Anaheim calling to the hockey world...
A space has opened up on my prospects list, as the Ducks sent Logan MacMillan home after he was caught driving under the influence and driving without a license. The arrest came shortly after the Bakersfield Condors placed Anaheim's 2007 1st Round pick on the IR with a bout of back spasms. As my ranking rubric factors in skill, developmental progress and the player's relationship with the organization, and MacMillan has morphed into a defensive winger, held virtually scoreless in the ECHL and sent home by the Ducks for 'personal reasons' following his arrest, I think his days of cracking my Top 20 are over.
Despite being a young franchise, the Ducks have had their share of 1st Round busts (Alexei Smirnov, Michael Holmqvist, and Stanislav Chistov), but Logan MacMillan would be the first to bust without seeing a single regular season NHL shift. Daniel, based on the limited information we have, do you think we've heard the last of Logan MacMillan?
I think this is game over for Logan MacMillan as a Duck for two main reasons: he's easily replaceable, and a message needs to be sent. First, guys like Logan are a fungible good in today's NHL. There's always a forward with size who can be taught to be defensively responsible as long as he doesn't have a bag of rocks between his ears. I'm not happy that we have one more 1st Round bust, but maybe this will teach us to take a chance on skill instead of always drafting size in the 1st round. Furthermore, as we've been complaining about for a little while now, Murray seems to have little patience when it comes to developing talent; MacMillan might be sold away for a draft pick or something, but I don't think Murray will ever allow him to wear a Ducks sweater.
That brings me to my second point, a message needs to be sent. Hockey isn't like other sports. There aren't nearly as many stories about rookies gone wild as there are in the NBA and NFL. However, it's best to let everyone know that when you come into this organization, these things will not be tolerated and we expect a certain level of maturity and the comportment of a professional, regardless of age. Even in our current prospect pool, that message is valuable. I know we can't confirm what happened with Kyle Palmieri and the US Development Team, but setting rumors aside, it was the sort of situation that could be avoided. And I think Palmieri could benefit from the message that you have to put your career first if you want to make money playing hockey.
I feel badly for Logan. I'm not a scout, but everything I've seen has led me to believe that this kid shouldn't have had to shoulder the pressure that comes with being a 1st round pick, and it looks like he succumbed to that pressure and made a bad decision that's going to cost him his career as a Duck.
I have to say that I feel badly for him, too, and I feel that this is the end of what could have been a quiet but successful hockey career. It's tough for any player that has a breakout year on the blade of another player's stick, but MacMillan's star has fallen steadily from there. They seemed to give up on him as a scorer in the juniors, trading him to Rimouski as a checker. And he seemed to give up on himself in the pros, as he was invisible on the scoresheet in the ECHL. The 1M/yr. contract he signed must seem like a dream to him now.
I don't know why he got behind the wheel of a car without his license and with too much alcohol in his blood, but I wouldn't blame him if he was wallowing in his disappointment and made a stupid mistake. There's certainly enough in his hockey career right now to occupy his liver when you factor his recent back spasms into an equation that already includes two disappointing seasons. At the end of the day, I don't know if it was maturity or substance abuse or if he just got caught on a bad night-- that would be par for the course in his career so far --, but no matter what, this should spell the end of his time in an organization where he was already having trouble on the ice.
Anaheim has recently focused on drafting size, because if the rest of a young man's toolkit vanishes, size will still guarantee you an NHL checker. But I think they should focus more closely on the interview portion of the Combine, especially after this experience, i.e. if the rest of a young man's toolkit vanishes, can he deal with the disappointment of not living up to his own hype? Last year, the Ducks were willing to select a size player whose attitude was a turn-off in the interview room when they drafted Peter Holland. And though they may be fine with it if he busts as an NHL scorer, they have to ask themselves, will HE be fine with it?