Monday, June 25, 2007

One Great Big Crap Shoot

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

The 2007 NHL Draft wrapped up in Columbus over the weekend and there seems to be more questions than answers. The consensus leading up to this year's draft was that this was one of the weakest classes in recent memory; with only a few players thought to be potential impact players down the road. A number of GMs around the league said that this wasn't the kind of draft you went into thinking about team needs as few if any of this year's projected first rounders were anywhere close to being NHL ready; instead, most said that they would draft the best player available.

The funny thing about this year's draft is that it seems that the GMs didn't draft for need and certainly didn't draft the best player available if you took into account the ratings done by Central Scouting. This year's draft obviously didn't have the hype of years past so the media was forced to look for something to write about, given that there wasn't any "can't miss" young stars to talk about. The story of this year's draft was "What in the hell happened?"

Some of the more critical members of the media have been focusing on how two players managed to fall so far down in Round 1 on Friday night:

  • Russia's next wonderkid Alexei Cherapanov - once thought to be a potential number one pick, falls to number 17 and winds up the New York Rangers;

  • Montreal youngster Angelo Esposito - who was actually rated number one this past winter, falls to number 20 and gets to play with Crosby, Malkin, Staal et al.
The amusing this about this is that the guys who have focused on how so many general managers could pass on either of the aforementioned young stars have likely not seen either of them play more than a handful of games. Who knows what the future will hold in terms of these two? The media may wind up being right that it was a mistake to pass them over; one thing we know for certain is that they will never admit they were wrong.

Our view?

In the case of Cherapanov, while he has big time talent a few things were working against him (in no particular order): questions about his heart and commitment to playing; a lack of a transfer agreement between the NHL and the Russian Ice Hockey Federation means that it is tougher to transfer players; and the fact that the Russian league is paying NHL level salaries and a lot of the young Russians won't come here to play in the minors when they can make NHL-level salaries at home.

In the case of Esposito, a kid with huge talent fighting doubts about his willingness to compete on a nightly basis. Esposito failed to make the Canadian National Junior team twice - why? You need look no further than the fact that the Montreal Canadiens passed on a kid from their own backyard - the Montreal media is notoriously tough on the team, so you have to think Bob Gainey knew what he was doing if he felt strong enough to pass over a kid that will be held over his head as long as he is the GM there.

Having said all of this - we are feeling much better about Toronto Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. trading the first and second round picks in a weak draft (and an additional fourth rounder) to get two proven NHL ready players. JFJ trades the rights (if you will) to two players who might never make the team to secure a better than average goalie who will likely come in at a decent price (reports say $3M + over three years) and a young NHL winger who has scored 20+ goals more than once (if he ever gets his life off the ice together, he'll be looked at as a steal). We've got JFJ's back on this one - but we are still calling on him to build on this trade and find a way to trade Bryan McCabe (to the Islanders) and Andrew Raycroft (Flyers or Blues). Make it happen JFJ.

One last thing about the draft - Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli was tickled when he saw that D Tommy Cross from Westminster, Conn was still available at number 35 - issuing the words that other GMs around the league must hate hearing "we couldn't believe he was still available". Isn't that like telling the other 29 GMs that they aren't as smart as him having passed over a guy who was drafted in the second round? While Chiarelli and the Bruins staff were patting themselves on the back for getting this guy in the second round - I wonder if they thought about how the hockey world stood in disbelief when they used their first round selection (number 8) to select Zach Hamill. In case you haven't read some of the Canadian coverage on the draft - Hamill, while offensively gifted, is small and not a very strong skater.

In the new NHL, you can get away with having smaller players provided they are super quick and can motor with the puck; being small and slow (scouting reports) adds up to a decent AHL career. While NHL GMs have become more accepting of smaller players - Martin St. Louis was the poster boy for small quick players in the new NHL - the truth of the matter is that most struggle when the going gets rougher and tougher...the playoffs.

Sad news from the world of baseball - the man who sported one of the most extreme mullets anywhere in professional sports (he rivalled the 80's soccer-rocker cuts), Rod Beck, was found dead in his Phoenix home. The tributes are pouring in for a man who was, from accounts published so far, an average guy who you'd love to sit down and have a beer with.

Toronto Blue Jays P Dustin McGowan took a no-hitter into the ninth and wound up with a complete game one-hit shutout in Toronto's 5-0 win over the Rockies; he also had seven strikeouts. We'd have an easier time getting on board with the kid if he just shaved off those riduculous sideburns.

Boston Red Sox P Josh Beckett became MLB's first 11 game winner yesterday, pitching eight solid innings in Boston's 4-2 win over Jake Peavy and the Padres. Beckett limited the Padres to two runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out eight. The word used to describe Beckett's stuff yesterday was "filthy".

The "Thrill from Westhill" Paul Tracy won the Cleveland Grand Prix yesterday - we don't normally do auto racing, but we are going to make an exception for one of the more colourful guys in professional sports entertainment (because we don't consider auto racing a sport in the pure sense of the word).


Apologies to anyone who checked in looking for Sunday's suggestions - we took a well deserved day off; no sense in mentioning that Minnesota, Houston and Boston would have definitely been on our list of suggestions. We finished last week at + $345, meaning the total for the year stands at - $170 (if you have played everyone one of our suggestions) - the bright side is that the last two weeks here would have been profitable had you played them. Today's suggestions, were going to go big today:

Boston over Seatlle - its back to facing American League hitters for Jeff Weaver, the surfer has had a tough time against AL teams, and he is about to be served a full plate of hurt tonight with the Red Sox paying a visit. It's going to be ugly tonight, so get your cash in early on Tavarez. Lay $100 on Boston - $125.

Atlanta over Washington - the Braves have to be happy to see the Tigers leave town; expect starter Tim Hudson to continue his great pitching with a dominating effort over the Nationals. Lay $100 on the Braves - $185.

Los Angeles Angels over Kansas City - we expect John Lackey to join Josh Beckett as MLB's only 11 game winners. Lay $100 on the Angels - $300.

Milwaukee over Houston - We'll go with Ben Sheets to handle an Astros offence that had trouble with the Rangers woeful pitching over the weekend. Lay $100 on Milwaukee - $175.

That's about it for today gang - thanks for taking the time to check in. Have a great one peeps.

Hazel, I hope things are groovy in your world.

I'm Out.


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