100 games a season: Gare Joyce's puck blog

Just like being in the scouts' & press' lounge, without the bad coffee and day-old Timbits

Location: Toronto

I've written for ESPN The Magazine and espn.com the last five years. My work has made the "notable" list of the Best American Sports Writing seven times and won four Canadian National Magazine Awards. My most recent book is Future Greats and Heartbreaks: A Year Undercover in the Secret World of NHL Scouts. I've written three other sports books: When the Lights Went Out: How One Brawl Ended Hockey's Cold War and Changed the Game; Sidney Crosby: Taking the Game by Storm; and The Only Ticket Off the Island: Baseball in the Dominican Republic.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Trading Deadline Holiday: Quick Takes and My .02

There's a heckuva separation between the public's perceived value of draft picks and that of NHL GMs. First rounders were being passed over the counter like Canadian Tire money. As we said before, if you're looking at real first-rounders, you're looking at Top 10 picks, not No. 29, and maybe not even No. 15. After the top ten and certainly after the top 20, you're getting a lottery ticket.

The most fascinating trade is on the minds of many today though not for the reasons I'm thinking about it: Smyth to Isles for O'Marra, Nilsson and 2007 first.

O'Marra's a safe bet to play in the league, might even evoke a Smyth as a young player tho' bigger. There is absolutely no worry about him playing, size, skating and attitude--he could play on your fourth line without a stick. I don't know about what he'd project to at the high end (second-line on a winning team, maybe). What really stands out in scouts' minds -- there has never been a kid who has talked more at the combine interviews. They tried to ask him questions but it was like trying to get a word in edgewise with Robin Williams on his third Starbucks venti.


Nilsson's bloodlines suggest talent but he's underperformed for where he was drafted. I remember seeing him at world juniors whenever it was in Europe--Kent used to take his kid along on most trips, even when he would have been nine or ten. Word back then was that he was a chip off the old block--which sounds promising because Kent was certainly one of the five most gifted players of his time but is in fact less promising because Kent utilized a fraction of his talent.


O'Marra and Nilsson both picked at No. 15 in their years and the pick Edmonton gets might just fall on that very slot. Which is right where the talent starts to drop off.

Wouldn't surprise me if Logan Couture were there at No. 15 (especially if a goaltender or two moves up).