Anaheim calling to the hockey world...
The teletype's been rather quiet lately, but Draft Day is fast approaching.
Due to some scheduling crunches on Daniel's part, I've been allowed to opine rather extensively on this year's Entry Draft. Here's a brief summary of some of my general predictions:
The Needs of the Prospect Pool: The pool needs a dynamic scoring forward and an elite defensemen. An NHL level goaltender would be nice, too, but there are none projected in the 1st Round (and with good reason) and the Ducks are without a 2nd Round Pick this year.
The Best Player Available: There's some depth on the blueline at this year's Draft, and that could cause an elite defenseman like John Moore to fall to Anaheim. The Ducks would likely pass on Ellis and might be high on Despres (whose stock has recently fallen), but it could be that the best player available is a defenseman, not a forward. Of course, I'm sure the Ducks have done their homework, and handpicked a forward that they are comfortable selecting after Schroeder, Kadri and Glennie, but the Ducks might actually have to trade up (which would be extremely difficult) to secure the dynamic scorer they want.
The Need to Trade Down: It's possible that the Ducks can obatin a 2nd Round pick or an additional 1st Round pick by trading Pronger on Draft Day. However, short of that deal, the Ducks could be scared off the 15th pick by their aforementioned homework. Or even this nice little article by Scott Cullen on how the historical boom/bust value of the 15th pick bears an eerie resemblance to that of the 29th or 30th. Trading down might get Anaheim the 2nd Round pick they need to draft a goaltender, while still netting them a forward no riskier than who they would have had at 15th.
My Preferred Picks: John Moore, Scott Glennie and Edward Pasquale.
Now it's time to let my counterpart have his say. Alright, Daniel. Gearing up for Draft Day, what are your impressions/predictions?
I'm inclined to agree that this pick needs to be traded. There just isn't a guy that's screaming, "Pick Me!" at 15. I won't bother reiterating names you've dropped, but two players I like that might-- emphasize MIGHT --be around when we pick are Zack Kassian and Dmitry Kulikov. Kassian has size and a scoring touch, but I'm not sure how well he skates. Mix in the fact that he's only had one breakout year, and it's not hard to see how a guy with his numbers and size ends up at 15. Kulikov is a definite scoring defenseman who can skate and might be able to fill out that 6'1" frame a little further down the road. I like Kulikov because I think he can evolve to help the Power Play when Niedermayer retires. Kassian is huge, and he'll find a way onto a team like ours if he can be defensively responsible and forecheck like a monster. Both of these guys are viable picks at 15, but the chatter has me thinking that Kulikov, if he's there, would be the best choice at 15.
I think these are two players that could help us down the road and might fall to us. They're ranked in the Central Scouting top 10 for North American skaters, and might be good at 15. But I'm not sure if they're guarantees, and I definitely don't think getting them is worth declining a quality deal on Draft Day. Bob McKenzie's most recent article points out that there probably isn't much of a difference between picking 20 and 40. So, trading down for a 2nd Round pick will still net us a good player. An acceptable free agent class and cap space after moving Pronger point to one fact: selecting at 15 is only something we should do if we can't trade the pick.
But with whom do we trade? I still think the only team in the top 10 interested in moving their pick, or to be more accurate, that seems like a viable trading partner based on mutual need, would be the Kings. They have a strong core, and they are still young, which means that, more than anything, they need veteran leadership. So, even though both sides have blatantly dismissed the rumors about Pronger taking a trip up the 5 freeway, I'm not sold that it won't happen if Niedermayer returns. A move like this creates cap space for re-signing Beauchemin, and possibly, wiggle room for picking up a Top 6 forward in a different move. I think Pronger moves on Draft Day after Niedermayer announces his return.
Finding a partner to trade down might be easier, since there might be a lot of willing participants. San Jose doesn't have a 1st Round pick, and might be willing to trade Cheechoo and a 2nd Rounder for our 1st Rounder . . . but that might be wishful thinking, plus they might choose to squeeze more value out of their pair of 2nd round picks. I also think Burke would be willing to put together a good package of picks, so that he can pick twice in the top 15. It might go a long way in his rebuilding process. I also wouldn't be surprised if we dealt with the Canucks, who might overreact to the demands of the Sedins. Mostly, I don't see a great trade down deal that doesn't involve a Top Sixer, and those scenarios can get very complicated. And I'm not going to waste any more time. If the Ducks can find a buyer, I think this pick gets moved. Then again, it's hard to pass up a solid prospect.