Bringing up the subject of first-round draft picks has recently been a touchy talking point amongst sports supporters in the Bay Area.
Because of Michael Crabtree and his childish shenanigans, the mere hint of wanting to talk about first round picks can make fans angrier than a short-changed Patrick Kane.
Still, there is a certain allure about a player picked in the first-round of a draft no matter what the sport. This once unknown name thrust upon our radar provides us with optimism that this selection will one day transform into the next franchise star.
In the NHL, first-round picks often get lost in the shuffle, as many are sent to the CHL or college for maturation. Unless their last name is Crosby, Kane, or Tavares, this future crutch can quickly evaporate into the mist of the NHL farm system, only resurfacing as a random bar trivia answer.
Logan Couture, selected by the San Jose Sharks in the first-round of the 2007 NHL draft, didn’t make the jump to the NHL in his first year or receive extensive amounts of hype outside of the South Bay.
Despite being overshadowed by the sexier and immediately successful draft picks from 2007, this center’s continued success in the OHL is helping his name retain that first-round buzz with the Teal Faithful.
But if Logan can’t make a powerful impact his first few months as a full-time pro, grab some aspirin or snag another beer because this buzz is about to wear off.
Thanks to other outstanding draft picks like Devin Setoguchi, Joe Pavelski, and Ryan Clowe, the Sharks have not had to lean on Couture for instant NHL success. With that said, the time has come to determine if the estimated draft value of this No. 9 pick was even close to accurate.
In his final season with the Ottawa 67's, Couture notched 97 points (42G, 55A) in 69 games and ranked amongst the OHL’s top 10 scorers. This was a relief to many after his production took a serious deduction the previous season.
Following the 67’s elimination from the 2009 OHL playoffs, Logan put his skills to the test against the much bigger and stronger defenses of the AHL. His performance during the short call up was far from impressive, yet nothing to immediately freak out about.
Throughout the 16 games with the Worchester Sharks, Couture netted only two goals with one helper, which was a far cry from the prospect that Sharks' Director of Scouting Tim Burke touted as “ a complete player… a playmaker [who] makes players around him better.”
Logan needs to adapt to this quicker brand of hockey at a much more furious pace if there is any hope of him seeing decent NHL ice time this season.
Over the next few weeks, the Sharks' coaching staff’s examination of Couture will be observed and picked apart under a fine microscope. Because the depth at center runs ocean-deep for the Sharks, The Hockey News top prospect can’t afford to start out flat in his third training camp visit.
The odds of Couture cracking the NHL roster at the end of training camp are currently at "Mine That Bird" proportion...but as that long-shot horse demonstrated, anything can happen.
A plus-five +/- rating with the minnow-Sharks is a promising sign that Logan understands his responsibilities while on the ice and he is heading in the right direction.
If he can build on this and prove that his playmaking abilities are capable of making that difficult leap from junior to pro, a future star could potentially be in our midst.
But until that time, keep hope alive that this pup has what it takes to rapidly grow.
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