“Bettman has only a marginal interest in the weaker teams. He only wants the NHL to make a bigger profit as a whole.” -- Dominik Hasek

June 20, 2007

Mock Drafts: Hockey Journalists Just Make Stuff Up

For hockey journalists, there is no bigger cop-out than running a "mock draft" just prior to the actual NHL Entry Draft. It's about as complicated as pulling names out of a hat and writing a quick blurb to the effect of "this great player would be good on this team because..." A mock draft article is not exactly Pulitzer material, obviously.

Any top quality hockey player is good for any hockey team, even if they don't need that player to actually play, just stand still, look pretty and be traded somewhere for somebody they do need. Sure, the teams try to find prospects that will potentially fill projected future needs, but sometimes they just pick the best guy available at the moment and hope they figure out what to do with him later on. It's not an exact science.

So a mock draft is just barely more ridiculous than the actual draft itself, which is exactly why sports media outlets like ESPN and TSN can't resist them. And that's why bloggers---we non-journalists---love them too. Nothing fills pixel space like wild speculation.

So, as for the mock drafts themselves, who are the projected picks for the Colorado Avalanche, the little team that almost could, the once-great former powerhouse desperately in need of some punch on the blueline in the absence of Adam Foote and Rob Blake?

ESPN: Ryan McDonagh, the reigning Mr. Hockey in Minnesota, who has committed to playing for the University of Wisconsin next season. He's a defenseman, obviously, since that's what the Avs need. According to ESPN, "his complete array of skills and size will have the Avalanche giddy over the selection." Except that he's only 6-1 and 200 pounds. That's not exactly "size" in the NHL. But whatever.

TSN: Kevin Shattenkirk, another young defenseman. TSN isn't very specific about why the Avs would pick him, just that they'd rather have chosen Mikael Backlund, a center, who they project the Maple Leafs grabbing. Ummm, okay. Anyway, TSN thinks the Avs would choose a d-man even smaller than McDonagh, in that Shattenkirk is shorter and weighs less. Yeah, a tiny defenseman. Awesome. Good pick, TSN.

Sports Illustrated: Mikael Backlund, that mysterious center TSN also wanted to pick for the Avs. What's Backlund's strong point? He's still recovering from a serious knee injury. Great. And he's a center, of which the Avalanche system is stuffed full. This is getting silly.

Hockey's Future: Jonathan Blum, a defenseman from the Vancouver Giants, the WHL team that won the Memorial Cup this season. Blum would make sense as a good pick except that he's 6-0 and 163 pounds. 163? Seriously? Guys in the AHL could crack his sternum just by looking his way. He'd have to go on an immediate diet of raw egg yolks and protein shakes, not to mention some growth hormone.

So, like all wild speculation, these mock drafts have about as much use as an NHL defenseman that weighs 163 pounds or a star center with a leg injury. Hopefully the Avs avoid everybody but Ryan McDonagh, who might be good as long as he's not done growing. Somebody go buy some eggs.

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