September 03 2013 09:29AM
Martin St.Louis was repeatedly passed up in the entry draft because of his small stature. Who else joins him on the All-Undrafted team?
We're roughly a month away from the start of the 2013-14 NHL regular season, which is certainly exciting because I think we're all ready for the return of hockey. However, that also means that time for goofy, random, fun (if you're a hockey nerd like myself) projects is running out.
We just concluded our prospects series at Canucks Army, in which we profiled the Top 20 players in the team's system. That entire project got me thinking about value, and finding different ways to bring quality talent into your organization. While it's nice to get your hands on a top pick, you can't simply rely on that. There's more to it. As a GM, you have to be creative, and willing/able to take a chance on a guy that others didn't because of certain perceived flaws.
Just because a player doesn't get selected in the entry draft doesn't mean that he doesn't have a future in the league. It's why I find it comical when people try to tell you that they know exactly what a prospect will turn out to be. Scouting, and talent evaluation is an inexact science; all we can do is make the best possible educated guess based on the information we have in front of us. Unfortunately, that's usually not enough, and we're wrong far more times than we're right. But that's what makes it fun.
There are plenty of valuable, competent NHL-caliber players that are currently succeeding in the league after having been passed over time and time again by all 30 teams (210 different times, to be exact). Most of the guys listed below were told that they were too small, or too slow, or [generic reason a guy is told he can't succeed]. If there's one thing hockey people seem to have a fetish for, it's a centre with some size to him. A small winger who doesn't have overwhelmingly obvious puck skills will more times than not fall through the cracks.
Read past the jump for the All-Undrafted team.
I scoured the list of all of the players to ever compete in the NHL after passing through the entry draft without being selected. Then, I narrowed it down to all of the players that are currently active in the NHL, and chose the best ones out of the bunch. I created 2 different teams composed of said players. I have to give some credit to Kent Wilson, whose idea of building an "All-UFA Team" a few weeks ago inspired me.
I'm also well aware that more prevalent - than the amount of fun I had doing this - to readers of this blog is probably the fact that 3 of the top players on the 1st Team are currently members of the Vancouver Canucks, and a 4th (Andrew Ebbett, who rather unfortunately played a big role for them last year) was an honourable mention. That's a league-high.
One final thing to keep in mind: I actually tried to create teams that made sense, with guys playing roles that they would conceivably play on a real team. It was tempting to just plug in the 12 best forwards and 6 best defensemen, but where's the fun in that? Instead, I put guys in their natural spots (both in terms of position, and role). For example: Sergei Bobrovsky is better than Viktor Fasth, but it wouldn't make all that much sense to have him backing up Niemi. It's a waste. Same with having Damien Brunner or Pascal Dupuis toil away on the 4th line.
It's also quite subjective, for the most part. Personal preferences were certainly a big factor. I like some guys better than others, and put them in spots that you may not have necessarily had them in on your own list. Which is all perfectly fine. Feel free to make your adjustments in the comments section.
Head Coach: Dave Tippett
General Manager: Jarmo Kekäläinen
I'm a huge fan of this team. I bet it could go up against any team in the NHL right now, and not look out of place. I think everyone would hate seeing this squad on their schedule, too. It's a lineup filled with players that make the opposition's life miserable, quite frankly.
I love the defense in particular. The plan would be to have the pairing of Dillon-Girardi soak up as many of the tough minutes as possible, going up against the other team's top players. They'd have an offensive zone start right in the low 40's, I figure. That would allow Boyle-Garrison to be unleashed in the O-Zone, and they'd generate a ton of offense as a result. As a sheltered pairing I bet they'd wind up with some gaudy numbers. Lovejoy and Tanev would be given soft minutes, with both having shown in the past that they can drive play in those circumstances.
The one glaring problem with this team is clearly goal scoring. There simply aren't too many guys that can create for others; most of these players are complimentary ones, that are perfectly fine in their own right, but would thrive in the right situation. That issue is mitigated by two things:
a) They'd drive play. It's a squad filled with guys in the black when it comes to possession numbers, and the puck would be in the other team's zone more often than not. Goals would come purely based on the law of averages. Don't expect too many to of them to make the highlight reel, though, as the majority of them would be of the garbage variety. But they all count the same, right?
b) They flat out wouldn't give up very many goals. The goaltending is stellar, and the defense (from both the back-end, and the forwards themselves) is rock solid. When you're only giving up 1 or 2 goals against a night, you're not facing as much pressure to score as you would if you're the Philadelphia Flyers.
Head Coach: Adam Oates
General Manager: George McPhee
Cory Conacher - Mark Letestu - Damien Brunner
Teddy Purcell - Tyler Bozak - Pascal Dupuis
Rene Bourque - Vernon Fiddler - Chad LaRose
Ville Leino - Jay Beagle - Stephen Gionta
Mark Giordano - Zbynek Michalek
Josh Gorges - Andy Greene
David Schlemko - Mike Weaver
Sergei Bobrovsky, Ben Scrivens
There were still some very good players that were left over after I created the 1st team, though, so I made a 2nd team, as well. You'll notice that I didn't include the financial situation, or use Cap Geek like I did for the 1st team because Brunner, LaRose, and Fedotenko all remain unsigned.
Also, you'll notice that this team isn't nearly as good as the one that came before it. That's not to say that it doesn't have any useful players, because it certainly does, but it's lacking any semblance of star power. Especially amongst the forwards. Similar to the 1st team, they'd be part of a ton of 1-0, and 2-1 games, and would rely on Sergei Bobrovsky to keep them in games. Hey, wait a second, haven't I seen that movie before?
I still wanted to include them, though, to prove the general overarching point of how much undrafted talent there currently is circulating through the league. Plus, they'd still probably give a team like the Buffalo Sabres a run for their money.
I strongly contemplated making a 3rd team as well before finally scrapping the idea. But it would have been coached by Peter Laviolette, with Mike Milbury serving as its GM. Their starting goaltender would've been Jonas Gustavsson, and it would have employed noted face punchers like Stu Bickel, Pierre Cedric-Labrie, and Colton Orr. The team wouldn't be good, per se, but it's grit and heart would be off the charts.
F: Ruslan Fedotenko, Zenon Konopka, Jeff Halpern, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Fraser, Ryan Carter, Andrew Ebbett, Bobby Butler, Andrew Desjardins, Ryan Garbutt, Bracken Kearns, Aaron Volpatti, Antoine Roussel.
D: Marc-Andre Bergeron, Raphael Diaz, Torey Krug, Matt Irwin, Francis Boiullon, Ryan WIlson, Andre Benoit
G: Niklas Backstrom, Jonas Hiller, Jonas Gustavsson, Ty Conklin, Joey MacDonald
The Canadian Cancer Society is helping spread awareness about testicular cancer this month, and considering the cause, we figured we'd do our part in passing along the message. Here's a comical video from them on "Nutiquette", and how to check your nether regions for lumps and bumps. Better safe than sorry.