Every NHL Entry Draft has some distinguishing quality, and 2010’s is notable for the volume and size of American blueliners expected to be tabbed among the first 50 selections. Cam Fowler, Derek Forbort, Jarred Tinordi (son of Mark), Jon Merril, and Stephen Johns all bring the pedigree of big bones along with exceptional talent to their work on the back end. Four of those five Yankee rearguards are 6 ‘3 or bigger, and very well put together. The smallest among them, Cam Fowler, is listed at 6 ‘2, 190.
All told, we could see the names of a dozen Americans called in round one.
Need additional evidence of the ascendancy of American puck development? Well, it sure is appropriate that tonight’s draft is being held in L.A., because we could see two Californians — center prospect Emerson Etem and right wing Beau Bennett — go in round one. Wow.
- The best goalie in the 2010 Entry Draft is American Jack Campbell, who backstopped two American national teams to gold medals — including the Under-20s in Saskatoon in January — before turning 18. He has all the markings of being a franchise netminder in the NHL, and it’s incredible to think that he could compete still in two more World Under-20 tourneys.
- There is some urgency for the Caps to get it right with pick no. 26 tonight. They will not be getting help from a handful of recent first rounders whose development has stalled or who have been undone by injuries — Sasha Pokulok, Joe Finley, and Anton Gustafsson — and by virtue of recent trade deadline acquisitions have dealt away second round selections this year and next. The Caps tonight will pick at 26, 86, 116, 142 (from Phoenix for Sami Lepisto), and 176.
- Don’t look for the Caps to move up much from pick 26 — that’s just not their MO. Precisely because of recent success achieved deeper in the first round (John Carlson, Mike Green, Marcus Johansson) the team is comfortable finding quality passed over by teams drafting ahead of them.
- Tinordi could be there for the Caps at 26, and were he selected by the team there would be immediate comparisons with the Anton Gustafsson selection. But Gustafsson was a real reach at no. 21 in the 2008 draft. (Worse, some NHL clubs didn’t even have him anywhere on their draft boards.) Tinordi conversely is a solid first-round talent, and he will be the first Marylander ever selected in the first round.
- The good news is that the Capitals’ scouting regime in recent years has achieved the rare ability to uncover notable talent in those portions of the draft that typically deliver little more than warm bodies. “Our staff has gotten better in recent years,” general manager George McPhee told Mike Vogel yesterday. “I think we’ve been very good the last four or five years.”
- Where are the Caps today with their draft assets, quality depth in development, and their plausible maturation into contributing NHLers? They are in solid shape I think, but again because of some recent strikeouts up high and some selection holes created by recent trades, the team needs to do well tonight. I see terrific quality and depth in goal; good talent but a lack of size at center; and the need to secure some high-end talent on the right side at forward. After the graduation this fall of John Carlson and Karl Alzner there will be a good deal less depth of talent developing for the blueline.
- “The Hockey News: “Canada and the USA provide the filet mignon of the draft, while Russia, Sweden and Finland offer some prime rib. As for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, they are hamburger with an emphasis on helper.”