Tyler Dellow has a couple of posts up about drafting strategy and what type of young player teams should be seeking. This is a subject I thought a lot about at the time the current CBA was signed and I haven’t changed my mind very much since then. Tyler, of course, is actually looking at some data to sort out an optimum drafting strategy. He does seem to be drifting toward my dataless position:
I think the point of the draft is to find good players. Good role players at a reasonable price are easy to find. Players projected to be solid third or fourth liners liners are wasted picks.
Because defensemen and goaltenders mature later than forwards, it is both easier and better to find a good forward than a good defenseman or a good goalie. It is easier because they are closer to the NHL and the scouting is more reliable. It is better because by the time a good goalie becomes a starter, he is nearing free agency. Same with most defencemen. A forward might provide good play the full seven years before free agency.
Since every good forward scores, the right draft strategy is to grab any forward who looks like he might be able to score. It doesn’t matter whether they are too small or lousy without the puck or have a hole in their game that would otherwise make them less than desirable.
1) Always draft a scoring forward in the first round and never draft a forward who does not have an offensive upside.
2) Fill the organizational needs on defense and in goal in the later rounds. (And even in the later rounds, look for some offensive upside in a defenceman. How many good d-men provide zero offense? How easy is it to find defensive defencemen? Why waste a draft pick if it is easy?)
Mike Gillis does seems to be following this approach. I also like the idea of drafting older college bound players in the later rounds. I’m not sure whether this idea will help the Canucks do better on players selected in later rounds, but it definitely gives them more time to decide whether to sign the pick.