Some of you may be surprised how late in the year I start paying attention to the upcoming draft. Well, there's a few reasons for it. First, the stocks of the various prospects are very volatile over the course of their draft year. You can end up learning about guys that quickly fall off the map. Over time I've decided it's just not worth it for me until the spring. I can only hold so many players in my head, and choose to have more 18 to 23-year-olds in there than 17-year-olds.
This is supposed to be a pretty solid draft year, but I've noticed it is pretty low on drama. The Russians are less enigmatic, there are no throw-down arguments about the top pick, and though there's a consensus No. 1 in Steve Stamkos, he's not supposed to be the Next One. So it's a ho-hum year from a pundit's perspective. The only guy who is providing a bit of drama is Kyle Beach with his attitude issues. He's the guy who mocked Spencer Machacek during a ceremony earlier this year, leading to a fight. Beach scored no points and was -6 in four WHL playoff games, which would also hurt his stock, though it's not clear how much of that it was due to concussion issues. That's two or three strikes against in any case: attitude, poor playoffs and/or concussions.
There are plenty of good defensemen rated highly, which is good news for the Thrashers, as there will be no conflict between the Best Player Available mantra and team needs. They had this fortunate set of circumstances in 2006 as well, when there were lots of good centers at the top of the board. They opted for Bryan Little that year. Defenseman Zach Bogosian has a blog at NHL.com that you might check out if interested. No word on whether it is ghost-written (a la Billy Jaffe).
There are some brothers of current players in the 2008 draft pool, like David Toews, the younger brother of Jonathan. If I were picking, I'd take a chance on David because I like Jonathan so much. Brothers of NHL players are more often than not similar players to their siblings, and they know what it takes having seen their brothers go through it. When I went to Nashville's prospect camp last year, it was amazing how much alike Mark and Mike Santorelli are. They are virtually the same player -- same strengths and weaknesses. Tomas and Frank Kaberle play very similarly as well. And then you have more well-known examples like the Staals. David Toews is not as skilled as Jonathan, but coming from that family, I'd take him ahead of a lot of other guys where you're less sure of what you're getting.
Here's a little bit on him from the March Red Line Report article in USA Today:
David Toews is a left winger who cracked the 100-point barrier as a prolific scorer on the powerhouse Shattuck squad. While David lacks Jonathan's supreme skill level, he makes up for it with vision and playmaking ability, and a knack for finding openings in even the tightest places to fire off hard and accurate shots.
One other thing that sticks out at me reading the names available in 2008 is Joe Colborne. The hockey world has only recently gotten Braydon Coburn's last name down, and then we throw a wrench in the works. Thanks, Joe.