Greetings from balmy Pittsburgh, where the opening round of the 2012 draft is in the books, and after a placid first few picks, a bit of chaos insued, with the Jets making a choice in the midst of things that feels like a bit of a cop-out.
I’ll stipulate up front that my reading of the club’s depth chart shows a significant need at forward, since the club has two or three potential top nine NHLers of any sort in the system, and that’s presuming Scheifele, Telegin and Klingberg all turn out. With that in mind, the position they found themselves in last night should have been absolute catnip, with Anaheim going off the board a touch for a defender, and PIttsburgh using their pick from the Staal trade to select a talented defenceman that will need a road map to find his own end any time soon.
The result of those two moves, along with Dumba and Rielly being off the board, was one where four very good forwards were available, and two of those players (Grigorenko and Forsberg) were on the slide. Teuvo Teravainen and Radek Faksa would have been solid value in that spot as well, but both of those guys were legit targets for the Jets going in. There really was no reason to expect the other two gents to be in place, though, and Forsberg seemed a particular surprise, since no one had him much outside the top six, or so we all thought.
Faced with a fluid board and a chance, as he had in Minnesota, to take advantage of teams souring on a very good player for superficial or unfounded reasons, Kevin Cheveldayoff has yet again appeared to punt. I like Jacob Trouba just fine as a player, and there’s a decent chance he becomes a very good pro. He moves really well, hits a ton, and generally has the sort of makeup a defenceman in the top half of a team’s rotation has to have.
The complaint I have is that you need skilled forwards to drive a team, so when you get an opportunity to take a skilled forward, and your team is sorely lacking that commodity in a significant way, you really shouldn’t be taking a defenceman absent a glaring difference in talent level between that defenceman and the forwards in question. I certainly like the premise of BPA, and if Trouba was a lock to be a Drew Doughty type, his selection over a few top forward prospects would been justifiable. That would even be the case while acknowledging that right D is one of two spots, along with left wing, where the club has two proper talents at the NHL level aged 27 and under.
That case can’t really be made here, though. Grigorenko and Forsberg have the potential to be high impact players, and guys that slide like that, as we saw last year with Sean Couturier, don’t always do so because teams have magically found a serious flaw. Forsberg’s contract status in Sweden might have scared a few teams off, and Grigorenko’s move down has the whiff of teams being willfully blind to the effects his ankle injury and case of mono in the spring had on his post-WJHC performance. A case of mono affecting a player’s draft position adversely, in the face of that player’s past excellence? Hmm.
At any rate, this selection seems like a nice, safe, pick, but the Jets are a team just crying for big bodies down the middle, and with Grigorenko sitting there, last night has the feel of another opportunity squandered. There are times when circumstance presents you with an unexpected present, and for the second year running, I can’t help but feel that the Jets failed to accept a gift when it was on offer.