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Scouting Well – obvious does not make Excellence!

July 29, 2014

Most hockey analysts do not see the Columbus Blue Jackets or the Florida Panthers as perennial contenders or even teams on the rise. Yet by at least one account, they are a “good” drafting teams. You see, neither team has ever had a first round choice that is a total bust (ie first round choice did not play at least 20 NHL games).

Although for Columbus Nikita Filitov (2008) was an adventure for everyone involved, he still played 53 games for the Blue Jackets. Alexandre Picard (2004) also was not much of a success story, playing only 67 NHL games. Admittedly, they have always drafted in the top 10 every year except 2009, 2013 & 2014, but they have not had any “misses.”

Similarly, the Florida Panthers, who also have often drafted high have never come away from the draft and not had their first round choice play in the NHL. Kendal McArdle (2005) only played 42 games and Mike Brown (1997) only played 34 games, but again the Panthers have never left the draft “empty-handed” in terms of an NHL player if they had a first round selection.

On the other hand, recent Stanley Cup Champion teams like the Boston Bruins (1994, 1997, 2000) and Chicago BlackHawks (1993, 2008) and Los Angeles Kings (2004) each have had drafts with first round “goose-eggs.”

I think there is a lesson to be learned in these examples… making the obvious, even “safe” or “sure” choice doesn’t always make for true excellence.

Note: I am going alphabetically through the teams and am only up to LA Kings… so there may be a couple more first round no-misses to come!

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