The Dangers Of Being Prospect/Draft Pick Obsessed

June 22, 2011, by

It has become a daily occurrence for someone to ask me about trading Player X for draft picks, or trading Player Y for Prospect A. Aside from the immediate flaws of over valuing Players X and Y, there is a much larger issue at hand here. As New York Ranger fans, we have had very few players to call home grown and watch them grow up. It’s why we as a whole loved Mike York and were flat out pissed when he was traded for Tom Poti (a deal in which we won, by the way). It was an irrational love for a one time 30 goal scorer, but it was a love for a home grown player.

Fast forward to 2011, and the Rangers have 50% of their roster filled with home grown players, and the cupboard is stocked with a ton of great prospects. But there is always talk about trades for draft picks, always keeping that first round pick, and trading established players for more prospects. This is a very dangerous way of thinking.

The biggest flaw here is the obsession with always having prospects and draft picks; always having the cupboard stocked, and always re-stocking the stocked cupboard. The Rangers currently have a great cupboard, but there’s nothing eye popping outside of Chris Kreider (and possibly Christian Thomas). Teams need elite talent, which you may get in the draft, but sometimes you need to empty the cupboard to get that talent.

Sure, there is always the off chance that all the prospects meet every expectation the second they enter the NHL, with some exceeding those expectations. But that’s about as likely as me becoming a fan of Sidney Crosby or The Suit becoming a fan of “ill fitted clothing.” The reality of the situation is that 75% of the prospects will not meet their potential, and that those that do meet their potential –or those that fit into the system well– construct the core of the team. The rest of the team should be filled by signings or trades that fill holes.

Looping back to the title of the post, filling holes can be done with prospects, but that takes time. Then as those prospects develop, other holes emerge, and are addressed via the draft, of which takes more time. It’s an endless cycle of drafting to address more needs, which is not how good GMs build a team.

As fans, it is natural to grow attached to the idea of prospects and draft picks, but sometimes a step back is needed to evaluate the entire picture. Is Carl Hagelin going to be able to play on the second line? Maybe, but if not, then a free agent signing might be necessary. Will Chris Kreider be an impact player? Likely, but not right away. See where I’m going here? Hold on to Player X and Player Y, even if they had a bad year. They fill holes, holes that desperately need to be filled on the Rangers. Or, Player Y can maybe be packaged for that elite talent that fills another hole. Building a winner is a process, of which all possible solutions must be analyzed and considered.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Players X and Y are Marian Gaborik and Michael Del Zotto.

Categories : Analysis


  1. Zen says:

    Fantastic article. Ranger fans become so attached to their own players, prospects, and picks. What they don’t understand is that elite talent wins Cups in almost all situations. You can’t go anywhere if you don’t have players that put the puck in the net when it counts.

    The key here is that championship teams are built through trades to fill holes just as much as from drafting. The problem with the Rangers is that they don’t have much elite talent, so a trade to acquire it will be quite expensive. And you have to give to get. While you might not want to trade an Anisimov (let’s say), you might have to if you are getting a much better elite talent.

    • Dave says:

      That’s the point I”m trying to get across. You have to give to get. If acquiring a Paul Stastny costs me Anisimov and a few players from the cupboard, it’s worth it.

      • Zen says:

        YES,YES!!! You have to make a deal like that 10 times out of 10 if you actually looking to go anywhere as an organization. AND… it is great deal for Colorado too.

  2. Brian SCS says:

    I agree Dave, I can’t stand Crosby either.

  3. Chris says:

    Well said Dave. I’ve been an advocate for bringing in some elite skill for an eternity. Doesn’t mean in any way you are ignoring the prospects (quite the opposite – you’re helping them succeed) and it certainly doesn’t mean a return to the 97-2004 Rangers…..

  4. The Suit says:

    Well said Dave. I do not like ill fitted clothing, especially suits.

  5. joey says:

    very necessary article — thanks

  6. Alex says:

    Solid article. I knew right away that Player X and Player Y were Gabby and Del Zotto. I hate how people have just given up on them. Gaborik had a down year filled with injuries, no first line center, and a system he had to adjust to. And Del Zotto is only 20 and its going to take time for him to develop into the player he has the potential to be. Patience fellow Ranger fans, patience.

  7. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Talent alone will not win a cup…look at that basketball team we fielded for the Olympics in the 90’s…they forgot they had to earn that medal…Chemistry and hard work is what wins Championships, you think not?…look at the Capitals, you think not?…look at the Penguins alebiet they did win one cup but with that talent they should have been a dynasty…you think not?…look at the Canucks of this year…to put it in a different way…look at the Steelers of the 70’s they were built to win not just once but 4 times…is Richards an answer? No he is not, Dallas did not even make the playoffs with this guy. Stastny is a better option but not at the cost of giving up too much for him and finally Liach is the best option because we only give up money for a proven NHL caliber player until the rebuild is done, which I do not agree, it is not completed yet. Next 2 years are still developmental years for player experience, introducing the higher end draft prospects such as Krieder, Thomas and McIlrath and Erixon and the next two years draft selections, hopefully one being Biggs…then we are ready to compete and win the Cup…As for the comment we don’t have elite talent, we have one in each category, Gaborik as a forward though he is not a fit for this type of team we are fielding, Staal the future Norris Trophy winner and Lundqvuist the king, as for elite prospects, Stepan and McDonagh come to mind and finally the last of the elite category is futurel elite players in Krieder, Thomas Del Zotto and Erixon, given those 4 are a wait and see but the word here is potential which they have. We have had success in the past in drafting players that grew else where such as Mike Ridley, Mttias Nordstrom, Tony Amonte, Doug Weight, Marc Savard and the list can go on don’t believe me go back to Rick Middleton. Enough is Enough finally we are starting to do something different, we are building our team with players that have bite as Trots would say and fit exceptionally well for a system in place that will win Championships. Defense does win Cups in Hockey as well, again pointing to this years Cup result. Patience fans, let the team build and develop and enjoy watching these players mature and when they finally win the Cup which they will you can then enjoy the entire journey that took place in a flash when you see Ryan Callahan being handed the Cup by Bettman. We are not ready yet however we are getting very close.

  8. The Suit says:

    So you’re saying we shouldn’t do what exactly?

    • Leatherneckinlv says:

      Don’t sign Richards and let the young players play. Draft Biggs and sign Laich. The players added then will be Erixon. Laich and Biggs which is a very nice addition to the existing roster

      • The Suit says:

        Leatherneck, signing Laich and preaching to play our young core seems counter productive.

        Laich, while he would fit, pushes some of that youth down the depth chart. There are a lot more grinders on this team and in this system than there are playmakers.

        • Leatherneckinlv says:

          I see Liach as the third line center with Grachev and yes Callahan, The top two Right wingers are going to be Thomas and speculation here with high hopes…Biggs

          Gabby Dubi Thomas 1st line
          Krieder Stepan Biggs
          Grachev Laich Cally

          So for this year play Avery and wolski with Stepan until those players arrive unless Biggs can make the jump this year which i do not think he can

    • freewheeler says:

      I agree with the premise of the article. Particular players, maybe not (thinking Gaborik), but the front office worked hard to put us in such a position. The goal is not to be at the top of the HF rankings year after year, but to win a cup. If you build the base, and get within 2 players from legitimately contending, you make the move. Especially at defense, the organization has the luxury of maybe moving a guy they like, like MDZ, because they acquired someone they like even more, say Erixon (my speculation).

      Some teams are in the opposite position. They have nice top end talent, but lack the depth and/or culture (thinking Tampa, Washington, Pitt). You can’t address that with 2 moves.

  9. Matt J says:

    I would do a couple deals for a elite talent, but some of us are getting ahead of ourselves with our prospects. The only top guy I see who can really light the NHL on fire is Kreider and he’s 2 years away, and maybe Thomas.
    I do see Callahan and Dubinsky getting better, but let’s be realistic people. Callahan is a second liner, future captain, and the heart and soul of our team. But with that being sad he might not reach the 70 point plateau let alone the 60 point plateau.
    Dubi has first line potential but not with the players we have on our roster at the moment.
    Yes Stepan had a very good year and surprised many but some of us think he will be the next Messier which isn’t true because no one can be Messier. First of all he needs to improve his faceoffs, and work on basically everything which he knows he needs to do.
    We don’t have have anyone who scored 25 goals this year. Doesn’t anyone find that scary? We need consistent goal scoring. Without the goals we will never make it past the first round.
    Also, I find our team is very intimidated when it comes to overtime. How many times have you seen the Rangers just back over their blue line? Just the lack of shots on goal and sustained pressure shows me this team is scared to make mistakes possibly Torts fault.

    All in all this team is a pretty good team and has shown flashes of greatness, but to keep up with the elite of the elite something has to change.

    • Leatherneckinlv says:

      Stepan’s future stardom lies with Krieder and hopefully Biggs. There is no siscounting that Stepan has vision and hockey sense, there is your center on the second line, I think we all agree that Krieder is touted as a speedster with a scoring touch, there is your sniper and Biggs is a nasty power forward who will do the nasty down low there is your RW on the 2nd line of Krieder, Stepan and Biggs. This will be a heck of a future 2nd line with 1st line potential. We have to find the pieces to the puzzle

  10. freewheeler says:

    Leatherneckinlv, I think this article was written to you.

    • The Suit says:

      Why because his line combos yesterday consisted completely of Rangers picks?

      • freewheeler says:

        Because the article seems to be a direct warning to his approach. Because he has a theoretical 2011 draft pick on our championship 2nd line.

        • Dave says:

          Or because this is something I have discussed on Twitter ad nauseum with a bunch of people?

    • Leatherneckinlv says:

      go look at the history of the Rangers. This article advocates the same mistakes yet again…You do not build a team via trades and free agency…our team is now a puzzle and we need to find the right pieces to finish the puzzle…Biggs is a piece to a puzzle to me for an example, McIlrath was that to Clark last year, I believe he envisions Del Zotto playing along side McIlrath…

      I would trade for Stastny in thsis scenario
      Stastny, Johnson and a 1st for Gaborik, Girardi, Zuccarello and Anisimov

      I would not trade for Stastny in this scenario
      Stastny for Grachev, Anisimov, Del Zotto and Valatenko. This is the trade proposals i have seen to get Stastny..this is absurd

      Stastny is a good player but not that good

      • Matt J says:

        History of the Rangers actually tells me in 94′ when they won the cup the only homegrown players they actually had were Leetch, Zubov, Kovalev, Nemchinov, and Karpovtsev That’s 5 people. So they did win a cup through trades and free agency.

        • Dave says:


        • Leatherneckinlv says:

          you forgot to add in Richter…but that that team was an exception…because of one player Mark Messier…without him they would not have won the cup and look after the fact…have you forgotten the 7 years of playoff drought because we had nothing and got nothing? we became worse than mediocre for one Stanley Cup…here we have the talent to win a few in a short period of time…say 2 in 10 years

          • Matt J says:

            Well if you could go back in time and ask rangers fans would you trade 5 years of mediocrity for a Stanley Cup i think they would have taken 20 years.

            • Leatherneckinlv says:

              I will take 3 in 10 years over 1 and done for the next 20 years…your math does not compute

              • The Suit says:

                Cup teams aren’t built entirely of homegrown players which is what Leathneck was suggesting.

                The Rangers will not build a championship team that way either. It is not realistic.

              • Matt J says:

                You clearly aren’t taking into account they hadn’t won for 54 years

    • Zen says:

      You ain’t kiddin’ freewheeler!

  11. Zen says:

    Leather wants to continue to build the team with non-elite talent and finish in 8th place every year for the rest of existence of the Rangers.

    Trades are just as crucial to winning a Cup as building through youth is. Especially when a team never has a chance (i.e. high draft pick) to select high-end talent in the draft. Where is the scoring going to come from???

    • Leatherneckinlv says:

      lets see….elite players on the Roster are Lundqvuist, Staal, Stepan, Gaborik. Thomas and Krieder some established and some will be..oh no lets not forget Gaborik…nah…none of these guys are good…let’s trade them for a bag of pucks so Richards can shoot Nabakov in practice while Redden ponders where to buy his next home…Can’t you see Drury there coaching Richards?

      • freewheeler says:

        I’m curious Leatherneckinlv, were you in favor of the Gaborik signing? You use him as support here, which I think is right, but decry the talk of Richards. It’s not necessarily contradictory, but…were you?

        • Leatherneckinlv says:

          I liked the Gaborik signing but more so liked the subtraction of Gomez, I now see Gaborik as tradable. One thing I need to make clear is a lot of our players are under valued for trades proposed. Anisimov is a quality player add in Del Zotto, Grachev and so on for 1 player I do not agree to.

      • Matt J says:

        How can you call stepan elite? He had a good rookie season but since when does getting 45 points make you elite. When he gets 45 goals he’ll be elite.

        • Leatherneckinlv says:

          He is a rookie and was selected to the US team and lead the team in scoring, he just completed only his first year with impressive numbers and his intelligence and hockey sense are assets that will allow him to mature quite quickly. He will be a 60 assist man within 3 years and you will see Krieder as his linemate possibly netting 40 on a consistent basis. If Biggs is selected and placed on that line Ranger fans will be quite ecstatic with their success as a line