Oodles of hockey: Adam Oates gets screwed, the B’s strike a deal, and I mock draft

Posted: June 22, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Oates gets screwed… again
The NHL Hall of Fame class of 2010 was announced today. For the fourth straight year, Adam Oates was inexplicably not included. The fact that he has now been passed over four times absolutely blows my mind. There is literally no reason whatsoever for Oates to not be in the Hall.

For starters, he ranks 16th all-time in points and sixth all-time in assists. Both of those are tops among players not in the Hall of Fame. In fact, every other player who ranks in the top 25 in points and is eligible for the Hall is in. Every other player who’s in the top 15 in assists and is eligible is in.

Oates was a five-time all-star, he led the league in assists three times and he was a six-time finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship. He had the second-most assists in the 1990s behind only Wayne Gretzky. He had five straight seasons with 99 points or more from 1989-1994, including a ridiculous 45 goals and 97 assists for 142 points in 1992-93 (his first full season with the Bruins). From 1992-1994, he had more points than any other player.

Want more proof that Oates is one of the greatest playmakers to ever grace the ice? Talk to Brett Hull. The Hall of Famer played on Oates’ line for three years in St. Louis. In those three seasons, his goal totals were 72, 86 and 70. In Hull’s 16 seasons without Oates, he never amassed more than 57 goals.

At this point, it should be as obvious to you as it is to me that Oates has indeed been screwed… four times. What ticks me off even more are some of the players who have gotten in ahead of him in those four years. Glenn Anderson? Igor Larionov? Dino Ciccarelli? You’ve got to be kidding me. Those three were great players, but none of them even come close to comparing to Oates.

Oates is going to get in at some point, but it’s a crime that he’s not in already.

Horton deal great for B’s
Also making headlines in the hockey world today is the deal that sends Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell to the B’s for Dennis Wideman, the 15th overall pick in this year’s draft and a third-round pick in 2011. Campbell and the third-round pick are just about a wash in the long run, so we’ll leave them out for now.

So, Wideman and the 15th pick for Horton? I love it. Absolutely love it. The B’s have been Stanley Cup contenders for the last two seasons, and this deal shows me that the front office wants to win now, which is a drastic change from Jeremy Jacobs’ usual philosophy of not caring about winning at all.

When the B’s traded Phil Kessel for a 2010 first-round pick last year, many fans, including myself, wondered why they were trading someone who could help them win now for a draft pick. Of course, that deal looks like a genius move now because the B’s get to draft either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin — either of whom can step in and contribute right away.

But it’s clear that the B’s are not thinking the same way this offseason. Ever since I first heard rumors about the B’s getting Horton (which I believe was in a John Buccigross column back in April), I’ve been hoping they’d pull it off.

I love Horton. I love the fact that he’s a true power forward. I love the fact that he’s a former first-round pick. I love the fact that he’s scored 20 or more goals in each of the last five seasons. And most of all, I love the fact that he’s only 25. I truly believe he can score 40 this season if he’s on the first line with Marc Savard, which is exactly where I would put him.

Of course, the one question Boston fans might have when they see this trade is, “Did we give up too much?” I say no. Wideman was great in 2008-09 and terrible in 2009-10. Ultimately, I think he’s going to end up in between the two. You know what’s between great and terrible? Average. I have no problem giving up an average defenseman, especially considering the B’s already resigned Dennis Seidenberg (whom, like Horton, I love).

As for the 15th pick, yes, it’s always tough to part ways with a first-round pick. But I have no problem with it here. As I mentioned, the B’s have a chance to win now. No one that’s going to be available at 15 can help them win now. Everyone who will be on the board there will require at least a year or two of seasoning, be it in college, juniors or the AHL.

Even if you look down the road, I think Horton is the better option. He’s already proven he can score in the NHL, and he’ll continuing scoring for years to come. No one available at 15 provides that kind of guarantee.

My mock draft
I have a confession. I love mock drafts. I think it’s related to my lists and rankings fetish. I know they’re pointless and highly inaccurate, but I always find myself pouring over one mock draft after another as we close in on the NFL, NBA and NHL drafts (for some reason, the MLB draft hasn’t quite caught on with me yet). Needless to say, then, I’m pretty psyched that we have both the NBA and NHL drafts coming up this week.

To get into the spirit of things, I decided to put together my own NHL mock draft. I chose to do NHL instead of NBA for a few reasons: 1) I like hockey more than basketball, 2) The Bruins have more at stake than the Celtics, and 3) There are already approximately 14.6 million NBA mock drafts out there.

Pick) Team- Name, Position, Country, 2009-10 Team

1) Edmonton Oilers- Taylor Hall, LW, Canada, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Like most Bruins fans, I would love for Hall to fall to the B’s. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. He’s the most polished and most dynamic player in the draft, and he also has the most potential down the road. I’d be shocked if the Oilers pass on him.

2) Boston Bruins- Tyler Seguin, C, Canada, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Part of me is worried that the B’s getting Horton and getting rid of Wideman means they might go D here. The other part of me thinks there’s no way they could possibly be dumb enough to pass on Seguin. I hope the latter part of me is right.

3) Florida Panthers- Erik Gudbranson, D, Canada, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
After Hall and Seguin, Gudbranson and Fowler are clearly the best remaining prospects. Since the Panthers have already added one offensive defenseman in Wideman and have a lack of size and physicality on the back end, Gudbranson makes the most sense.

4) Columbus Blue Jackets- Cam Fowler, D, USA, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
There’s a lot of talk about Columbus trading this pick, either to Toronto for Tomas Kaberle or to Ottawa for Jason Spezza. No matter who picks here, Fowler should be the selection. He’s too good to fall past four.

5) New York Islanders- Brett Connolly, RW, Canada, Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Connolly is unarguably one of the most talented players in the draft, but he also has one of the biggest question marks — his hip. He missed large chunks of last season rehabbing from surgery. I think his talent will win out in the end, though.

6) Tampa Bay Lightning- Brandon Gormley, D, Canada, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
New GM Steve Yzerman has stressed a commitment to defense. Gormley’s a top-10 prospect and the best blue-liner on the board. Seems like a perfect match to me.

7) Carolina Hurricanes- Nino Niederreiter, LW, Switzerland, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Niederreiter has the best name in the draft. That’s not debatable. Neither is his ability to put the puck in the net. The Canes need more help on the wing than up the middle, and Niederreiter’s the best winger available.

8) Atlanta Thrashers- Ryan Johansen, C, Canada, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Johansen, who played on the same line as Niederreiter this season, is probably the best value here. Plus, the Thrashers could use some help at center. There’s some talk they might go with goalie Jack Campbell, but that would be a bit of a reach.

9) Minnesota Wild- Mikael Granlund, C, Finland, HIFK Finland
The Wild had the second-worst offense in the NHL last year. Granlund’s the best offensive player on the board.

10) New York Rangers- Jeff Skinner, C, Canada, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Fun fact: Skinner had more goals than both Hall and Seguin last season. He also had 33 points in 20 playoff games. And he’s already comfortable in a Rangers jersey. As a Bruins fan, I feel like this is too good of a match.

11) Dallas Stars- Derek Forbort, D, USA, USA U-18 Team
Forbort should be the first player choosing the college route to go in this draft. The North Dakota recruit will give the Stars a big, physical defenseman who can also move the puck pretty well.

12) Anaheim Ducks- Emerson Etem, C, USA, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
I’ve seen some mock drafts that have Etem, a Long Beach native, going to the Kings in front of the hometown Staples Center crowd. A great story, but I think he’s going to the other southern California team because, quite frankly, he’s too good to fall to 19.

13) Phoenix Coyotes- Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, Russia, HC Sibir (KHL)
There’s some speculation that Tarasenko might not leave the KHL, but he’s denied all of it by saying he wants to play in the NHL. Those denials combined with his speed and puck skills should be enough for Phoenix.

14) St. Louis Blues- Alex Burmistrov, C, Russia, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Burmistrov isn’t quite as dynamic as Tarasenko, but there’s no risk at all of him choosing the KHL over the NHL since he already chose Canadian juniors over the KHL.

15) Florida Panthers- Austin Watson, LW, USA, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
After taking a defensive d-man in Gudbranson at three, trading for an offensive blue-liner in Wideman and losing a scoring winger in Horton, taking a goal scorer here seems like the most logical choice. Watson fits the bill.

16) Ottawa Senators- Mark Pysyk, D, Canada, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
The Sens could go offense or defense with this pick (insert Captain Obvious joke here). I think Pysyk has the most upside of anyone on the board, so he’d be a good selection. I originally had him going 15 to the B’s with the Sens then taking Watson.

17) Colorado Avalanche- Jack Campbell, G, USA, USA U-18 Team
The Avs need a defenseman more than a goalie, but they could use a netminder, too, and Campbell would be a steal at 17.

18) Nashville Predators- Nick Bjugstad, C, USA, Blaine High (Minnesota)
Bjugstad has a ton of talent, but there are questions about how long it will take the future Gopher to be NHL-ready. The Preds have shown plenty of patience with prospects in the past, though — think Colin Wilson — so that shouldn’t be an issue.

19) Los Angeles Kings- Quinton Howden, LW, Canada, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
OK, so the Kings don’t get Etem. They’ll still be happy with Howden, who actually finished with the same number of points as Etem this season.

20) Pittsburgh Penguins- Jon Merrill, D, USA, USA U-18 Team
The Pens have an affinity for college defensemen, and I think that trend will continue as they take Michigan-bound Merrill, an offensive-minded blue-liner with the potential to be a power-play quarterback.

21) Detroit Red Wings- Dylan McIlrath, D, Canada, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Eventually the Wings’ veteran defenders will retire. I think. McIlrath, a 6-foot-5 bruiser, should be a good building block when they do.

22) Phoenix Coyotes- Tyler Pitlick, C, USA, Minnesota State (NCAA)
Pitlick didn’t have quite the freshman season he was expected to, but that might have something to do with the fact that Minnesota State was terrible. He’s still a first-round talent.

23) Buffalo Sabres- Riley Sheahan, C, Canada, Notre Dame (NCAA)
Like Pitlick, Sheahan was something of a disappointment as a freshman. An underage drinking incident (sound familiar Boston fans?) didn’t help matters. But also like Pitlick, he should still go in the first round.

24) Atlanta Thrashers- Calvin Pickard, G, Canada, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
One of the reasons I think the Thrashers should pass on Campbell at eight is because I think Pickard will be there at 24. This, too, might be a slight reach, but they really need a goalie.

25) Vancouver Canucks- Tyler Toffoli, RW, Canada, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
From the mock drafts I’ve seen, there’s really no consensus on where Toffoli will go. Some have him as high as 12; some have him outside the first round. He’s a dynamic scorer, though, and the Canucks can afford to wait if he needs time to develop.

26) Washington Capitals- Evgeny Kuznetsov, LW, Russia, Chelyabinsk (KHL)
The Caps like Russians and they’re looking more to the future than the present with this pick. So if Kuznetsov decides to play in the KHL for a couple more seasons, no big deal.

27) Montreal Canadiens- Jaden Schwartz, C, Canada, Tri-City Storm (USHL)
The Habs have shown more and more of a tendency toward college players, and Schwartz will be heading to Colorado College after two great seasons in the USHL. He’s renowned for his intelligence and playmaking. If the name Schwartz sounds familiar, that could be because his sister Mandi’s battling leukemia.

28) San Jose Sharks- Jarred Tinordi, D, USA, USA U-18 Team
Tinordi doesn’t offer much in the way of offense, but he’s 6-foot-6, he’s a great defender and he showed leadership as the captain of the U-18 Team. The Notre Dame recruit should be a back-line anchor down the road.

29) Anaheim Ducks- Beau Bennett, RW, USA, Penticton Vees (BCHL)
The Ducks make it two southern California kids in the first round. And no, I’m not just doing this because it would make for a good story. Bennett, a Denver recruit, has a ton of potential and would be an absolute steal at 29.

30) Chicago Blackhawks- Charlie Coyle, RW, USA, South Shore Kings (EJHL)
Outside of the top two picks, the thing I’m most interested in is where BU recruit Coyle will go. I’ve seen some speculation that his great combine will bump him into the top 20, but late first, early second still seems more likely. This would be a good fit for both sides. Coyle has plenty of upside, but he’s raw and will need at least a couple years to develop in college. The Hawks are already stacked with talent, so they’ll have no need to rush Coyle.

Closing remark
As I was putting this together, I noticed a trend that made me really excited — lots of Americans. Eleven by my count. To put that in perspective, there have only been 10 Americans selected in the first round in the last two years combined. And there are still more Americans who should go in the second round — Justin Faulk (a Minnesota-Duluth recruit), Stephen Johns (a Notre Dame recruit), Connor Brickley (a Vermont recruit), Kevin Hayes (a BC recruit), Brock Nelson (a North Dakota recruit) and Jason Zucker (a Denver recruit). Can you say World Juniors repeat?

Today’s list: My 12 favorite Bruce Springsteen songs
I’m going to break up the hockey overload by listing my favorite Boss songs. I heard like four Bruce songs at work today and another on my drive home from dinner, so he’s kind of on my mind right now. I decided to go with 12 instead of 10 because the two I would’ve cut out are two of Bruce’s most underrated songs in my opinion, and I really felt the need to mention them.

12) Johnny 99
11) New York City Serenade
10) Badlands
9) Atlantic City
8) Out In The Street
7) 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
6) Prove It All Night
5) The River
4) Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
3) Jungleland
2) Backstreets
1) Thunder Road

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