2009: A Hockey Odyssey

Matt Bugg

2007-03-31

Tavares

 

Stop reading now if your stomach cringes every time you hear the word '15 year-old phenom'. Allow someone else the bandwith to enjoy the absolute buffet of riches the NHL will feast on in just a few years.

The 2008 and 2009 NHL Entry Drafts will mark the coming of a new age of scoring dominance. With kids growing to bigger and bigger heights at younger ages, and NHL-calibre development programs available to youth hockey, the next breed of superstars will come into the league quicker and with a bigger impact than ever before. Forget wider nets: the solution to the Dead Puck Era is here, and it's all thanks to some freakishly good genes.

 

 

2008

2008 is the year of the defenseman. In fact, there's an extremely good possibility four of the top five picks next year are defensemen. Why? Well, ask yourself this: what three qualities would you want in a New NHL player? Speed is desirable. And offensive skill. And hey, throw some size on there, too. That's just what the top blueliners in '08 have to offer. Four of the top six defensemen in this draft are 6'3 or bigger at age 17, and each one can skate with those six inches smaller.

1. Drew Doughty (OHL, Guelph Storm)
6'0, 185 lbs/Born December 8th, 1989

One of the oldest players in his draft class, Doughty is nevertheless an exceptional talent. He would be a top-three pick this year if eligible. As a sophmore with the Storm, the bluechip rearguard led the team in assists (53) and points (74), and finished third in goals on the squad with 21. An exceptionally intelligent player, Doughty's ability to command both ends of the ice is rare among forwards, let alone defensemen. A 100 point season is not out of the question next year as the team will continue to rely on his rapidly maturing game.

2. Alex Pietrangelo (OHL, Mississauga Ice Dogs)
6'3, 192 lbs/Born Jan 18, 1990

Drawing comparisons to Nick Lidstrom, Alex Pietrangelo is another rearguard with the rare ability to dominate both offensively and defensively. A ridiculous +40 on the season while also compiling 52 points in 59 games, Pietrangelo plays a physical game, but does so within the rules as his 45 PIM indicate. A long reach and excellent first pass complete the package.

3. Yann Sauve (QMJHL, Saint John Sea Dogs)
6'3, 212 lbs/Born Feb 18, 1990

Similar to Pietrangelo in overall ability, Sauve was not able to contribute as quickly in his rookie major junior season due in part to the terrible team on which he played. However, an 80+ point campaign is not out of the question for the physical, offensively gifted defenseman.

4. Michael Del Zotto (OHL, Oshawa Generals)
6'0, 190 lbs/Born June 24th, 1990

Another gem from the Ontario League, Mike Del Zotto chipped in 57 points as a rookie defenseman. Known for his big, accurate point shot, superb agility and great puckhandling, Del Zotto is the perfect powerplay quarterback. Every touch of the puck can become something dangerous. Case in point: during the Gold Medal game of the Canada Winter Games, the creative rearguard received the puck at the blueline, and surprised Manitoba's goalkeeper with a textbook wrister.

5. Luke Schenn (WHL, Kelowna Rockets)
6'3, 209 lbs/Born November 2nd, 1989

The class of the WHL's 2008-eligible rearguards, big Luke Schenn uses every inch and pound on every shift. On first glance, his 29 points as a WHL sophmore don't compare to his peer blu