My illustrious Avalanche blogging colleague InTheCheapSeats doesn't care about the upcoming NHL entry draft. Why? He lists the reasons, and they consist of the players themselves. In the entire decade of the 1990s, only a couple dozen first-round players went on to respectable NHL careers. The rest struggled briefly or never made it at all. Many eventual stars were chosen in the late rounds, far behind others whose names nobody remembers today. In sum, just about every draft of the '90s was a crap shoot at best.
This trend continued into the new century, with only one real exception: the class of 2003. Maybe you've heard of Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Nikolai Zherdev, Thomas Vanek, Milan Michalek, Dion Phaneuf, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Patrick Eaves and Corey Parey. Not a bad group of players by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, as for ice-time, only one player in the entire first round has failed to play at least one game in the NHL: Brian Boyle, chosen 26th by the LA Kings. Granted, not all the players ended up as full-time NHL players, and not all of the guys I listed are stars or even potential stars, but they are all solid professionals who have specific roles on their respective teams. What more could an NHL team ask for from its draft picks?
But anyway, ITCS is right. Despite all the scouting money can buy, all the projections and all the stat crunching, the NHL draft has always been and will always be a shot in the dark with a half-loaded pistol. Sometimes you score big, but most of the time you end up with a bunch of minor league short-timers.