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What Scouts Said About the 1988 Draft Class

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I hate to throw out another of these on the impression that I'll have them all into the 1990s; admittedly, I only have the goods for this draft class and the previous one. The goods in question this time come from The Globe & Mail again, out of Saturday's edition June 11th, 1988.

Keep in mind that, because this is the sequel, it won't be nearly as good...kind of like the 1988 NHL Draft Class, except not really because (according to my measure of "success," aka 500+ NHL games) NHL teams batted .800 in the first 10 picks. Wowsers. In fact, 7 of the top 10 played 1,000+ NHL games. Ay carumba.

To quote Meet Joe Black, now you're going to pee some more: the #10 pick, Teemu Selanne, has played more NHL games than the following 11 picks combined. Apparently they didn't think too highly of 4th round picks Mark Recchi, Tony Amonte, or Rob Blake. No, they wanted Reggie Savage, Kory Kocur, and Winnipeg's own Kevin Cheveldayoff. The bums.

Oh, you're going to love what they said about Mike Modano and Jeremy Roenick...

To reiterate, I focus on the positive portions of the scouting report for players that played less than 500 NHL games, and the negative for those who played 500+. Players listed are those considered the top 21 players available for the 1988 NHL Draft by scouts at the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau (CSB) - I included their actual draft positions as well.

1. Mike Modano, C (actual pick: MNS, 1st overall - 1,499 career NHL games)

  • "...[Modano has] a lack of aggressiveness, doesn't check."
  • "'Doesn't come to play every night,' said a scout, 'He's an American kid. He hasn't learned yet what it takes to play consistently. But he was smart enough to leave home and play where mommy and daddy weren't going to watch him every game.'"

Seriously, who talks like that? Incidentally, Mike Modano was one of the best two-way players in the NHL in his time...think Pavel Datsyuk.

2. Trevor Linden, RW (VAN, 2nd overall - 1,372 NHL games)

  • "Needs to put on 10 to 15 pounds to be a power forward in NHL."
  • "Co-ordination hasn't caught up with height."
  • "Won't be a superstar. Said a scout, 'He'll be a very good NHL player, but not a great NHL player.'"

Incidentally, I found that assessment to be remarkably astute.

3. Curtis Leschyshyn, D (QUE, 3rd overall - 1,033 NHL games)

  • "Missed last year's draft by six days, so he's considerably older than most prospects."
  • "Has limited offensive skills."
  • "Most scouts say he's not as talented as last year's Glen Wesley..."

Apparently not as good as Glen Wesley but still good enough to be considered the number three overall prospect. Uh...

4. Darrin Shannon, LW (PIT, 4th overall - 506 NHL games)

  • "Lacks quickness and acceleration."
  • "'He won't be a 40- or 50-goal scorer in the NHL,' a scout said. 'Can be a 60- to 70-point man.'"

5. Daniel Dore, RW (QUE, 5th overall - 17 NHL games)

  • "A big, strong winger, the toughest of the top five prospects. Good in the corners. 'He's the kind of player a lot of teams would like to have because he'll make them better on the road,' said a scout."
  • "Plays aggressively, very physical and will fight."

And there's your first bust. Two top 5 picks for Quebec, and they get a stay-at-home defenceman and a guy who could only goon outside of the Q. He wasn't even good when he played in Roller Hockey International (in 1994, 1995, or 1996).

6. Scott Pearson, LW,C (TOR, 6th overall - 292 NHL games)

  • "A strong skater and very disciplined. An up-and-down winger."
  • "A character player."

7. Corey Foster, D (NJD, 12th overall - 45 NHL games)

  • "Strong..."
  • "...has a great shot, very good skater with excellent mobility. Big strength is his shot, which scouts compare to the Calgary Flames' Al MacInnis."

For the record, Corey Pronman over at HP hates these kinds of comparables. I'm inclined to agree.

8. Martin Gelinas, LW (LAK, 7th overall - 1,273 NHL games)

  • "[Small] size."
  • "Some wonder how long he will last in the NHL, given the way he plays."
  • "Floats sometimes, careless defensively."

Not only would Gelinas be a key cog in the Wayne Gretzky trade, but he would turn out to be a fine two-way player.

9. Francois Leroux, D (EDM, 19th overall - 249 NHL games)

  • "In a word, Leroux has potential. 'He's a project,' said a scout. 'He tries hard, works hard. A team could have a player in three years. But you have to wait on him. He still has to learn and he really wants to play.'"

That sounds like the kind of scouting report my mom would have written for me.

10. Chris Govedaris, LW (HTD, 11th overall - 45 NHL games)

  • "An offensive player, is consistently on the puck."

11. Serge Anglehart, D (DET, 38th overall - 0 NHL games)

  • "Not flashy, but does a fairly good job, has some offensive skills."

Um, are we sure we're talking about the 11th best player on the board? "Yeah, pick him, he does a fairly good job in juniors...what was that? Oh yeah, offence, he's got some of that..."

12. Jeremy Roenick, C (CHI, 8th overall - 1,363 NHL games)

  • "Needs more size."
  • "Some scouts say his success has affected his personality and he has an unrealistic view of his abilities."

Jeremy Roenick, an unrealistic view of his abilities? Nahhh...

13. Adrien Plavsic, D (STL, 30th overall - 214 NHL games)

  • "Has good size."
  • "A stay-at-home type of player, good puckhandling skills."
  • "...improved as year went on."
  • "Skates well and could be a good NHL player in two years."

I spit out my drink somewhere between "13" and "Plavsic."

14. Paul Holden, D (LAK, 28th overall - 0 NHL games)

  • "A good skater, a stay-at-home type, aggressive."
  • "Fair offensive skills."

At this point, I'm thinking it was a good thing that NHL teams didn't seem to be buying what CSB was selling.

15. Eric Charron, D (MTL, 20th overall - 130 NHL games)

  • "A potentially big, strong defenceman."
  • "Steady, but not offensively inclined."

16. Joel Savage, RW (BUF, 13th overall - 3 NHL games)

  • "A spirited and aggressive player. A hitter."
  • "Fearless, chippy, works hard and good skater."

17. Cory Keenan, D (HTD, 120th overall - 0 NHL games)

  • "A smaller, offensive-type defenceman. Smart with puck, intelligent hockey player."
  • "Good bloodlines; his father Larry Keenan played in NHL."

Wow on a number of counts. Wow that he fell so far (Somebody know why? Did he shank somebody at a pre-Draft party?), wow that he got ranked below so many defensive defencemen, and wow that he completely justified going 120th overall.

18. Tim Taylor, C (WSH, 36th overall - 749 NHL games)

  • "He's small and not physical."

Not mentioned: excellent faceoff ability. Turned out to be a solid 3rd line centre.

19. Claude Boivin, LW (PHI, 14th overall - 132 NHL games)

  • "Big, tough, up-and-down winger. Good in the corners, mixes it up."
  • "Similar to Dore, but has better hands."

Yet if I would have proposed that he might be as good as Dore, these guys would've jumped on me.

20. Rod Brind'Amour, C (STL, 9th overall - 1,484 NHL games)

  • "Lacks quickness."

Not mentioned: his bod. Have to give credit to the Blues for bumping him up their list past such luminaries as Plavsic and Boivin.

21. Robert Cimetta, LW (BOS, 18th overall - 103 NHL games)

  • "Very smart with the puck, fairly aggressive, good offensive skills."

This con is pretty fun, too: "Scouts say he's a little lazy." But I thought that was only Russians...

Here's another fun one on Stephane Fiset, considered by CSB as the #2 available goaltender (he ended up playing pretty good hockey across 390 NHL games):

"A flopper. Relies on quickness."

Yeah, I heard nobody could make that work in the 1990s and 2000s NHL.

Compared to the 1987 scouting reports, I found these downright depressing. Really, this many guys who you'd actually project as defensive defencemen ranked so high? Notice they weren't yet in the habit of putting European players anywhere on this kind of list, though it was agreed in the article that Teemu Selanne would (and should) fall within the top 10 picks. Yet again we see all these guys who had mediocre careers being described as "good skaters," which I'm now taking as code for "this guy is boring as hell, but I better throw the NHL teams a bone because they're paying for my Wendy's."

Seriously, I don't care if they paid for IHOP, Ponderosa, and Red Robin, I would have never parked my ass on a cold arena bench to watch Adrien Plavsic dick around in the defensive zone. Great skater, that one.