Friday, May 1, 2009

csi: sutter part 2: draft history

in the second and third parts of this examination of darryl sutter, i'll be looking at the moves he's made as calgary's general manager, and whether or not his mis-steps have outweighed the commendable deals. initially, i intended part 2 to be signings/trades but there's quite a lot to examine over sutter's term since taking over the wheel in april, 2003... instead, i'll analyze the drafting and scouting and try to come up with a way to objectively determine if he gets a passing grade, after a miserable and epic fail in part1: capspace (cap management).

while grading a GM's draft history is hardly an exact science, i think the most obvious and available criteria is simply counting the number of actual NHLers a team's selections produced, and how valuable the players were to their team(s). this is, obviously, a far more difficult task when looking over more recent drafts, so i will judge the later years by the junior-level success/failure of the players, and the number that appear to be vyable future pros. kent did most of the work already over at fiveholefanatics last june, so i'm just going to elaborate a bit on it....

another criteria i'll look at is the available players that calgary did NOT select in the first round, who were selected in the ten-or-so positions immediately following the flames. this will outline whether sutter and the scouting staff were overlooking superior players. the sample size, here, is very small, as only 2003 - 2005 draftees are really having an impact in the NHL at this point.

1 dion phaneuf
2 tim ramholt
3 ryan donnally
4 jamie tardif
5 greg moore
6 tyler johnson
7 thomas bellemare
8 cam cunning
9 kevin harvey

sutter's inaugural draft is a bit of a trainwreck, other than the selection of dion phaneuf (who, not coincidentally, was the result of the flames' highest draft position of the sutter era at 9th overall). tim ramholt threatened to crack the lineup once or twice but was overlooked in favour of the undrafted richie regehr, and eventually went to philadelphia last summer for kyle greentree (so i guess that's good)... looking down the ranks of the first round, there is a wealth of players with equal or greater value, so it would have been hard for sutter to pick a dud in the top ten.... in the later rounds, calgary passed over players like shea weber, david backes and maxim lapierre, but so did alot of other teams... there's no denying dion was certainly a homerun for flames, but this draft was otherwise tragic....

1 kris chucko
2 n/a
3 brandon prust/dustin boyd
4 aki seitsonen/kris hogg
5 n/a
6 adam pardy/fred wikner
7 matt schneider/jimmy pratt
8 n/a
9 adam cracknell

sutter beat the sophomore curse in 2004 by way of fluke, more than anything ---no thanks to taking chucko 24th overall (just ahead of robbie schremp, dave bolland, and the knife to the heart: mike green). in a bang-up third round, the flames picked up both prust and boyd and also collected adam pardy in the fifth. other than phaneuf, these are the only other three players drafted under the sutter regime, thusfar, to hold regular jobs in the bigleague. seitsonen and pratt are still grinding it out in the system but have "dreamcrusher" written all over them....

1 matt pelech
2 n/a
3 gord baldwin
4 dan ryder
5 jd watt
6 kevin lalande/matt keetley
7 brett sutter
8 myles lumsley

we saw some marked improvement overall in 2004, but 2005 looks like a step backwards. i think pelech has a future, and lalande is making huge strides with columbus' ahl affiliate, but baldwin, watt, keetley & sutter will probably not make it much further than abbostford, it appears.... dan ryder was an unfortunate gamble, and.... who the hell is myles lumsley ??? while pelech has been a slow developping project, there was really not any spectacular players immediately below him in the draft other than marc-├ędouard vlasic (who the sharks picked up nine down the line with the second round selection calgary gave them in exchange for miikka kiprusoff)... admittedly upsetting is paul stastny getting picked up 44th overall, having been overlooked by every team at least once....

1 leland irving
2 n/a
3 john armstrong
4 aaron marvin
5 hugo carpentier/jusso puustinen
6 jordon fulton
7 devin didiomete/per jonsson

2006 could still pay dividends, or it could be the biggest bust in the lot (tbd)... selecting leland irving, the fourth goaltender to go in the draft's first round, was a big gamble ---one which may yet turn out to be a steal (or, alternately, a big waste). a lot of great players were drafted early in the first round, but after irv there doesn't seem to be much that calgary missed out on... as for the rest of the flames' lot, john armstrong is the only one looking to have any real NHL potential, and spent most of last year on IR....

1 mikael backlund
2 n/a
3 john negrin
4 keith aulie
5 mickey renaud
6 n/a
7 cj severyn

in the 2007 draft, sutter traded calgary's 18th position to st.louis for the 24th and 70th slots. picking up both backlund and negrin was a coup, as no exceptionally big names were selected between st.louis and calgary in the first round (and, as of this writing, backlund looks to be one of the better first round players)... no preferrable players were selected immediately afterwards, either. sutter also pulled a rabbit out of his hat by dumping the useless andrei zyuzin off to chicago for adrian aucoin, his enormously overpriced contract, and the draft pick that led to the acquisition of cj severyn. personally, even though calgary only had 5 selections in 2007, i think sutter et al. did their homework; keith aulie, a world junior grad and captain of the wheatkings, looks to be the future replacement for robyn regehr and is one of my favorite prospects in the system... while severyn is a bit of a longshot, and the passing of mickey renaud was heartbreaking, backlund, negrin, and aulie make this draft a success...

1 greg nemisz
2 mitch wahl
3 lance bouma
4 nick larson/tj brodie
5 n/a
6 ryley grantham
7 alexander deilert

considered a very deep draft, i the flames look like winners this year as well (in yet another year where sutter traded down, sending alex tanguay to montreal for their 25th spot, and giving up calgary's 17th ranking to acquire mike cammalleri). i can't begin to explain how excited i was that day, thinking that our GM had made the most of a bad situation (reportedly tanguay wanted out of calgary but listed montreal as the only team he wanted to go to with his NTC) and collected a very good player as replacement, while only dropping 8 positions in the first round. because of the depth of the draft in 2008, and because it's too soon to know for sure, i think calgary did well by picking nemisz ---losing out on only jordan eberle and mattias tedenby with the deals... i think nemisz' numbers last year might have been inflated by the calibre of players around him, on a very successful spitfires squad, notable players selected shortly after nemisz include viktor tikhonov & tyler ennis.

the very first thing that jumps out at me (when looking at all six drafts) is, other than the anomaly of dion phaneuf, there are no potential "superstars" in sutter's early years. furthermore, other than boyd and pardy (and debateably prust), not a single player currently holds a fulltime job in the NHL ---but i wholeheartedly expect that to change in the next year or two.

the other thing that stands out is that the flames' drafting has slowly improved over time. again, it will not be 100% clear for another few seasons, but it seems that the number of current or vyable NHLers has increased through the years and the 2007/2008 players, especially, have exciting potential (i'm looking at you, aulie). tod button has been at the top of the flames'scouting staff foodchain since before the sutter era, but the flames' scouting staff has increased by about a third in the past six years, so the steady rise in the value of the draftees is to be expected (as of november, there were 15 scouts employed by the organization).

actual/probable # of NHLers drafted:
2003: 1
2004: 3
2005: 3 - 4
2006: 2
2007: 3
2008: 3-5

ultimately, if it's SUTTER under the microscope and not his entire scouting staff, then he should be judged more by trades-for-draftpicks, than the selections themselves. i presume that, on draft day, the players are ultimately decided on by sutter, but agreement by his staff would be paramount; sutter is quoted in a 2005 randy sportak-penned article,"It's a consensus, not anybody's lone decision. We put players where we think we can get them and what we need and go from there."

looking over the sutter era draft history, i would suggest he's done fairly well. i think that the draft-day trades look to be paying dividends, for the most part, and i think the upward trend in acquiring NHL-calibre players is, ultimately, increasing. the bottom line, here, is that even if sutter were to be shown the door this summer, i think his growing scouting staff should most definitely stick around.... they seem to be learning... ;)

trades/signings later.
when i get around to it...


Kent W. said...

The only player that might end worth a damn out of that 2006 draft is Aaron Marvin. He had decent stats as a sophomore and if he takes another step forward next season, the Flames might have something there.

As for Armstrong, his season was, well...yikes.

walkinvisible said...

agreed. i'm pretty sure armstrong was hurt most of/all of the year and has the stats to prove it....

which, obviously, does not bode well but we'll see what happens when/if he can get healthy.