I know there’s a largely political aspect to the selections and inclusion by no means offers a completely accurate indicator of future NHL success, but with the world junior rosters now set, I had a couple thoughts.
First, of the top 10 players taken in the 2007 NHL entry draft, only five made the cut. OK, Patrick Kane and Sam Gagner have more pressing commitments, but the teams that drafted Zach Hamill, Logan Couture and Keaton Ellerby may be looking at their scouts sideways today.
Second, at least for this season, the Ontario League is light-years ahead of the competition. Not only did the OHL kids snap up nearly half the roster spots on the Canadian side (10 of 22, not including Gatineau’s Claude Giroux, who is actually from Ontario), but also three American jobs.
The real indicator, however, is the quality of youth; Steven Stamkos (whose THN blog you can read here) and John Tavares will be No. 1 draft picks in 2008 and ’09 respectively, while Drew Doughty is a 50-50 shot to be the first defenseman taken (the Western League’s Luke Schenn is the other candidate) this June. On Team USA, Jeremy Smith will vie for the starting goaltender’s position while defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti has laid waste to opponents offensively this season.
If we’re turning this into power rankings, the WHL (aka the Dub Syndicate) comes in second, with a stranglehold on Canada’s D and some impressive Yanks.
And of course, there are the snubs. I said it in The Hot List and I’ll say it again: American goalie Josh Unice must be asking what’s up. The Blackhawks pick leads the OHL in shutouts, has just two regulation losses in 24 games (and only two more in extra time) and is second in goals-against average by the slimmest of margins. And he has represented Team USA in the past with good results.
I always like to complain about the lack of good quarterbacks in the NFL – I mean, how did J.P. Losman, Rex Grossman and Joey Harrington all manage to land starting jobs and keep them for a sustained period of time?
It’s the most important position on the team and the NFL has more than 100 college QBs to draw from, not to mention all the high schoolers converted to other positions for dubious reasons. How can teams be so bad at identifying talent?
Then I look at the goaltending depth in the NHL, Calgary “edging” Tampa 9-6 and Colorado beating St. Louis 9-5 and I tell myself to shut up.
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