Let’s be frank. No one knows whether Everett had a good draft or not, and no one’s going to know for three years. Trying to predict the development and mindset of 14-year-old kids is not an exact science. History indicates that teams shouldn’t expect any more than three players from any draft to emerge as quality players in the league, and guessing who those might be is an effort in futility.
But there are two things about this year’s Everett draft I appreciate.
First, the Tips went in with a plan. Having talked to both general manager Doug Soetaert and director of player development Scott Scoville, Everett went into the draft with a primary goal of getting bigger and more mobile on defense. Everett’s never had much in the way of big, mobile defensemen, the guys like Kelowna’s 6-foot-7 Tyler Myers who are impossible to get around because of their length and mobility. But all four of Everett’s defensive picks are tall, rangy, mobile defensemen, including both first-round picks. So the Tips can put a check in that box.
Second, the Tips went for broke. I have a certain admiration for those who are willing to say, “go big or go home.” Everett decided to go big with the selection of defenseman Seth Jones 11th overall. Yes, there’s the risk that Jones will never play in Everett. But the potential payoff is getting maybe the best player in the draft, and since the Tips already had a safe pick at No. 8 in defenseman Nicholas Walters, it seems a worthwhile risk. Yes, it may end up backfiring, but those are also the type of moves that help build great teams — how many games does the 2006-07 team win if it doesn’t take a chance on Peter Mueller?
Here’s a few other notes:
– With the selections of Walters and Jones in the first round, Everett has four defensemen on its list who were taken in the first 11 picks of the bantam draft who are 17 years old or younger: Walters, Jones, Ryan Murray and Alex Theriau. If all four are here and reach their potential, that’s going to be a heck of a defense in three years.
– When it came to picking forwards this year, the Tips emphasized compete level. All of Everett’s drafted forwards, including tiny playmaker Kohl Bauml, received high marks for their competitiveness.
– The Tips believe they may have gotten a steal in the eighth round in Josh Racek. The left wing from Colorado was rated by Everett as a top-40 talent, and the Tips feel strongly that they can convince Racek to come to the WHL.
– Everett’s 11th-round pick, goaltender Mark Valtr, probably aided his chances of getting picked by the Tips because of his goalie pads, which are the same colors as Everett’s.
– Staring at a computer screen for eight straight hours, doing research on 14-year-old hockey players who I’ve never even heard of before, is not the ideal way to spend a sunny spring day in the Pacific Northwest. And yet I couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement, too.