[Every weekend, Canucks Hockey Blog goes out of town as Tom Wakefield (@tomwakefield88) posts his thoughts on what's happening around the NHL.]
Call it the tale of two second overall draft picks.
When Bobby Ryan was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in 2005, he was already a dominant junior scorer.
With a terrific combination of size and skill, Ryan scored 89 points in 62 games for the Owen Sound Attack in his draft year, and may have won the OHL scoring title if not for an injury.
Touted as an elite offensive prospect, then-general manager Brian Burke took Ryan after the Penguins selected Sidney Crosby.
What followed was anything but smooth sailing.
Ryan played two more years in junior hockey, posting seasons of 95 and 102 points, before he got his professional feet wet with the Portland Pirates, the Ducks AHL affiliate in 2007. Ryan then spent the 2007-08 season on the bus between Portland and Anaheim, his “slowed” development a result of poor conditioning (reportedly 17% body fat) and foot speed that was not NHL-level.
Today, Bobby Ryan is a core member of the Ducks, on his way to his third-straight 30-goal season. The Ducks took their time with his development, and along the way Ryan learned what it took to compete and succeed at the game’s highest level.
Looking at how Tyler Seguin’s rookie season has gone (8 goals, 9 assists, 12:18 minutes a game. frequent healthy scratch), one can’t help but wonder if the Boston Bruins should have been more patient with him.
Instead of dominating junior hockey and being the go-to guy on his junior team (and most likely a leader on Team Canada at the World Juniors this past winter), Seguin’s an afterthought in the Bruin line-up.
Time will tell if his development has been truly stunted.
Meanwhile, Leaf fans everywhere keep their finger’s crossed Seguin’s career is a bust.
THOUGHTS ON THE FLY
- For comparison’s sake, two other rookie seasons from forwards picked second overall picks: Jordan Staal (29 goals, 42 points, 14:56 minutes per game), James van Riemsdyk (15 goals, 35 points, 12:58 minutes per game).
- Lots of different, positive ways to spin the Mike Fisher to Nashville deal. Perhaps his biggest impact will be off-ice, with the Predators taking full advantage of the Carrie Underwood association. On-ice though, Mike Fisher is now the team’s first line centre. Despite the heroics of Barry Trotz and Pekke Renne, it’s hard to see this team winning its first-ever playoff round without some additional scoring help.
- Prediction: In a few years any NHL general manager would happily trade 10 Jack Skille’s for one Michael Frolik.
- Interesting argument from Cam Cole regarding Sidney Crosby’s concussion situation. What again is the argument against outlawing hits to the head? At the very least, couldn’t the NHL also outlaw hits where guys leave their feet to make contact?
- Speaking of the Penguins, with 26 wins, a 2.20 goals against average and a .923 save percentage, surprisingly little is being said about Marc-Andre Fleury’s Vezina Trophy chances. Expect that to change if the Penguins, without Evgeni Malkin and Crosby, continue to win thanks to terrific defensive play.
- That being said, the Vezina Trophy may be Tim Thomas’s to lose. He’s on pace to record the highest save percentage of all-time (.942).
- Personal over/under on Peter Forsberg’s comeback: 15 games, 13 points. Surprised they’re giving him first line ice-time between Milan Hejduk and Matt Duchesne. Eventually Forsberg might be better served in a secondary scoring role. Biggest hockey comeback since Mario’s.
- With bonds relating to the Phoenix Coyotes going on sale next week, we may know definitively, finally, if the sale to Matthew Hulsizer will happen at all. Prediction: the NHL owns the Coyotes in the 2011-12 season.
- Would the Edmonton Oilers consider buying out Nikolai Khabibulin? Devan Dubnyk is clearly the best option in goal, now and in the future.
- First waffles, now Wanted posters in Toronto…
- Speaking of Toronto, interesting decision facing the front office regarding Tyler Bozak, whose play this year hasn’t been worth his salary ($3.75 million). A restricted free agent after the year, the Leafs could walk away, looking to negotiate a lower salary, longer-term deal. Thing is, if they’re successful getting a first line centre in the off-season, Bozak would be third, if not fourth (behind Nazem Kadri) on the depth chart.
- A little math for Canuck fans as their team makes a run at the league’s best record. Since the introduction of the President’s Trophy in 1985, times its winner has made the Conference Final (14/25); Stanley Cup final (9/25).
- With NBC/Versus merging, it’s less likely the NHL moves its product to ESPN. Which is too bad. When was the last time you heard an athlete say they can’t wait to see highlights on Versus?
- Have to wonder if New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner would be a 25- to 30-goal scorer if he had stayed with the Panthers or the Canucks, the two teams that gave up on him this year. He also leads the Islanders in plus/minus (+6).
- Leading his team in goals, looks like Milan Lucic is on his way to his first 30-goal season, fulfilling his Boston promise as the next Cam Neely a little bit more.
- Don’t be surprised if the Ottawa Senators end up with the first overall pick in this year’s entry draft. It would be hard for the Oilers or Islanders to play worse than they are. The Senators could be much, much worse after the trade deadline.