I just wanted to throw in my two cents on Murray's comments on the 05-07 Drafts.
First off, I seriously doubt that Murray is in any way questioning Brian Burke with those comments. The '05, '06 and '07 drafts were the tail end of Alain Chainey's decade at the helm of the Anaheim draft boards as the organization's Director of Amateur Scouting. The club demoted Chainey in 2008 in favor of former Hurricanes scout and QMJHL specialist, Martin Madden. Murray's statements are likely an indictment of Chainey's performance at the end of his tenure as Director, as well as a reinforcement of the notion that the general manager's office made the right change by installing Madden.
It's cute to go back and look at NHL games played and, with the value of hindsight, refer to drafts as "bad." And I'm sure that's what Murray's doing, but I thought I would give a few of my notes on some of the players Anaheim drafted in those years, especially the good picks.
Bobby Ryan - Burke was vocal about the fact that this pick belonged to Chainey and company. And rightfully so, because Bobby Ryan is not a "Burke-pick." Should the organization have gone with Jack Johnson, who came to the Draft in his maize and blue necktie to reinforce the message that he was playing for Michigan and NOT an NHL team in the coming season? Meh. Ultimately, Ryan was the only star forward in the cupboard between the NHL debut of Getzlaf and Perry and the moment the Ducks picked Emerson Etem.
Brendan Mikkelson - Who did I like? Future WCHA forwards Ryan Stoa, Mason Raymond and Paul Stastny. But the Ducks were looking defense. The blueline diamond in the rough of that second round turned out to be Vlasic, who had a good year and playoffs prior to the Draft but nowhere near the level of his breakout year the following season. Ultimately, the Ducks went with talent (a common tiebreaker), as Mikkelson was the best skating defenseman available at that point.
Jason Bailey and Bobby Bolt - The forward depth had thinned considerably at this point, but I think what's notable about these picks is that, in these rounds, Tim Burke of San Jose picks Alex Stalock and the Kings find Jonathan Quick in Avon Old Farms. Francois Allaire had been lauded for providing irreplaceable goaltending evaluation and scouting, and these were rounds where, if the Ducks weren't insistent on forwards, there were gems to be had, especially at a position where Anaheim seemed to sleep in the Allaire years.
Brian Salcido - Despite playing at Shattuck St. Mary's with his more famous draft classmates and having a good career in Colorado, Salcido was probably drafted for the city on his birth certificate (Los Angeles). He was ushered into and out of the Anaheim system rather quickly, and it felt like a PR stunt.
Jean-Philippe Levasseur - and then they picked a goalie.
Mark Mitera - I interviewed Mitera after his first year in the pros, which sadly found him in Bakersfield. The 2006 Draft class saw a lot of bad luck, but Mitera got the worst of it. He blew out his knee at the beginning of his senior season. Then, to make matters worse, after an entire year away from hockey, he was sent to the ECHL while the Ducks scrambled to address their lack of a minor league affiliate.
This was a great pick, as the Ducks went shopping in a program that had done wonders for Matt Hunwick and Jack Johnson, and plucked the team's sturdiest shutdown defenseman and a player whose character put a C on his chest. A healthy Mitera who got to start his pro career in the AHL might have been quite the NHLer.
Bryce Swan - A physical forward, I would definitely call this a "Burke-pick," as far as the GM's guidelines for the pugnacity and truculence that he wants in his cupboard. Swan suffered a laundry list of injuries after being drafted, but the Ducks still liked him. He just refused to sign a contract. Not everyone wants to play in the NHL. It would have been nice to draft Milan Lucic, the physical forward that Draft buzz had sneaking into the top two rounds, and I'm surprised neither Burke nor Chainey was swept up in Lucic-fever, but they liked Swan more.
John de Gray - There were scouting reports that said that, but for a lack of offensive production from the blueline, John de Gray was a first-rounder. That's not the kind of player you can really regret picking in the third round, especially when all of ONE of the subsequently picked defensemen in that draft has managed a multi-season NHL career.
Matt Beleskey - Definitely a Burke-pick. Bulls captain, plenty of grit, plenty of character. His skating ability kept him available in the 4th Round, but you figured he could work on that, and he did. The Ducks got exactly what they hoped here.
Petteri Wirtanen - The Ducks took a shot in the dark with a small-ish forward. They might have seen a better return with even smaller forward Benn Ferriero, who Tim Burke and the Sharks took in the seventh round. But Wirtanen was a reasonable shot in the dark and a late rounder that the organization liked enough to actually sign and develop for a season. It's worth noting that current Ducks Director of Amateur Scouting Martin Madden has gone with college players as his final picks in the last two seasons, which is why I made specific note of Tim Burke's approach, as that has worked out for the Sharks on numerous occasions.
Logan MacMillan - This was a bad pick, but it was also a pick that Burke created. Anaheim did not have a first round draft pick. Burke packaged together 2003 8th rounder Shane O'Brien with a third round pick to get a first rounder out of Tampa. Does the fact that the Ducks weren't even supposed to be there that day mean that they should have wasted the pick? No, but you can certainly imagine parallel dimensions where this scouting failure never came to light. Also, we can all imagine a scouting staff that had no problem saying they liked Logan MacMillan more than Max Pacioretty or David Perron.
He had a run-in with the law at the start of his pro career, but MacMillan's ultimate failing was that he was never as good offensively as his numbers indicated. With his stats inflated by linemate Jakub Voracek, MacMillan made it into the first round discussion, but he was just never going to be a first-round player.
Eric Tangradi - If the Ducks never picked in the first round, I think Burke still would have gotten his man in Tangradi. I said it was a mistake to trade him when Murray shipped him to Pittsburgh, and most agree that Murray was thoroughly fleeced in that deal. A Tangradi concussion on a suspension-drawing hit may keep the spotlight from ever thoroughly shining on Murray's mistake, but despite Murray's failure to properly VALUE Eric Tangradi, the power forward was a second round steal. (read the link for details on him, and look up the DiDomenico video if you can...priceless)
Maxime Macenauer - A little bit of speed, a little bit of scoring ability and a whole lot of gamble. There were no guarantees with Macenauer, but the fact that he's still in the cupboard-- and the team's first rounder from this year isn't --bodes pretty well for the scouting department's performance in this draft.
Justin Vaive - As far as gigantic players, whose fathers played the NHL game and were attending good college programs, Justin Vaive was a good pick. Might he just as easily have come to nothing and ended up in the ECHL. Well, yeah, but Anaheim had three more picks that round (the 4th), and the thinking was sound.
Steven Kampfer - One of the greater tragedies in Ducks' draft history, Kampfer suffered a criminal injury on the ice and a criminal injury off the ice. The physical toll alone could have ended his hockey career, but each injury came with mental effects as well. Still, he followed through with his NHL dream and got a Stanley Cup ring, even if his name wasn't engraved on the trophy. A good pick, and a player teams still wanted despite the tragedies that derailed his development.
Sebastian Stefaniszin and Mattias Modig - The Ducks finished the 4th round with two netminder picks. Goalie development is akin to pitcher or quarterback development. There is no science, and the mental aspects of the position can bust even the most talented players. Still, it's worth noting that Modig is good; he just didn't want to play for us.
Brett Morrison - Fun fact: Brett Morrison and Bryce Swan played together at St. Francis Xavier University last year and for the two years prior to that. Sometimes you blow a second round pick on a guy, and he ends up in the same place as a fifth-round throwaway.
The draft is a funny thing. I don't know if you ever really have 'good' or 'bad' ones. Bad things certainly happen to your players. Luck strikes both ways-- on draft day and in the subsequent developing years. Were there bad investments in the '05, '06 and '07 Ducks drafts? Yes . . . and for every draft before and after that. But there was very little in the way of Ponzi schemes and investment in Buggy Whip futures. Possibly nothing that would alleviate any blame falling on the current regime, especially when the current regime shipped many of the tangible and still valuable assets of the prior regime out-- Tangradi, Gardiner, etc.