Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Plagiarism rampant even by pros

There are a few things that are key to a civilized society. One of them is property law. It lets us be secure enough about our stuff to leave it behind while we do other things like drive to work, go on vacation, etc.

There's a parallel with intellectual property. Written things have a name attached, which lets us put the words out there, knowing they will remain ours.

That is until people copy, paste, and use them as their own.

This happens on message boards, which gets posters warnings and edits. Some of them just didn't know the rules. OK, they're learning.

But this draft season, my work for Hockey's Future was plagiarized by an NHL team and a Canadian Junior league team -- one of them in a press release! Putting it in a press release means they disseminated the information to other outlets to use (and of course they did, multiplying the problem). It's truly unbelievable that this would happen. Non-print media get a lot of crap thrown at them, but who's the professional here?

It's stuff like this that will eventually make me stop writing. Will it make others stop too?

At the very least, we'll call in the chits that these two teams owe us this year. But that won't make up for it.

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.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Combine invitations no guarantee of selection

106 prospects were invited to the NHL combine this year, ahead of a 210-player draft. Eight of the players invited to the combine were not selected:

Anton Burdasov
Burke Gallimore
Gabriel Lemieux
Cassidy Mappin
Danny Mattson
David Valek
Alex Vazzano
Brennan Yadlowski

I saw just one of them play this year, David Valek (USNTDP), and I wasn't impressed by him, so the fact that he wasn't drafted seemed justified. Mappin is widely thought to be talented but not very hard-working.

There were a few guys who went very high and didn't go to the combine:
31 Mikko Koskinen
35 Kyle Clifford
56 Kevin Lynch
62 Anders Nilsson
64 Reilly Smith
76 Igor Bobkov

When the combine list came out, I wrote on it "No Lynch!" so obviously that one was surprising at the time. A couple others are explainable: Koskinen is an overager and I believe came to the combine last year or the year before. Bobkov was drafted largely on the strength of his performance in the U18 tournament, which was going on at the same time the invite list came out. Clifford I guess teams were trying to keep quiet on him.

The takeaway is that the combine list is a generally good predictor of who the top prospects are, but isn't foolproof.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

2009s who may be overrated due to birthdate

The cutoff date for each draft class is Sept. 15 -- you must be 18 by this date in a given draft year to be eligible. Players born in late September and October have an advantage of being almost a full year older than some of their cohort. They are naturally further ahead in development and are often unintentionally overrated.

Here's a list of early birthdates for 2009, the potentially overrated in the 2009 draft class:
John Tavares 9/20/1990. Yes, that John Tavares.
Stepan Novotny 9/21/1990
Gabriel Bourque 9/23/1990
Dan DeLisle 9/24/1990
Jordan Schroeder 9/29/1990
Alex Chiasson 10/1/1990
Mike Lee 10/5/1990
Nazem Kadri 10/6/1990
David Rundblad 10/8/1990
Seth Helgeson 10/8/1990
Jakob Silfvrberg 10/13/1990
Matt Clark 10/17/1990
Ben Hanowski 10/18/1990
Dmitri Kulikov 10/29/1990

2009s who may be underrated due to birthdate

The cutoff date for each draft class is Sept. 15 -- you must be 18 by this date in a given draft year to be eligible. Since the draft is held in June though, there are several players taken who are still 17 when taken. They will turn 18 in July, August or early September. These players are almost a full year behind some of their cohort. They are naturally further behind in development and are often unintentionally underrated.

Here's a list of late birthdates for 2009, the potentially underrated in the 2009 draft class:
Charles-Olivier Roussel 9/13/1991
Bryan Dumoulin 9/6/1991
Marek Hrivik 8/28/1991
Brayden Schenn 8/22/1991
Marcus Foligno 8/10/1991
Landon Ferraro 8/8/1991
Evander Kane 8/2/1991
Chris McCarthy 7/30/1991
Simon Despres 7/27/1991
Tyson Barrie 7/26/1991
Dmitri Orlov 7/23/1991
Oliver Ekman-Larsson 7/17/1991
Linden Vey 7/17/1991
Nate Schmidt 7/16/1991
Rasmus Rissanen 7/13/1991
Adam Polasek 7/12/1991 (a personal favorite)
Oliver Bellavance-Roy 7/12/1991
Kenny Ryan 7/10/1991
Ryan Howse 7/6/1991

Who will be Mr. Irrelevant in the 2009 NHL draft?

"Mr. Irrelevant" is not a tag dreamed up just for the NHL draft. It comes from some other sport, baseball probably. A sport whose draft is more predictable. Hockey drafts are not predictable though. The guy taken 210th can turn out to be a regular player - very relevant. Nevertheless, a fun little game among draftniks is to try to guess who will be the last player taken without going over (into the untaken).

Last year I won among the HF Staff with a pick of Mark Olver, 140th to Colorado out of NMU. That's not terribly close to the end of the draft, but it won because most of the guesses were so obscure that they weren't taken at all.

This year I'm going with Roman Horak out of the Czech Junior league. Talented but lazy, he's good enough that someone will take a flyer, but not put too much on the line. I personally don't like this player much, but I'm trying to win here, not pick favorites. I think a European is generally a better strategy in this game since they tend to go later in the draft.

Here are some other staff guesses. Most of them picked from leagues they know well.
Oleg Yashin from Atlant-2 Mystichi (Rus) - Mike Farkas
Benjamin Casavant, PEI Rocket, QMJHL - Kevin Forbes
Chase Schaber - Calgary, WHL - Glen Erickson
Casey Cizikas - Mississauga OHL - Leslie Treff
Beau Schmitz - Plymouth, OHL - Kyle Kujawa

By all means, add your own guess in the comments.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Off to camp this weekend

It's the time of year for hockey camps. I'm headed to one out of town for a story I'm going to do. I'll be observing all day from the bench at a youth camp. It's not the players I'm concerned with -- I'm writing about the guy running it. I want to see him in action to see what he does that's so special. He's worked miracles at the NHL level.

Ideally I'd go see him in August, when there's not much else going on, but this is when the camp is closest to me, so I have to go now. It should be fun though. I just hope we have time for the bizillion questions I have.