Why the CH could draft a defender: explanations from a former NHL chief recruiter

Why the CH could draft a defender: explanations from a former NHL chief recruiter
Why the CH could draft a defender: explanations from a former NHL chief recruiter

On the phone, the former director of amateur recruiting for the Anaheim Ducks Alain Chainey clearly shows his colors: “The idea of ​​drafting according to need in 1D round, it’s dangerous.” With this in mind, drafting an attacker at all costs, without regard to the sacrosanct list, would be risky for the Canadian.

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In Montreal, the 2024 draft is seen as an opportunity to finally find the talented attacker that the Canadian lacks, a logical continuation after the selection of defender David Reinbacher in 2023.

However, in fifth place, the best player available for the Habs will perhaps still be… a defender. And this idea seems to greatly displease the team’s supporters who are hungry for goals.

This is a possibility to consider if Cayden Lindstrom and Ivan Demidov find buyers before fifth place. Because excellent defenders like Zeev Buium, Sam Dickinson, Zayne Parekh or Artyom Levshunov, for example, could be hard to ignore.

“In all my years as director of amateur recruiting for the Ducks, I have never drafted based on need,” Chainey said in an interview with TVA Sports. My general manager never said to me: “This year, think about a left winger…” Our job is to draft, and the GM’s job is to use what we give him. given to fetch the pieces of the puzzle.

“If we draft the best player available, he will be in a position to make good transactions.”

The CH is full of young defenders. Some are already in the NHL, like Kaiden Guhle, and others are knocking on the door, like Lane Hutson, Logan Mailloux and Adam Engstrom. Even before the 2024 draft, GM Kent Hughes is in a position where he will have no choice but to trade one. So why add to this surplus when the need is dire on offense?

First, “the situation is changing very quickly,” Chainey warned. A team can have a deficiency at a position, then only two years later notice a surplus there. And vice versa.

Then, a surplus in a coveted position can give a lot of power to a less astute general manager.

“Martin Madden Jr. [gourou du repêchage des Ducks] drafted a ton of defenders and that allowed Pat Verbeek to trade Jamie Drysdale to get Cutter Gauthier, an excellent power forward,” recalled the former recruiter, now an analyst for TVA Sports.

Brian Burke’s fault

Only once in his career has Chainey been able to draft the best player available in the first round. By this we mean: the highest player on the list at the time of appearing on the podium.

“The one who stopped me from doing it was Brian Burke during the 2008 draft,” he lamented.

In 2008, the Ducks were expected to draft 12e rank.

“We had Karlsson between 10 and 12 on our list,” Chainey said. We loved him, there was a consensus among our recruiters. But at the time, he was 5-foot-10 and 157 pounds. Burke wasn’t keen on the idea of ​​drafting a defenseman of that size. Bob Murray, our assistant general manager who had the chance to see Karlsson play, tried to convince him, but it didn’t work.

Burke traded the 12e selection to move back a few rows.

“We were forced to exchange our choice,” said Chainey, still a little bitter [avec raison]. At 17e rank, we drafted Jake Gardiner.

The insult to injury was to see the Senators rush to advance from the 18e at 15e rank when Karlsson was still unclaimed.

“Three Norris Trophies later, well, the player we wanted to have, we couldn’t take him,” noted Chainey.

This is something to think about for the Canadian when he evaluates the possibility of going back in the draft to absolutely select a forward.

There comes a time when general managers must trust the recruiters who have spent the year roaming the lecture halls. And the needs of the organization are not a factor that is taken into account in the evaluation work of said recruiters.

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