club wasn’t thrilled with the way 20-year-old Lehner developed last season in Binghamton. His work ethic was called into question, but he’s showing signs of maturity and that’s a positive for his career.”  I’m not sure if Garrioch means the organisation called his work ethic into question or not, since only the former is relevant.  Regardless, why give up on a young player when all you would get back is another young player with question marks?  It makes no sense, particularly given the great unknown that is Ben Bishop as an NHL-regular.
4. Zack Smith, “If he’s moved, Smith is simply a victim of depth at centre.”  I get the feeling Garrioch was pulling names out of a hat–or else trying to rationalise how to make room for his Chris Kelly rumours.
5. Bobby Butler, “The Senators will likely try to get something done after Butler scored six goals in 56 games this season, but it would be a tough sell for any team to give him a fresh start with that contract attached.”  The only realistic name on the list (as echoed by Lyle Richardson), I don’t think Butler will be as hard to move as Garrioch thinks, given that Matt Gilroy has already been traded twice based on his college career rather than his NHL achievements.

DaveYoung digs into Nick Foligno‘s numbers to assess if he’s a top-six talent.  He points out that 4 of Foligno‘s 15 goals were of the empty-net variety and that he lead the team in secondary assists ratio.  Dave concludes, “So even in a career year for Nick Foligno, his numbers were skewed by secondary assists and empty net goals. If he doesn’t get those empty netters, and only scores 11 goals on the season, is that what we are looking for from a top-6 player? I don’t think so.”  I also think Foligno is better suited to third-line duty.

Varada suggests fans overvalue their prospects (true) and that a proven commodity like Rick Nash is worth the salary and flatlined production.  In essence, he suggests the ridiculous package Columbus is looking for is worth it.  I understand Varada’s point, but there are three things to keep in mind here: 1) organisations that constantly trade away their prospects (like Columbus) don’t succeed long term or (usually) at all in the post-lockout era, 2) the numbers Varada sites (“even if Nash “only” scores you 25-30 goals for the next few years and never breaks that 70 point barrier again“) are Milan Michalek numbers–I’m not suggesting they are the same player, but if that’s the production you are going to get for 7.8 million you really are better off waiting and hoping for your prospects to pan out, finally 3) there’s no chance Nash will accept a trade to Ottawa.

-Here’s my look at Future Considersations 2012 NHL Draft Guide.

-Radio ratings are largely meaningless (link), but for local sports fans The Team 1200 sits 13th among Ottawa stations with their numbers declining.  A number of personalities were fired in February (Jim Jerome, Phil Melanson, and Mike Sutherland), and while I take no pleasure in anyone losing their jobs both Jerome and Melanson were understandably first in line to be let go.  I haven’t listened to the station regularly in months, largely because most of the personalities are all cut from the same cloth.  While I love hockey talk, debate doesn’t work well when both parties essentially agree (Jason York and Steve Lloyd spring to mind).

Future Considerations 2012 NHL Draft Guide

Future Considerations 2012 NHL draft guide is out and here’s a look at their top-30 rankings along with my thoughts about the publication:

1). RW Nail Yakupov, Sarnia, OHL, 5-10.5, 189

2). C Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia, OHL, 6-1, 185

3). D Ryan Murray, Everett, WHL, 6-0.5, 200

4). C Mikhail Grigorenko, Quebec, QMJHL, 6-3, 200

5). LW Filip Forsberg, Leksand, Swe., 6-2, 180

6). D Jacob Trouba, USNTDP U18, USHL, 6-2, 195

7). D Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton, WHL, 6-4, 205

8). RW Teuvo Teravainen, Jokerit Jr., Fin Jr., 5-11, 165

9). D Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw, WHL, 5-11.5, 190

10). D Mathew Dumba, Red Deer, WHL, 5-11.5, 180

11). D Cody Ceci, Ottawa, OHL, 6-2.5, 210

12). RW Sebastian Collberg, Frolunda Jr., Swe Jr., 5-11, 175

13). C Radek Faksa, Kitchener, OHL, 6-3, 200

14). D Derrick Pouliot, Portland, WHL, 5-11, 185

15). D Hampus Lindholm, Rogle Jr., Swe Jr. 6-2, 195

16). RW Colton Sissons, Kelowna, WHL, 6-1, 190

17). LW Nicolas Kerdiles, USNTDP U18, USHL, 6-1.5, 200

18). C Brendan Gaunce, Belleville, OHL, 6-2, 215

19). C Zemgus Girgensons, Dubuque, USHL, 6-1.5, 200

20). C Tomas Hertl, Slavia Praha, Czech Rep, 6-2, 195

21). G Andrei Vasilevski, Ufa, MHL, 6’-3.5”, 205

22). LW Pontus Aberg, Djurgarden, SEL., 5-11, 195

23). D Slater Koekkoek, Peterborough, OHL, 6-2, 185

24). D Ludvig Bystrom, Modo Jr., Swe Jr., 6-1, 205

25). G Oscar Dansk, Brynas Jr., Swe Jr., 6-2.5, 185

26). D Matt Finn, Guelph, OHL, 6-0, 195

27). D Olli Maatta, London, OHL, 6-1.5, 190

28). D Dalton Thrower, Saskatoon, WHL, 5-11.5, 190

29). G Malcolm Subban, Belleville, OHL, 6-1, 188

30). RW Tom Wilson, Plymouth, OHL, 6-4, 205

In FC’s mock draft they have Ottawa selecting Hampus Lindholm in the first round, saying “A nice cupboard full of forward talent from the past three drafts means the semi-rebuild will be a quick one. They need to focus now on acquiring some impact defensemen with their first rounder and possibly their second rounder in this draft. They go back to Sweden where they have experienced success and grab Lindholm with this pick.”  They list Ottawa’s needs as “A couple puck moving defensemen and goaltender depth.”  I agree wholeheartedly about the organisational need, although I expect the Sens will take the best player available.

Unlike the ISS guide there’s no examination of team depth, but they include goaltenders in their general listings (unlike ISS or Central Scouting) and for an inexpensive product Future Considerations is a solid purchase.  In terms of predictive success, last year FC was at the bottom of publications in terms of the percentage of listed players selected (44%, tied with Red Line Report), but was tied for first (again with RLR) for the most specific selections (player X at position X).

Senators News: May 29th

Bruce Garrioch has a lot to say in his latest article:
1) he’s still beating the drum on a Sergei Gonchar trade (“While the Senators will likely try to deal blueliner Sergei Gonchar — who has one year left at $5.5 million — to make room for Erik Karlsson’s new deal“).  Nichols takes this speculation more seriously than I do and points out the obvious flaw, “As unlikely that it is that they’ll be able to find a taker without inheriting taking back a terrible contract in return, it’s almost just as unlikely that they would move Gonchar knowing that they’re likely to lose Filip Kuba to unrestricted free agency.”  It simply makes no sense for the Sens to lose Gonchar and Kuba when the free agent pool is thin and the Sens lack defensive depth.
2) Garrioch wonders if the Sens would part with either Robin Lehner or Ben Bishop (presumably Gord Wilson would be signed to replace whoever was moved) to land a quality forward.  I have no idea what Bruce was smoking when he came up with this cannard, but with the glut of quality free agent goaltenders and the lack of any goaltending depth in the organisation this simply won’t happen.
3) Columbus GM Scott Howson wanted a roster player, first round pick, Mika Zibanejad, and Mark Stone for Rick Nash.  Yikes!

Darren Kramer talked about his journey to become a pro, “It was a big question mark for me and I didn’t know which direction I was going to go. It’s a life decision you have to make, but now that I’ve signed, it’s a relief to know this is the path I’ll be taking for the next few years. The intentions are to make the team in Ottawa but in reality, you know there are a lot of equally skilled players competing for spots. So chances are you’re going to have to be spending some times in the minors. Either way, I’ll be working hard to get to the National Hockey League. Everything has to get much better to make the step … the biggest thing is my foot speed and making sure I can keep up to the pro game. The guys you’re going to be playing with are all men now, so you also want to make sure you’re stronger and your body is where you want it to be physically.”  Bryan Murray stated the obvious in saying, “We know both [Kramer and Jakub Culek] will take a little time and development, but the door is very much open now in Binghamton for them to start their pro careers  … hopefully, they will take advantage of (the opportunity).”

Nichols has typed out an interview between Pierre Dorion and The Team 1200 and provides insightful commentary for it.  There’s no real news, other than the possibility that the Sens might trade up in the draft.

Ken McKenna presents his prospect awards for the Sens: Mark Stone is the most improved, Jim O’Brien the best defensive prospect, Stefan Noesen the hardest worker, Jakob Silfverberg the prospect of the year, Shane Prince the fastest skater, Michael Sdao the hardest shot, Mark Borowiecki the overachiever, Nikita Filatov the underachiever, Matt Puempel as the high risk/reward, and Derek Grant is his suggested breakout prospect for 2012/13.

-Here’s a look at the ISS 2012 Draft Guide.

ISS 2012 NHL Draft Guide

The ISS 2012 NHL draft guide has been released and these are their final rankings with changes marked in brackets (here are their previous rankings).  ISS does not rank goaltenders and skaters together, but none of the goaltending prospects are thought to be worthy of first-round selection:
1. Yakupov, Nail, LW 10/6/93 L 5.10.5 189 Sarnia OHL
2. Forsberg, Filip, RW 8/13/94 R 6.01 176 Leksands SweAl
3. Murray, Ryan, LD 9/27/93 L 6.00.5 201 Everett WHL
4. Grigorenko, Mikhail, RW 5/16/94 L 6.03.25 200 Québec QMJHL
5. Trouba, Jacob, RD 2/26/94 R 6.02 196 USA Under-18 NTDP
6. Reinhart, Griffin, LD 1/24/94 L 6.03.75 207 Edmonton WHL  (+4)
7. Rielly, Morgan, LD 3/9/94 L 5.11.5 190 Moose Jaw WHL
8. Dumba, Matt, RD 7/25/94 R 5.11.75 183 Red Deer WHL (-2)
9. Teuvo Teravainen, LW, 09/11/94, 5.11 161 Jokerit FinE (-1)
10. Ceci, Cody, RD 12/21/93 R 6.02.5 207 Ottawa OHL (-1)
11. Gaunce, Brendan, C 3/25/94 L 6.02 215 Belleville OHL
12. Maatta, Olli, LD 8/22/94 L 6.01.5 202 London OHL
13. Collberg, Sebastian, RW 2/23/94 R 5.11 Vastra SweJE
14. Galchenyuk, Alexander, RW 2/12/94 L 6.00.5 198 Sarnia OHL
15. Kerdiles, Nicholas, C/L 1/11/94 L, 6.01.5 200 USA Under-18 NTDP
16. Faksa, Radek, LW 1/9/94 L 6.03 202 Kitchener OHL
17. Wilson, Thomas, RW 3/29/94 R 6.03.5 203 Plymouth OHL
18. Finn, Matthew, LD 2/24/94 L 6.00.25 195 Guelph OHL
19. Lindholm, Hampus, LD 1/20/94 L 6.02.5 196 Rogle SweJE
20. Aberg, Pontus, LW 9/23/93 R 5.11 187 Djurgarden SweE
21. Koekkoek, Slater, LD 2/18/94 L 6.02 184 Peterborough OHL
22. Pouliot, Derrick, D 1/16/94 L 5.11.25 186 Portland WHL
23. Laughton, Scott, C 5/30/94 L 6.00 177 Oshawa OHL
24. Girgensons, Zemgus, F 1/5/94 L 6.01.25 201 Dubuque USHL
25. Sissons, Colton, C/R 11/5/93 L 6.01 189 Kelowna WHL
26. Skjei, Brady, LD 3/26/1994 L 6.03 203 USA Under-18 NTDP
27. Henrik Samuelsson C 2/7/94 R 6.02 195 Edmonton WHL (NR)
28. Dalton Thrower, D, 12/20/93 R 5.11.00 179 Saskatoon WHL (-1)
29. Bystrom, Ludvig, LD 7/29/94 L 6.00.75 208 Modo SweE (-1)
30. Adam Pelech, LD 8/16/94 L 6.02 210 Erie OHL (-1)

Falling out of the top-thirty: Tomas Hertl (30).

ISS assessed each team’s prospects assigning them a grade and here’s how the league looks to them:
Los Angeles, Washington
Chicago, St. Louis, Winnipeg
Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Islanders, Philadelphia, Phoenix
Anaheim, Boston, Carolina, Montreal, Nashville, Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Tampa
Calgary, Columbus, Detroit, New Jersey, Toronto, Vancouver
San Jose

In 2010 Ottawa’s prospects were given a C+ grade (with Kirill Lyamin on the horizon!), while in 2011 they also received a C+ (with Lyamin still “on the horizon”).  ISS see’s the following Sens prospects as on the horizon going into next season: Patrick Wiercioch, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Robin Lehner, Ben Bishop, Jakob Silfverberg, and Ben Blood.  They believe Ottawa “Needs help everywhere, priority should be Big center and in goal.”  Their selections are somewhat odd, with Pageau appearing ahead of Mark Stone, Stefan Noesen, Mika Zibanejad, etc (but then again they had Lyamin previously and the Zibanejad comment below).

In the ISS mock draft they have Ottawa selecting Brandan Gaunce with the 15th overall pick, saying “The Sens smashed a home run with Zibanejad last year and have seen their defensive prospects emerge well. Gaunce fits their strategy and needs. He makes them a very difficult team to play against in the near future.”  In 2011 they predicted Ottawa would select Ryan Strome.

My overall impression of ISS remains the same.  It’s a very useful guide to the draft, but I think their specific team analysis lacks sophistication and has to be taken with a grain of salt.  In terms of predictive success, ISS had the largest percentage of players selected in the draft last year (60%) compared to all the other draft guides (link), although their player-by-round predictions lagged behind most other outlets (Red Line Report, Future Considerations, and Hockey Prospects, only beating out The Hockey News).

Senators News: May 28th

-Capgeek has contract numbers for Darren Kramer (600k) and Jakub Culek (590k).

Scott Cullen has posted his off-season game plan for Ottawa: “The Ottawa Senators were the surprise team of the NHL last season, making the playoffs in a year that was expected to be a rebuilding effort. There is a lot to like about a Sens team that has quality prospects on the way and received solid contributions from several rookies last season, but there are also reasons to be wary. Consider that Sergei Gonchar and Daniel Alfredsson both had bounceback seasons in their late-30s, or that defenceman Erik Karlsson had the most points by a defenceman in more than a decade, or that both Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek stayed uncharacteristically healthy. Any of these factors could reverse course and come back to stall the Sens’ progress next season, but there is at least reason to be optimistic that Ottawa is in position to better handle any potential shortcomings — certainly better prepared than anyone could have imagined they would be at this time last year. GM Bryan Murray knows that, while his goaltending is solid with the trade deadline addition of Ben Bishop to complement Craig Anderson, he’ll have to address the blueline, where he has three unrestricted free agents that could leave and a restricted free agent in Erik Karlsson that will be in line for a dramatic raise in pay after his prolific offensive season. The forward group has depth, with lots of young challengers for roster spots, but could always use another proven scorer. Seeing as the Senators had the worst record among playoff teams last season, it doesn’t require much to believe that they could miss the postseason next year but, at the start of the 2011-2012 season, any talk of Ottawa making the playoffs was a pipe dream and we all saw how that played out. Needs: One top six forward, three defencemen.”  For the most part Cullen’s comments are spot on, but one of point to consider: Gonchar and Alfredsson‘s down years were the first of their careers, so stand as anomalies instead of their production this season.

-I only got one half of my Cup final (New Jersey facing the Kings), making my predictions half right.  The Western Conference finished without a single competitive series (only one went to six games!), sucking any drama one might have hoped for from the supposedly superior conference.  As for the finals, I expect the Kings will win.

-There’s not much to get excited about in this year’s playoffs, but I have enjoyed the slap in the face it is for all the journalists who’ve said you can’t win with Ilya Kovalchuk in the lineup.  There remains in some of the media an irrational dislike or suspicion over Russian players which I believe is because they make easy targets.  Just like when Swedes were soft or (for those of you old enough) when French Canadians were soft (thanks for that Don Cherry), it’s picking on a non-English speaking group without seeming influence on readership/viewership as a scapegoat for things someone dislikes.  Nationality has nothing to do with performance (I remember when journalists would earnestly say that no team with a European captain could win the Stanley Cup).  On top of that it’s amazing how glib people can get about one player.  An individual on a hockey team, even a great player, can’t win without a strong supporting cast (which is why Wayne Gretzky never won a Cup outside of Edmonton).  In the post lockout era in particular, only teams that have three productive lines have won the Cup.  I don’t think Kovalchuk has anything to prove, but it has been amusing to see him praised to the roof going into the Cup final given all the criticism he has received over the years (his success is somehow a slap in the face to Ovechkin, the new favourite whipping boy).

-The players attending the NHL draft combine have been announced.

Senators News: May 25th

-The Ottawa Senators have officially announced the signings of Jakub Culek and Darren Kramer.

Nichols reports that Sens prospect Jean-Gabriel Pageau has signed his ELC.

Joy Lindsay Tweeted that the Sens will qualify all their RFA’s except Craig Schira (so Nick FolignoErik Karlsson, Jim O’Brien, Kaspars Daugavins, Stephane Da Costa, Eric Gryba, and Nikita Filatov).

Nichols‘ looks at players looking to rebound from last year (Bobby Butler, Peter Regin, and Matt Carkner).  The only positive he can find for Butler is his Corsi rating; he cites Carkner‘s locker room popularity and “skill set” (presumably pugilism) as positives that outweigh wonky knees; Regin doesn’t require much explanation–if he’s healthy he’ll be fine.

Patrick Wiercioch talked about his throat injury this season, “I probably made the wrong decision lifting my chin up … I wasn’t expecting it and before I knew it I was down on the ice. That’s when the trainers ran in pretty quick. The injury happened Friday and I woke up Monday. I was extremely fortunate and will be forever indebted to my girlfriend for sticking by my side. She was phenomenal through the whole thing. I hope it’s behind me now. That’s why I’m here this summer training, I don’t feel this injury should have any impact on my ability to perform at training camp to push for a spot on the team.”

-Binghamton Senator Bobby Raymond, who played half the year for the team on an AHL contract, won the Kelly Cup (ECHL).