Tuesday, June 17, 2008

2008 Wrap - Tri-City

Tri-City Americans

Rare to see a team with only one NHL drafted player (T.J. Fast) be such a strong team as they were this season. They'll list a few more NHL picks on the roster next year, as the Ams should see three or four players called in Ottawa.

Chet Pickard: Bob Tory told me way back in September that he thought Pickard would be the top draft eligible goaltender in the WHL this year. (I had Holtby and DeSerres ahead of Pickard at that point). Bob was right. Pickard kept rising on my list all the way through the end. Since goaltender is the only position that NHL teams will draft for organizational need, it makes him a first round wildcard. Don't be shocked if he cracks the top ten. Scouts really think he's not that far behind where Carey Price was in his draft year. I think in the 10-20 overall range is most likely, and I'll be very surprised if he goes lower than 20. It's essentially impossible that he slides out of the first round completely.

Kruise Reddick: Many NHL teams like him much more than I do. So a 2nd or 3rd round selection isn't impossible. Worst case is probably the 4th or 5th round. He's a lock to go somewhere.

Tyler Schmidt: Not a guarantee to go, but might be a target for some teams beginning about the 4th round.

Eric Mestery: Is worth a middle or late gamble pick, but teams may wonder if there's any chance he develops in the next two years, when a team will have to decide whether to sign him or not. Has enough raw ability that I think he won't get completely passed over, but it's hard to guess where he could go. Last few rounds seems most likely to.

Others: Kyle Birch interested me a little bit in the couple times I saw him, but I doubt many NHL guys saw enough of him to show up on any lists. Joel Ridgeway is the Ams other first year eligible. He could end up being a decent junior player, but he's not a draft at this point. I toyed with putting pocket rocket Johnny Lazo on the end of my list at one point, but he just doesn't quite do enough to make up for the size problem. And an unwhelming playoff performance didn't help. Radek Meidl still has one of the most intriguing raw packages of size and skill in the league, but I think he'll get passed over again.

Looking Ahead to 2009: Adam Hughesman has quite a bit of skill and hockey sense, but he might have to improve his skating a bit to be a 1st or 2nd round candidate. Lane Werbowski looked very impressive the first time I saw him, but he's still a bit raw at this point. He will be worth seeing a lot of next season. And Mason Wilgosh plays with a lot of energy, but he might have to produce some points to get consideration from NHL scouts.

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