Saturday, June 27, 2009

Burke, the Leafs and the NHL Draft

The Broadcast

Was there a single pick the experts didn't like tonight? Every pick was smart, every player was talented and every team was getting just what they needed.

Maybe I'm cynical or maybe I've just been following the Leafs and the draft for too long, but on draft day the equivalencies thrown around are a bit rich. Each kid is suddenly a composite of Lemieux, Lecavalier and Trottier. Each kid is nothing but upside.

The thing is no one will know how each team performed at the podium for years and by then the equivalencies are more likely to be composed of names like Stefan, Daigle, Bonk or Steen, Wolski, Bernier than the stellar names thrown about on draft night.

If you hit up the youtubes, you can see draft-day footage of a young Alexandre Daigle being compared to Sakic, Lafontaine and Rocket Richard.

Frankly much of the commentary is inane. Tonight a forward was praised for having a tremendous slap shot. It seemed like a great observation until I realized it was said about a centre. Not sure that's the trait most GMs are looking for in a pivot.

Burke and the Legend of Moving Up

What's the old saying, "Live by the sword, die by the sword?" change sword to quip and you've pretty much summed-up Burke's situation.

With the cap flat lining and threatening to crash and so many teams having very little cap room, it was no surprise that deals were hard to come by. It seems that draft picks have likely never been more valuable (as we saw at the trade deadline).

I have no idea how Burke thought he could move up (or more importantly why he'd blather on about such a thing). Just look at what he had to deal with in the top 3:

The Islanders' fan base is shrinking, they're in desperate need of a new facility and their GM was pilloried for his performance at last year's draft. Yeah, that sounds like a recipe for a deal.

Tampa is all sorts of crazy. Burke probably had to wait for an email from GM Brian Lawton explaining the internal communication processes in Tampa before he could approach them with a trade offer.

Colorado has had a GM for all of 3 weeks. If you've been on the job for three weeks would you swing a trade with Burke?

If you extend it further, Atlanta at 4 is in a mess on and off the ice and Phoenix at six is, um, flirting with disaster.

The Kings seemed to be the only option and I bet Lombardi knew it.

And if Burke could set-up a trade with any of these GMs, what exactly do the Leafs have to offer? It's not like the Leafs have loads of picks, great contracts or prospects to send the other way.

Contextualizing Performance

Only one trade involving actual players went down at the draft. Despite all of the rumours and chatter the fleecing of Philadelphia was the only notable transaction.

Had deals been going down all around the room, I'd be furious with Burke's lack of action. But it should be noted that 28 other GMs didn't pull of a trade either.

As for people who wanted Burke to get a sizeable truculent player in the first round, I'd suggest that's not where those players are typically found and likely not the best use of a rare first round pick. Consider: Milan Lucic, who seems to be the current role model for Leaf fans, was a 50th overall pick. Look up your favourite bruiser and see if they were a first round pick or acquired via free agency.

We'll have to see what day two brings, the only certainty is that the commentariat will do their best to fill a few hours of air time with more inanity and many comparisons to former second round draft pick greats like Mike Egener, Daniel Widing and Sergei Soin (who am I kidding, it's going to be all about the upside, all about crazy comparables: this kid reminds me of a young Rick Tocchet with the vision of Adam Oates and the tenacity of Dale Hunter).

1 comment:

  1. Furthermore about the broadcast, but did the draft feel extraordinarily longer than past years? I can't tell whether the cheers for Pittsburgh's pick was for the player or the fact the night was finally over.