Well, the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has wrapped up, and we have the undesirable distinction of being a team that needs to defend its picks. Not exactly the best way to start a franchise.
What makes matters worse for me is that I was willing to defend the Mark Scheifele pick slightly, though conceding the points that Sean Couturier would have been a steal with the 7th pick and Scheifele was a bit of a reach. The remaining picks, on the other hand, were difficult for me to rationalize, barring some grander plan for the team involving trades and free agency. A number of the picks were reaches, and I dread the possibility that we drafted a local boy because he was a local boy.
Note: Sorry about the formatting. It looks great in the post editor, but apparently becomes free-form poetry on publication.
For analysis of our first pick, Mark Scheifele, have a look at the post I did on Saturday.
67th pick - Adam Lowry, LW, Swift Current Broncos, WHL
|193cm (6'4")||85kg (187lbs)||18||09-10||WHL||Swift Current||61||15||19||34||5||0.934|
Lowry, the son of former NHL left winger Dave Lowry, is tall, aggressive, and plays well along the boards and in front of the net. Last year, his numbers were hurt by a bout with mono early in the season, but he finished strong, at a nearly point-per-game pace. Lowry's a project who needs to fill out, work on his skating, and become a bit better in his own zone. The latter I say because his skills don't really project to being a top-2-lines player, but rather a checking-3rd-line left winger. You know, kinda like Dave Lowry. The problem I have with this pick is that left wing was very low on our priority list, and when I say "low" I mean "bottom". So unless Lowry has learned the other forward positions, this isn't the kind of player Winnipeg should be taking with their second pick in the draft.
78th pick - Brennan Serville, D, Stouffville Spirit, OJHL
|188cm (6'2")||84kg (185lbs)||18||09-10||OJHL||Stouffville||43||3||12||15||-8||0.605|
Perhaps hearing my cries of anguish, the Winnipeg management decided to trade up to a second 3rd round pick, finding a willing taker in the Montreal Canadiens for their 97th and 108th picks. Excited that they might take a right wing (like, I don't know, CSB's 31st-ranked North American skater Seth Ambroz; don't worry, they'd skip over him again later), they made me cry a little more by selecting a Canadian Junior A defenceman who was ranked 104th. Most of the defencemen near his rank went in the 5th and later rounds. That aside, Serville lost some of his rank due to having a broken collarbone in the first half of the 2010-11 season, and had an okay showing after that. Some might say that 30 points in 36 games is impressive, but we're talking about 27 assists on a team that had one of the best offences in the OJHL. Serville is a University of Michigan recruit who will hopefully grow into a better defenceman in NCAA competition under coach Red Berenson. With any luck, he won't become the PP-quarterback-type defenceman he's been so far since, you know, we have like five million of those.
119th pick - Zachary Yuen, D, Tri-City Americans, WHL
|184cm (6'0")||92kg (203lbs)||18||09-10||WHL||Tri-City||42||1||3||4||+3||0.452|
Starting to wonder if Winnipeg was just trying to hurt me, they gave me fresh feelings of hope when they traded their 133rd and 194th picks to San Jose for the 119th. Now, I thought to myself, they have to pick another centre or a right wing. Psyche! To their credit, this was our first non-reach of the draft, as Yuen turned a lot of heads by playing solid defense for Tri-City. Don't let the point totals fool you; this guy is a defensive defenceman, through and through, and he plays well for his size. He's a very polished skater, and isn't afraid to throw down, either. Provided our previous three picks had went to Sean Couturier, deft playmaker and faceoff man Nicholas Shore, and Seth Ambroz, I would've called this a tremendous draft and Yuen the icing on the cake. Now I'm just eating icing, and that gets tiring.
149th pick - Austen Brassard, RW, Belleville Bulls, OHL
|188cm (6'2")||87kg (192lbs)||18||09-10||OHL||Windsor/Belleville||63||10||19||29||-2||0.714|
Holy crap, a right wing. Brassard was sent away from Taylor-Hall-Happyland in Windsor to Belleville purgatory during the 2009-10 season, and you can't say he didn't try. In fact, Brassard (like Yuen) was a faller in the draft, ranked 64th among North American skaters. In that regard, I'm pretty happy with the pick, and as with Yuen I would've felt ten times better if the Brassard selection was riding the coattails of Couturier, Shore, Ambroz. It also makes me happy to say that Brassard is essentially the return we get for Ben Eager, and that's already a win in my book.
157th pick - Jason Kasdorf, G, Portage Terriers, MJHL
|193cm (6'4")||81kg (179lbs)||19||09-10||MJHL||Portage||35||0.543||28.54||0.91064||+0.00632||+0.00899|
Once again, this is a case where the later pick isn't so bad. Kasdorf was clearly one of the best, if not the best, goaltenders in the MJHL over the last two years. A big goalie from Winnipeg (fingers crossed that that wasn't why he was picked), he was by far the highest-rated, draft-eligible Canadian Junior goaltender. You could do worse in the garbage rounds.
187th pick - Aaron Harstad, D, Green Bay Gamblers, USHL
|188cm (6'2")||91kg (201lbs)||19||09-10||USHL||Green Bay||47||2||6||8||-7||1.298|
Now I just know they were speaking to me. But trying to make me all misty about a Wisconsin boy getting drafted is fruitless if said Wisconsin boy comes from one of my rivals, Stevens Point. An unremarkable prospect; at this point in the draft, I don't really care who we pick...but did it have to be another defenceman?
All in all, I'm not happy with the decisions made here, but it stands to be said that we won't see if this draft bears any fruit for a few years. Now excuse me while I go weep softly and watch WHA videos.