Sunday, July 24, 2005

Sidney Crosby is a Diamond in the Rough

The NHL had its lottery draft on Friday and the Wings ended up with the 19th pick (and the Rangers got the 16th pick, hahahaha). That should put them in prime Ryan Stoa territory (or Andrew Cogliano territory if you believe Bob McKenzie over the CSB who ranked Cogliano 63rd. Other Wolverines listed on the North American Skaters list were Jack Johnson 4th, Jason Bailey 56th, TJ Hensick 78th, Zach MacVoy 99th, Tim Miller 140th, and Steve Jakiel as the 27th rated North American goalie. They have Jack Skille as the 11th rated North American forward (Stoa is 13th), which seems kind of low for him...but if they're right and a few Euros get in there....dare I dream? I don't think he falls to us (since McKenzie said that most teams like him in the top 10), but he'd look great in Red and White (and I'm not talking about Wisconsin).

Fox Sports put out a mock draft and while I don't know a ton about most of the prospects that a) Aren't coming to Michigan or b) Didn't play for the NTDP, I know enough to know that I don't like a couple things about this one. If the Wings pass on Skille and Stoa for Dan Bertram, I'm going to go burn down Ken Holland's house (not really). About Jack Skille:

23. New Jersey Devils: Jack Skille, Right Wing, USA NTDP

As one of the best drafting organizations, the Devils will be patient with this potential goal-scoring threat. If you are looking for a sniper, then Skille is your player, since he has a nose for the net and seems to always be in right place at the right time. He needs to work on his defense and consistent work ethic but he is a diamond in the rough.

It's at this point that I would like to say that I feel Phil Kessel and Peter Mueller are my diamonds in the rough for future NHL Drafts. Jack Skille is gross. And I will be absolutely livid if the Wings pass on him (unless they're taking Andrew Cogliano, in which case I will be fine since I'm a big homer). He took a lot of penalties last year simply because he was so much bigger than everyone else. He's got a cannon of a shot that he's pretty accurate with. He seems like a pretty good skater, and he's got some nice moves for a big guy. I'm not too worried about his work ethic. It's natural to get bored when you're playing waaaay above the level of your competition (which he was in the U18 vs. USHL or bad NCAA teams games). Skille, Johnson, Mueller, and Kessel could have all played in college last year and done just fine.

TSN has their mock draft out. They have the Red Wings taking Guillaume Latendresse with their first round pick. Red Line has him at #6. CSB didn't think so much of him, ranking him at #52. Redline says this about him:
The biggest and strongest power winger this year is Guillaume Latendresse, who is not only huge at 6-2/220 pounds, but also freakishly strong. He's impossible to move off the puck, and few even attempt to drive him out of the crease. Though not at all dirty, Latendresse often injures opposing defensemen with the sheer force of his crushing hits in the corners and along the walls. He's a heavy-footed skater, but has soft, quick hands and a nice release on his shot.
Sounds good to me, except I'm generally not a fan of taking players whose names I have no hope of learning how to spell since I type so much. This is the same reason that I'm against trading for Curtis Leschyshyn every year at the trade deadline (Google actually recognized Leschyshyn as being the correct spelling when I typed "Leyshyschyn" into the search box.)

TSN has Cogliano going off the board one pick before the Wings draft. Basically it seems to me that he's better thought of in Canada, where they obviously get to see him more. In TSN's mock, Skille goes 10th, which I think is a lot more reasonable for him. Still, if he falls to 19, I won't be complaining. Unless we don't take him.

I'm excited about where the Red Wings pick. I was hoping for the chance to get Johnson (obviously), but 19 isn't a bad spot at all. That means they'll get the 11th pick in all the even numbered rounds, and the 19th pick in the odd numbered rounds. So in both cases, it's a lot better than we usually pick. Depending on where the plateaus of players fall, they could end up with some really nice prospects.

Actually screw all that talk above, the Wings are just going to draft the best available "Jiri" or "Tomas".

Next weekend is going to be a blast. NHL draft on Saturday, going to the IndyCar race at MIS on Sunday.

The NHL also announced officially their rules changes. Among them:

The addition of shootouts after the 4 on 4 overtime: I like it, especially since it's only for regular season games and the losing team still gets a point. I hate ties and this means there aren't any more

Two line passes are legal now: Love it, especially if the Wings bring Schneider back. They'll have Lidstrom, Kronwall and hopefully Schneider who can all make a great breakout pass.

The tag up rule is back: Love it! Offsides slows up the game, and if Babcock wants a team that can forecheck like the dickens, they should also be pretty decent at dumping and chasing, no?

Goalies are restricted in playing the puck behind the net: Don't like this one...more lines on the ice make it more confusing for fans on TV, and it's always been my belief that if a goalie is a good puck handler, more power to him. This really hurts Turco and Brodeur (amongst others). Though if the Wings bring back Osgood, this might not be the worst thing in the world. Lest we forget this guy:

Teams aren't allowed to change lines if they ice the puck:
This is a big rule change and I like it a lot. It rewards offensive pressure, and anything that does that should be encouraged. Teams can still ice it if they want a breather, but the opposing team will be able to put out fresh skaters, and the offending team will not. I think this also places an added emphasis on having good faceoff people (hence it would be a bad thing if the NCAA enacts this rule, because Michigan? Not a good faceoff team).

Players will be named, fined, and eventually suspended for diving: They tried to make it public when players would dive, but somehow Peter Forsberg never ended up on the list. Hopefully they'll be more vigilant this time. Petey and Paul Kariya should be the first two guys on that list. Apparently the players don't have to be caught by the ref. They can review the game tape and find violators of this rule.

Public comments against the refs or the game will result in fines: Can Brendan Shanahan just add this to the part of his salary that will be put in the escrow account?

TSN has a "transaction log" which I added to my Firefox browser, and will now be clicking on every 10 minutes for the rest of the summer. Thanks TSN. They'll be updating it with all the NHL transactions. Currently all that's on there is the Flyers buying out John LeClair and White Trash Tony Amonte. No real surprise except that if I was Ken Holland, I would have made sure that "Red Wings buy out Ray Whitney" was the first transaction of the new NHL.

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