Draft day is just like Christmas for hockey fans. Well, for this hockey fan anyway. I love the excitement and the chance that teams may make some big trades. I smile when I see the hope and joy on the faces of the kids who get picked; who can see the fulfillment of their young lives' dreams just a couple of short steps away.
I have hopes too. I hope Trevor Timmins and Bob Gainey finally hit a real first-round homerun this year. I hope the organization lands a player who can eventually fill the long-empty first-line centre position. I hope the draft team isn't swayed into putting too much emphasis on the origins of the player and weighs talent and character alone when choosing prospects. I hope there's a small trade that will bring a second-round pick to the Habs. And, if there's a big trade, I hope it's one that won't hamstring the organization for the next ten years. (You know what I mean.)
Yet, despite the hopes and dreams around the draft, there are some stark realities. A full sixty percent of the players taken today and tomorrow will never play even one NHL game. Another one out of five of the remaining forty percent will play less than ten games in the big league. Most of the rest will be competent hockey players and maybe two or three or five out of the hundreds of kids taken will be true NHL stars.
The value of these kids, so coveted as draft picks, will plummet immediately after their names are announced. What you'd get in a trade for a first-round pick is much, much greater than what you'd get for a prospect who's a former first-round pick. The Habs would have gotten a valuable roster player for the number 18 pick in 2004, but they'd get very little now for Kyle Chipchura. Once the eternal possibility of a draft pick has a name and a face and a set of finite skills, the dream is over and he's just part of the business.
But all that will be real tomorrow. Today, dreams and hopes rule and the one the Habs pick might be the one they're waiting for. Today is a day of infinite possibilities, and we get so few of those, we must dream while we can.
Happy draft day everyone, and Go Habs Go!