As teams drop off more and more fans look to the future. Some wondering who will go in the top 5 and who will slip just far enough for their team to find a gem. Obviously we all know that players like Zetterberg and Datsyuk can be found after round 3 but not everyone knows that only half the players drafted after position 15 ever make the NHL (a stat that can be completely made up as I got it off someone else's blog). But the point is, the picks become gambles towards the end. That is when you hope your scouts earn their money and your GM isn't an idiot (yes I am talking to you Flames fans).
For those of you that followed the rankings for this years draft we have seen players switch drastically over as little as 3 months. One player hasn't even played all year and some predict him to be a top 3 pick. Normally that would be odd in any draft year but not this one because everyone is guessing on every blog.
The only thing that has been certain is pick 1 and now people say that being just shy of 6 ft and 195 lbs as an 18 year old is "too small." who cares that he hits like a brick wall on skates and has skill that the draft has not seen since Crosby. Some people suggest that Murray should be taken first because he make Team Canada's WHC team. Posting an amazing no points, no penalites, +1 and 2 shots on Net while playing second line d with Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist Duncan Keith.
What people aren't talking about is the tournament where most of the draft eligible players were competing. Some say Murray was on Team Canada because he earned it, others say it was because it was a try out from Oilers President/Team Canada GM Kevin Lowe but I say, like most sports analysts the last spots on Team Canada are hard to fill some years. I think there was some better talent looking to play a little more ice time and show more of their skill in the Under 18 Tournament. The Tournament that no one talks about.
To some up the tournament, Team USA won by scraping by Team Canada to move on to the finals in a 2-1. There they faced team Sweden where they won 7-0 and Canada won their bronze game. The key points of this tournament I think are 3 things.
1. The picks for best player. There is the overall picks done by the officials of the tournament. They picked the best forward, defenseman and goalie out of all the teams. Then there was the best players picked in each team by the coaches of the other teams.
What was interesting is that Filip Forsberg, top rated European draft pick, was selected as the best forward in the tournament. He had 5 G and 2 A and was -1 in 6 games for team Sweden. However he wasn't selected as one of the top Swedish players by the coaches of the other teams.
The next surprise is that the top point getter in the tournament was defense was Canadian defenseman Matt Dumba posting 5G 7A and was +2. Even though he had 20 PIM HE WAS selected by the other coaches as one of Canada's top players. Being two points ahead of the next highest point getter from Finland. Dumba is expected by most to slip out of the top 10 and some say the top 15 Because he is just shy of 6'. Despite the fact that he was the second highest in points on the Red Deer rebels this year, getting 57 in 69 games. 1 game and 1 point shy of the team leader. Captain of the U-18, he has the ability to be an offensive powerhouse in the league but because he is 2 inches shorter than some he might slip deep in round 1.
The final surprise was Team USA goalie Colin Olson. Probably the most underrated player going into this draft. Singled out as the reason Team USA won. He posted a .965 save percentage, a .80 GAA and 3 shutouts during his 6 games and let in a whopping 4 goals during the tournament with honestly a sub par team in front of him. The bigger surprise, final rankings for this goalie just in North America, not including those from Europe and Russia... 21 overall. He is considered the 21st best goalie in this years "weak" draft. There is no question that the coaches and the league officials considered him the best goalie in the tournament and a MVP for Team USA.
With goalies always being a guessing game with the exception of maybe 6 in the last decade, I predict Olson to be the steal of the century for the team that takes him. I think if someone took him at pick 2 I would tip my hat. As for the best Dman, I think Dumba needs to put on some weight as most 18 year olds do. But defense can be taught, few dmen can be shown how to put up more than a point a game.
In my humble opinion I would pick Nail first then Dumba and then your other 3 large dmen and your forwards. Let Forsberg slip out of top 10 and in the second round pick Olson if he is there. Scouts can say what they want but they are guessing and their reports come out before the tournament that no one ever watches. The one that might count the most.