Ah, being to resigned to failure. While many of your fellow poolies will be gearing up for a league title, you, my failing friend, are at or very near to the bottom. Several individuals in the same boat have put out their plea for more information on some sneaky steals they can partake in at the draft table. I'm more than happy to oblige. Just suck less next year, will you?
Nick Dodge (6th Round, 183rd Overall by Carolina)
An overage choice in last year's edition of the Entry Draft, 5'10, 175 lbs Nick Dodge was taken after a spectacular performance for the ECAC's Clarkson Golden Knights. In 2005-06, the diminutive and dominant Dodge led the school in every major offensive catagory, finishing with 16 goals and 25 assists in 41 games. One year later, not much has changed. With seven games left on the schedule, Dodge is once again Clarkson's Knight in shining armor with 35 points in 31 contests. The slight right wing looks to cap off his NCAA career with his first 20-20 campaign, and move on to Hurricanes camp in the fall. A team known for having an offensively brilliant top-six, the Canes will give Dodge every chance possible to make a roster that thins out dramatically after those top two lines. With a good effort in camp, the 21 year-old stands a very good chance of replacing Chad Larose on the fourth line. However, if his team-leading eight powerplay goals are any indication, a spot on the second man-advantage unit is a very good possibility. As a rookie, 10-11-21 through 60 games is the least production you should see if Dodge adapts well to the NHL.
Bobby Hughes (4th Round, 163rd Overall by Carolina)
While the aforementioned Dodge and prospect power forward Andrew Ladd are offensively talented, both need a playmaking centreman to buoy their totals. Meet 19 year-old Bobby Hughes. Standing 5'11 and 170, the Richmond Hill native was an afterthought among scouts in 2006 due to seemingly poor defensive coverage and skating. A fourth-most 75 points for the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs wasn't enough to offset those concerns, and the dazzling playmaking centreman cratered as a result. Desperately seeking offensive firepower, the Carolina Hurricanes were in position to be picky, and promptly selected him in the 4th round. Since then, Hughes has performed a dramatic about-face, and has been without a doubt Kingston's best all-around forward. While a -3 isn't much to write home about, it stands out among a group of forwards who are a collective -42. In fact, that -3 is the best on the top line, with much-talked-about Chris Stewart and never-talked-about Peder Skinner being a -8 and -9 respectively. But +/- isn't what you should be looking at here. Hughes' 38 goals and 55 assists lead the Frontenacs in both catagories, and his 93 points is seventh-highest in the league. A great faceoff man to boot, there is clearly very little left for Hughes to learn in the O, and the Canes have taken notice. Coveted in their front office, the centreman could help form one of the most potent fourth lines if he makes the show out of camp and lines up with Ladd and Dodge. 25 points in the form of five goals and 20 assists will result if it happens.
Matt Marquardt (Round 7, 194th Overall, Columbus)
You know you have good scouts when: the forward you pick almost 200th in the draft, a forward who is 16th on his club in scoring, leads the team the next year in goals and points. Such is the case with 6'2, 222 lbs power winger Matt Marquardt. One of several project picks made every year, the Columbus Blue Jackets keyed in on not the staggering 16th place scoring finish, but on the 16 goals, 69 PIM and big frame Marquardt presented in 2006. Those 16 goals are now 36, a staggering 14 more than the nearest Moncton Wildcat, the power winger's QMJHL club. The next-nearest forward in team scoring? Phil Mangan, who has 50 points. Dominant on a very poor team, Marquardt will be in his element if a strong camp leads to a roster spot on the craptacular Blue Jackets. While 63 points in 61 games aren't exactly earth-shatteri