I just finnish-ed(get it?) watching the Sabres recent first round draft pick Joel Armia of the Finnish Elite League, meet the media. A few answers to questions he had really kind of irked me:
Q: “Do you get much exposure to the NHL in Finland?
JA: “No, not much”
Q: “Do you know much about the Buffalo Sabres?”
JA: “(laughs)No, not really.”
Q: “Do you have a favorite NHL team?”
The kid is huge, talented and has the hands of a surgeon. I just don’t understand how you can draft a guy that doesn’t know much about the league. How can a guy like that WANT to win the Stanley Cup, as opposed to a North American kid who would drive his own head through the ice to take a drink out of Lord Stanley? Is this a guy that can be counted on in a deep playoff run when players don’t get paid? Will he lay down in front of a Zdeno Chara howitzer?
I can’t bash all Europeans. Players like Ovechkin, Selanne and Datsyuk play like men possessed in the Playoffs. Then there are players such as(for example) Maxim Afinogenov and Andrej Sekera who have had some success in the NHL. You put these two on their national teams in the Olympics, they suddenly become world class players. Afinogenov looks like a kamikaze bomber on the ice for Russia and Sekera could have easily been one of the best defenseman these past Olympics.
The last two Europeans Buffalo drafted in the first round were Marek Zagrapan and Jiri Novotny were both epic fails. Zagrapan never touched NHL ice while Novotny played 64 games with the big club and tallied 16 points before being traded to Washington and picked up by Columbus for 2 more very below average seasons.
In my opinion, Darcy made a mistake breaking his streak of drafting 35 North Americans in a row. Hopefully this kid can prove me wrong. Your thoughts?