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Thoughts From The 2023 NHL Draft – Part 2

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Thoughts From The 2023 NHL Draft | Young player posing in front of a large TV screen - SkateGuard

In Part 1 of my thoughts from the draft, I touched on a few high-level takeaways from my visit to the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville this summer.

Here, in Part 2, I’m going to dive into a few more granular thoughts from the two-day event, as well as the aftermath.

The old adage “If you’re good, they will find you” still rings true

In the first three rounds alone (premium draft capital for NHL teams), players were selected from 11 different countries and first-rounders came from seven different countries. Among just North American-based players, nine different leagues were represented (and that’s treating the NCAA as one league).

So much for “heavy.”

There has been some talk in hockey circles recently about teams going back to favouring larger players. You often hear media pundits talking about how teams need to “play heavier,” “be tough to play against” or “outmuscle other teams,” or that a team “needs more sandpaper.”

If that’s the case, somebody forgot to tell the GMs at the 2023 draft. Of the 32 players selected in the first round, nearly half (15) were shorter than 5’ 11’, weighed less than 185 lb., or both (according to hockeydb.com).

Goaler? Goaler?

Forgive the opaque Ferris Bueller reference, but we need to talk about the status (or lack thereof) of the goaltending position in the NHL.For the second straight year, a total of ZERO goaltenders were taken in the first round.

Given that SkateGuard is based in Canada, I found the apparent state of goaltending in the Great White North even more interesting.In the Top 50 picks at the draft, there were no Canadian goaltenders taken, and only one made the Top 125. That would be Carson Bjarnason, going 51st overall to Philadelphia.  

And as an Ontarian, I am admittedly befuddled as to why this province is not generating top-flight goaltending talent. The lastCanadian-born Ontario Hockey League goaltender taken with a Top 50 pick was wayback in 2015, when New Jersey drafted Mackenzie Blackwood 42nd overall.

Parental insanity

While in Nashville, Mike Jaczko and I had a fascinating, nearly two-hour-long conversation with one of the most powerful agents in hockey, and he shared some particularly noteworthy thoughts about fanatical Hockey Moms and Dads:

  • Many parents view their children’s athletics as an “investment.” They tend to think that financial outlay correlates directly with chances of success. All three of us agreed that this type of thinking is only becoming more and more common, but that doesn’t make it any less insane. The consensus around the table was that we would encourage any parent to support their kids’ endeavours in playing team sports – they are one of the greatest educational experiences a child can have.But to do so with the idea that it’s going to pay off with a scholarship, or a professional contract, is one of the greater follies the three of us have seen.You are better off taking your money down to the home of the new Stanley Cup champs and putting it all on 25 red!
  • The agent said the maniacal emphasis among players and their parents on getting drafted doesn’t help anyone. As we touched on in Part 1 of this “Thoughts From the Draft” series, once you are out of the first round, it really makes very little difference where you go, or if you go at all. In fact, there are some advantages to NOT getting drafted. I might have to do a post on that in the future.

Just in time

Finally, a bit of a feel-good story. Many players chose to attend the draft with their families, agents, coaches and other members of their support staff, and nearly all of the players in attendance heard their names called in the first four or five rounds. One of the more heartening moments of the draft came at the end of the seventh and final round. Most people were already getting up to leave, but Mike and I could see one player and his family still sitting on the other side of the rink, waiting expectantly. Vegas held the last pick. Then, it was announced over the in-house PA that there had been a trade. Columbus had sent their seventh-round pick in next year’s draft to Vegas in exchange for the last 2023 pick. And with that selection, the Blue Jackets took Tyler Peddle – the one sitting with his family on the far side of the rink. The elation from the Peddles was one of the biggest reactions from a player’s family of the entire draft. Great to see!

Parting thoughts

Mike and I agreed that our three-day experience at the 2023 NHL Draft was both highly informative and highly entertaining. If you are a young player with aspirations of getting drafted, I would encourage you to attend a draft. One of the best tools in a player’s arsenal is visualization, and I can assure you that the sights, sounds and energy that emanate from inside the arena during anNHL draft will fuel you as you progress through your hockey career.

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