First things first, let me begin this piece by stating the following: I think Jacob Trouba has the potential to be a heck of a hockey player, and I hope that he does become one for the Winnipeg Jets. In fact, I could very well become one of his biggest fans if he does become an integral part of our blue-line for the next decade. And I think that he has the potential to do so, as I was very impressed with his efforts as a teenager at this past summers Jets rookie camp.
And it's not like Trouba is a player that came from out of the blue, as he was the ninth-ranked skater (all rankings via TSN, who has archived their Top-30 rankings dating back to 2004) and the Jets took him 9th overall. It wasn't like we passed on the fifth-ranked skater in Sean Couturier in order to take the twelfth-ranked skater in Mark Scheifele with the 7th overall pick the season before. I obviously don't have an issue with the ninth-ranked player being taken 9th overall, in theory.
Despite all of this, I have this nagging feeling in my gut that just won't go away, and I don't think it's from indigestion. It's a sick feeling that comes from passing on the consensus BPA that dropped from inside of the Top-5 to our draft position in two straight years, only to see Chevy and co. pass on that player. This year it was third-ranked Filip Forsberg, who managed to slide down and become available to the Jets at #9. And much to my chagrin, we passed on him.
To be fair, I am aware that the draft is pretty much a crap-shoot. For example, Blake Wheeler wasn't even listed inside of TSN's Top-30 in 2004 when the Phoenix Coyotes took him with the 5th overall selection. And the fifth-ranked player that season, Lauri Tukonen, fell to 11th and ended up only playing 5 games for the Los Angeles Kings before heading back home to Finland where he still plays with Lukko Rauma of the SM-liiga. And our captain Andrew Ladd was ranked 7th overall, but was chosen 4th, while new backup goalie Al Montoya was ranked 4th but was taken 6th.
And of course there is the tragic story of Alex Cherepanov, the fifth-ranked skater in the 2007 Entry Draft, who slid down the draft board to the 17th spot where the New York Rangers selected him. We will never know what impact he would have made in the NHL due to his untimely death in the KHL at the age of 19, so it's difficult to judge whether or not his draft ranking was justified. Still, his talent must have been obvious as he was ranked ahead of Jakub Voracek, Sam Gagner and Logan Couture to name a few.
But other than the two players mentioned above, the only other players since the 2004 Entry Draft who were ranked by TSN in the Top-5 but dropped to sixth or lower are Nikita Filatov (6th overall in 2008), Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley (12th and 13th overall in 2010, respectively), and of course Sean Couturier (8th overall in 2011), which Jets fans are well aware of. And you can now add Filip Forsberg to that list.
Oh, wait, there was one more from that one year when Sidney Crosby went first overall. Back in 2004 when Sid the Kid was the top choice, there was this one European ranked 5th overall that ended up dropping to 11th. Perhaps his passport had something to do with it. But if you ask the LA Kings how they think drafting Anze Kopitar with their pick turned out for them, I think they'd tell you that it went okay. That's right. Anze freakin' Kopitar. The funny part of all of this? Filip Forsberg also went in the 11th spot this past draft day. The Washington Capitals certainly wouldn't mind if he turned into the next Kopitar, that's for sure.
Taking this 2004 comparison even further, a Canadian team took a defender in the 9th slot that was planning on staying in college for a few years, which is eerily similar to the Jets and Jacob Trouba. The Ottawa Senators took Brian Lee in this spot, and he stayed at the University of North Dakota for two years before turning pro. And his career has been, um, well, uh... pretty unimpressive. It is this comparison between Lee/Trouba and Kopitar/Forsberg that scares me, and is in my opinion the reason why the Jets may regret taking Jacob Trouba.
Again, this really has nothing to do with Trouba as a player. He could very well turn into a beauty, and I hope that he does. But in much the same way that Mark Scheifele will always be compared to Sean Couturier by Jets fans until the end of time, I have a feeling that Jacob Trouba may be compared to Filip Forsberg for years to come, and I'm not sure that the comparison will flatter the Jets. The only time since 2004 that a player ranked inside of the Top-3 by TSN didn't get drafted in the Top-5 was this past year when Forsberg fell, and I fear that he could be an absolute stud forward for another team when we could have had him. Forsberg was highly ranked by numerous scouting services for a reason.
Having said all of the above, in 2004 the third-ranked player in the draft actually went 3rd overall. His name is Cam Barker, and he is pretty much a complete bust, so maybe these draft rankings really have no importance when it comes to how players turn out. At least that's what I'm hoping for when it comes to Trouba vs. Forsberg. But no matter how I try, I just can't shake this feeling.