Thursday, June 23, 2011

I wouldn't mind if Burke traded away his draft picks

Everyone likes to talk about a GM’s record in drafting. In reality GM’s really do not decide who gets drafted but rather his scouting department calls the shots. Certainly there is some discussion within the management team regarding the organization’s drafting priorities but it is the scouts who have been following the draft prospects. Rarely does a GM not follow the advice of his scouts.

That being said, Brian Burke (and his scouting departments) have not had a very good track record on draft day. People like to point to his drafting of Chris Pronger in 1993 with the second pick overall or the Sedins with the second and third picks overall in 1999. But those picks were no brainers. Burke’s skills were better exhibited in acquiring the second pick to be in a position to draft both players.

The Canucks already possessed the third pick that was used to select Henrik Sedin. To draft Daniel Sedin Burke traded Bryan McCabe and their first-round pick in 2000 or2001 to Chicago for the Blackhawks' first round pick (4th overall). That pick was then traded along with two third-round picks in the 1999 draft (75th and 88th) to Tampa Bay in exchange for the Lightning's first-round pick (1st overall). The Lightning pick, along with a conditional third-round pick in the 2000 was then traded to Atlanta for the Thrashers' first-round pick (2nd overall) under the condition that the Thrashers not select either Sedin with the first overall pick. Talk about incredible wheeling and dealing.

So here is who Burke drafted with the remainder of his picks in 1999:

Rene Vydareny
Ryan Thorpe
Josh Reed
Kevin Swanson
Markus Kankaanpera
Darrell Hay

Burke followed up his 1999 draft day with a whole pile of nothing in 2000:

Nathan Smith
Thatcher Bell
Tim Branham
Pavel Duma
Brandon Reid
Nathan Barrett
Tim Smith

Burke came up with a decent first rounder in 2001 by drafting R. J. Umberger except Burke traded Umberger for Martin Rucinsky a move that has a Maple Leaf feel to it when on the incompetence scale. The Canucks also drafted Kevin Bieksa in the fifth round and has become their top defenseman.

The rest of the 2001 picks were:

Fedor Federov
Evgeny Gladskikh
Jason King
Konstantin Mikhailov

In 2002 Burke and the Canucks didn’t get to take a player until the second round. Burke traded away the Canucks’ first round pick to bring Trevor Linden back to Vancouver. The Caps used it to select a guy by the name of Alexander Semin. That draft was an unmitigated disaster for the Canucks with one NHL appearance between the 11 former prospects (Rob McVicar).
In 2003 Burke selected Ryan Kessler with the 23rd pick.

The rest of the Canucks picks were:

Marc-Andre Bernier
Brandon Nolan
Ty Morris
Nicklas Danielsson
Chad Brownlee
Francois-Pierre Guenette
Sergei Topol
Nathan McIver
Matthew Hansen

In 1995 Burke was the GM of the Anaheim Ducks and in his first draft he nabbed Bobby Ryan with the second pick overall. Burke has had considerable success drafting second. However, the rest of the way things never go as well:

Brendan Mikkelson
Jason Bailey
Bobby Bolt
Brian Salcido
Jean-Philippe Levasseuer

It's not fair to look at subsequent years because the prospects haven't fully developed.

So when I hear talk about Burke trading picks for players I think why not? The draft depends on a combination of a strong scouting system and luck. Either Burke has been unlucky or he needs to stop hiring friends as scouts

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