Sunday, July 18, 2004


WHA Draft - Wha da hell is dis?

The fledgling World Hockey Association has now completed its Amateur Draft and Free Agent Draft, with some very interesting results.
The 8 teams (Including a Founder's Team) each drafted the rights to 30 amateurs and 30 free agents, in the slim hopes that any of these players might sign with their club.
The whole draft was held at the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort. This is fitting seeing as how it appears to be a bunch of drunk online fantasy league GM's rolling the dice for a random player, or as my friend Duc would say, 'Throwing darts'.
Since the WHA is basically going to die a quick death if the NHL doesn't lock out the players, it looks like the WHA GM's are throwing up a lot of prayers, and hoping that at least 1 of them hits a BINGO.
Free Agent Draft:
Simon Gagne was the first overall pick, followed by...Travis Green???
Only in such a Bizarro World draft would you have names like Travis Green and Craig MacDonald mixed in with Todd Bertuzzi and Joe Thornton.
Once you get past the big names, you'll see a lot of fringe players like Craig MacDonald and Steve Kariya, who are exactly the types of players that you would expect to fit into a league such as the WHA. If I were a WHA GM, I'd spend most of my picks on the Steve Kariya's, since there are talented players who don't fit into the NHL, and would want a chance to play closer to home while making decent dough. No use picking a Todd Bertuzzi or Ilya Kovalchuk.
The Old Guys: Is the WHA trying to become an Alumni league or a seniors league? Some of the retired players that were drafted include Doug Gilmour, Stephane Richer, Tommy Albelin, and Kirk Muller.
Now, I could see Stephane Richer coming out of retirement to play for Quebec, but I can't see any of the others wanting to play, especially Gimour.
I'm thinking the GM's just wanted a chance to say "I drafted Doug Gilmour!"
Amateur Draft:
As expected, the Toronto franchise selected Sidney Crosby 1st overall, which I'm sure produced big laughs within the Crosby household.
Now, I can't see any top prospect such as Brent Seabrooke and Dion Phaneuf making their way to the WHA. For one thing, it would be better for their development if they stayed in junior or went to the AHL (Which will still be up and running). For another thing, these prospects aren't going to want to piss their parent clubs off by running off to the WHA.
The types of players that make sense to draft are those who went undrafted by NHL clubs, such as Pauli Colaiacovo or late draftees such as Canucks 7th rounder, Francois-Pierre Guenette.
The French Connection - Vive le Quebec! (Or is that La Quebec? Hella if I know)
I know the Quebec Nordiks (Yes, that's the name they want to use) want to play to the hometown crowd and have a strong French presence, but selecting 26 out of 30 Quebecers with their Free Agent Draft picks...isn't that a little overboard?
Perhaps with the Parti Quebecois winning 50 seats in the recent Canadian federal election, the Nordiks want to play right into the big seperatist sentiment of the region. How could you like to be one of the only English speakers on that club? (Providing one of Brendan Reid, Damien Surma, PJ Stock, or Daniel Corso sign with the team).
At least the Nordiks weren't quite so exclusionary with their Amateur Draft picks, taking 'only' 15 of 25 Quebecers in that draft.
And I bet they'll all wear visors :)

You see.. this is what's called, a "fantasy draft". ;)


There's no such thing as bad publicity. It got us all talking about the league, didn't it?
I am sure there is a reason why we see names such as Travis Green and Macdonald mixed among the Joe Thornton's and Todd Bertuzzi's - most likely the team owners might have had serious pre-draft conversations with these players and felt that there is a real chance that they will come and play for their team.
IMO these people were the reasonable ones - drafting players that actually will play for them in case this league will really start. Let's face it- there simply is no realistic chance of Kovalchuk playing in the WHA.
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