That’s right! Two posts in two days! It can only mean one thing: my boss is away at conference.
Anyhoo, interesting article over here. I’m a sucker for anything that goes back and reads the tea leaves of former drafts for trends. This one points out that because the developmental timeline for most defencemen is longer than a forward, it’s more difficult to forecast their ceiling. Because it’s easier to whiff on taking them, it makes less sense to use a valuable first round pick on the back end. This is discussed in the context of the LA Kings, who used several first round picks on defencemen over their horribly long rebuild, and saw few of them become contributors. In the end they signed UFAs like Mitchell or Scuderi, or saw players drafted in later rounds like Voynov become bigger contributors. (Doughty is the elephant-sized exception to this rule.) The same can of course be said of goalies, though for some reason this is common knowledge while the defenceman principle has yet to shine through.
If you have a top five pick it rarely matters: you’re going to get a good player (though not necessarily an elite one). The point sort of being that there are two basic draft assumptions that mid-round drafters like Ottawa can live by:
- Never draft a goalie or defenceman in the first round; always a forward. First round picks are too valuable to risk on something so hard to predict.
- Draft more defencemen overall than forwards. Because of the difficulty in predicting who will succeed, you need to up your chances of success. Just use later picks.
The interesting thing this year is that so many defencemen are projected to go in the first round. A number of mock drafts have a couple of D going in the first few picks – Ryan Murray, Mathew Dumba, Morgan Rielly, maybe Jacob Trouba - but I really wouldn’t be surprised to see a few of these players slip down the board. Murray’s probably going to get picked early, but I can’t see too many teams leaving a Teuvo Teravainen or Sebastian Collberg on the board so they can draft one of many solid-looking D who are still years away from playing.
What this means for Ottawa, perhaps, is that they’ll have a slew of quality defencemen log jamming the mid-round and not a lot of quality forwards available. It puts the team in an interesting spot: do you go with common wisdom, trade down, and simply grab more defencemen later on? Or do you use your pick on one of these spurned defencemen and hope like hell you got the right one?