Calgarypuck.com Future Watch
Movers and Shakers
Hockey players are, for the most part, drafted at the age of 18 and enter the consciousness of a NHL fan base with very little fan fare.
Hockey fans read magazines and prospect databases and key on the innocuous scouting quote, slap a label on a guy and then forget about him.
“Projects as a third line winger”
“Lacks the size to be an impact player”
Or … the dreaded Rico Fata death sentence.
“Lacks hockey sense”.
Through the process of ranking and rating prospects since 2000, we have the vantage point of seeing just how quickly things can change in the development course for these young protégés.
The top pick can stumble, be discarded by a fan base, then rebound and drive their fortunes right back into the heart of the NHL club's future plans. Similarly, a guy from later in the draft can turn the corner, make a World Junior team, and suddenly become a firm piece of the future puzzle.
Or in more simple terms, not every young player follows the path of Dion Phaneuf in getting drafted, immediately get tagged as a future star, and then not miss a beat all the way to a 20 goal rookie season.
With a missing year in the analysis due to a lockout, the number of players to appear in the data in both 2004 and 2006 is quite small.
However, of the select group that does appear in both instances, no one player saw his potential rating rise more than third round pick Dustin Boyd.
Boyd saw his stock rise by almost ¾ of a rating point, good for a move from a just average 3.28 to an impact expectation of 4.01. What makes the Boyd appreciation much sweeter is the fact that his selection was secured by trading down a few spots and drafting Kris Chucko in 2004.
Robyn Regehr's little brother Richie moved up almost a ½ rating point based on his showing with the big club this past season. Regehr has gone from a bubble player expectation to a guy that might actually be in the mix going forward.
Goaltender Curtis McElhinney rounds out the guys with the positive direction to their careers, with his second straight appearance on the positive list. McElhinney has gone from a 2003 rating of 2.67 to 2.88 in 2003 and now finally up another 1/3 of a point to 3.25 this year.
Taking on Water
In past seasons the dropping rating list has been a who's who of players on their way out of the Calgary prospect stable and into pro hockey obscurity, with names like Levente Szuper, Dmitri Kokorev, and Jamie Tardif leading the way.
If you were on this list, you were on the outs.
Although you never know what's around the corner for young players, this list appears to be more of an adjustment of potential and not a rapid decline leading to a departure from the system.
The biggest decline on the list is a fairly tame 1/3 point drop to that of Tim Ramholt, a player that has taken a hit because of his return to Switzerland and the potential of lost development time. Kris Chucko and Andrei Taratukhin take slight downgrades though they are both about to make their first appearances at an actual Flame camp, and the remainder of the list represents three of the young players with the best chance of cracking the fall lineup.
Are these players on the skids, about to be jettisoned from the club's prospect list in favour of more recent draft picks? I wouldn't count on it, with the team's organizational depth on the rise it's just a matter of a greater number of players picking up votes creating movement for all prospects in both directions. No players on the list in those two draft analysis editions have seen a dramatic fall to suggest big league concerns.
At least for this year.
The Krahn Case
As a subset to the Movers and Shakers summary, this year we'll tack on a detailed look at Brent Krahn, the only player to appear in all six prospect editions.
The Krahn case is a perfect example of patience and the winding road to a NHL job that some of these kids have to endure.
Taken 9th overall in 2000 right on the Saddledome floor, Brent Krahn has gone from an emerging young prospect to left for dead to back in the program, to a guy that many feel has been left on the shelf too long.
The final answer no Brent Krahn will be very interesting compared to the ratings he's received from Calgarypuck readers in the last six years.