Drafting and Development Part 2: Western Conference
Here is part 2 on the importance of drafting and developing with the focus on the organizations in the Western Conference.
25 Under: Getzlaf, MIller, MOen, Perry, Keith, King, Rome, Wilson
26-29: Kunitz, Parros, Beauchemin, Huskins, Bryzgalov
30 Over: Marchant, Bertuzzi, May, McDonald, Niedermayer, Pahlsson, Hnidy, Niedermayer, Pronger, ODonnell, Schneider, Giguere
Forward Prospects: MacMillian, Swan, Ryan, Carter, Bolt
Defence Prospects: Mitera, Mikkelson, DeGray, Salcido
Goalie Prospects: Levasseur
The losses of Lupul and Penner the last two summers hurt but they still have 3 young impact forwards in Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan. With the extra picks they have accumulated in the Penner offer sheet, they could stand to use some of them to replenish the ranks as they will be thin with their top 3 young forwards likely to all be in the NHL this year.
The Ducks have one of the best bluelines in the NHL. However they have one of the oldest bluelines and will eventually need to groom some replacements for the likes of Niedermayer, Pronger and Schnieder. They do not have anyone in line right now and its about time they start.
They signed Giguere long term but will eventually require a replacement for him. Bryzgalov will be over 30 when Giguere’s contract runs out and will no longer be considered the goalie of the future. The Ducks do not have anyone who would be considered a top goalie prospect.
25 Under: LOmbardi, Prust, Giordano, Phaneuf, Krahn
26-29: Godard, Huselius, Moss, Nilson, Tanguay, Hale, Regher, Sarich
30 Over: Conroy, Iginla, Langkow, Primeau, Nolan, Yelle, Eriksson, Warrener, Aucoin, Kiprusoff
Forward Prospects: Boyd, Taratukhin, Chucko, Ryder, Backlund, Nystrom
Defence Prospects: Pelech, Ramholdt, Baldwin
Goalie Prospects: Irving
Slowly but surely the Flames have accumulated some decent forward talent. Despite missing the playoffs 7 straight years prior to reaching the finals in 2004, the Flames drafted poorly even with early picks and it resulted in their lack of depth until recently. All their key guys are in their prime and while the team has some decent secondary scoring prospects, there are no Iginla’s among this group.
The Flames lean on veterans like Warrener and Regehr but have a young stud in Phaneuf. He is the best defenceman under 25 in the league. Phaneuf is someone the Flames can build their defence around for then next decade. Already he is one of the biggest impact players in all zones. While the team needs to shore up on young blueline prospects, its a great start to have Phaneuf.
The Flames have struggled finding and developing a goalie since the Mike Vernon era. Hopefully that has changed with Leland Irving. He is projected to be a very good starting goalie in the NHL. He should at least pan out better than Brent Krahn who was a wasted top 10 pick.
25 Under: Ruttu, Toews, Berti, Blunden, Brouwer, Richmond, Keith, Seabruook, Wisniewski, Barker
26-29: Bourque, Havlat, Samsonov, Sharp, Virbata, Williams, Vandermeer, Zyuzin
30 Over: Lang, Perreault, Lapointe, Lalime, Khabibulin
Forward Prospects: Kane, Skille, Davis, Bolland, Bertram, Sindel, Sweatt, Makarov
Defence Prospects: Pepin, Byfuglien
Goalie Prospects: Crawford
The Hawks have two young talented forwards with the team now in Havlat and Ruutu. But they have two franchise type forwards on the way in Kane and Toews. Jack Skillie is also an excellent prospect. Scoring down the road should not be a problem for Chicago. A few years of losing and early drafts have done the Hawks well and they should be quite a strong team a few years from now. They have really added a significant number of young players with decent potential.
The Hawks have a big 3 on D that should do them well for the next decade. Barker, Seabrook and Keith are all under 25 and have the skill to mesh well with the Hawks skillful forwards. While after these 3 the Hawks are a bit thin, they need veteran help than more youth to help groom their young star Dmen.
The Hawks have spent quite a few draft picks on goaltending but are unsure yet if they have anyone of consequence. Leighton, Anderson, Munro, Crawford, none of them have taken the reigns and shown the Hawks they have a legit number 1 goalie down the pipeline.
25 Under: Richardson, Statsny, Svatos, Wolski, McCormick, Budaj
26-29: Arnason, Parker, Rycroft, Guite, Jilsson, Hannan, Leopold, Liles, Sauer
30 Over: Brunette, Hedjuk, Laperriere, Sakic, Smyth, Clark, Skrastins, Theodore
Forward Prospects: Parshin, Hensick, Fritsche, Stewart, Stoa
Defence Prospects: Boychuk, Shatterkirk, Cuminsky, Williams
Goalie Prospects: Weiman
The Avs missed the playoffs for the first time since moving to Colorado but did find out that they have 3 highly skilled forwards who will be NHL regulars for years to come. Statsny should be a top point producer for the next decade and Wolski is an emerging sniper. The Avs have gotten back to being a team that dominates at the draft after a few lean years trading prospects and picks for cup runs. If they can continue to integrate more youngsters into the fold they should be back to being a top team yet again.
This is an area the Avs are slowly but surely shoring up. The team has leaned on veteran help on defence and now could use an injection of youth. This position got depleted with trades (Skoula, Regehr) or poor picks the last decade (Grimes, Grenier, Ratchuk) so it was about time the team made this a priority to improve.
Budaj has essentially come from nowhere to take the number 1 job in goal. This franchise has always been good at drafting goalies (currently 7 goalies with NHL jobs) but none of them has emerged as a top end guy. The team was spoiled all those years with Roy in net Those expectations have been difficult to live up to.
Columbus Blue Jackets
25 Under: Brule, Fritsche, Lindstrom, Novotny, Nash, Svitov, Zherdev, Campbell, Klesla, Tollefsen, Leclaire
26-29: Chimera, Malholtra, Beech, Hedja, Hainsey
30 Over: Fedorov, Modin, Shelley, Vyborny, Westcott, Foote, Norrena
Forward Prospects: Voracek, Picard, Brassard, Pineault, Legein, Platt
Defence Prospects: Russell, Wharton, Methot
Goalie Prospects: Mason
Thanks to never making the playoffs, the Jackets have been able to accumulate a large number of young talented forwards led by Nash. In a few years the team should have plenty of skill and offensive ability up front to ensure scoring isnt a problem in Columbus. Problem is that they are probably the worst team in the NHL at development. HOpefully that will change with a former draft guru Scott Howson as GM. The Jackets wasted far too much time rushing prospects to the NHL without not only some minor pro seasoning but some more experience in junior like World Championships. Patience should pay off for Columbus.
Neglected is the best way to describe the Jackets and their defence. Klesla was the team’s first original Jacket but he has struggled. Again force feeding their prospects the NHL was at fault. But they have not done a good job drafting young defenceman. Hopefully Kris Russell will turn into a solid player but there are no defensive stoppers to eventually take over Adam Foote.
Leclaire is another whose development was messed up. He has had injury woes but I dont think forcing a young goalie to play in the NHL on a team with horrible defensive ability is going to work. He is still a good prospect but who knows if the organization will continue to ruin their young players by rushing them.
25 Under: Jokinen, Ott, Lundqvist, Daley, Helminen, Smith
26-29: Barch, Hagman, Miettinen, MOrrow, Winchester, Ribiero, Lessard
30 Over: Barnes, Halpern, Lehtinen, Fedoru
k, Modano, Baumgartner, Boucher, Norstrom, Zubov, Robidas, TUrco
Forward Prospects: Neal, Polak, Crombreen, Hagos, Eriksson
Defence Prospects: Niskanen, Vishnevski, Fistric, Grossman
Goalie Prospects: Stephan
The current Stars are a far cry from the blue collar group that won a Stanley Cup in the late 90s. The team has focused a great deal on talent from Europe and they have done a pretty decent job adding some skilled forwards to the mix. players like Jokinen and Lundqvist are helping the team now, with guys like Eriksson on the way. Skill is a big need for the Stars who are a team that struggles to score.
The Stars have also tried to improve their skill level on defence and have done a good job adding some offensive minded defenceman to their list of prospects. Their current D is an old aging group so it was sort of a necessity for the Stars to use 3 of their latest 1st round picks on blueliners.
Turco is durable enough to play several more years for the Stars. Like other stars goalies he was brought along slowly and the team is doing the same for some of the younger goalies they have now. Its a good process to given them time in the minors and time as a backup before handing over the starting role.
Detroit Red Wings
25 Under: Filppula, Hudler, Kopecky, Lebda, Quincey, Meech
26-29: Cleary, Datsyuk, Franzen, Zetterberg, Kronvall
30 Over: Draper, Hartigan, Holmstrom, Maltby, Samuelsson, Drake, Chelios, Lidstrom, Rafalski, Lilja, Hasek, Osgood
Forward Prospects: Grigorenko, Axelsson, Andersson, Emmerton, McGrath, Abdelkader, Helm
Defence Prospects: Kindl, Smith
Goalie Prospects: Howard
The Wings have had zero trouble finding diamonds in the rough. Their two top forwards were both late round picks. Zetterberg and Datsyuk give the Wings a strong 1-2 punch for years to come as they are still in the prime of their careers. But that hasnt stopped the organization from adding more highly skilled, smart players and implementing them into the lineup. While they trade many picks and prospects for cup runs, it has not left them barren of young players.
Finding the next Lidstrom is near impossible. but the Wings have accumulated 3 or 4 guys who could give the Wings a very decent top 4 on D. Kronvall if he can stay healthy looks like a guy who can be a leader but he needs to play. and the team has spent recent early picks on Dmen giving them sufficient depth. Size is something they need to address.
Jim Howard is a very solid prospect and should be an excellent replacement whenever Hasek stops playing. The Wings are a team that is quite fine at allowing time for their goalies to develop. Its this patient process that makes the Wings a contender each year.
25 Under: Hemsky, Stoll, Penner, Nilsson, Pouliot, THoresen, Jacques, Stortini, Greene, Roy, Smid, Pitkanen, Grebeshkov, Syvret, Gilbert
26-29: Horcoff, Torres, Garon
30 Over: Moreau, Pisani, Sanderson, Souray, Staios, Tarnstrom, Roloson
Forward Prospects: Schremp, Gagner, Nash, Cogliano, O’Marra, McDonald
Defence Prospects: Chorney, Petry, Plante
Goalie Prospects: Dubnyk
Its strength in numbers for the Oilers. They have a boatload of young up and coming forwards. They have 8 first round picks all under the age of 25 and some with the team already, some ready soon to challenge for a roster spot. They have accumulated enough assets to perhaps trade for needed veteran help at forward
The Oilers also have quantity to go with quality in terms of young blueiners. Adding Piktanen gives them a young, skilled defenceman while players like Smid and Greene are steady in their own zone. The team has several youngsters battling for jobs but adding a a couple of veterans like SOuray and Tarnstrom will allow their youth development time.
Dubnyk has good potential to eventually be the one to replace veteran Roloson in net. He may need some significant seasoning however the tandem of Roloson/Garon should afford the Oilers some time to find an eventual replacement in net.
Los Angeles Kings
25 Under: Brown, Cammellari, Frolov, Kopitar, Ryan, Kanko, Johnson, Piskula, Petoit
26-29: Calder, Ivanans, Nagy, Willsie, Stuart, Preissing, Labarera
30 Over: Armstrong, Handzus, Thornton, Blake, Modry, Vishnovsky, Cloutier
Forward Prospects: Lewis, Tukonen, Cliche, O’Sullivan, Boyle
Defence Prospects: Hickey, Fransson, Fast, Ryan
Goalie Prospects: Bernier
GM Dean Lombardi has done a wonderful job retooling the Kings making them younger and deeper than they have been in years. They have 4 young gun forwards already with the team and a few more along the way. Adding some veteran talent to support them this summer was a great idea and should only further the development of Frolov, Cammellari and Kopitar into superstars.
Lombardi stole Jack Johnson from the Canes. He will be a perfect quarterback on the backend for all their high end talent up front. He also added Hickey in the draft giving LA two young offensive minded defenceman. Currently the Kings lean heavily on their veteran defenceman and so its nice they know they have young replacements on the way.
The current goaltending situation with the Kings is a bit of a mess without a bonifide number 1 goalie. But in a few years that should change if Bernier continues to emerge as a top prospect. He could be yet another in a long line of successful francophone goaltenders to make it to the NHL.
25 Under: Boogaard, Bouchard, Foy, Gaborik, Koivu, Burns, Schultz
26-29: Moore, Radivojevic, Veilleux, Foster, Lakos, Backstrom, Schaefer
30 Over: Belanger, Demitra, Parrish, Rolston, Walz, Carney, Hill, Johnsson, Nummelin
Forward Prospects: Sheppard, Gillies, Pouliot, Kalus, Voloshenko, Irmen, Madsen
Defence Prospects: Stoner, Belle,
Goalie Prospects: Harding
The Wild have quietly gone about their business since inception and done what they said they were going to do which was build via the draft. They have several young picks contributing to the team now and some on the way. Under the tutelage of coach Jacques Lemaire the Wild players should all be very well prepared and smart in all facets of the game. They have smartly picked their star in Gaborik and build around him accordingly.
The team has not found as much success finding defenceman as they have up front. Foster and Schultz are solid in supporting roles and there is hope Burns, a converted forward, will turn into a solid NHL blueliner. But the team lacks a high end impact blueliner whom they can build around.
Harding looks to be a very solid NHLer for a long time. He should get a chance this year to at least be the team’s backup. Having Jennings winner Backstrom should afford Harding the time to get his feet wet.
25 Under: Radulov, Tootoo, Hamhuis, Suter, Weber, Rinne
26-29: Dumont, Erat, Fiddler, Hordichuk, Legwand, Ortmeyer, Smithson, Ellison, Henry, Zanon
30 Over: Arnott, Bonk, Gelinas, Nichol, De Vries, Zidlicky, Mason
Forward Prospects: Geoffrion, O’Reilly, Santorelli, Peverly
Defence Prospects: Klein, Franson, Blum, Laakso, Koistinen
Goalie Prospects: Smith
The team has suffered some losses thanks to a failed attempt for a long playoff run and ownership issues. They still have a star to build around in Radulov but are lacking depth of young forwards. They will need to get back to what they have always done and accumulate picks and build up their organization again.
The Preds are certainly not short of young defenceman. In few years they may have not only one of the best young blueline corps in the league but one of the best overall period. Weber looks like he’ll be a stud and Hamhuis is very solid. They have Klein and Franson on the way and Suter could be a solid right hand man like his Uncle was in his long
The Preds have struck out so far in terms of finding a goalie via the draft. Finley didnt pan out. Rinne is the Preds hope for the future and hopefully he’ll turn out as well as their former late blooming Euro goalie Vokoun.
25 Under: Carcillo, Gratton, Lisin, Sjostrom, Thomas, Ballard, Bell, Jones, Michalek Leneveu
26-29: Kapanen, Tjarnqvist, Zigomanis, York, Surovy, Boynton, Morris, Roche, Aebischer, Tellqvist
30 Over: Doan, Reinprecht, Fischer, Jovanovski
Forward Prospects: Turris, Mueller, Hanzal, Wheeler, Kaigarodov, Maclean
Defence Prospects: SUmmers, Yandle, Ross
Goalie Prospects: Gistedt
New GM Don Maloney has his work cut out for him retooling the Coyotes. they have been a rather sad bunch with many draft picks not panning out and some bad trades to go with that. Now the Yotes are armed with 4 very talented young forward prospects and they can only hope they all develop well and form the nucleus to build the team around. Turris and Meuller are a very good start. But much work is left to be done in the desert.
Slowly but surely the Yotes are finding some young talent on defence. But this too will require some hard work from Maloney, Gretzky et al. They need to stay the course and be patient and allow their prospects to develop properly. It would have probably helped if the team didnt have to share their farm system with other teams over the years.
The Coyotes have done a horrible job finding a solid young goalie to backbone the defense. Since Khabibulin, they have wasted plenty of picks on major busts in net. NOt sure Leneveu will even make it as a backup. The is another top priority for Maloney.
San Jose Sharks
25 Under: Bernier, Clowe, Goc, Michalek, Pavelski, Armstrong, Valette, Carle, Ehrloff, Vlasic, Patzold
26-29: Cheechoo, Marleau, Rismiller, Thornton, Davison, Murray, Semenov
30 Over: Brown, Grier, McLaren, Rivet, Nabokov
Forward Prospects: Kaspar, Couture, Setogutchi, Morris, McGinn, Fenton
Defence Prospects: Wishart, Petrecki, Spang
Goalie Prospects: Griess
Their core forwards are just entering the prime of their careers led by Marleau, Thornton and Cheechoo. But they have a strong list of young players either already contributing to the success of the Sharks or on their way to becoming solid NHLers. They have plenty of skill coming through the pipeline and have enjoyed some surprises among their young players. Creating this kind of depth allows them to make big splashes like they did in the Thornton trade.
The team has 3 key contributors all under age 25 with the Sharks now and 2 former first round picks on the way. Vlasic has been a major surprise turning into a bonifide NHLer as a teen. Like up front, the Sharks are looking always to accumulate talent at each position to allow themselves the ability to have assets to use for trade.
The Sharks have leaned heavily on goaltending talent from Europe and are hoping they have some more late bloomers like they did with Nabokov, Toskela and Kiprusoff. The team is often patient with their goalie prospects and have no problem integrating them in their mid to late 20s.
St Louis Blues
25 Under: Botes, McClement, Stempniak, Backes, Statsny, King, Woywitka, Bacashihua
26-29: Glumac, Backman, Brewer, Jackman, Walker
30 Over: Cajanek, Hinote, Johnson, Kariya, Mayers, Rucinsky, Weight, Tkachuk, McKee, Salvador, Legace
Forward Prospects: Oshie, Berglund, Eller, Perron, Kana, Bariball
Defence Prospects: Johnson, Cole
Goalie Prospects: Schwartz, Toivonen
The Blues have done an excellent job acquiring young forwards and providing the team with perhaps their best group of young players up front in quite some time. They have had some surprises like Stempniak while they should also have some sure fire top prospects like Oshie and Backlund. This is a far cry from the days where the Blues were always moving draft picks and prospects away.
With Erik Johnson in the fold, the team now has a franchise player to build around. He looks like a player who will dominate all facets of the game. With the core of their current defence in the prime of their careers they are young enough to be around and see Johnson become an elite defender.
The Blues have 3 recent former 1st round picks to battle for the number one job in goal down the road. They have Legace for now, but the hope is either Bacashihua, Toivonen or Schwarz will eventually become solid NHLers. Their depth here is solid.
25 Under: Kesler, Shannon, Hansen, Reid, Rypien, Krajicek, Sharrow
26-29: Burrows, Cooke, Pyatt, Sedin, Sedin, Bieska, Luongo, Sanford
30 Over: Cowan, Linden, Morrison, Naslund, Ritchie, Isbister, Miller, Mitchell, Ohlund, Salo
Forward Prospects: Grabner, Bernier, White, Raymond
Defence Prospects: Bourdon, Edler, Coulombe, Rahimi, Ellington
Goalie Prospects: Schnieder
Offense was a problem last year for the Canucks and there isnt any young forwards this year ready to step in. Maybe in 2 or 3 years they will have some decent young offensive players like Grabner or White contributing. But for now they will continue to lean heavily on the twins who are just entering their prime and Naslund who looks to be slowing down with age. There are many candidates among young forwards to fill in specialty roles but there is a big need to continue to find skilled offensive help down the road.
While the current squad leans heavily on their vets, the Canucks have a good number of young defencemen soon ready to make the jump. Bieska is a keeper now and players like Bourdon and Edler could definitely challenge this year for an NHL job. Unlike the forward position, the team has managed to accumulate lots of skill on the backend.
The Canucks are going to have Luongo around for some time yet. He is the backbone of the team. In time they hope Cory Schnieder will be a decent number 1 goalie. For now its all Luongo and he should probably be a fixture on the west coast for the next decade.