Monday, June 29, 2009

Reflections on the 2009 draft

Going into this draft, I knew more about the prospects than ever before, having covered both the U18 championships, seen a couple 2009-dense OHL games, plus asking any player I talked to about guys they knew who were eligible. In all, I had seen maybe a third of those likely to be taken and written features on a dozen.

The night before the draft, I added about 5-6 profiles to HF of guys who were late risers, sleepers, etc. I added Ben Sexton, for example. I seem to do this every year, out of paranoia that critical guys won't be there. I thought about adding goalie Jaroslav Janus, but I had seen him play in Erie and did not like him at all so even though I thought someone would take a chance on him due to his WJC performance, I just couldn't bring myself to add him. He was eventually taken by Tampa.

After the first round, the draft seemed like chaos. There were a lot of teams who made reaches for guys who weren't really on the radar for the major scouting services. And there didn't seem to be a lot of justice in the picks. Fighters were taken above skill guys. Bloodlines had guys going above where their skill level warranted too, like Philip Samuelsson.

Of the 12 draft-eligibles I had written features on, 10 were drafted, seven of them in the first two rounds. It was satisfying to see them valued highly, but they didn't seem to go to the teams that would be the best fit for them, except perhaps with Ryan O'Reilly going to Colorado, who will need young leadership and that's something he can bring. Simon Bertilsson to Philly seems like a good fit as long as they don't expect him to talk much. The others led to a lot of head scratching.

Now we get to know the players better, and the second most important year begins for them. We will learn more about who had a good 2009 draft and a bad 2009 draft in the next season than over the next four combined, since players change the most at younger ages.

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