To give us an idea of what quality was out there on draft day, and where it was viewed, here are Redline Report’s top ten players by position, published immediately prior to the draft, as well as a comment on each:
Redline Report’s Top Forwards:
Alexander Ovechkin – "one of the most dynamic offensive forces to come along in the past 10 years. The fiery winger has a rare mix of skill, desire, grit, character, and team play."
Evgeni Malkin – "the huge power centre that every team covets."
Alexander Radulov - Can make electifying solo dashes and dizzying moves at top-end speed that leave even the best defenders turned inside-out."
Lauri Tukonon – "Plays a rugged game, dominates below the circles, bulls his way to net, and has good hands in close."
Rostislav Olesz – "a finesse centre with tremendous vision and creativity"
Andrew Ladd - "an old school, power winger with great character and leadership ability who, ideally, should get an opportunity to play for a Sutter at some point in his career."
Lauri Korpikoski – "The most underrated player in the draft is just a winner — he's able to elevate his game at the biggest moments and is a difference maker when the game is on the line."
Drew Stafford – "another big winger with good hands and scoring ability"
Wojtek Wolski – "One of the more intriguing enigmas of all the top forward prospects"
Dave Bolland – "gritty, somewhat undersized centre who may not be the prettiest skater, but who always seems to get to loose pucks first and makes really intelligent plays once he arrives"
Sleeper – Mattias Olimb – "An absolute magician with the puck, he's one of the top 3-4 pure stickhandlers in the whole draft. Slick little pivot has great speed, a big shot, and great moves."
Redline Report’s Top Defensemen:
Cam Barker – "At 6-3 and 206 pounds, Barker skates well and has the offensive skills to run an NHL power play."
Andrej Meszaros – "plays a mature two-way game and shows plenty of skill and puckhandling ability"
A.J. Thelen – "it's all about offensive upside and a cannon shot from the point. His footwork is not NHL-ready at this stage"
Mike Green – "With no help he managed to post outstanding offensive numbers and refused to give anything less than his best effort at any point during an utterly lost season."
Ladislav Smid – "a very sound positional defender with good size and passing skills, has been dropping due to some poor decision making at the offensive end and a weak shot."
Kirill Lyamin – "exhibits a nice mix of snarling, edgy aggression at the defensive end and a wicked one-timer and improving instincts at the offensive end."
Boris Valabik – "he is the most feared and imposing physical presence in this entire draft class... has real questions about his puckhandling acumen (though it has improved) and natural hockey sense."
Jeff Schultz – "A very steady, stabilizing force along the blue line who has tremendous size"
Dimitri Vorobiev – "has good size and mobility, impressive physical tools, the strength to get physical when necessary, and plays solid and mistake-free in his own zone"
Wes O’Neill – "One unfinished, work in progress who must be considered fairly high, if only for his tremendous physical gifts"
Sleeper – Ondrej Sekera – "He throws his body around recklessly and competes hard every shift. He has excellent offensive skills with speed, vision, passing ability and patience under pressure."
Redline Report’s Top Goaltenders:
Marek Schwarz – "He's smallish at 5-11/165 pounds, but is very acrobatic and athletic."
Alvaro Montoya – "tall and wiry and loves to handle the puck at every conceivable turn"
Devan Dubnyk – "He's gangly and plays a stand-up style with patience and an economy of motion, allowing the puck to come to him… rebound control and ability to read plays needs some work."
Cory Schneider – "tall (6-2) and flexible with great lateral movement and quick feet, but he's very inconsistent with the glove hand."
David Brown – "We love his combative, ultra-competitive nature and tough-minded temperament… lacks ideal size and tools"
David Shantz – "cool, calm demeanor under pressure and a proven ability to make clutch saves at key moments… has some technique flaws"
Jason Churchill – "has tremendous size and potential at 6-4/186, but is very raw and will need to get together with a top goalie coach who can teach him fundamentals and techniques"
Philippe Roberge – "sharp and confident in limited exposure"
Michal Valent – "He's got good size and mental toughness under pressure, and is very flexible"
Magnus Akerlund – "put together a credible year and showed some flashes"
Draft Selections, followed by mock draft ranking from McKeen's, The Sporting News
- Ovechkin - 1, 1
- Malkin - 2, 2
- Barker - 3, 3
- Ladd - 9, 5
- Blake Wheeler - unranked
- Montoya - 6, 7
- Olesz - 4, 8
- Alexandre Picard - 13, 13
- Smid - 20, 16
- Valabik - 13, 14
- Tukonen - 8, 4
- Thelen - 7, 10
- Stafford - 10, 13
- Dubnyk - 26, 25
- Radulov - 14, 12
- Petteri Nokelainen - 29, UR
- Schwarz - 6, 7
- Kyle Chipchura - 19, 15
- Korpikoski - 25, 19
- Travis Zajac- UR, 24
- Wolski - 17, 17
- Lukas Kaspar - UR, UR
- Meszaros - UR, 18
- Kris Chucko - UR, UR
- Schremp - 15, 9
- Schneider - 22, 23
- Schultz - UR, 29
- Mark Fistric - UR, UR
- Green - 16, 27
- Andy Rogers - UR, UR
Oilers: (SN:Valabik, Dubnyk) (McKeens: Radulov, Korpikoski)
Looking at these mock drafts, as well as Redline Report’s top-10s by position, it becomes clear that neither of Lowe’s picks were terrible reaches. Devan Dubnyk, picked 14th overall, was generally recognized as the third-best goalie in a draft with quality netminders (Montoya, Schwarz, Dubnyk, Schneider). Thus, a fan could argue, that pick was a bit of a reach, and I remember commentators arguing rather forcefully that Marek Schwarz should have been taken prior to Dubnyk. Here are all four goaltender’s numbers for last season:
Montoya – AHL 45GP 24-14-3, 1SO, .900SV%, 2.55 GAA
Schwarz – AHL 33GP 14-14-2, 0SO, .891SV%, 2.79 GAA
NHL 2GP 0-1-0, 0SO, .647SV%, 7.25 GAA
ECHL 6GP 6-0-0, 0SO, .924SV%, 2.08GAA
Dubnyk - AHL 33GP 9-17-0, 0SO, .904SV%, 3.12GAA
Schneider - AHL 36GP 21-12-2, 3SO, .916SV%, 2.28GAA
Statistically, Schneider is clearly in front of the other three goaltenders at this juncture, although it is also worth noting that Dubnyk played for the worst of the five teams (Montoya played for both San Antonio and Hartford) that these four played for. It may have been a bit of a reach for Dubnyk to be selected as high as he was, but if there’s criticism of the pick, it should perhaps be for not selecting Alexander Radulov.
Rob Schremp, the second pick of the Oilers, was in free-fall by the time he was finally selected at 25th overall (ranked 9th and 15th in the mock drafts, although he fails to make Redline’s top-10 forwards). Many in the media attributed this to attitude problems with an extremely talented player, but looking at his OHL statistics, Schremp basically ran in place after an extremely good pre-draft season, and I’m inclined to think that what the scouts saw on the ice had more to do with his decline in status. Despite a couple of excellent players (Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, Dave Bolland) being left on the board, it’s hard to argue with the selection of Schremp, especially looking at him through a two-year window. Both Dubnyk and Schremp are still awfully young to close the book on, and if I were betting money, I’d say both see some NHL time. Also, if I were betting money, I’d say Schremp sees it next season, with a different organization.