2011 NHL Draft
Who to Scout
Given their current playoff race, it is very unlikely that the New York Rangers will get their hands on top prospects in this year's draft. Adam Larsson, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, and Sean Couturier will probably be developing into top talent in Edmonton, Ottawa, and Colorado. However, the Rangers are at an advantage with the remaining prospects in this year's draft class. Before we dive into who to draft, let's take a look at the one deciding factor: team chemistry.
Every rebuilding stage depends heavily on team chemistry. If organizations wish to build a team that would compete for championship glory, they need to first make a roster that would get along with one another on and off the ice. The current 2010/11 roster proves this, with the line combinations of Brandon Dubinsky- Artem Anisimov- Ryan Callahan, Mats Zuccarello- Derek Stepan- Wojtek Wolski, and Marc Staal- Dan Girardi, just to name a few. During the Traverse City Prospects Tournament, the defensive combination of Ryan McDonagh and Dylan McIlrath and offensive quad of Ethan Werek, Chris Kreider, Christian Thomas, and Ryan Bourque showed great promise, as everyone is developing into the players that the hockey world wants to see. Chemistry is important, and this is where my draft idea comes in.
(for the record, I just found out that Zuccarello was sent to the minors today)
In the Ontario Hockey League, the Oshawa Generals are making a good run towards their Bobby Orr (Eastern Conference Champions) and Memorial Cup dreams. I am focusing on this team because of one of our top prospect: Thomas. This year, Thomas set a career high in goals with 54, along with multiple OHL honors and stellar playoff numbers (4 goals and 7 assists in 11 games as of 4/1/11). What makes him this great are his teammates, two of which are projected to be drafted in the first round. They are Boone Jenner and Nicklas Jensen.
In 63 games played, Jenner has posted 26 goals and 41 assists with a plus-minus rating of 10. In 61 games played, Jensen scored and assisted on 29 goals. Jensen is 18 years old with a lot of promise and skill.
Predominantly through the season, these three had the opportunity to play on the same line and as a result produced great numbers offensively. Their 119 combined goals make up for 40 percent of their team's goal total. With the team chemistry that they possess in Oshawa, as it develops onto a National Hockey League level, who knows what these kids are capable of.
As of April 1, 2011, My NHL Draft projects Jensen to be drafted mid-first and Jenner in the early to mid second round, so we might get both if we are lucky.
When drafting, depending on the direction that you are in, independent skills might not be a key asset. Finding the tools to develop team chemistry does. This year's draft, I would like to see either Jenner or Jensen or both in our farm system developing, and at the rate that they are going, the Thomas-Jenner-Jensen line might prove deadly in the NHL.
Just a thought. Comments?
Side note: If the Rangers do want the big names in this year's draft like Larsson or Landeskog, they should probably consider trading away Michael Del Zotto and/or Matt Gilroy to either the Oilers, Senators, or Avalanche, since they do have high trade values. Personally, I am not a big fan of these two. DelZotto does possess the Brian Leetch qualities, but his cocky attitude and style of play under the Tortorella system might affect his development. Gilroy is Gilroy, though he has had great moments this year, and fans have been iffy about the guy throughout the year. I'd hate to see these guys constantly scratched or sent down to the minors when we instead can get a better return for them. This is just a thought.