FanPost

13 Ways of Looking at a Hockey Team

I'd like to watch a hockey game. That's not an option, so I'm anticipating the new season in a zillion silly ways.

We've seen lots of interesting looks at the Hurricanes for this coming season, the most recent abramsdoug's insightful review of team progress and HMo2's great spreadsheet for doing your own running analysis of the roster and the Canes' moves. Those two looks weren't silly at all. Wallace Stevens' famous poem isn't silly either, but it still popped into my head.  I figure we're getting close to looking at the Canes a dozen ways. I'm providing two more brief looks that put us over the top.

The first look simply lists players on the Canes' roster or in the system by overall draft position regardless of who drafted them. The list doesn't go beyond the first 100 draft slots. The initial idea was to get a raw assessment of how much talent the Canes have accumulated, using draft position as an imperfect but useful gauge of talent.

While checking players' draft positions, I couldn't help noticing how the Canes turned some of the players they drafted high into players drafted high by other teams. That only makes sense, but it's intriguing when you start to get a sense of the way the Canes have managed the process over time. For example, it's interesting that the Canes turned everybody's favorite defenseman Jack Johnson into Tim Gleason. The more of these exchanges you see, the more you appreciate what the Canes have done. At least, that's true for me.

But you be the judge.

Current Canes' Players in Order of Draft Position

Overall Draft Position                Player

First Round Choices (13)

2.......................................................E Staal

4.......................................................J Pitkanen

7.......................................................J Skinner

8.......................................................S Samsonov

9.......................................................T Ruutu

11.....................................................B Sutter

13.....................................................J Tlusty

14.....................................................Z Boychuk

21.....................................................A Babchuk

21.....................................................R Nash

21.....................................................B Sanguinetti

23.....................................................T Gleason

25.....................................................C Ward

Second Round Choices (7)

37......................................................J Faulk

38......................................................J Peters

45......................................................Z Dalpe

49......................................................J Staal

51......................................................B Dumoulin

53......................................................M Alt

63......................................................J McBain

Third Round Choices (11)

67.......................................................D Biega

69.......................................................C Borer

71.......................................................E Cole

72.......................................................D Bowman

79.......................................................J Matsumoto

82.......................................................J Harrison

83.......................................................J Corvo

85.......................................................A Levi

88.......................................................Z Fitzgerald

90.......................................................J Pogge

Fourth Round Choice (1)

97.......................................................O Osala

Observations, Anyone?

Here are mine. Among the first round choices, there's a bias toward the top of the round. Eight of our 13 first rounders came in the top 14 picks. That doesn't seem to be purely a benefit of losing lots of games and therefore getting lots of high choices. Some of those high choices came through trades or as free agents.

Six of our 13 first rounders and all seven of our second rounders are kids. Among the first rounders, only Samsonov is getting up in years at 31. If draft position means anything, that's good news. Only three of our 11 third rounders are really kids, but only two, Cole and Corvo, are up in years. Osala, the lone fourth-rounder, is another promising kid.

You could say in any 10-year period, a team should have 10 first rounders--its own--and at least eight of them should be on the NHL active roster. The Canes have seven first rounders on their active roster, which isn't bad, and they should get credit for having 13 in the system instead of 10.

You could mourn the mighty who have fallen: Samsonov and Cole. That wasn't my reaction to this view of players. Instead, I've started to see possibilities like these: Samsonov and Cole will come back strong, Babchuk will play at the high end of our expectations, and Harrison will turn out to be considerably better than expected.

Harrison was drafted almost as high as Bowman and Cole. Were the Leafs dead wrong about him? Is Paul Maurice, a defense-minded coach who worked with Harrison in Toronto, wrong about him? Could be, but I take Harrison's draft position as a reminder that he could turn into a player.

And what if Borer gets back to full health? He was a high third-round choice, six picks lower than McBain and three higher than Bowman. He looked good in the NHL before Carson did and before the bus wreck. He's due for some good fortune, and his good fortune could help the Canes.

What's the story with Fitzgerald? He was once thought as promising as Austin Levi. Is he?

Now to the Canes' trades I noticed along the way.

Rutherford's Alchemy

Column A: Was                             Column B: Became

Jack Johnson.................................Tim Gleason

Danny Richmond........... ...............Anton Babchuk

Andrew Ladd..................................Tuomo Ruutu

Philippe Paradis............................Jiri Tlusty

Joe Corvo........................................Bobby Sanguinetti + Osala (+ Corvo returns for less pay)

Matt Cullen......................................Riley Nash

Niclas Wallin..................................Mark Alt

Andrew Alberts...............................Austin Levi

Aaron Ward.....................................Justin Shugg + Justin Pogge

Stephan Yelle & H Reed...................T Stahl & C Lalonde-McNichol

5th Round Draft Choice.....................J Staal

Scott Walker-->Caps-->7th Rdr-->Flyers-->....J Matsumoto

Which Column Would You Take?

Maybe the off-season has put me off my head, but I prefer column B to column A in every case but one.

The exception is the exchange of Matt Cullen for Riley Nash. I'd rather have Cullen, but I realize that the Canes can't pay Cullen his market value. Could Nash become a player in Cullen's class? Cullen was drafted 35th overall and is 33 years old. Nash was drafted 21st overall and is 21 years old. Good things could happen.

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