Cream of the Crop Pt. 1

Dobber Sports

2008-10-25

It's an ever-important question: which team drafts the best? Which team has the best depth at each position? Such knowledge can be invaluable when it comes time to draft and you've gone blank. How do all 30 teams stack up? Find out in Part 1, a look at the Central Division talent pools.

 

The following was assessed by drawing a grade for each player based on five factors: what I feel their potential is, how they're doing this year, what league they're playing in, and finally their age. This analysis was done only on players who've a) played fewer than ten NHL games and b) on players drafted since 2005. There some exceptions- both to this rule and the scoring matrix- but a full explanation can be found shortly on my blog.

The Grades

3.7-4.0- Can't miss, should be in the NHL, prospect. No 4.0 grades were given out as talent like this is in the NHL (i.e. Filatov) .
3.6- Guaranteed second liners, maybe more (i.e. MaxPacs, Lars Ellers)
3.3-3.5- Guys that will be gone in your keeper leagues (i.e. Ted Purcell)
3.2- The majority of prospects you'll find in your keeper league. They vary in traits (safe vs. high impact), but all have about the same worth.
3.0- Players on the bubble. These prospects are usually drafted by keeper GMs because they feel 'good' about them based one or two attributes (i.e. Jared Staal).

But now back to the fun stuff. Each team presents their five best forwards, three best defenders and two best goalies. Teams with depth beyond this have been rewarded by having all players with a grade of 3.0 and above included in the average for that position.

The Contenders

As mentioned, the first installment will take a look at the Central Division. Long known as the punching bag for the Detroit Red Wings, that perspective has changed gradually as the expansion teams abound have begun to figure out drafting.

Nashville

C Colin Wilson 3.6
C Nick Spaling 3.4
C Cal O'Reilly 3.4
RW Andreas Thuresson 3.2
LW Mark Santorelli 3.0

D Jonathan Blum 3.4
D Cody Franson 3.4
D Roman Josi 2.75

G Chet Pickard 3.5
G Jeremy Smith 3.2

Comments:
While Nashville's defensive depth has slowly thinned out due to trades and roster needs, the Preds still maintain their requisite minimum of two stud young defenders plus one intriguing prospect. The team has added something new, though: future firepower. Patric Hornqvist is already in the NHL, and there's quite a bit of help to follow. The Preds will also have at least one number one goalie on the way in the form of 2008 first rounder Chet Pickard.

St. Louis

LW Lars Eller 3.6
RW Aaron Palushaj 3.4
C Phil McCrae 3.2
C Jori Lehtera 3.2
RW Simon Hjalmarsson 3.0
RW James Livingston 2 3 3 2 5 3.0
RW Nikolai Lemtyugov 3 5 4 2 1 3.0

D Ian Cole 3.6
D David Warsofsky 3.4
D Jonas Junland 3.25
D Kristoffer Berglund 3.2

G Jake Allen 3.5
G Ben Bishop 3.2

Comments:
Gone are the days when the team skipped or traded away entire drafts. In the 1990s, the odd gamer would come along, and that hasn't changed. But now there's a whole lot of depth. Patrik Berglund, T.J. Oshie and David Perron were just the first wave. On D, the team has a solid balance of two future PP QBs (Warsofsky and Cole) and two stay-at-homers. In goal, most teams would be crippled by having not one but two highly touted prospects flop (Marek Schwarz and Hannu Toivonen). St. Louis has been good at the plugging the hole cheaply and mostly effectively, and they'll have to do it for three or so more years before Jake Allen is ready.

Chicago

RW Igor Makarov 3.6
RW