The NHL draft has ended for another year, and now that the new blood has been obtained, it’s time for a brief review of today’s proceedings from a Winnipeg POV. After the jump, a famous name and a slightly infamous goalie lead today’s talking points.
Jon Willis has covered off young Mr. Sutter in the post below, and as with Jacob Trouba, the Jets appear to have passed on potential for a bit more predictability. I really would have liked to see Martin Frk in that spot, but he did have a slide this year in Halifax and his agent is Allan Walsh, so maybe the club didn’t think he was worth the hassle. Still feels like the Wings got a good one 10 spots after the Jets, though.
I like the Kosmachuk pick just fine. He was a slider that Winnipeg actually took, and he might have just enough skill/grit to get to the league in some capacity. In all honesty, any player after the second round has less than a 20% chance of being a NHLer of any sort, so taking a solid guy from the OHL with some scoring ability is quite acceptable, and Kosmachuk might be the best mix of risk versus reward on Winnipeg’s draft list.
On the other hand, the drafting of two goalies isn’t my cup of tea, since that position is inherently unpredictable. Again, late round picks have a bit of a throwaway quality about them, so it’s not the end of the world. That noted, the Jets are really thin at forward, which suggests to me that taking a couple of flyers on skill would be the most likely way to cover your bets after round two. The other point worth making is that a team only has one serious development position for goalies at the pro level, that of AHL starter. It’s hard to stockpile a bunch of good goalies in the hope you can use them as bargaining chips unless they all have places to play, so unless Hellebuyck and Phillips have staggered arrival times from the amateur ranks, one of them might end up languishing.
The last draft item of interest is the fact that Winnipeg hasn’t gone outside of North America in either of the last two years, and that includes Euros playing in the CHL. Grigorenko/Faksa and Frk would have been very nice adds, and even a 19 year old like Anton Zlobin of Shawinigan might have been better value as a 5th or 6th rounder. I don’t want to generalize too much, but Winnipeg fans have plenty of history supporting the notion that they have a fairly cosmopolitan view of hockey players. There’s no optical reason not to pick European players if they have top-end skill, so although the players the Jets selected aren’t particularly objectionable, Winnipeg’s choices strike me as a bit pinched.
Finally, the acquisition of Jonas Gustavsson was a complete waste of time. I had a few people advise me on Twitter that because the pick is conditional on him signing by the 1st, the Jets weren’t really risking up much, but that argument appears to made while willfully missing the larger point. Gustavsson’s options were going to be limited to European teams if he was interested having a career, since no NHL teams were likely to be interested in him. What the Jets have done is potentially spend a pick on a player that they could just as easily have signed at the start of free agency for absolutely nothing. Giving anything of value to another team for the right to negotiate against yourself for a week doesn’t exactly strike me as shrewd bargaining on Cheveldayoff’s part.
It’s also of no small import that Gustavsson has been an objectively lousy goalie in Toronto, and unless Francois Allaire is one of history’s great, uh, monsters, I doubt it’s exclusively the fault of his postion coach that Gustavsson has stunk. Further, if the Jets had any magic elixir for goalies, shouldn’t they have sprinkled the hell out of it on Pavelec last year? It isn’t like he was any world beater, so this trade reeks of a team not understanding the market for goalies in the slightest.
In the end, this weekend won’t really be properly judged until we’re a few years out, so there should be limits to any disappointment about the proceedings of the last two days in the short term, but this draft, as of right now, feels like it could have been just a bit more. I hope I’m utterly wrong, as always 😉
That’s it from Pittsburgh. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.