Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

WHERE DO THE WINGS GET IT?

From Seth...

You've heard how much the Red Wings build by finding guys late in the draft. But the degree to which Detroit's scouting out-jobs the rest of the league is simply uncanny.

I wonder if anyone's done an article on how the Wings built this scouting monster.

With the signing of Dick Axelsson, the Wings now have six of the seven guys they drafted in 2006 under contract (five with the Wings). Axelsson, Cory Emmerton, Daniel Larsson, Jan Mursak and Logan Pyett are signed to Detroit contracts, and Shawn Matthias played in the NHL this year with Florida (he's the guy we traded for Bertuzzi). The last guy drafted in '06 is Nick Oslund, who's still playing college hockey, so he could still be signed in three years as well.

That's six, maybe seven NHLers in seven picks. That's friggin unreal, unbelieveable, unheard of.

And we didn't even have a first round draft pick!

Teams hope to get half of a draft class to the NHL maybe once a decade. If you can find one regular a year beyond the first 10 picks, you're lucky.

Yet this is becoming a regular thing for Detroit. In '02 we nabbed Hudler and Tomas Fleishmann (2nd line winger for Washington, traded for Rob Lang) in the late 2nd round, moved up to get Vlatteri Filppula in the bottom of the 3rd, nabbed Logan Koopmans in the tail end of the 5th, found Derek Meech at the end of the 7th, and with the last pick in the draft discovered Jonathan Ericsson, who's now the best defensive prospect in hockey. That's a draft after winning the cup, when by all rights the Wings should have been locked out of anything useable.

The most any team has ever gotten to the show in a draft year is eight, which was accomplished by...wait for it...the Detroit Red Wings. The legendary 1989 class introduced Mike Sillinger, Bob Boughner, Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Shawn McCosh, Dallas Drake and Vladimir Konstantinov.

In 2005, TSN did a review of the best and worst draft picks in history. The top three value picks of all time, according to the article, were Lidstrom, Zetterberg and Datsyuk. In the article, the author said if he'd been allowed to choose a 4th and 5th, he would have gone with (LA pick) Luc Robitaille, then Konstantinov or Fedorov.

Tiger Woods only dreams of dominating his sport like Ken Holland and Jim Nill own hockey scouting.

The way it works out, you'd think the Red Wings would be getting to pick which guys they want first, then leave the pickins to the rest of the league (ahem, actually that would be Pittsburgh who gets to do that). Yet the Red Wings have been able to produce, by far, the most and best NHL talent from the draft of any other team during a span in which they had, by a shitload, the absolute worst draft position of any team. Whereas the Penguins were basically handed Sid Crosby (1st-2005), Evgeni Malkin (2nd-2004), Jordan Staal (2nd-2006), Marc-Andre Fleury (1st-2003) and Ryan Whitney (5th-2002) in five consecutive years, the Wings haven't even sniffed a Top 5 pick in almost 20 years -- Keith Primeau (3rd-1990) is the only Top 5 pick since 1986, and we had to trade up to make that selection.

In two decades of scouting dominance, we've gone without a 1st round pick seven times, and without a 2nd round pick four times.

In those 20 years, the NHL has done whatever was in its power to stop us. We found great players in Europe, so they limited the amount of time you had to sign European prospects. We negotiated directly with European teams, giving them value for their top players so they'd be willing to let us know when they found another, so the NHL stepped in and said all interleague transactions must be made by them. Then we started stockpiling kids in college, and the league is looking at closing that loophole too.

Considering the obstacles, it's amazing how many upsets this franchise has pulled, from being the first to realize European players could star in the NHL, to building our entire first line after the 150th pick. In fact, the greater the difficulty, the greater this team has shined. After trading our 1st and 2nd round picks in 1999 to get Chelios, the Wings still pulled the best player out of that draft, Zetterberg, at 210. Having sent away the 1st and 2nd picks in '04 for Schneider, the Wings' first pick -- 3rd round, 97th overall -- brought us the Mule, Johan Franzen. And in another draft where the Wings had no 1st round selection, we now have six, maybe seven guys on track to play in the NHL.

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