Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dual draft post: Canes Country and The Life and Times of a Caniac on the Hurricanes

(We had the bright idea to ask two Hurricanes bloggers to contribute and they both sent us something. Big thanks to both of them. For the sake of [moderate] brevity we'll do without extensive introductions this time.)

First, Canes Country:

1. What direction do you expect Carolina to go in with this year's draft? What's your preference?

GM Jim Rutherford has expressed a desire to go bigger. In recent drafts, they have selected smaller, more skilled players. (Zach Boychuk). The team needs bigger bodies and this might be the draft to do it.

In my opinion, I agree with him. The team definitely needs to get bigger. While he would be a gamble, Zach Budish is the type of player the teams needs.

2. Looking back, discuss some of the highest and lowest draft moments in Hurricanes history. What are some of the "steals" and groan-inducing moments that Carolina fans will never forget?

High points included when the Canes drafted Eric Staal in 2003. I was able to attend the draft that year and Carolina management was ecstatic. They really felt they had a franchise type player with him. Another high point was when the draft was in Raleigh in 2004. The crowd was going nuts when the Canes traded up to draft Andrew Ladd, at the time the number one rated skater in North America. That was really a lot of fun.

Low points were first round selections of Igor Knyazev, (bust), Nikos Tselios, (bust), and the disappointment of how Jeff Heerema worked out after he was so highly rated.

I can't really think of a time that the Canes "stole" someone, other than perhaps Cam Ward when he was drafted at 25th in the first round in 2002. They were also extremely pleased that Zac Dalpe slipped to them in the second round last year. We will see how he works out.


Now, for Ashley from the Life and Times of a Caniac:

For some bizarre reason, I keep getting the NHL Draft confused with the NFL draft. I was beginning to think up a post about how the drafting strategy of trading down to get more picks and create competition between players at training camp has worked out well - but then I realized I was thinking of Packers GM Ted Thompson, and not Canes GM Jim Rutherford, because the last thing Rutherford does is collect picks - he tends to trade them away like they grow on trees.

So then, when I was trying to think of draft busts A.J. Hawk immediately came to mind, but then I was thinking that he hasn't really been a bust, just not yet living up to his potential, and I'd give him another year, especially with the change to a 3-4 defense... oh crap, there aren't linebackers in the sport I'm trying to talk about.

And I keep getting confused because in football your draft picks can come in and make an immediate impact, whereas in hockey you can draft a guy in the first round and he more than likely won't be ready to make the team for another year. So, really, the only way to judge the effectiveness of a draft is to look at who you drafted a few years down the road. Which, if you're a Canes fan, doesn't leave you with that much of a warm and fuzzy feeling...

1. What direction do you expect Carolina to go in with this year's draft? What's your preference?

As long as Rutherford gets somebody over 6 foot, I think I'll be happy. While short guys like LaRose, Walker, and Whitney seem to excel in Carolina, it would be really rather nice to get some size on our forwards. A regularly competentdefenseman with a physical edge would be nice too. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Rutherford drafts a goaltender - for a while he seemed bent on having a collection of them - and we could probably use a solid backup goaltender as it doesn't seem like Michael Leighton will work out long-term. In other words, size, physicality, and competence would be good on either side of the puck.

2. Looking back, discuss some of the highest and lowest draft moments in Hurricanes history. What are some of the "steals" and groan-inducing moments that Carolina fans will never forget?

Has there ever been a "steal" for the Canes? If you peruse the draft history, there's not too many players from the later rounds that have succeeded in the NHL. I mean, I guess there's Wallin from the third round back in '00 and Cole from the third in '98, but beyond that the Canes' drafts haven't really panned out any steals (unless you count Eric Staal and Cam Ward, but as first round picks I tend to say that they're merely "living up to potential").

Groan-inducing moments? I don't have a specific one that occurred on draft day, but I can assure you that going over the past Canes' drafts definitely leaves you with some head-scratchers. Like, in 2001 the Canes picked Igor Knyazev over Tim Gleason. What? Jeff Heerema over Alex Tanguay? Huh? How is this stuff even possible? Maybe hindsight is 20/20 but beyond Staal and Ward I really don't see a lot that has come out of the draft for the Canes.

Soapbox time: take this opportunity to discuss the Canes and/or NHL in general.

I think it's awesome that the NHL changes the host city for the draft every year. It allows different fans to be able to see what happens on the draft floor, not just those in one metropolitan area. (And, yes, I am looking at the NFL, which has its draft in New York every year. Which means you listen to the Jets and Giants fans boo every draft pick every year.) When the draft was in Raleigh back in '04, it was a big party for the Caniac Nation. An opportunity for all of the fans to see not just their own upper management, but those of the other teams (standing ovation for Gretzky? Yes!), and an opportunity to see the next big stars of the NHL, when they're just regular people like us. There might be a lot of things that the NHL is doing wrong, but the moving draft caravan is certainly something that's a good way to open the game to fans in all parts of North America.

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