Thursday, April 29, 2010

First blood in OHL final to Hall and Windsor

Taylor Hall continued to shore up his case to be the first overall selection in the June draft with an overtime tally in Game 1 of the OHL championship series against the Barrie Colts.

Hall used a sublime one-timer to put his team up 1-0, staking a legitimate claim on OHL playoff MVP honors in the quest to defend Windsor's 2009 Memorial Cup title.

I've said it before-- I don't see how the Oilers pass up Hall, even if Tyler Seguin may address more of a need for the Oil given their depth at the wing position with prospects like Jordan Eberle, Magnus Pajaarvi-Svensson and Toni Rajala to name a few. Hall is a larger-than-life presence in Canada right now, much like John Tavares was last season. He's been expected to be the No. 1 NHL pick since he burst onto the OHL scene three years ago as the second overall selection in the OHL draft in 2007.

A lot of Bruins fans seem to be coming around to the fact that Seguin is a pretty nice fit in the Hub based on what I'm reading on the internet, so even if Edmonton opts for him at No. 1, Hall going to the B's would be viewed with an uncanny buzz of excitement. Either way, the Bruins appear to be set. The only real questions to be answered now are what the team will do at 17 (or lower if they eliminate Philadelphia in this round and advance to the ECF which would drop them to the 27th pick and potentially lower depending on how far they go) and beyond.

I'm still of the firm belief that with multiple seconds, the team could attempt to trade into the top-30 for a third first-rounder if a player they covet is there. That will all depend on what happens in the draft.

I believe that defenseman Jon Merrill is a prime candidate to go with Boston's first-rounder if it is closer to 17, even if he's not necessarily a player I feel is the best option. There's no denying his talent, but he's brought an uneven effort and performance level in big games and will have some character concerns to address.

This becomes an issue in light of the recent news that a pair of Notre Dame players including last year's Anaheim first-rounder Kyle Palmieri and 2010 first-round candidate Riley Sheahan (whose stock really fell off after second-half scoring drought with the Irish) were arrested for underage drinking in South Bend. Now, boys are going to be boys, and underage drinking is something most of us did back in the day, so that in itself is not a mortal crime, but the fact that Palmieri, who ran into some off-ice trouble last year (and likely dropped his stock at least 5-10 picks) and Sheahan, who needs to make a great impression on NHL teams, would exhibit that kind of poor judgment to land them in hot water so close to the draft, is a mild concern. Again, I'm not about to sit in judgment of these two, but it just baffles me that individuals with so much going for them and so much at stake with a professional hockey career on the horizon, manage to put themselves in this uncomfortable position.

We see it a lot more with players in other sports, but for Sheahan, given his cold streak to close out the 09-10 season, he may have cost himself some big bucks with this arrest, especially if it drops him into the 2nd round. Palmieri, who allegedly tried to run from the police, is going to have some tough questions from Anaheim, who showed a lot of faith in him by drafting Palmieri where they did. At some point, you have to think that the team is going to tell this kid that he'd better get his act together or face severe consequences when it comes time to negotiate a contract.

Call me old fashioned or whatever, I guess I'm of the belief that these players need to hold themselves to a higher standard. You don't see Patrice Bergeron getting himself into situations like this, do you? At some point, teams have to take the talent and character into account and make the hard decision as to whether investing potentially millions into a person who lacks self-discipline and judgment to do the right thing and not negatively impact his organization is worth the risk. It's easy for fans, who don't have the ties to players that the team does, to give these guys a pass, but it's getting increasingly difficult for clubs to turn a blind eye to player foibles. I guess the point being-- if you can go with a kid who is going to keep his nose clean over the loose cannon, then why expose yourself to unnecessary risk?

Sheahan and Palmieri are teenagers who made a pretty typical mistake. However, these guys are not typical teens. So, how adversely this will effect them going forward will be interesting to watch.

No comments:

Post a Comment