Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Its Getting Drafty In Here

by Anne

Paul Hamilton discussed on WGR that the Sabres are decidedly anti-European, and its hard to disagree with that sentiment. There are precious few Sabres draft prospects that do not hail from this continent. The majority of our highest ranked prospects are Canadian and American, with the exceptions of Dennis Persson and Jhonas Enroth, among others. But, is this really a significant parameter for discussing the potential for success within the Sabres prospects?

It would seem that the argument for drafting European players is the luck and skill that has mixed together to form the Detroit Red Wings drafting in the last decade. Players like Zetterburg and Datsyuk were drafted very late in the draft (179th and 210th overall respectively) and have become NHL superstars. Detroit struck gold with these two, among many others they've drafted and, when looking at their track record, its hard to disagree that Europeans are the way to go when drafting.

BUT! (There's always a BUT) The 2007 Stanley Cup Champions, the Anaheim Ducks were helmed by one Mr. Brian Burke who has developed a reputation as being anti-European and pro-North American. When reviewing the 2007 Stanley Cup winning team roster we find three European players: Ilya Bryzgalov, Teemu Selanne and Sammy Pahlsson. The entire defense corps was Canadian, the Forwards consisted of four Americans, Selanne, Pahlsson and the rest were Canadian. There's no doubt that Teemu Selanne is and was a huge part of their offense, but, as we can see, clearly the European factor was almost non-existent, even with The Finnish Flash at the helm.

This year's Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins' heritage breakdown goes as follows: Europeans - 5, Americans - 4, Canadians - 13.

The point I'm trying to make is that, just because Detroit happens to have a helluva lot of Europeans and they're good, doesn't mean that one MUST have a Euro-centric team in order to win a Stanley Cup. Talent, skill, leadership, grit and heart can be found around the world, not just in Sweden.

When a team finds these diamonds in the rough, it is to be commended. However, Datsyuk and Zetterberg are most certainly rare players that flew well under the radar and Detroit got a huge return on their investment.

There have been attempts by other NHL teams to capture the same success with less thrilling results. (See: Brunnstrom, Fabian).

So, when the Sabres choose their 13th overall pick if its Simon Despres (D - Canada - St. John Sea Dogs) or Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D - Sweden - Leksand) I hope they choose the better player. Oliver gets my vote because he and Ryan Miller have the same birthday. This is my extremely scientific drafting process, I hope you enjoy it.

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Glossary... Sort of

  • "Ryan Miller Shutout" - A 58 minute, multi-goal shutout lead that is blown when Miller allows one meaningless goal
  • Britney or SabreBritney - Thomas Vanek
  • Butter Snaps - Carolina Hurricanes. Because Butter Snap pretzels, like the Carolina Hurricanes, are disgusting
  • Greener - MATT Greene (LAK)
  • JBG - Jolly Blonde Giant - Tyler Myers
  • Little Foot - Drew Stafford
  • MK - Anne's sister; often leaves nonsensical comments under her Twitter name Mmmkizzle
  • Oscar - Anne's cat

Because it's never not funny

Completely adorable