Welcome to the Thursday prospect ramblings. My plan for the next couple of ramblings will be to take a look at the past drafts and self-analyzing if the players were: drafted too high, developed improperly or injury-related. This will be for 2014-2019 as players earlier than that are quite established NHLers, yes there are quite a few players from 2014 and on as well, but I want to go 2014, then 2015-2016, and finally 2017-2019. If 2015 proves to have a lot as well I may make that its own ramblings and go from there. For the record I have no insider knowledge here, only what I have read/heard and my personal assumption when it comes to some aspects of this analysis.
Personal feelings on a couple prospects pre-2014:
Nail Yakupov 2012 – Disagree with me all you want but I think he was developed improperly by the Oilers ALONG with being drafted slightly too high. I think with proper development, encouragement from ownership/management, and deployment he could have been a consistent 25-40 goal scorer. There were rumours that Oilers management did nothing to help him integrate in to the city/organization which can lead to self-confidence issues. Then there was Eakins coaching after Kruger was fired. There were also problems on his end as he was a player that kept doing the same thing even when it did not work, he likely needed additional AHL/KHL time after his first NHL season. Also, yes, I know his KHL scoring is now poor, but I still believe had better steps been taken within his first three seasons he could still be in the NHL today.
Tyler Biggs 2011 – Drafted way way too high. What were the Leafs thinking here!? Sorry to bring that back up Leafs fans, but I had too! Plus, you have a fun team to watch now, so it is not all bad.
Also, before I get started on 2014, here is my #GoodTweets of the week:
Will one of the biggest mysteries of our lifetime be "How did Alex Semin fall off a cliff production-wise only to stop playing eventually, and then come back and score easily all over again?"— Pat Quinn (not that one) (@FHPQuinn) April 28, 2020
I want to know what happened there!!! https://t.co/nH6oYSBWsQ
There is a news item I am saving for the end too, so read all the way to the end.
Sam Bennett – 4th overall by Calgary Flames
- This one has eluded a lot of people as he seemingly has just fallen in to the “replacement level” type of third/fourth liner.
- Was it the shoulder injury in 2014-2015 that has lingering effects? I would doubt that as he tore up the OHL once he was back.
- Maybe he was never really that good and everyone was wrong? Could so many people have been so wrong, I really do not think so.
- My only idea here is that perhaps he started in the NHL too soon, as he was too good for the OHL but then not quite good enough for the NHL. Then because of the silly CHL-NHL agreement was not allowed to play in the AHL and perhaps he has become Josh Bailey before it clicks. The problem for him would be that the Flames do not offer the same ice time up front for him to explode one season.
- Hopefully he gets there because right now that pick is a big miss, so grade is: Drafted too high
Michael Dal Colle – 5th overall by the Islanders
- My feeling here is that he was: Drafted too high. However, there are a few elements that can be attributed to poor development
- The 2015-2016 when he was returned to the OHL really seemed to mess with his confidence as he did look good enough to make the team out of training camp. He pulled a bit of a “pouting like Max Domi when he was returned by Arizona” by not producing like he should in Oshawa. When he was traded to Kingston, he dominated
- Now his AHL production has really been good to below average, certainly not worth a 5th round selection, but people need to remember that Bridgeport is routinely one of the worst AHL teams and seems to hinder a lot of players’ development for the Islanders. I wish they would turn it around and focus more on the AHL
- His new problem is that Barry Trotz does not trust young players, unless they are superstars out of the gate
- For Dal Colle to become a consistent full-time NHLer he really needs a break and to score at the right time, as of now this pick seems way too high
Jake Virtanen – 6th overall by Vancouver
- This one is simple: Drafted too high
- Considering who was picked after him this is the case, but he does seem to be turning a corner now and could become a 20+ goal power forward middle-six winger. Pretty good get in the end
- There is a bit of injury issue here as the shoulder injury the year after he was drafted did not help development, plus he seems to always get hurt every season. That adds up.
- I believe the pressure from Vancouver fans and media also did not help
Haydn Fleury – 7th overall by Carolina
- Amazing run of 4-7 being poor picks when Nylander, Ehlers, Fiala, Vrana, and Larkin were all still available as current top options. Hindsight being 20/20 and all
- I was never a fan of Fleury as a top-15 pick in 2014. I would sum this one easily up to: Drafted too high
Brendan Perlini – 12th overall by Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes
- I never got the hype here either with Perlini. I was influenced by other scouts who thought he was a real solid player and could be a top 15 pick
- The answer here is obvious: Drafted too high
- Arizona has a pretty solid scouting and development program as they have to being a small market team, and test players like the London Knights so you know they know what to do
Julius Honka – 14th overall by Dallas Stars
- I enjoyed watching Honka in the WHL, WJC and for Texas this one is easy for me
- Verdict: Developed improperly
- In 2016-2017 the head coach was Lindy Ruff, his last head coaching gig, and the team went 34-37-11 and looked bad for most of the season. Honka was a call up that sometimes got to play
- In 2017-2018 the head coach was Ken Hitchcock who up to then rarely played young players, even when saying he would, did not trust them when he did, and played a boring low event style. Honka saw a fair bit of press box, low ice time, and was sent back to the AHL because he sat so long in the press-box he needed to play
- Enter 2018-2019, Honka’s third head coach, another low-event style head coach. Honka is a high-event player and needs the opportunity. Well he only saw 29 games as he did not fit the Montgomery-style of play
- He rightfully asked for a trade when this paused season started
- Had he spent 2016-2017 in the AHL, and had a young-player friendly coach in 2017-2018 I think we would be talking about Dallas’ three scoring defensemen still to this day
Sonny Milano – 16th overall by Columbus
- Milano has so much talent but is not a great two-way player and can lack confidence at times, basically not a John Tortorella type player
- The easy verdict here is a completely different one that I highlighted above as he is the only one I can think of that would fit this: Drafted to the absolute wrong team for him. Let us just call that a combination of possibly drafted too high (if he does not work out in Anaheim), but likely developed improperly as he went to the wrong team for his future
Conner Bleackley – 23rd overall by Colorado
- Bleackley… yeah… I believe I did not have him in my first round, or even top 40
- He just seemed so “okay” in the WHL
- Bleackley was definitely: Drafted too high
- To be fair though, he is too good for the ECHL and could become a solid AHLer with a few NHL call ups down the line. I hope he gets an NHL game or two as he is currently the Hugh Jessiman of the 2014 draft
Nikita Scherbak – 26th overall by Montreal
- The Canadiens were able to get Scherbak to the AHL for additional development after a good final WHL season, unfortunately that AHL team was the St. John’s IceCaps which had a horrible record for developing prospects
- Once Montreal moved its affiliate to Laval he really took off, but in the NHL, he was rarely given a shot. Not to mention random injuries that seemed to plague him
- He was traded to the Kings but unfortunately that was 2018-2019 Los Angeles and the team was brutal. Now he is in the KHL
- I would chalk this up to: Developed improperly with a fair-sized side of injury-related issues as he always seemed to get hurt at the worst times
Nikolay Goldobin – 27th overall by San Jose
- To this day I still think Goldobin could be a nice middle-six winger for a team. It is unfortunate for him that the 2019-2020 Canucks squad was a cap management nightmare and he was forced to play in the AHL
- In 2018-2019 the coach, Travis Green, would keep making him play in situations for him to fail, and then he would adapt and still play well
- Under the umbrella of developed improperly I would like to add: Not given a fair/legitimate shot
Josh Ho-Sang – 28th overall by New York Islanders
- This is 1000% Developed Improperly as he has never been given a fair shot since 2018-2019 season
- I do not believe “attitude issues” one bit. He likely just pissed off the wrong people and they made sure his career suffered (zero proof here, but we know professional hockey is a tight-knit community hence Peter Chiarelli immediately getting another front office job)
- Getting Lou as a GM and Trotz as a coach was a death kneel for his Islander career, and I hope he get a shot somewhere else. He can be a 60-point player, but it will likely be the 10G-50A variety
John Quenneville – 30th overall by Lou Lamorello and Co. New Jersey
- Disliked the pick the second it was made, imagine if that old guard thought “we should get skill here, even though the player is not very big as our cupboard are bare. Brayden Point it is”
- Verdict: Drafted too high
I hope you enjoyed the 2014 version, next week is 2015-2016
Here was my news tidbit.
There is a good article on The Athletic about Kirill Kaprizov coming over to North America (https://theathletic.com/1776180/2020/04/29/kirill-kaprizov-wild-prospect-nhl-next-great-russian/). However, he may not sign right away as there are a few hiccups to the plan. The Wild and KK are trying to find out if he would be eligible to play for the remainder of the paused 2019-2020 regular season, if it is to resume, or maybe the playoffs if possible as he wants to start playing right away. The note here is that he may not sign ASAP so do not worry if you hear nothing for a bit, BUT definitely put pressure on a KK owner who is getting cold feet if he has not signed by this weekend. Here are a few clips from the article:
“Kaprizov was the youngest player in KHL history to reach the 100-goal mark. He played in five consecutive KHL All-Star Games. He led the league in goal-scoring the past two years and was vying to win a second consecutive Gagarin Cup with CSKA Moscow until the season was abruptly cancelled. He led the 2017 world junior championships in goal scoring, was named the tournament’s Best Forward, and he scored the most goals in the 2018 Winter Olympics, including the “Golden Goal” in overtime.
But those eager Wild fans anticipating Kaprizov’s arrival may have to wait a bit longer to celebrate him. As of Wednesday, the Russian star still hadn’t officially signed with an agent certified by the players union. And even though his rookie-max, bonus-laden contract could be drawn up in a nanosecond, Kaprizov doesn’t seem to be in a rush to make the agent decision.
The reason? He wants to sign with the Wild and start immediately if the 2019-20 NHL season resumes this summer.
But it’s unclear if the NHL will even allow that. Couple that uncertainty with the possibility that the 2020-21 season could start late and there’s a real chance Kaprizov’s signing could be delayed. At least for a while. Guerin is still confident it’ll happen, so if Kaprizov doesn’t sign Friday or in the coming days, hold off on the panic.”
Well that is all. Follow my twitter, I have been sporadically active lately! @FHPQuinn
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