Monday, June 10, 2013
Goal of the Goalie Some thoughts from Rebecca Wilcox on the upcoming draft. Tending the net is a unique position in hockey. This is the guy who is on the move the least, doesn't score, and yet holds a critical role in the team's success in its annual quest for the Stanley Cup. In spite of that, few goalie prospects can be found in the upper layers of the high-dollar picks this year. In fact, most rating sources show Jacob Markstrom in the low teens as the highest goalie prospect. As the early picks are used on other positions, goalies will languish into the later selections. While that hurts their contract sizes, it also puts them on better teams. Another factor flying around is the prospect for off-season goalie changes. If teams haven't firmed up plans for their guy, they need to do so before the draft. A draft that's considered weak on goalies has several effects on team choices. Here are some impacts we can expect to see from the expected late-round picks of goalies: The Rich Could Get Richer Unless a team has traded picks, late-round selections are earned when a team has had at least marginal success on the ice the previous season. If that success has come at the hands of a great goalie, the thought process for their draft picks can get interesting. Chicago is clearly on the clock for a goalie, as is Vancouver. That's two top-8 teams that need help at the net, and if top goalie prospects are still on the board when their picks come up, they could cash in nicely. The Holes Won't Get Plugged A struggling team usually needs help at a lot of positions. Consequently, the first few clubs to choose in the draft may have a difficult time prioritizing which gap to fill first. Colorado, for example, is expected grab either Jones or Mackinnon with their first choice--neither of whom are goalies. With so few goalie prospects ranked highly, it will be tough for teams to fill that need at the expense of choosing better overall players. So they'll choose somebody for a different role, then watch what good goalies there are get picked up late in the round by better teams. By the time they are on the clock for their second-round choice, the best goalies are gone. Somebody May Get a Bargain Finally, there's the factor of rolling the dice. In a way, hockey is hockey, but at the same time, playing in the NHL is different from playing at any other level. Guys who were maybe solid elsewhere could turn out to be solid gold after being drafted. Is one of these low-hype goalies set to be the next big surprise in the league? Who's the diamond in the rough? Is there a prize like Evgeni Nabokov floating around? If one of the top teams chooses to gamble on an iffy prospect, it could come up all roses in the long run. Time will tell, of course, who pans out and who washes out. In the meantime, let the mock drafts fly and get ready for an interesting June 30th.