If you just breeze through the current NHL stats you might be pleasantly surprised. The typical leaders Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and Patrick Kane are nowhere to be found after a few games played. Nope, instead it’s guys who can barley drive. In fact, only one player out of the top five in scoring can buy a drink. Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Leon Draisaitl, David Pastrnak won’t all be there for long but it just highlights the impact of today’s youth. Right out of the gate we have a monster career opener for Matthews, and historic season starts for McDavid. And I haven’t mentioned Vladimir Tarasenko who’s tied for third. He’s only 24, and ready to take off.
Look I know the season isn’t even a week old, and many of you will tell me to slow the bleep down. I hear ya, but the explosiveness of Matthews and McDavid is exactly why I preach patience. Sure the Oilers swung and missed a few times before McJesus was drafted, but everyone knew he’d become a star. Same for Buffalo with Jack Eichel, who’s banged up for awhile. Toronto got lucky as well with Matthews. If I said it before drafting first overall is a big deal. There has only been a few busts since 2000. I’m sure Rick DiPietro is sick of me reminding everyone.
The impact of a top pick is what Las Vegas needs. The impact on the ice and off it. Fans need a player they can grow with, and watch take over the team with time. Fans up in Edmonton have been waiting for this, and now Leaf fans can see the light as well. Look at the Coyotes and their potential. All three of these teams lost a lot of games, and have missed the playoffs for many years. I’m not suggesting the Knights tank, but a top five pick is a lot different than drafting 13th. The playoffs are exciting, but the conference finals is much more exciting.
Even GM George McPhee knows he can’t build a future through the expansion draft. McPhee joined Brian Blessing yesterday.
We’re not going to get a first line center or first line Defenseman in the expansion draft. We’re just not, but we can in the entry draft. –George McPhee
As history shows, you need a top line center to win the Stanley Cup. Take a look at the last four centers; Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar, and Patrice Bergeron. They’re franchise players that were all drafted top 11 or higher, with the exception of Bergeron. The Bruins scouting hit a home run drafting a franchise two-way center 45th overall. Take it even further, and past Cup winners have top defensive players as well. Which McPhee stressed he couldn’t address with expansion players.
We’re going to see some redistribution. Some teams aren’t going to allow us to take a a real good defensemen, real good forward, or goaltender when they can trade him to someone else for a draft pick or a young player. -McPhee
Deeper in the interview the GM made my day, explaining what’s best for the franchise.
Where we’re going to hit our home runs is in the Entry Draft. That’s really where you build your team. The Entry Draft is where we have to find those difference makers that you are not going to get in the Expansion Draft.
I know it’s a long season and I’m jumping the gun on today’s young players. It’s more about the impact, and excitement they bring to the arena. The sky’s the limit for McDavid and Matthews, even if it doesn’t mean the playoffs right now. The future is bright and that’s really all that matters. No reason to pressure the Knights to make the postseason right away. Top five picks are worth a lot more than a first round exit.