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McKenzie: Draft class showed its depth

Bob McKenzie
6/21/2008 12:33:38 AM
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Friday marked the first time I've worked a draft with Pierre McGuire when he didn't go off on somebody for making an absolutely terrible pick, and that's because the depth in this draft pool was very good. We had many more positives than negatives to report on this group of prospects.

This draft was also a reflection of what the new NHL is all about. Some would say it's for the better, while others would say it's merely different than it used to be. What am I talking about?  Just take a look at some of the players taken in the first round. More specifically, look at the size of these players.

Zack Boychuk (5-foot9 and 175 pounds); Erik Karlsson (5-foot-10 and 157 pounds); Mattias Tedenby (5-foot-9 and 165 pounds); Jordan Eberle (5-foot-10 and 174 pounds); Tyler Ennis (5-foot-8 and 153 pounds); and Daultan Leveille (6-feet and 160 pounds).

There's not a lot of size there, not a lot of strength.  Some of them will fill out a bit eventually, but that's not what they are about.  The speed and skill of those players is off the charts.

Will they all develop into National Hockey League players?  That's hard to say, but when you look at the Anaheim Ducks and some of the big players they run out there, you see that these smaller players will have an uphill battle to make it.

The fact they were taken in the first round, though, is recognition that they've got more than a fighting chance in the new NHL.

Get ready to see Stamkos

How soon can Steven Stamkos make a difference in Tampa Bay? Next season, absolutely.

We saw Patrick Kane step in and make a big difference for the Chicago Blackhawks last season, and we saw Sam Gagner step in and make a big difference for the Edmonton Oilers. There's no reason that Stamkos can't do the exact same thing. He's got the same offensive ability that both of those players have, but he's bigger, stronger, faster, and more committed without the puck. He's the total package.

I don't want to say Stamkos almost ended up being an after thought in this draft, because he went first overall, but because there were so many trades and he was the obvious number one for so long, I'm not sure he fully got his due.

The Trades

Pierre loved the Florida-Phoenix trade for both teams, and we must have taken our happy pills because I can't find anything wrong with what the Calgary Flames or the Montreal Canadiens did, either.

Alex Tanguay goes to the Canadiens, and I've got to believe that he can have an impact in their lineup. I think he'll play higher in the lineup and get better opportunities in Montreal than he did in Calgary. Bob Gainey was looking for exactly that type of player.

As far as Mike Cammalleri goes, he's younger, he's cheaper, and he will step into the Flames lineup and energize them with some offence.

I think Montreal and Calgary are both better teams today than they were yesterday.

Bob McKenzie

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