Why not pick goalies high in the draft?

Discussion in 'NHL Draft - Prospects' started by turnbuckle*, Aug 25, 2005.

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  1. turnbuckle*

    turnbuckle* Guest

    I have not seen a shortage of posts criticizing the Habs for taking a goalie with the fifth pick. Quite a number of you fine folks are of the opinion that drafting a goalie in the first round, particularly in the top ten, will be a huge risk under the new CBA because teams won't get to reap the full benefits of the player when he bolts as a free agent at age 27. Many of you note that goalies don't reach their prime until about 26 or so. While the argument is not without it's merits, I am of the opinion that very few highly drafted goalies that pan out will be let go by their respective teams at the age of 27. Here's why:

    Let's just say that the average goalie isn't really developed before the age of 27, that he's just reaching his prime. That would also mean that he couldn't command an outrageous salary either then, would it not? Thus the team that owns his rights is more than likely going to be able to re-sign him at a reasonable price that doesn't screw up their salary cap. Are 27-year-old goalies in the future that are relatively unproven going to be getting the maximum from other teams? Nope.

    What about the forward drafted from the same year that has been putting up great numbers for four or five years, however? Might he not be more likely to be signed by another team, because his salary demands would be much higher than the as yet unproven goalie?

    Who would command more? A 27-year-old goalie that has been a starter for two years, or a 27-year-old forward that has scored 70+ points in three of his six seasons in the league? Ummm...........

    Let's say Price becomes a starter at about age 24 or 25, puts up some decent numbers, but is just starting to reach his full potential when free agency rolls around at the age of 27. The Habs will more than likely be able to sign him to a long-term deal as a 26-year-old (before he's become a true star) in the $3-4 million range.

    On the other hand; let's look at a Bobby Ryan. Suppose he is close to being the next Nash, and leads the league in goals (or comes damn close to it) at the age of 22 or 23. Anaheim (with Neidermayer already in tow) has to dole out $5M+ for four years, and then at the age of 27, he walks away to a team that offers him $7 million per season. Meanwhile the Habs over the course of seven seasons paid Price about $20 million less, and still have him in nets for his prime years.

    Let's say Brule makes the NHL at 19 (a possibility given Columbus' lack of forward depth), and by the age of 26 he's a UFA after seven years of service. His scoring doesn't really come around until he's 23 or 24, but by 26 he's a 40-goal, 40 assist man, and decides to try free agency. Columbus (who by this time is paying Nash the maximum and Zherdev $5M+) has to pony up $5M+ to keep him. Meanwhile, Price is signed at $3 or $4 million at the age of 26 and settles into his role as an elite number one on a solid playoff contender. Were the two or three productive seasons from Brule worth more than the Habs having Price for a decade or more?

    If Price is the real deal and, like other elite goalies in the past decade, is a starter by age 22, then the Habs will have gotten their money's worth even if he splits at age 27. Same goes with a Brule or Ryan if they have four or five productive seasons before splitting at age 26. Those are the chances you have to take.

    There's more than one way to look at it, folks. You can't go into a draft worrying about not being able to sign your prospect when he's 27 - too many things can happen. If Price becomes a starter at age 22 or so and is a dominant player, then he will command a huge salary at age 27 and be hard to keep, just like Ryan will if he produces like Nash. If Price sucks, no one will care about him becoming a UFA at age 27; same with Ryan. If Price is just coming into his own (often the case with goalies), the Habs will likely be able to keep him for his elite years at a decent cost.

    If anything, I think it makes more sense to draft a goalie high (if he's the guy you like) under the new CBA. You're not likely going to be paying him max-type money until he's over 27 and hitting his prime anyways.

    Did you not notice that high scoring forwards in their mid 20s (Thornton, Lecavalier, Hossa, Iginla) were commanding huge bucks this month? How many 26-27-year-old goalies have been given that kind of jack since the NHL came back? None. Marty Brodeur was not making huge money at 27, luongo is going to be making about half of what Lecavalier makes....
     
  2. Rabid Ranger

    Rabid Ranger 2 is better than one

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    Good post. I guess my overly simplistic reply would be teams tend to look at goaltenders in long term when it comes to peak production, while a forward or defensemen bring more immediate dividends.
     
  3. Blind Gardien

    Blind Gardien nexus of the crisis

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    I'm not worried about the age or development curve factors. I'm perfectly happy to take a goalie with a top-5 pick, if he's an elite prospect.

    My problems with the Price pick (minor, nitpick-y problems) are that my own personal viewings of Price never let me see him as being "elite" relative to the other goalies (Rask, Pavelec, Frazee) I saw who were picked much much later in the draft with much lower asset-value picks.

    But I'll have to trust the real scouts on that one, I guess.
     
  4. Douggy

    Douggy Registered User

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    Very interesting points. A few comments:

    - You seem to have proven that goalies are more valuable than skaters, and that teams should draft as many good goalies as possible. I'm not sure that neccessarily proves that teams should use their high picks on goalies.

    - I think a lot of the concern about drafting goalies comes from the fact that a lot of goalies that were drafted early didn't turn out well.

    - Consider Rick Nash and MA Fleury: Lets assume that Nash has piqued and will "only" score 40+30=70 until he's 35. Lets also assume that MAF takes about 5 more years to turn into a legitimate top 5 starter and is about 25-26 when he hits that level. The fact is, whether or not their teams can afford them at age 27 is irrelevant to the fact that they maintain a certain value. The Sens could not afford Marian Hossa at 6 million dollars, but the fact that he deserves to make more than $5 million a year does not diminish his value. Ultimately, it sucks that the Sens lost Hossa, but the real value of a player will be what the team can turn him into when they can't afford him anymore. In this case, it was Heatley, a player to be named later, and the privledge of sending DeVries along to free up cap room.

    - Also, the market is saturated with Goaltenders right now, and probably will be for a while. Why should the Leafs ever draft a goalie when Loungo will be ready to be a UFA by the time Belfour is ready to retire?
     
  5. turnbuckle*

    turnbuckle* Guest

    You appear to be assuming that the Leafs would be the only team bidding for his services, and that he will indeed become a UFA.

    How many quality UFA goalies have been available over the past few years? Very few in comparison to their forward brethren.

    Goalies are easier to sign at 27 because they haven't reached their peak production wise. Thus, if i'm a GM, which do I prefer - the forward who stands a good chance of seeking $5M+ at 27 or the goalie that will just be reaching his prime and only commanding $3M or $4M? If you ask me the odds of keeping a quality goalie in your organization for a dozen years is infinitely higher than the odds of keeping a quality defenceman or center on your team for a dozen years under this new CBA. Thus I'd be shortsighted not to draft the goalie over the skater if they are considered to be of equal value.
     
  6. Douggy

    Douggy Registered User

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    I dont think its an invalid assumption. I think the Leafs only have 4 or 5 million commited to the 07-08 season, so if they can keep an extra 7.8 lying around, they can trump any offer to the best goalie on the market. This goes for any team, not just the Leafs.

    I disagree. Consider that goalies take up 10% of all players (2/20 on each roster) and top 6 forwards take up 30% of players (6/20 on each roster). Do you really mean to say that there are generally 3 times as many good forwards available in a free agent season? Look at the past few years. (Lets not count this year because it was an anomoly) Joseph, Belfour, and Hasek were all UFAs at one point. At that point, (I'm talking about 3-4 seasons ago) they were 3 of the 4 best goalies in the league. Granted, Broduer was the best, but he's exactly the type of goalie we aren't talking about, because he got very good at a young age.


    You're right, goalies are easier to sign at a young age, but they're also easier to find on the UFA market when they get a little older.
     
  7. montreal

    montreal Go Habs Go

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    That's how I feel. I am not worried about the factors such as age (since there will be a new CBA in place before he reachs UFA age) And I have no problem taking a goalie 5th overall. I fully understand the pick, to me it makes a lot of sense.

    The problem I have is the same as you, I can't say I was all that impressed with what I saw from Price, not saying he was bad but we'll have to see. From what I gather the thing that really put him over the top for the Habs brass, was his interview, they seemed to be very impressed with his interview, plus he had a very solid season while playing on a poor tri cities team.

    I could see a new trend perhaps forming over the last few years in that goalies will start to be picked higher. Not that I care cause to me the number where a player is picked doesn't mean jack five years down the road. I trust that the Habs scouting staff know what they are doing, time will tell.
     
  8. Tap on the Ankle

    Tap on the Ankle expert analysis

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    I think we're going to start seeing a lot less goalies being taken in the higher rounds from now on. Considering that the new UFA age is (well, eventually will be) 27, and that most goalies don't even start breaking into a starting role until they're around 24ish, that leaves (on average) a mere 3 years of services before said goalie is eligible for UFA. So why draft a goalie in the high rounds when it's such a huge risk to lose him just as he hits his prime? Just set aside a good $6m or so of cap room and sign a good goalie to a long-term deal as a UFA when he's in his late twenties. That way you don't waste a high pick and all the time and money spent on player development.
     
  9. fr4ed2384

    fr4ed2384 Registered User

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    I tend to agree with the initial premise .. I have been thinking the same way.
    I think - if "you believe" a goalie is mature and going to start in the NHL when he is 21 ( ie. Loungo) and you will have a top tier starter for 6-7 yrs as an RFA , then draft him very early.. ( and hope you can hang on to him)
    If you think he will be ready when he is 24-25 yrs then you might as draft him in the the >=3 round because your only going to see 2-3 yrs of RFA or rookie contract [rpbably as a backup
     
  10. iagreewithidiots

    iagreewithidiots Registered User

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    I dont know that it is due to the Habs taking a goaltender that high.

    The Islanders taking Luongo 4th in 1997 was the right move. The Thrashers taking Lehtonen 2nd in 2002 was the right move. The Penguins taking Fleury 1st in 2003 was the right move.

    The ones people seemed to not like werent due to taking the players high. The Islanders taking DiPietro 1st in 2000 wasnt that great. DiPietros a fine gaolie. But when you already got Luongo and Heatley and Gaborik are there for the taking its easy to understand the critics.

    With the Canadiens I think many people simply thought passing on Brule was a huge mistake.
     
  11. MS

    MS 1%er

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    Why not take goaltenders high in the draft?

    1. Goaltender scouting is more difficult that positional player scouting. Higher bust rate, more unpredictable development.

    2. Goaltenders take, on average, 2-3 years longer to develop than position players. Big, big difference. Result is that very few highly-drafted goaltenders actually end up playing for the team that drafted them. The development period is just too long, guys have down periods where they frustrate organizations and their value goes into the toilet, management regimes change, and they end up being shipped off at a loss.

    3. Drafting goaltenders highly just isn't that important. 4 of 30 teams in the league in 03-04 drafted their #1 guy in the first round, and only 1 of the top 15 teams did so.

    4. Biggest reason sinking #1 picks into goaltender prospects is stupid - quality young goaltenders get stuck behind established guys all the time, and trades are forced. Without fail, these NHL-ready, quality goaltenders are moved for much less than a #1 pick. Garon, Gerber last summer. Kiprusoff, Grahame, Esche in the year or so before that. Miller or Noronen will probably be moved by Buffalo shortly, Toskala perhaps by SJ. Why would you spend a #1 pick on a guy who has a 50% chance of being a quality goaltender in 5-7 years when you could spend a #2-3 pick and aquire a young guy who is proven against NHL competition, and has a 100% chance of stepping into your lineup immediately? And the upside is no different.

    If you want a quality young goaltender to add to your organization, there's always someone stuck in an organization somewhere who's available. It just isn't the same for position players - you'll never see a team that has 7 stud defenders so they're forced to just give away a high-end young guy because he has no place to play.

    As for the notion that teams wouldn't want to have a 25 y/o mega-star position player because the player's salary would be so high, and would instead want a 25 y/o developing average goaltender, that's completely ridiculous.
     
  12. rikker

    rikker Registered User

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    let me say that i respectfully disagree that taking Dipietro was a mistake. it was a mistake putting him too early in his career, much like Fleury, Miller...

    i don't think it's so much people dissing MTL because they took a goalie so early, it's just that they took Price. Price may be a great netminder one day, but he was picked much higher than concensus had him? that seems to be the issue.

    and, i don't see why a team would not draft a goalie high. this is the most crucial position in the game, is it not? as far as the timing in a prospects development, it can't be predicted. the absolute best scenario for any team's prospect, goalie or otherwise, is to have that prospect at the top of their game early in their career. if a top prospect is a star by the time they are 23 or 24, the teams cans choose to pay him big bucks, or trade them.

    let me say that i believe goalies will become even more important, if the NHL enforces the rule changes.
     
  13. Stephen

    Stephen Registered User

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    There's no reason not to take a goalie high in the draft. As others have said, the drafting of Luongo, Lehtonen and Fleury have never been called poor decisions. They were truly great goaltending prospects with very elite potential. The drafting of Dipietro was criticized because the Islanders drafted a goalie when they already had a better one and there were other, better prospects avaliable.

    The criticism of drafting Carey Price isn't so much that he's a goalie, but because people feel that he isn't as good a prospect as others drafted after him.
     
  14. MojoJojo

    MojoJojo Registered User

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    Yeah, but those goalies were taken in the era when teams kept their rights until they turned 31. If a goalie turned into a legit starter at age 25, you still had him for six years before free agency. If that happens to Price, the Habs get him for two years and then all that time and effort put into developement potentially flies out the door to the highest bidder.
     
  15. KeithBWhittington

    KeithBWhittington Going North

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    I likening it to drafting a Tight End in football...you can always find a serviceable one without having to draft top end guys early in the first round, besides, a good defense can make a mediocre goalie a good goalie.
     
  16. turnbuckle*

    turnbuckle* Guest


    I'll reply to the last point first. I was originally responding to people who thought picking Price so high was a mistake because a team likely won't get more than a couple of years of value from him before he bolts in free agency. That is the gist of this post; don't forget that. The other reasons for not drafting Price that you bring up are irrelevant to the whole point of this post, not to mention convoluted at best, particularly the third point.

    I was using scenarios in case you didn't know - where did I say that teams wouldn't want the scoring star? My whole point was that the scoring star will be harder to sign than the up and coming goalie. What is so hard to understand about that point? Of course you would like to have a player do well in his early 20s, but in today's salary capped NHL, it's not necessarily a great thing for the team's future when that 26-year-old scoring star suddenly wants 7 Million per season. Such is reality.

    My whole gist was that not drafting a goalie because you're afraid of what might happen when he turns 27 is folly.

    As for goalies taking two to three years longer to develop; that's bullcrap when it comes to elite goalie prospects. I don't know why people don't consider Price to be an elite goalie prospect, but that's just what he is. Luongo, Dipietro, Brodeur, Theo, Lehtonen, etc. were all playing in the league by 22, some even before that.

    This to me is the most likely scenario - I exepct Price to be playing in the NHL at 22, perhaps even 21. He will likely be the Habs starter at 24, and after two solid seasons will sign a long-term contract, making all of this nonsense about only possibly having him for a couple of years utter poppycock.

    Some of you make it sound like elite goalies are tossed around like nobody's business; that they're growing on trees in northern quebec or something. I'd like to see the list of one's that were avaialble this offseason for one thing.

    Whether you think Price was the fifth best player in the draft has nothing to do with my point in this thread. I trust the Habs did their homework and made the right choice.
     
  17. loadie

    loadie Official Beer Taster Sponsor

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    And that seems to be a problem, because he was rated at #7 and he went at #5. I guess it depends on what scouting service ranking you look at.
     
  18. Phillip The Third

    Phillip The Third ... line center ?

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    Well the title of thread is indeed "why not pick goalies high in the draft?".

    It's as if I created a thread titled "why Ilya Kovalchuk suck" and started talking solely about the fact he's bad defensively. Obviously people are going to come in and bring other arguments as to why Kovalchuk doesn't suck.

    What you did is chose what's probably the weakest argument for not drafting a goalie high in the draft and argued on it expecting people to forget about all the other drawbacks and agree that drafting a goalie high is a good idea. It doesn't work that way.

    BTW, I thought his arguments were pretty good and I agree with him. There are multiple reasons for not drafting a goalie that high and MS brought up some good ones.


    We can all use scenarios to try to prove a point. Look at Theodore when he won his hart and vezina. After one good year at the age of 25, Theo was asking for 5-6M a season, 2 years away from free agency. He would have been an UFA this summer.

    Hopefully Price is indeed elite.

    Obviously if all of this happens it was a good pick. But we'll see.

    Well elite goalies sure seem to be acquired for next to nothing very often. Kiprusoff, Giguère, Esche, Hasek come to mind the last couple of years. It would be very good if Price can be as good as those guys one day.

    I'm not as optimistic as you are but I certainly hope they're right.
     
  19. John Flyers Fan

    John Flyers Fan Registered User

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    I am one that subscribes to not picking goalis high in the draft, and it has nothing to do with the new CBA.

    A few reasons why:

    #1. You only need one big time goalie, unlike other positions, where having multiple great players is a major asset.

    #2. Goalie trade values are at an all-time low. If you have a plethora of good young goalies you won't get the same value in return like if you had a group of young defenseman or forwards.

    #3. A much higher percentage of #1 goalies can be found in round 2 & beyond than #1 centers or #1 defenseman.
     
  20. freakazoid

    freakazoid Registered User

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    IMO, as it was said, people (including me, a Habs fan) bash MTL for picking Price not because of his position but because he wasn't considered a top 5 in terms of talent/potential. All the talk about the skaters costing more in the long term is dumb. A good player who is always in the race for the points lead brings in revenue. Nash for 5M at 21? So what? People will come to see him and pay the money required. Is anyone going to go see the Habs to see how Price fares as a back-up at 22? He won't get paid much, but he won't bring much in return either. Another thing is that goalies are much less certain to fulfill their potential than skaters and that there are constantly late round selections who turn out to be great talents, so getting a #1 netminder depends heavily on the development system of the organization. Look at SJ. Sure a skater can bust because of poor development, but a #5 pick being a skater is a much safer pick than a #5 goalie pick. I agree that a good goaltender can propell a team to the finals, but a good defence can make an average goalie look good, and a skater can't hide behind his teammates. He is what he is, no fluke. I think teams that are in need of goaltending should rethink their development strategy instead of wasting top 10 picks to try to patch the hole. If a team's dev. system is weak, then a top 5 pick would not bring an adequate return since the goalie won't reach his full potential.
     
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