2010 NHL Draft: But Guys, How Well Do They Play Hockey?

Rocket All HabsCorrespondent IJune 28, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25:  Jarred Tinordi, drafted 22nd of the Montreal Canadiens, poses for a portrait during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

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Jarred Tinordi, the 17-year-old intimidating defenseman with NHL bloodlines, is now a member of the Montreal Canadiens' organization.

Canadiens' GM Pierre Gauthier was impressed enough to pay handsomely to move up in the draft to get him.

"He's a big strong defenceman like that with a lot of character and leadership, that's something that every team would look for," said Gauthier.

Tinordi is still three or four years away from making the Habs' roster, but that didn't discourage the Montreal media from welcoming him in their own unique way.

Le Presse journalist Francois Gagnon chose to attack the young rearguard for the one characteristic Tinordi can do nothing about. "Another American..." is the title of Gagnon's blog piece.

Gagnon couldn't even be bothered to find a photo of Tinordi to head his article. Instead, he chose one picturing American David Fischer with Bob Gainey in 2006. Given that the Canadiens have walked away from the failed experiment named Fischer, the photo give Gagnon's readers a clue as to how he feels about the Canadiens' 2010 first round draft selection.

While Gagnon acknowledges some good reasons for taking Americans (if "following the parade" is considered positive) he quickly counters by associating Tinordi with so-called mistakes of the past.

RDS' Norman Flynn was another who didn't hide his disappointment with Pierre Gauthier's selections in this year's NHL draft. Flynn's article features a photo of Jonathan Brunelle of the QMJHL, who was invited to the Canadiens' mini-development camp but went undrafted during the weekend.

Care to guess what his message is?

Flynn generously gives Gauthier the green light to select players based on merit for the first four rounds of the NHL draft. Well, how enlightened!

However, for the remainder of the draft, Gauthier might as well toss out the scouting reports, according to Flynn. Just one piece of information is needed to fill out the draft card for the final three rounds, in his opinion. Birthplace.

Flynn advises the Canadiens to restrict their fishing to the shallow end of the prospect pool after round four. He goes out of his way to write that draftees playing in the QMJHL who weren't born in Quebec aren't part of that tiny pond.

If the final rounds of the draft are a crap shoot, then roll the dice with a Quebecker. Is that about right, Norman? So, is it a good idea to recommend that the Canadiens be so cavalier when some very valuable players have been taken after round four? You may have heard of Andrei Markov, Jaroslav Spacek, Ryan Miller, Daniel Alfredsson and two Detroit Red Wings: Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

I can hear the yawns from some of you. Flynn and Gagnon are just two examples of journalists whose reactions to the draft are predictable given their non-stop focus towards a player characteristic that is irrelevant to hockey.

Some will say that the Canadiens should be representative of their fans. I'm not clear how that "logic" applies to a team like the Tampa Bay Lightning, but let's think about the Habs for a minute.

My advice to people making this argument is be careful what you wish for. The notion that fans are primarily located in a specified radius around the Habs' hometown arena is archaic.

It's been 28 years since Mats Naslund became the first European to play for the Canadiens. Today the Habs' global fans easily outnumber the local ones.

But assembling a team shouldn't be about adding players born within a particular set of area codes. The Canadiens should be guided by the principles of meritocracy.

It's simple—choose the best!

If Flynn, Gagnon, and their colleagues were fair-minded and truly concerned about the Canadiens' talent pool, they would be signalling the alarm bells about the lack of players in the system from the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).

Five of the first eight players taken in the 2010 draft were from the OHL, including the top three. It was the fourth consecutive year that the No. 1 overall pick came from the OHL. The league had 42 players selected in the draft.

Yet, none of the Canadiens' selections in the 2010 draft came from the OHL. It should be noted that at this point, first-round pick Tinordi is committed to playing for Notre Dame (CCHA) for the 2010-11 season. However, there is an outside chance that he could be heading to the London Knights.

At the Canadiens' development camp in June, none of the 22 players ended the season with an OHL team. Equally surprising, none were from the WHL either.

41 percent of the players selected in this weekend's draft came from two Canadian junior leagues, the OHL and WHL. Yet finding one in the Canadiens' organization is as rare as finding candidates for the Habs GM position under Pierre Boivin's proverbial rock.

These statistics seem to have escaped the eyes of Messieurs Flynn and Gagnon. Perhaps they were too busy checking birth certificates.

Why is all this important? It isn't, really.

We can still hope that, one day, Canadiens' fans will be treated to a few more grownup sports journalists who will write about the talents of players without whining about silly old language issues.

Alternatively, readers will continue to turn to new media, like blogs and web magazines, and away from some of the increasingly irrelevant mainstream hacks.

A complete list of selections by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2010 NHL amateur draft:

Jarred Tinordi, D, Under-18 (USHL) Round 1, 22nd overall

Height: 6'5" Weight: 205 lbs.
2009-10: 26 GP, 4 G, 5 A, 68 PIM

CS-NAS No. 38 ISS No. 25 THN No. 22 TSN No. 23

Mark MacMillan, F, Alberni Valley (BCHL) Round 4, 113th overall

Height: 6'0" Weight: 150 lbs.
2009-10: 59 GP, 26 G, 54 A, 44 PIM

CS-NAS No. 135

Morgan Ellis, D, Cape Breton (QMJHL) Round 4, 117th overall

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Height: 6'1" Weight: 197 lbs.
2009-10: 60 GP, 4 G, 25 A, 56 PIM

CS-NAS No. 97

Brendan Gallagher, RW, Vancouver (WHL) Round 5, 147th overall

Height: 5'9" Weight: 163 lbs.
2009-10: 72 GP, 41 G, 40 A, 111 PIM

CS-NAS No. 174

John Westin, LW, MODO (Swe Jr.) Round 7, 207th overall

Height: 6'0" Weight: 183 lbs.
2009-10: 31 GP, 16 G, 10 A, 18 PIM

CS-ES not ranked

Prospect ranking services
CS-NAS = Central Scouting, North American Skater
CS-ES = Central Scouting, European Skater
ISS = International Scouting Service
TSN = TSN's Bob McKenzie
THN = The Hockey News

(photo credit: Getty)

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