Newark Notes


Greetings from New York, where another gathering of the clans ended last night with little drama, at least relative to the buildup coming in. Of course, Canuck fans might quibble with that description, but their little psychodrama was very much the exception this weekend. After the jump, I’ll look at a few matters of note from the day’s proceedings.

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That relative calmness on the floor that I mentioned was in marked contrast to the desperate atmosphere that had allegedly been present amongst teams before the draft began. In fact, the absence of major player movement could lead a cynical person to believe there was a significant media industry specifically designed to use hype and storylines to make a few dollars out of the affair, even if it was occasionally at the expense of telling the truth. Hard to fathom, I know.

I should also stipulate that as much as I enjoy these get-togethers on a social level, the actual purpose of the event leaves me a bit uncomfortable. Allocating a teenager’s future based on the inverse competence of cartel members is understandable from a business standpoint, but I can’t defend it from a moral standpoint. I know wealthy old men have been taking advantage of the innocent potential of the young since approximately forever, and that North American pro sport operates explicitly on that very premise, but rewarding a poorly run business by forcing the best possible new employees to work for them for several years still seems not quite right.

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Flames: Mixed Bag

All that noted, I’m in charge of exactly nothing, and the method of doing business isn’t changing any time soon, so let’s leave it there and get on things, beginning with Jay Feaster’s somewhat erratic efforts. Like many of you, I left the arena with the feeling that roughly half his work on the draft floor appeared to have been up to standard, even while noting that no one really knows a damn thing about 18 year olds.

The Monahan pick was a chalk selection for an organization dying for a reliable top six forward, particularly after last year’s dice roll, so passing on Nichushkin in favour of the 67’s pivot seemed inevitable, however talented the Russian might prove to be. I do think it’ll work out, though, and there appears to be some statistical evidence in his favour.

As Eric T. noted the other day, Monahan faced ugly competition on a terrible team last year and survived. I suspect he might soon have the pleasure of repeating that experience soon enough in Calgary, but unless he’s really ready, he should spend next year in the OHL. The Flames might need to sell a bit of hope, but if their season ticket situation was so desperate that the club had to rush a kid to generate excitement, Ken King would be out of a job, and lord knows that isn’t the case, so letting him play one more year in junior’s probably the way to go.

Not picking Hunter Shinkaruk at 22 seemed really odd, given the mix of talent and local appeal he appears to have. I don’t doubt they have their reasons, and given how far he slid in the rankings over the season they clearly weren’t alone, but still, odd. It’s also plausible that they just liked Poirier better in the face of the general consensus, which might lead one back to the idea that the Flames think they’re the smartest guys in the room in terms of player assessment, even if that confidence appears somewhat misplaced given past results.

The Klimchuk pick, on the other hand, has the whiff of both of local appeal and sharp business about it. Like Monahan, he played on a crap-burger of a junior team and lived to tell the tale. Comparisons to Jordan Eberle’s circumstances with the Pats have been made, and while anyone hoping for that good an outcome is really asking for it, if he’s as well rounded a player as advertised, he might prove to be a useful add.

As for the rest, the picture selection on the earlier post for the Kanzig pick is a more eloquent statement than anything I could write on the matter, so I’ll just add that I hope it works in the face of the assembled evidence. Eric Roy might well end up the better prospect, and his selection was a proper gamble, in that he has talent, albeit somewhat unfocussed.

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That’s about it regarding about the Flames, and other than what now appears to be my annual discomfort with Kevin Cheveldayoff’s first round pick, the one other thing worth noting was the shambolic conclusion to the Luongo affair.

How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?

As a non-Canuck fan, schadenfreude has been pretty hard to resist in this case, because watching Vancouver bottle virtually every aspect of this situation has been utterly delicious. Fairness does compel me to note that the new CBA did add an extra impediment for Gillis, since he signed Lu’s deal under the old terms without having any reason to expect the cap recapture formula to exist. Still, that contract was always going to be hard to move under any scenario, and when confronted by circumstances that compelled them to try to move it, the Canucks were bitten.

The juicy part of all this isn’t the mechanics of trading Schneider for what turned out to be Bo Horvat, though, but the relationship that the team now has to repair with its former and future starting goalie. It’s hardly a secret that Luongo, at least publicly, has the reputation of being a bit more sensitive, or maybe simply a bit less openly callous, than your average athlete. In this case, if he’s feeling bent out of shape, it’s on the merits.

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It’s tempting for fans to think that a wealthy athlete should just move on when his team strings him along for a year or two while trying to maximize the return on a potential trade, but at some point, basic decency suggests he has at least some right to a bit of stability. The guy has a life, after all, and waiting this long for a conclusion would wear on the most patient person.

Luongo had every reason to presume he was going elsewhere next fall, and now, after reconciling himself to that fact, he and the Canucks are stuck with each other for the foreseeable future. Being told you aren’t wanted is a lousy feeling no amount of affluence can protect you from, so it’s obvious that Gillis and Aquilini will have to do some fairly extensive fence mending with him even when Lu gets over the initial shock.  

In the end, Luongo’s a pro, and it’s reasonable to expect him to get out of his funk and get on with things by the fall, but if he’s slightly resentful and untrusting of Canucks’ management and ownership for here on out, who’d blame him? I don’t think this particular issue alone will kill the Canucks, but there’s a chance that this combined with their other roster problems they face could cause them to take a step back, at least in the short term. Here’s hoping.

That’s all from here. As with my trip to watch the Jets in 2011, I spent the absolute minimum time possible in Newark, and it seems to have been as good a decision as before. New York’s pretty great, though, and if they have another one of these deals in the neighbourhood, I’m thinking I could be persuaded to come out of semi-retirement again.

  • Really like the Monahan & Klimchuk adds.

    These are the type of players we need more of in our system!

    Looking forward to Friday – hope we can make some decent additions to the roster and possibly part ways with Cammaleri for a prospect or two.

  • I looked more closely into Poirier and retract my cut down of the pick. He has high end skill, potential and compete level. He just keeps getting better. Many consider him to be a player who could very well crack the World Junior squad as well. I do need help liking the Klimchuk pick. Nothing I’ve seen or heard speaks of him becoming much more than a complementary player. I was hoping for Erne, Santini, Petan and a few other higher ceiling guys in this spot. Any thoughts as to why the Flames and many here like him so much?

  • No question the Flames have added some bullets. Well they got a little gun powder and a little lead at least. Nice to see Feaster has the gonads to go this direction instead of rebuilding!! When the Flames go deep into the playoffs this year Calgary will get the respect it deserves.

  • Derzie

    I still love how everyone says the flames think they are the smartest guys in the room about the whole Shinkaruk thing. But really how far did he fall before he was finally picked? So I guess we are tied with 12-14 other smartest gm’s? Our scouting staff is allowed to like certain players over others, just sayin…..again

  • Derzie

    Anyone else notice that the Flames might have had one of the oldest draft classes? Only 3 of the picks were actually born in ’95 (Klimchuk, Kanzig, Rafikov). Other than Gilmour (’93!!) the rest were ’94 birth dates.

    Just thought that was interesting/odd.

    I too am starting to come around on Poirier. It’s easy (and fun) to say I would have taken Hunter Shinkaruk. But as chillout is so fond of pointing out, there were 10 other teams (at least) that passed on him. One has to wonder why (at this point, though, it looks like Vancouver’s gain).

  • supra steve

    I know that there are a lot with the claim that the Flames staff “think they are the smartest guys in the room”, and are saying it in an unflattering way. Is that not what they are paid to try to be at the draft? In five years, we should have a better idea if they were even close to the smartest this year, but I do like the trend that they have set over the last few drafts.

  • MC Hockey

    People on here including me are not even close to understanding hockey players with the exception of some of the authors so its time for the “always complaining” guys to wake up and realize NHL scouting staffs have way more data, skill, and colleagues with which to make drafting decisions. And thus they are far more likely to get it right than us.