Evgeny Kuznetsov poses with George McPhee and Ross Mahoney (Photo: Bruce Bennett)
Each off-season I catch up on my reading. I alternate between a Bill James’ Abstract (I have 1984-1989 to get through); something music related (currently Straight Edge: Clean-Living Youth, Hardcore Punk, And Social Change and Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces); and one or two hockey books– including the new one called The Art of Scouting, which “delves into the secretive world of hockey prospecting.”
After only eleven pages, I got struck by what the authors claim is the consensus of a successful draft, summarized by Mike Futa, co-director of amateur scouting for the Los Angeles Kings:
“It’s the only job where you can be right 15 percent of the time and be ruled a Hall of Famer for success, You are going to be wrong 85 or 80 percent of the time, and if you hit on 2.5 home runs every Draft, you are par with some of the best scouts ever.”
Two NHLers out of seven players drafted, assuming no trades are made, seems like a low bar, so I decided to see how the George McPhee era has done in regards to scouting.
McPhee joined the Capitals in 1997, so the first draft we can attribute to him is in 1998. Since it takes about five years for a prospect to develop, we will look at his draft record from 1998-2006. Let’s consider a prospect a success if he has played in at least 200 games at the NHL level. That gives him five years of 40 games played to qualify.
Spoiler: The results are not great.
Important stuff first: Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec collapsed during a stoppage of play early in the first period. Medical staff rushed to the ice, as Pavelec remained motionless for ten minutes. He was then taken to the hospital where he later regained consciousness. Panic, dread, and confusion filled Phillips Arena during the extended delay, but the stalwart audio crew in Atlanta made sure to drown it out with crass jock rock in the interim. We wish all the best to Pavelec.
The Caps opened this season much like they closed the last one: messily. Through sixty minutes of scrambling, bad turnovers, and awkward attacks, the Capitals stumbled through tonight’s game with the Thrashers like a baby elephant learning to walk. The Caps put 31 shots against Chris Mason and another 28 into various Thrasher players willing to block them. While only Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble were each able to defeat the Atlanta defense once, the opponents found ways to score at every turn. Thanks to a penalty-shot goal from Johnny Oduya, a laser from Andrew Ladd, and a twofer from Evander Kane, the Atlanta Thrashers felled the Caps in the opening bout. Thrashers beat Caps 4-2.
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