The problem with the world we live in, among other things, is that pretty much anyone can pretend to be anything. So, in the next few days, you’re going to read loads of analysis from some “experts” who are going to claim to know all about this young Russian player after watching him perform in a 52-second clip on YouTube. It means nothing. Like the 1,345 “expert” scans you’re going to see by June 28, when the draft finally opens.
Does that sound like a rather vague statement? It’s because it’s the truth. Teams have their favorites, of course, and it’s armed with several Excel files that they show up at the draft table each year, with all the possible scenarios. But aside from Connor Bedard, there’s nothing certain in 2023, and that’s the truth. By the way, the day before the 2005 draft, Trevor Timmins explained at length to the author of these lines that the Canadian had his eye on Anze Kopitar. That’s not what happened.
That’s aside from the Chicago Blackhawks, of course, who are going to get a lot better all of a sudden on the night of June 28. But otherwise, how can anyone claim to know who was right and who was wrong when most of these prospects are going to be playing in the NHL in three or four years, maybe more? It’s impossible. Reminder: Roope Hintz, the Dallas Stars’ 2015 second-round pick, took five years to establish himself in this league. Another reminder: that year, the Stars’ first choice was Denis Gurianov. It is not an exact science, we remember.
Each year, NHL clubs waste hours and hours concocting and then giving personality tests to the various hopefuls, only to throw it all away. For example, the Arizona Coyotes saw fit to draft Mitchell Miller with a fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft, even though just about everyone understood that was not a good idea due to his heavy past (the Coyotes dropped him a few months later). So, before fearing the qualities of this or that player, let’s wait a bit. The clubs do not know the players so much that they draft them anyway.
More and more teams are choosing the draft to take action, because now is a good time to do so. Last year, in the Bell Center, the Canadiens took advantage of the big night to complete the acquisition of Kirby Dach from the Chicago Blackhawks, while sending Alexander Romanov to the New York Islanders. During the two days of the 2022 Draft in Montreal, an incredible total of 23 transactions were made on the NHL planet, including 16 on the second day.