Recently, NHL.com asked two scouts, one from the Western Conference and one from the Eastern Conference, to compose their own mock draft boards. The Western scout said the Ducks should select Riley Sheahan, whom he gave Getzlaf-ian potential, at 12th, and the Eastern scout said we should pick Kirill Kabanov at 12th, reasoning that with two picks, you gotta gamble on what could be a homerun.
Now, I don't usually give much creedence to the NHL.com draft boards, but I went out of my way to call these picks insightful (read depressing) on The OC Register message boards, because they key in on a rather peculiar trait that Director of Amateur Scouting Martin Madden put on display last year: he's not afraid of Anti-hype.
When the Ducks selected Peter Holland and Kyle Palmieri, both had run into some draft-year issues: Gare Joyce reported that Peter Holland, who had already gotten a "consistency issues" tag from scouts, interviewed poorly at the Combine and Kyle Palmieri was surrounded by off-ice trouble. Still, Madden and Murray picked both players where they projected before whispers of anti-hype surrounded them. And that penchant for the 'homerun pick,' that tendency to go for players that have only one thing, sometimes only one off-ice thing, going against them was true for the entire Ducks board last year: Igor Bobkov (lacking in technique), Sami Vatanen (lacking in size) and Radolsav Illo (lacking in draft year playing time).
Unfortunately, it's too early to tell if these baseballs have left the park. But Holland and Palmieri specifically haven't defied critics since leaving the Draft stage. Holland faced his first major injury this year, but when he did play, it was troubling how much line chemistry seemed to be the cause and the cure for his production troubles. Palmieri found some new and more serious off-ice trouble that may put his future at Notre Dame into doubt.
And sitting next to Palmieri in that squad car? Why, it's the aforementioned Riley "future Getzlaf" Sheahan. In an interview with USCHO today, Sheahan said he is trying to move on from the embarrassing incident, and for Sheahan, who was not accused of resisting arrest like Palmieri, that certainly seems possible. Ultimately, though, his on-ice issues create the bigger risk. Unlike Kabanov, I didn't see Sheahan projected at 12th all that often this season, and that's mostly due to a less than prolific campaign with Notre Dame. He flashed the occasional scoring chance, but even if there wasn't an embarrassing arrest to smooth over, 12th would mean the team really liked him, not that he was the best player available at that spot.
The idea of picking Kirill Kabanov at 12th was once a given, but it now seems ludicrous, especially after The Hockey News reported today that he and CAA agent J.P. Barry are parting ways. For those not following Kabanov's story, since extricating himself from the KHL, he's now managed to get dropped by Moncton of the QMJHL, the Russian national team and CAA.
But a quote by Tim Burke seems to put things in perspective:
"The kid's got a gift, he can score goals," San Jose Sharks Director of Scouting Tim Burke told NHL.com. "Sometimes with goal scorers you have to put up with that a little bit." - ibid
After getting swept by the Blackhawks and starving without a first-round pick for two years, the Sharks now sit 28th in the Draft order. And while Burke may not be tipping his hand, he could be echoing a sentiment felt by many of the teams that pick before the Ducks' 29th/30th position.
So the danger isn't so much that Martin Madden will value Kabanov or Sheahan at 12th best in the pool, but that he'll be keen on picking one of them and won't think they'll drop to 29/30. For my money, even at 29/30, these players seem like a risky pick, but I would have picked John Moore or Jordan Schroeder ahead of Peter Holland, so you really can't go by me. Madden's a guy who likes to like the guys that nobody likes. Right now, those guys are Kabanov and Sheahan.