When NHL clubs gather at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on June 22nd and 23rd, the future stars of the world’s fastest game will undoubtedly be selected in the NHL Entry Draft. While it is a time of great excitement for everyone involved, it is also a time when some of the most important work is done by each organization.
For families of prospective draftees, it is a time when many years of hard work and dedication are validated by being selected, whether it is in the first or seventh round. It is a time of reward for all of the hard work that the teams’ scouting staffs have placed into pounding the pavements of the hockey world to find the next great member of one’s organization.
It’s a fun time for fans, too, who pack the arena where the draft is located, have “draft parties” in their respective communities, and who handicap the results by doing a little armchair GM’ing of their own. There are often trades executed, which happen right before everyone’s eyes, and there are lots of wheeling and dealing moments to watch.
FOR COMPREHENSIVE SHARKS DRAFT COVERAGE
QUALITY OF DRAFTS
Normally, everyone wants to know whether the upcoming prospect pool is deep enough to call the draft a “good” or “deep” one. My view of it is that every draft is a good draft, and it is a fact that every draft produces outstanding NHL players.
A typical example of what is considered a “deep” draft is the 2003 edition. Listen to some of the names in the first 30 selections who have won a Stanley Cup: Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Nathan Horton, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Brent Seabrook, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Richards, and Corey Perry. Listen to a few other notable selections: Thomas Vanek, Milan Michalek Ryan Suter, Braydon Coburn, Dion Phaneuf, Zach Parise, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler, Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, Jimmy Howard, Joe Pavelski, Matt Carle, Jaroslav Halak, and Dustin Byfuglien. Now, that is a deep draft!
Some of those other “notable” selections were picked much later in the draft (e.g. Joe Pavelski went 205th, for instance). It is these gems who are often most prized. Here are some other selections that were selected after the 100th pick, but who made tremendous contributions to the game:
Dave Taylor, 210th overall in 1975: Played 17 years, including in 1993 Final.
Craig MacTavish, 153rd overall in 1978: Played 17 years, won 4 Stanley Cups.
Andy Moog, 132nd overall in 1980: Played 18 years, won 3 Stanley Cups.
Doug Gilmour, 134th overall in 1982: Played 20 years, scored over 1400 points, won 1 Stanley Cup.
Dominik Hasek, 207th overall in 1983: Played 16 years, won 2 Cups, 6 Vezinas, 2 Harts
Brett Hull, 117th overall in 1984: Played 20 years, 741 goals, won 1 Cup, 1 Hart, 1 Lady Byng
Theoren Fleury, 166th overall in 1987: Played 15 years, won 1 Cup.
Henrik Zetterberg, 210th overall in 1999: Won 1 Cup, 1 Conn Smythe, still a top star
Those are but a few selections over the years, and they don’t even include some of the great Soviet stars, who were selected late but only because the likelihood of getting them out of the USSR was very low at the time.
In Sharks’ history, here are some of the later round gems:
Matt Bradley, 102nd overall in 1996
Christian Ehrhoff, 106th overall in 2001
Miikka Kiprusoff, 116th overall in 1995
Alexander Korolyuk, 141st overall in 1994
Ryane Clowe, 175th in 2001
Justin Braun, 201st overall in 2007
Joe Pavelski, 205th overall in 2003
Evgeni Nabokov, 219th overall in 1994
Mark Smith, 219th overall in 1997
Douglas Murray, 241st overall in 1999
Again, these are but a few of the many success stories that happen for teams on the second day of drafting, when most of the media has departed and when the pomp and circumstance slows down.
FOR COMPREHENSIVE SHARKS DRAFT COVERAGE
This year, the Sharks have six selections in the draft, at least at press time. The selections include the 17th, 55th, 138th, 168th, 191st and 198th positions. Here are a few people who have been solid selections at those very spots:
17th: Zach Parise, NJ, 2003
55th: Jason Pominville, BUF, 2001
138th: Ryan Miller, BUF, 1999
168th: Antero Niittymaki, PHI, 1998
191st: Ian White, TOR, 2002
198th: Bret Hedican, STL, 1988
SOME INTERESTING NAMES
For me, some of the most interesting names range beyond those who get the most publicity in the top ten of the draft rankings or actual selections. Here are a few to check out:
FWD, ranked 17th among North American skaters
A former Junior Shark and son of former Sharks LW Stephane Matteau, the younger version helped the USA win a silver medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, where he had 2-4-6 in 6 games. Matteau looks to play in the QMJHL next season.
C, ranked 5th among European skaters
Hertl has played in Prague, mostly for the junior team, but 38 games for the big club this past season. He is a good skater and puck handler and is one of the better regarded European players that isn’t in the top 5.
C, ranked 14th among European skaters
Well, the NHL already has two players named Niklas (and Nicklas) Backstrom, one a goaltender and one a center, who are top players. So, with Erik Karlsson already a top young defenseman on Ottawa, why not watch this kid as well?
D, ranked 34th among North American skaters
Attending North Dakota this fall, Schmaltz split the season between Sioux City and Green Bay of the USHL, and has a reputation for playing well in post-season games.
C, ranked 43rd among North American skaters
His grandfather is Lou Jankowski, who played in the NHL in the 1950’s and was a longtime scout. His great uncle is Red Kelly, an 8-time Stanley Cup champion.
LW, ranked 49th among North American skaters
You may recognize the name. Jamie’s younger brother also has a brother, Tye, who is playing in Philadelphia’s organization. Brock has spent the last two seasons playing for Guelph of the OHL.
It is important to note that since the 2003 NHL Draft, the San Jose Sharks have been one of the best-producing organizations in the NHL. Since that draft, Sharks’ selections have played in 3829 games in the NHL, a figure that is the best in the Pacific Division and second in the Western Conference to Chicago’s 3980 games played. Whether these skaters play for the Sharks or are utilized as assets in trades with other organizations, it shows that the Sharks have been doing an excellent job in building through this process. A huge kudos has to go to Tim Burke and the scouting staff for that.
All of the above players were selected entirely at random, and not due to any special scouting reports. Those actual reports are some of the most secret items in any team’s database, and are actually more difficult to access than anything available at the Central Intelligence Agency or the Federal Open Market Committee at the Federal Reserve in Washington.
Make sure that you enjoy the draft, and pay attention to each and every one of the deals, announcements, and actual picks that are selected. It is sure to be a great show!