Luke says: If there’s one thing I’ve realized while learning German, it’s that English tolerates differences between vowels sounds that make other languages a perceptual nightmare. English, in so many ways, is a linguistic wild west where everything’s made up and the structure doesn’t matter, but the vast variety of accents available to its native speakers play tricks with your mind in ways you don’t realize. Have you ever watched the Movie Accent Guy break down the differences between various Boston accents? It all sounds like imminent racism to me, but thank you for your service. Meanwhile, native German speakers have made fun of me for mis-hearing “gruselig” as “gröselig”. Make Google say those words to you and get back to me if you hear any difference whatsoever. Did you know Kafka wrote in German? I bring this up for no reason. The untrained monolingual anglophonic ear is simply not meant to discern such subtle differences between vowels when we interpret “n-EYE-ther” and “n-EE-ther” as legitimate pronunciations of “neither”.
Anyway, after I texted all my German friends to tell them that Ottawa just drafted Timmy S., I received texts like this:
Tough crowd! For the record, here’s how you say Stuetzle:
coming at you live from a bathroom in Leipzig pic.twitter.com/LOpDCCbnkt— poppy blue check mark (@coolcatmum) October 4, 2020
Keep practicing. You will get it one day. If you do it wrong, a German WILL appear from out of nowhere and correct you. They can’t help it.
Pick Grade: Zehn out of ten
Luke Says: Depending on who you ask, Jake Sanderson was either the best defenseman available in this draft or scout bait with bigger bust potential than a late Roman emperor. The Sens have really nailed their player assessment colours to the mast in selecting Sanderson ahead of various offensively talented forwards like Marco Rossi, Cole Perfetti, and Alexander Holtz. No pressure on this kid who is already slated to be the human embodiment of the never-ending Scouts vs. Spreadsheets debate and will singlehandedly be responsible in answering the question “Do Dorion and co. really know what they’re doing at the draft?”, at least until the next moderately controversial draft pick comes along.
Anyway, what sort of advantages do you think you’d have in hockey if your dad was an NHL player? There’s the obvious financial and genetic leg-up you’d have over someone trying to make the show off the street, but also have you ever considered the emotional release you could get from firing up NHL06 and making Tie Domi beat up your dad in a video game because he grounded you after he caught you doing your art homework instead of practising your snap shots in the driveway? Think of all the extra hours you’d spend secretly sketching in your design notebook at the hockey camp that you got sent to over the architecture camp that you wanted to go to. Imagine all the hockey sticks you’d get for Christmas instead of a single Rotring 800 drafting pencil. If your dad was in the NHL, you couldn’t help but become a great hockey player instead of the next Zaha Hadid. You and I will never suckle of these sweet nectars.
Pick Grade: One Thousand Museum out of ten
Varada says: You know what they say: culture eats strategy for breakfast. This is at once a bit of MBA cookie-cutter wisdom and one of the foundations on which the analytics community built its Church of Latter Day Contempt for the Hockey Men who themselves act as arbiters of culture. And so there is some irony in the fact that the community of relatively young men and women who use spreadsheets to split the hairs of adolescents’ competitive arcs decided that having three picks in the first round, and one of those picks being 28th, meant that the Ottawa Senators were bound by some irresistible force or cosmic justice to take a higher risk player with a higher projected ceiling. And it was with selfsame contempt that the Grown Hockey Men of the Ottawa Senators’ emaciated front office looked upon the vast and fruitful landscape of the 2021 draft and said, “Lo, bring to me a boy man who has character and gumption.” He was delivered, faithfully: Ridly Greig is described as hard-working, a half-decent passer, and a pain in the ass. It’s true that Ottawa has roughly 50,000 players in their system that you could describe this way. So, when Dorion, iPad and super-supportive girlfriend like twin winds at his back, selected Greig to the Memorial Curtis Lazar Ring of Honor, it was unsurprising that the Blog Boys and Girls felt like the moral arc of the universe was both long and bending towards bullshit.
Having assessed the letter grades issued by numerous hockey journalists who are legally obligated to produce said grades within 12 hours of the draft’s conclusion, only those who admit that having seven picks in the first two rounds means you physically can’t fuck up deigned to give the Senators a passing grade. Most simply cannot get over Leaving Skill on the Board. For this reason, grading the Greig pick is simultaneously fait accompli – one does not simply walk into the first round and draft grit – and entirely impossible, because the factors upon which the Ottawa Senators determined the degree to which they value Greig are those to which we have no access! We were not in the room with Greig during the interviews, we cannot absorb his potential contributions to the culture, even though culture eats strategy for breakfast. It says so, right at the top of this paragraph! Greig is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of any conversation about how we evaluate hockey skill. He exemplifies the failures of traditional hockey wisdom and also we don’t know what the fuck we’re talking about. Remember last year when everybody thought Josh Norris projected as a third-line center? Get out of here!
Pick grade: Ω out of ten
Luke says: This was not the pick that I personally would have made with the 33rd overall pick (You should see the stuff I would have written about the German language if the Senators had picked John-Jason Peterka like I wanted), but I’m trying to get out of the habit of conflating “a pick I would not have made” with “a pick that is bad”. Jarventie is alleged by some to be a one-dimensional player but luckily that one dimension is scoring goals, which I guess is the scouting report equivalent of telling people that your job “pays the bills”. Roby Jarventie is exactly like a government job in Ottawa which requires an arduous commute to a hideous building in Gatineau where you work at a cubicle in a nearly windowless room for 38 hours a week and all you get in return is a mere $80,000 a year and job security. Prediction: he works out fine.
Pick Grade: Ottawa LRT Stage 2 out of ten
Luke Says: There’s lots of things to know about Tyler Kleven; like a specialty clothing store he’s big AND tall, and he’s never met an opposing forward whose face he didn’t want to rearrange in a manner not in accordance with God’s plan. His most important characteristic to me, however, is being Jake Sanderson’s roommate. Apparently the Senators currently believe that drafting players who are already friends will unlock some sort of latent chemistry potential for the team. To assess this drafting strategy, I invite you, the reader, to imagine working your first summer job with your university roommate. In your imagination, would the presence of your peer and ostensible friend make you a more efficient worker, or make you someone who was more likely to slack off and spend your days speculating on how that summer’s season of Entourage was going to progress? I believe this pick is like Turtle losing his management deal with the rapper Saigon, but the Senators may yet metaphorically invest in Avion tequila before all is said and done.
Pick Grade: Kleven out of ten
Luke says: Three minutes after Egor Sokolov was drafted, someone tweeted this CTV News story into my feed, and I became a Sokolover for life. Dude couldn’t get back to Russia to see his family, so he helped out in the community that became his second home. It’s a story that we simply love to see. Maybe it’s not a great sign that he had to consistently work to improve his skating just to get drafted in his 3rd year of eligibility, but your man’s got silky hands and a wicked shot, and all of these facts mean I will be transferring my unresolved Mark Stone feelings onto him instead of going to therapy.
Pick Grade: 61 out of ten
Luke says: Leevi Merilainen is a goalie. He plays in Finland. As far as I know, he was not on a single draft board other than Ottawa’s. I don’t believe he was on any prospect ranking list going into the draft, and I was not able to find a single scouting report on him in the public domain. I was, however, able to find his picture on elite prospects dot com.
I have no choice but to tip my hat to the Senators’ incredible display of goalie scouting hipsterism. There’s no way that the Senators needed to spend a draft pick on this guy, but they did any way just to call their shot, just so you know it’s not an accident. The Senators are a guy who corners you at a party, asks you which goalies you like, waits for you to mention Askarov, tells you Askarov was better two years ago before he went mainstream, and then says that he like some really great goalies out of Finland but you’ve probably never heard of them. Then you tell the Senators, well I’ve heard of a couple of Finnish goalies, try me, and the Senators say “Know Leevi Merilainen?” and you say “Is he that guy from Liiga-2?” and the Senators say “You mean Mestis? There’s no Liiga-2 it’s called Mestis. Also he plays for Karpat’s U20 team. I saw him live in Vaasa last year. Just me and three other guys there. It was incredible.” and then the Senators walk away and you’re like “Shit that guy did know goalies I’d never heard of. Fuck him.”
Pick Grade: [7.6] out of ten
Eric was a pleasure to teach this year.
Pick Grade: Any of the complex zeros of the Riemann Zeta Function out of ten
Phillipe was a pleasure to teach this year.
Pick Grade: Sin(Spartacat) out of ten
Cole was a pleasure to teach this year.
Pick Grade: The Fourier coefficients of the Steely Dan song “Peg” out of ten