What We Learned: Garth Snow is a genius; draft winners, losers

Hello, this is a feature that aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.

Remember a couple years ago when the Islanders announced that Garth Snow, the guy that had been their backup goalie just 15 minutes before, would be their general manager?

Oh how we all laughed and laughed. "HIM?" we scoffed. "Garth Snow? The guy went to MAINE for God's sake! How smart could he be?" And, quickly, he gave us an impetus for more laughter than we knew what to do with, floating Rick DiPietro(notes) a 15-year contract that probably even had DiPi snickering under his breath as he put ink to paper.

And then of course something funny happened: he started making prudent decisions. He signed Viktor Kozlov(notes) to a one-year deal for less than a million dollars (he scored 25 goals and 51 points that year), offloaded some terrible contracts and traded for Ryan Smyth(notes) to help push the Isles into the playoffs. For this, Sports Illustrated named him the 2006-07 NHL Executive of the Year and everyone out in Nassau was very pleased with themselves.

And, of course, the Islanders collapsed right back into crumminess, finishing with an average of 70 points over the last two seasons, and we all resumed our joyous, self-satisfied laughter.

But then ole' Garth pulled six fast ones this weekend, and everything I've read since then says we should be in awe of him right now. So why not?

(Coming up: Why the Bouwmeester/Flames thing isn't a big deal; a look inside Chris Pronger's(notes) plan to get suspended for the entirety of the 2009-10 season; Stan Fischler owes someone an apology; the debate over the Red Wings' obscure Scandinavian seventh-round pick rages: Future Hall of Famer or merely a six-time Norris winner?; and how Matt Duchene(notes) honed his sniper skills by bulls-eyeing womp rats in his T-16 back home.)

Snow took John Tavares(notes) first overall, which is all well and good; and it was certainly the right decision from a marketing standpoint -- with not much separating Tavares and Matt Duchene talent-wise, Tavares seemed more likely to sell a couple jerseys and season tickets, at least.

But then he turned a No. 26 pick and a second, two thirds, a fourth and a seventh (believe me they had like 50 picks so it's no big deal) into the No. 12 pick and select Calvin de Hann. They selected three players in the first 31 picks and very quietly have taken 20 players in the last two drafts.

The Islanders, by the way, are going to have a lot of cap room come Wednesday. With Garth Snow being as smart as he is, he just might sign Marian Hossa(notes), Jay Bouwmeester(notes) and Marian Gaborik(notes).

Yeah, that's it.

What We Learned

(A little bit of a different setup this week. Instead of just some regular ol' news about the various teams around the NHL, here's an assessment of their drafts. By me. You're sure to love it.)

Anaheim Ducks: Winners, obviously. They had two first-round picks (Peter Holland(notes) and Kyle Palmieri), and the only round in which they didn't pick was the seventh; so, who cares? The loss of Chris Pronger obviously hurts them for next season, but the return -- Joffrey Lupul(notes), whom TSN called "Jeffrey" more than a few times, along with Luca Sbisa(notes), Philly's first rounder (used on Palmieri) and a first-round pick in 2010 -- will soften the blow more than a little.

Atlanta Thrashers: Winners, I guess. Evander Kane(notes) is going to be a legit hockey player, maybe even this season, and three picks in the first 45 is good too. I mean, they were never going to improve that much in the draft (unlesstheytradedKovalchuk cough cough) so you can't look down on this weekend too much.

Boston Bruins: Losers. Know what type of player always works out well? High-scoring wings from the QMJHL with 19- and 20-year old kids centering them, which is what Boston got in Jordan Caron at No. 25. Y'know, all those massively successful guys like... huh, I can't think of anyone. They also failed to move Phil Kessel(notes), which will not help Peter Chiarelli once Wednesday rolls around.

Buffalo Sabres: Winners, if only because I love the Zack Kassian(notes) pick at 13. Buffalo was often wanting for someone like Kassian who can park himself at the goalmouth and both take and dish out abuse without picking up a season-ending injury (read: Derek Roy(notes)). Like the Thrashers, the Sabres were largely immobile as far as being able to help their club for next season, so you just take the best available player; and if he fits your needs, awesome.

Calgary Flames: Losers, but barely. The Jay Bouwmeester trade sounds good in theory (and certainly I was excited when I heard the news on Saturday morning), but in actual practice this is giving up something with tangible value to you for three days of simply telling the guy how great you are. And in order to do that, you also have to trade a defenseman. And, if you actually do sign Bouwmeester, you're going to have just about half your cap space tied up in him, Jarome Iginla(notes), Dion Phaneuf(notes), Olli Jokinen(notes) and Miikka Kiprusoff(notes).

J-Bo's gonna test the market anyway, and Darryl Sutter might end up with nothing but some bigger holes to fill. I did like the Tim Erixon pick though, yessir, as well as the fact that Sutter seems to be done drafting grinders and is actually attempting to stock the farm with skill players. Or maybe this is just me getting Homer Simpson Australian Beer Syndrome ("It's kinda worth it... I guess.")

Carolina Hurricanes: Losers. Again, I am not enamored of selecting QMJHL players in the first round -- no offense to Sid Crosby, I guess -- especially when a kid like Carter Ashton(notes) is still on the board. They drafted Philippe Paradis for his size and postseason pedigree (a whopping 12 points in 21 playoff games in the absurdly high-scorin' Q). He was also projected to be a late-second to early-third-round pick. But hey, he's just massive 6-foot-1 so golly gee, let's get this kid signed up.

I did, however, like their pick of Brian Dumoulin in the second round. He's going to defenseman factory Boston College, which has turned out NHL d-men like Andrew Alberts(notes), Peter Harrold(notes), Brooks Orpik(notes) and Rob Scuderi(notes) in recent years.

Chicago Blackhawks: Winners, I suppose. Dylan Olsen is a perfectly fine player at No. 28 because what're ya gonna do when you get that low? But you want to hear a hilarious little story? Their second-round pick intentionally avoided playing in the OHL so he could get noticed by dominating a lesser league (and to his credit he put up 50 points in 40 games in the OPJHL) and building a bit on his 5-8, 160-pound frame. It worked for now, but we'll see where that gets him in terms of making the NHL.

Colorado Avalanche: Winners, since Matt Duchene was their man from the giddy-up. They met with him twice, he grew up cheering for them, and all that fun stuff, so that's all both parties were looking for. He (likely) provides immediate help in some capacity at an NHL, and also he is a "big Star Wars fan." If you want to write your own joke about Duchene's tauntaun freezing before he makes it to the first marker, here's some space to do it: ____________________.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Winners, because they seem to really love the John Moore(notes) pick. Big kid, good skater, and dropped more than they thought he would, which required them to trade up after already trading down. There's still no indication whether Moore will go to Colorado College or Kitchener, though. It'd probably be better for his development to get some Major Junior games under his belt though.

Dallas Stars: Losers. Why not try acquiring a goalie instead of reaching for yet another soft, fast kid?

Detroit Red Wings: Winners. They will always be winners in the draft. It's preternatural, really. Trading down and still getting Landon Ferraro is pretty nice, considering who his dad is and how sons of former NHLers are typically not bad, at the very least. And look, they took a Swede in the seventh round. How many career points for the kid, you think? An even 1,000? A future captain at least.

Edmonton Oilers: Winners. As a Flames fan, I was more than a little upset to see Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson(notes) fall to them. He got good size, blazing speed, and a hell of a shot. And he instantly becomes the best prospect in the Oilers system to boot. Yeah, great.

Florida Panthers: Losers. Dmitry Kulikov(notes) was an underwhelming pick that also has a preexisting contract with a KHL team. He could be a steal, but he also could be not worth the headache. Then on top of that, they only wrangled a third-round pick (ooooo Josh Birkholz!) and the rights to Jordan Leopold(notes) for J-Bo. Spin it all you want, that's a terrible return for a guy that should've been a ghost at the deadline.

Los Angeles Kings: Winners. Brayden Schenn(notes) is a great, great pick. However, the fans that had the misfortune of listening to Dean Lombardi just go on and on and on at the draft are very much losers.

Minnesota Wild: Losers. I am almost 100 percent certain that the Team of 18,000 also holds some sort of front office position, because their decision to draft Nick Leddy (MR. HOCKEY!!!!!!!) is puzzling under the best of circumstances and a disaster for everyone but the PR department at worst. Meanwhile, if drafting someone whose birth certificate says "MN" on it was really their prerogative, then they let another better Minnesotan -- and one that would fill a position of need -- in Jordan Schroeder drop to a division rival. Because the kid who scored 40 points as an underage rookie in the WCHA last year apparently can't "generate legitimate offense." Nonsense. Utter nonsense. But that Kyle Brodziak(notes) pick-up should turn it all around for them.

Montreal Canadiens: Winners, for now at least. What a wonderful honeymoon local boy Louis LeBlanc and the Habs are having right now. No mention of the fact that he's going to an inferior college league from a developmental point of view (Chris Higgins is the only first-round pick out of the ECAC to even make it to the NHL since, like, the invention of the sport). Or that he will undoubtedly be booed and have his desire to play for the Habs questioned at every turn in two years' time. Best of luck, Lou. You're gonna need it.

Nashville Predators: Losers. I was just saying the other day, "Y'know what the Preds need? More defensemen." And they duly chose two defensemen within the first 42 picks, including Ryan Ellis(notes) who is very small, even for a high school hockey player. Maybe they'll convert him to a center or something. It's not that Ellis is a bad player, far from it, but with all the forward talent still on the board, why pick a project with no size that plays a position in which you are already incredibly deep and young?

New Jersey Devils: Winners. Jacob Josefson is, by all accounts, the long-term replacement for John Madden(notes). Good two-way center, not a ton of offense, great hockey sense and a bit of offensive upside to boot. This is the prototypical Lou Lamoriello pick.

New York Islanders: As discussed above, winners. They made the right move (not that you or I or anyone else couldn't have done it) for the franchise hockey-wise as well as cash-wise.

According to Dey, more than $79,000 in ticket plans (not including renewals) were sold in the first hour after the pick, along with $15,000 worth of Tavares merchandise.

The de Hann pick was an odd one, sure, but how you gonna be mad at the Isles, draftin' John Tavares and whatnot? Good for them.

New York Rangers: Winners? Chris Kreider was a bit of a stretch. I saw him play for Phillips Andover this year, and the kid, who's like 6-2,190, was playing against 16-year-olds. He was so fast and skilled no one could hit him or catch up to him, so it was tough to judge how the kid will react with people that are actually capable of playing at a comparable skill level put the body on him (though my buddy Mike at the Warrior Rink Rat heard through the grapevine that the Rangers were sending someone to watch him play at least once a week). Then they got an alright, youngish, fourth-line NHL center in Brian Boyle(notes) via trade and drafted Ray Bourque's other, (presumably) less stupid kid. Lots of projects but all of them could work out just fine.

Ottawa Senators: Losers. Jared Cowen(notes) is a good pick (not that they didn't want someone else instead) but the Sens HAD to trade Dany Heatley(notes) and couldn't get it done. Also, the above clip made Bryan Murray run to the bathroom sobbing.

Philadelphia Flyers: Winners. Who needs two first-round picks when you have Chris Pronger? By the way, given both the reputations of both the team and player involved, how long into his first shift in a Flyers uniform will he be pick up a match penalty and get suspended? I'm putting the over-under on 20 seconds.

Phoenix Coyotes: Losers. They love their European players, I understand, and Oliver Ekman-Larson is a good one. But they took Jim Vandermeer's(notes) absurd contract off the Flames' hands and I'm not really sure why. It might have to do with how bad they feel about saddling Calgary with Olli Jokinen, a noted dressing-room cancer and destroyer of playoff hopes.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Losers, if only because Simon Despres(notes) looks like if David Gest and Uncle Rico had a frightening child.

Maybe he'll chuck Lucille II over them mountains.

San Jose Sharks: Winners? Losers? Who even knows? They drafted some kid from Alaska. And it was a reach. Why even go to Montreal if you're just going to mail it in?

St. Louis Blues: Losers. It made me laugh hysterically that David Rundblad's comparable player, according to TSN, was Mike Green(notes).‘Course that's because he says he "often hits the net." Might want to mention his goal total last season. It was "zero."

Tampa Bay Lightning: Winners. They couldn't have gone wrong with Viktor Hedman. He's legit. Then they moved up to get Carter Ashton at No. 29. Then they drafted a kid whose name perfectly captures the ownership situation down in Tampa right now: Richard Panik.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Winners. Yeah it's tough to move into the Top 3, and I understand that you didn't want to give up Luke Schenn(notes). Can't move down, either. So you pick Nazem Kadri(notes)? The occasionally lazy kid who was slipping in a lot of mock drafts? I dunno about that pick, but the rest of the draft was real good in terms of adding Burke-type sandpaper guys that will do nothing but irritate people. Their second-round pick openly admits to admiring Sean Avery(notes). That must be a good thing.

Vancouver Canucks: Winners. I can't believe Jordan Schroeder fell to them, but I also can't believe what a rockhead he is (apparently he tested very low at the combine as far as noggin-smarts, which contributed to his precipitous drop). Watch as he struggles to put on a jersey.

Washington Capitals: Losers (sorry, Mr. Wyshynski). They didn't seem to address any of their pressing needs via trade or anything, and instead drafted a Swedish center in the first round for the third time in four years. Sure this one's a little meaner than the last two, but still. You struck pay dirt with Backstrom. Why keep digging there? Don't you need defensemen?

Play of the Weekend

Poor America. Gorgeous goal on the counterattack though.

(And I promise that's the last soccer highlight or mention. Don't bother complaining about it.)

Gold Star Award

The Vancouver Province's Tony Gallagher wrote maybe the greatest opinion piece in the history of hockey journalism yesterday, implying that the Canucks have been held down far too long by the lamentable salary cap because Calgary was able to trade Vandermeer for Brandon Prust(notes).

... By extension in Bettman's world, Vancouver Canuck fans therefore have helped finance a competitive disadvantage to their own team.

The money they pay in tickets to buy Canuck tickets has gone a goodly long way to help the Flames get better and thereby better able to beat the Canucks on the ice if they're able to sign Bouwmeester, a defenceman with some offensive ability and outstanding mobility.


But in this league, the CBA prevents the Canucks from spending more and outbidding smaller markets like Calgary for players they deem to be better. So when your money as a fan is being used by loser teams to beat your own, which is financially prevented from putting a better team in front of you, as a paying customer you probably have the right to ask why.

I mean, that's beautiful stuff right there.

Minus of the Weekend

No contest this weekend: It goes to Stan Fischler, and everyone else who questioned Brent Sutter's intentions about not coaching in New Jersey any more. Fischler was throwing around words like "dirty, double-crossing rat" and a liar in this low-rent crybaby post. Turns out he owes Sutter an apology which I'm sure he'll never man up and actually deliver. To wit:

Of all the business and family ties that drew Calgary Flames head coach Brent Sutter back to Alberta, one of the most vital is a woman named Grace.

Grace Sutter, the matriarch of the family of six rough-and-tumble brothers who made it to the National Hockey League--Brent, Brian, Darryl, Duane, Rich and Ron--and one other, Gary. Grace Sutter, the woman who invited every kid in Viking to the family farm this week to celebrate the end of the school year.

Grace Sutter, the woman who quietly battled breast cancer last year away from the public eye.

So there's that, you scumbags.

Next week's game thing I'm totally going to watch on Center Ice if I'm home

Wednesday will be the free agency showcase showdown. Watch with bated breath as your team tries to bid for Marian Hossa and fails to sign him.

Event that should replace the shootout and would be just as relevant to hockey skill

Letting Richard Nixon win.

Thing of the Week

Roger Ebert's review of the ‘I'm-sure-it's-atrocious' "Transformers 2" made me happier than anything all week.

Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week

This actually may be a literally perfect trade proposal from user "eric71."

Owners should give Pittsburgh its Net Profits from the past 20 years and we should do a roster swap. I dont wanna wait another 5 years to be contenders.

To Pittsburgh:

TML 2009 Roster

All Net Profits from 1989-2009

To Toronto:

Pens 2009 Roster

So awesome.



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