Tidbits: The "Halftime" Edition

I am a self-confessed NHL Entry Draft Junkie.

For me, one of the more fascinating aspects of being a fan/follower/critic of any sports team is the youth element; for the most part, the respective Drafts of the major sports leagues tend to draw a lot of attention- especially the NFL and NBA, since those picks can step in and make an impact right away, while the NHL and MLB tends to be more of a developmental and down the road type of scenario.
So with that being said, I like to pay attention to the prospects we have in the pipeline, and keep an eye on the draft-eligible players that will have their name called June in St. Paul. Scouting is a intriguing science to me; the observation of physical and mental traits, behavior patterns, and the element of guesstimation almost has a sociological tinge to it. While I wish I knew what to look for and knew the minor minutia of the game better, all I can really do is rely on what is essentially a layman's eye for the game and the scouting reports that fans, scouts, and publications provide through the series of tubes we call the interweb when it comes to my team's past, present, and current properties and their respective contributions at the NHL level.
While its the All-Star Break at the NHL level, the scouting year is basically at the same stage, with many sources releasing their mid-term rankings. For me, this is where my interest starts to pique a bit; the risers and fallers begin to shake out a bit, and the respective playoff races, postseasons, and international tournaments are on the horizon. I have found a player of interest; Vincent Trocheck, who is a center for the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League. He's seen as a likely 2nd round pick this summer; therein lies the rub.
We don't have a 2nd rounder this year, as it was sent to Boston as part of the Chuck Kobasew trade last fall (it is nice to see some return on the trade now that Kobasew is healthy for a stretch of time.) The general thought was that there would be enough time for GM Chuck Fletcher to recoup that pick, which is important considering there will be some talent depth into the third round this year. When it looks like it may be slim pickings after the cream at the top, its important in my eyes to get picks, and that may mean trading down on Draft day. We traded down four spots in 2009, and ended up with the guy we wanted (Nick Leddy) and a 3rd round pick, which turned into Matt Hackett, who's learning the ropes in Houston. It's about having options, and while its dependent upon the evaluators of talent and how they see it, but to me having a pick in the second round is important considering how the talent pool is panning out.

- Justin Bourne has a nice piece at Puck Daddy about the all-star break from the players' perspective; a nice in-season break to let the body heal, relax, and take a break from hockey before the big stretch run. I think the most worrisome part about the break in schedule is that the Wild have a history of stumbling following multi-day breaks from games. Early in the year we had won three in a row, had four or so days off, and went on a three game skid, and a few weeks later it happened again.
- Food for thought here: in eight games, Guillaume Latendresse had three goals and six points. That's more goals than Eric Nystrom (one goal in 49 games) and Cam Barker (one in 40), and more points than Barker (five) while Nystrom has six points total.
- Thinking about if and when Marek Zidlicky returns; I don't think there is much trepidation about having a couple rookies in the lineup on the backend, but its the notion of having a defensive pairing comprised of rookies. This is going under the assumption that Cam Barker sits in the press box because he's being outplayed by both Clayton Stoner and Jared Spurgeon. I do however think that a Spurgeon/Zidlicky pairing could work well though, because I like how effective Stoner and Greg Zanon are playing.
- I did very much enjoy the All-Star Fantasy Draft, but I think how lighthearted and entertaining an event it is depends on the charisma and personalities of the Captains. The TSN analysis panel was a bit of overkill however.
- Finally, Nate and I are participating in a Roundtable Discussion at Hockey Wilderness. Check it out.

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