Lots of draft stuff lately as we head towards June 26th. This has to be the most anticipated draft I’ve ever seen. Generational prospect, another elite prospect, the 3rd tier of kids in this draft are all expected to be all-stars! Kyle Woodlief from Redline Report believes players ranked in the 40’s this year would have been picked in the early 20’s last year. So if you like a kid such as Robby Fabri, your team can still snag him at 39. Just amazing. And guess what – it should be that deep.
Next year we will meet Auston Matthews. 6’2, 194 pound center from Scottsdale, Arizona. The state of Arizona will perhaps produce the top pick (although I am sceptical about his decision to play in Europe and all the adjustments that will ensue). And he’s going to play in the Swiss league, and Switzerland continues to produce more and more high draft picks as well. Kevin Fiala last year went 11th, Mirco Mueller went 18th in 2013, Sven Baertschi went 13th in 2011, and Nino Niederreiter went 5th in 2010.
And it’s not just the Swiss coming on oversea’s. The Danes are making some noise too with Nikolaj Ehlers last year, Marko Dano in 2013, and Nicklas Jensen in 2011. The Germans haven’t made a jump since coming on a bit in the late 90’s, but perhaps Leon Draisaitl was the first shoe to drop for them going 3rd overall last year.
Of course you add to this that hockey has never been hotter in the U.S. Matthews is the latest, but I was at the draft in L.A. in 2010 when 2 California kids went in the 1st round in Beau Bennett and Emerson Etem. 2017 already has a kid turning heads from Plano, Texas named Max Gildon. Of course we had Seth Jones who grew up in Denver go 4th overall (but was the top ranked prospect for most of his draft year) in 2013.
And is hockey suffering up here? Not at all. We have never been producing as much high end talent as we are right now. And Sweden is cooking, and the Fins are consistent, and the Czech’s are getting back to how great they were in the early 2000’s. The only country that is currently not either on the rise or as good as ever would be Russia, but they’re still one of the heavyweights.
The point in all this is that the drafts should be deeper than ever and be 5-10 deep with high end talent up at the top, and teams should be able to find real quality well into the 2nd round. I don’t expect a top 2 like McDavid and Eichel every year, but the depth that this draft has produced should happen more often and it should give the NHL more incentive to expand to 32 teams.
Now, the impressive depth wouldn’t last forever obviously. Eventually things start to even out and there becomes a new normal. But looking forward, while it’s far too early to tell how good the 2016 and 17 drafts will be as far as depth goes, they are already looking to produce some high end guys. Next season has Matthews, Jacob Chychrun, Sean Day, Tyler Benson, Kale Clague, Sam Steel, Logan Brown (Missouri born, so there’s another one from a bit of an obscure place). 2017 has a potential superstar already in Brandon Wheat King Nolan Patrick who had 30 goals and 56 points in 55 games this season.
It is insane the type of talent that we are seeing entering the league right now. And while this draft isn’t going to be the new normal, I would expect drafts in the next 5 years to look more like this one than not.
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