Welcome back. I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that, even though I may not like dogs - like, at all - the moment it becomes in any way viable I'm buying a puppy solely so I can name it Luke Chien. Now, I wouldn't dare suggest it's a superior name to Wendel Bark, as I prefer my blood still in my circulatory system, but it has to be considered a very close second for three reasons. First, it will damn near ensure my puppy rules the dog park as, after the first time he destroys a bigger dog, nobody will step to the Canine Eraser. Second, it is not only a Leaf-themed pun, it's a bilingual Leaf-themed pun. Third, my girlfriend suggested it, meaning that my campaign to make her a fan has progressed from ‘general disinterest in hockey' to ‘active lusting over some of the hunkier players'. Unfortunately, I've hit a stumbling block because she looked upon Luke Schenn and not only is not pregnant, but also admitted he's not her type. Obviously, I had to beat her with a belt until she retracted her statement. "Not her type", I ask you.
Anyway, enough of this. Onto 2007.
I will say now that, regardless of who we picked, it's going to be damn near impossible for 2007 to work out well because we didn't have a first or second round pick, as they were traded to San Jose in the deal that brought D.S. Toskala to Toronto and could easily be interpreted as having lost us Logan Couture in the bargain, making it the gift that just keeps on giving. Note also that Mark Bell was included in the deal as a salary throw-in, implying that both parties believed Toskala was actually worth MORE than two top-fifty picks. We laugh at Colorado's trade for Semyon Varlamov, but I don't think we should ever be allowed without also flagellating ourselves for that monstrosity. Still, I think suffering together has brought us closer as a community, and might explain why FLYERROB is outstaying his welcome because Philadelphia have been strong as long as I can remember. Also, because he's irritating.
One last thing - as the drafts get closer to the present day, the amount I can really write about some of these guys will get smaller because they're increasingly likely to be household names here. In particular, commenting on who's still on the board will be rather tricky in the lower rounds because four years is still not enough time to identify lower-round gems.
Round 3, #74 Overall - Dale MITCHELL
Little-known fact, the only clothing Dale Mitchell owns that is not a hockey uniform are a dozen Vault Dweller-esque jumpsuits in a variety of colours. He has been known to claim they make his calves look less fat than regular pants. He pairs them with jewellery taken from one of Mr. T's many recent yard sales for what he describes as the ‘apocalypse chic' look. He went through a phase wherein he became convinced his own feet did not exist when they were not wearing skates and insisted teammates carry him everywhere, but snapped out of this in a heartwarming scene where he realises he, too, can walk. ‘Mitch', as uncreative teammates have undoubtedly nicknamed him by completely ignoring the possibilities inherent in "Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers", is far from a highly-ranked prospect but is likely to be a Marlies mainstay for a good few years.
Still On The Board: In what is going to be a thing for this year, there are few players below him who've distinguished themselves. No names really jump out at me bar Nick Palmieri (79).
Verdict: Too young to call, but it's looking like Be26 2.0 will look at this pick and call it a bust, or whateve the appropriate Chinese phrase is because I'll be living under their brutal totalitarian rule.
Round 4, #99 Overall - Matt FRATTIN
1 GP - 0 + 0 = 0, -1, 0 PIM
I'd like to complain that the proposal to nickname him ‘Lawnmower Man' never seemed to get anywhere. Bridging the gap of lunacy between Darcy Tucker and Rad Boss quite nicely, most people not regulars here may remember Frattin from the time we found a way to break the fan voting portion of the Hobey Baker award and another university flipped their shit about it. Although he didn't take the win in the end - that went to Andy Miele, whose unadvertised and totally bitching bonus prize was to hang with Paul Bissonnette for as long as they're both Coyotes - general consensus was and is that Frattin is the better player, particularly since his senior season numbers translate to a 46-point NHL season if the Desjardins NHL equivalency numbers still hold. Also, if you spell his name wrong it comes out as Farttin, means he's destined to play opposite Greg McKegg some day.
Still On The Board: Although he's obviously unproven, I'm not seeing anybody I'd consider a better prospect anywhere in the round. Keith Aulie (116) is the closest, which is awesome.
Verdict: Provisionally speaking he's a win, based on the fact he hasn't proven anything yet. I'm still happy with the pick nonetheless.
Round 4, #104 Overall - Ben WINNETT
Winnett is another one of those picks who's committed to going to college regardless of whether they get drafted but, based on his numbers while playing with Michigan, he really looks like a questionable pick - he didn't top fourteen points in the four years he spent there, meaning the Salmon Arm Silverbacks still have precisely one player who came from there and made anything of himself (Travis Zajac). Swing and a miss, front office.
Still On The Board: See Frattin, minus the bits about considering anybody a better prospect.
Verdict: Bust. He's yet to prove himself at any level and it's unlikely he will.
Round 5, #137 Overall - Juraj MIKUS
Juraj "The Other" Mikus, as nobody calls him, has the honour of being one of two Slovakian Juraj Mikus to have played somewhere in American hockey; while the original was a centre drafted by Los Angeles who's now playing in the KHL, this iteration is still in America. He played two more years in the Slovak leagus with Trencin Dukla after being drafted before jumping to the Marlies in 2009 and immediately putting up by far his best offensive numbers. Yet to play a full season, he's nonetheless seen as a prospect with a definite chance of making waves even if he can't break out of the logjam of defensive prospects we can currently boast. I would support a movement to rename him ‘Mulligan', because I'm dorky and enjoy golfing-based jokes. The above picture is also terrifying in a way I've not felt since the last time I watched anything David Lynch has ever been involved with.
Still On The Board: A lot of players with time spent in the AHL.
Verdict: I'd call this a win. Mikus is a competent player and, if our defensive depth is such that he's being held in the Marlies, I consider that a good thing.
Round 6, #164 Overall - Chris DIDOMENICO
DiDomenico, in many ways, is like the modern-day Karel Pilar. The Score had an excellent article about the guy in March last year, entitled ‘The Value of Perseverance', talking about his career and the injury he suffered in the 2009 QMJHL playoffs - for those of you not around for that, he was chasing an iced puck but was sent into the end boards and broke both his femur and his kneecap. That he's even playing hockey is a phenomenal feat, and it's hard not to root for the guy because he was also outperforming his sixth-round draft slot by quite a margin when it happened. Sadly, it seems that he's regressed quite a bit since then and was part of the Kris Versteeg deal - he's currently in Rockford, still plugging away, and I'm still rooting for him to make it to the show one day.
Still On The Board: Blake "Sure I'm As Good As Phil Lol" Kessel (166). Ridiculous picks aside, none of the names elsewhere in the round jump out at me.
Verdict: Push. He might not make it, but in his case it's not because of a lack of talent.
Round 7, #194 Overall - Carl GUNNARSSON
111 GP - 7 + 28 = 35, -2, 24 PIM
I was planning on asking BCapp to use this space to explain why Gunnar is superior to Keith Aulie, as he promises in his signature, but I couldn't be arsed to get hold of him. All you need to know is that I like Gunnar, the boy's got swagger. I mean, here he's clearly just ruined somebody's day and he's faking like he's sorry about it but he totally isn't. He's a shifty bastard. He'll invite you in to take the puck from him then you'll look down and realise you're trying to stickhandle with NOTHING as he's sprung Phil Kessel for another goal. You'll realise you fucked up and you will feel bad about yourself, and rightfully so.
Still On The Board: Paul Postma (205), who is in a similar situation in Winnipeg to the one Gunnar has here. He's seen as a talented prospect, but at the moment he's having trouble cementing a place on the roster. We're ahead because Postma has so far been unable to make the Jethrasher roster bar one game at the end of last year.
Verdict: A good win. When your seventh-round pick could be the best player of your draft class, your year has either been shitty or that guy's been a real surprise. With Gunnar, I'm fervently hoping it's the latter.
Career Players: Gunnarsson will and I'd put money on Frattin reaching that level as well. Can't say I'd back any of the others.
Verdict: I did say I was judging this draft pretending the Toskala fiasco didn't happen and, if you pretend we were simply penalised our top two picks for, say, brushing lightly past Gregory Campbell, our haul is pretty good for a team that didn't pick until midway through the third round. That there are no obviously bad picks, where we left somebody on the board who made us look foolish for doing it, is icing on the cake. I couldn't give this an A in good conscience because I think you need to come away with a bit more than we did - after all, this draft was four years ago - but a B is hardly chopped liver.