The NHL Entry Draft has a way of humbling even the smartest hockey minds. Remember Patrik Stefan? What I remember most about Stefan is this. But maybe you’ve forgotten that he was selected first overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999. Back then, many so-called experts praised this pick. Now, of course, Stefan is viewed as one of the worst first overall picks in NHL draft history.
No, Andy, I don’t claim to be an expert. But one person who is considered a draft expert is Craig Button. Each month, he ranks the top 60 draft-eligible players. The list is called Craig’s List and can be found on tsn.com. (By the way, Button ranks Nail Yakupov as first, and, surprisingly, has Ryan Murray twelfth.)
So how did Button get to be considered an expert?
Button gained a reputation for being an excellent evaluator of talent while working for the Dallas Stars. He was their Director of Scouting from 1992-98 and Director of Player Personnel from 1998-00. During Button’s tenure, Dallas drafted Jere Lehtinen, Jamie Langenbrunner, Marty Turco, Jarome Iginla, and Brenden Morrow. Not a bad list of players.
Button’s success with the Stars led to him getting hired as GM of the Calgary Flames in 2000. With Button in charge, Flames fans probably were expecting future star upon future star to be drafted.
Button was the Flames GM during three drafts: 2000, 2001, and 2002. How did he do? Below are Calgary’s picks in the first two rounds of those three years.
2000 - Brent Krahn (9), Kurtis Foster (40), Jarret Stoll (46)
2001 - Chuck Kobasew (14), Andrei Taratukhin (41), Andrei Medvedev (56)
2002 – Eric Nystrom (10), Brian McConnell (39)
That might not be a terrible list, but it’s certainly lacking an impact player. (By the way, Jarret Stoll was unsigned and re-entered the draft in 2002.) Let’s just say Craig’s picks weren’t on the button.
So what’s my point?
My point is not to pick on Craig Button. He knows more about NHL prospects and scouting than I ever will. What I’m trying to show is that while you can be better at the draft than other people, you can never master it.
So if you were the man/woman in charge of this year’s Oilers draft, who would select with the first overall pick? And who do you hope will be available for the 32nd pick? Please comment below.
But remember, even if you think you’re an expert, you may end up looking foolish.