JULY 2005
NHL GM’S preparing for an eventual draft

By Darren Lowry

Sidney Crosby should already be the property of one very happy NHL team right now.
Instead, Crosby, along with hundreds of other hockey players, is stuck in limbo while the league goes into (hopefully) the final stages of sorting out its differences with the players’ union.

Even though the 2005 Entry Draft, which was to be held on June 25-26 in Ottawa, has been postponed, teams around the NHL haven’t approached this draft any differently.
“We could have the draft this afternoon,” Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford says.

“If we were told that we had the 1st pick, the 10th pick, or the 30th pick, we’d be ready.”

He’s not alone.

Atlanta GM Don Waddell says, “We’ve done all our interviews. We’ve got our final list.”
Rutherford says the team’s scouts rank players 1 through 100 in preparation of the draft, and says that some players from that list will slip into the later rounds, even past the first 100 players selected.

Obviously, the major difference in this draft from past years is that teams don’t have the luxury of knowing where they stand with regards to their place in the draft.

“Under these unique circumstances, it’s certainly unusual not knowing the order of the draft or even the date at this point, but regardless of the position we end up selecting in, our scouting staff does a tremendous job and we have done our due diligence and are fully prepared,” Waddell says.

He continues, “We will continue to take the best player available with the type of skill and character that will help us succeed.”

At a recent Nashville press conference, Predators GM David Poile explained how the NHL draft differs from drafts in other sports.

“The NHL draft is different from, say, the NFL draft in the sense that players taken in the NFL draft are mature enough, physically and mentally, to step in an play their rookie season, whereas the majority of players taken in the NHL draft are at least two or three years away from competing in the NHL.”

For that reason, Poile says the team may not necessarily draft players according to a perceived need on the Predators.

“We will take the best players available to us in a given round, but we do have certain depth areas,” he says. “We need more depth at center, more defensemen, and one or two more goalies.”

However, all three GMs say they would certainly take Crosby with the No. 1 pick if they got the chance. With the draft order rumored to be based around a kind of weighted lottery, Southern teams such as Washington and Atlanta should have a better-than-average chance at obtaining that coveted pick.

Outside of Crosby, the GMs say they feel this is a pretty strong draft year.

“It’s a fairly deep draft, and after the first couple of picks, you can still get quality players when selecting in the late 20’s and early 30’s,” Waddell says.

“I do feel bad for the other players in the draft, who don’t get mentioned like they should,” Rutherford adds.

Poile, Waddell, and Rutherford have been building their teams mainly through the draft for years, and are beginning to see results.

Now they are waiting to find out when all of the long hours of preparation will pay off.
We can only hope that will be soon.

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