It’s not an easy exercise to determine who the Habs will draft with the 5th overall pick of 2005, but it might not be that hard at draft day. In fact this draft is said to have 6 prospects who have an edge over all the others. So, in reality, at #5, Bob Gainey would only have the choice between the remaining two youngsters, the other 4 out of 6 being already taken. But who will these two remaining prospects be? Obviously, it all depends on who Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Carolina and Minnesota pick before us. This is what I’m trying to determine here.
I gave a lot of weight to what the organisations already possess in term of prospects since after Sidney Crosby and Jack Johnson, the BPA (Best Player Available) theory doesn’t really hold. In fact, it is said that Bobby Ryan, Benoît Pouliot, Gilbert Brulé and Anze Kopitar are just very different players with different sets of assets, so that no one of them really stands out from the others. This is not intended to be an organisational ranking and this is not intended to be a prospect ranking either. Just an opinion about who will be picked, when and why.
#1 Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby. Need I say more?
The Streamer’s prediction: Sidney Crosby
#2 Anaheim Mighty Ducks
The Ducks have a good core of prospects in Ryan Getzlaf, Ladislav Smid and Corry Perry. While Brulé might end up being better than Getzlaf (time will tell), I’d say that they’re set at center and would be less tempted to go with Brulé, particularly since they have the first take at Johnson, the best defenseman available and arguably a franchise defenseman in the mold of Scott Stevens. So it’s a no brainer there that they will go with Johnson, particularly since he’s said to be the BPA anyway.
The Streamer’s prediction: Jack Johnson
#3 Carolina Hurricanes
Johnson taken, the obvious pick is a forward (duh!). The Canes won’t look at Marc Staal with all these awesome forwards available… that’d be foolish, they might trade down to get him, but won’t take him at #3, he’s simply not worth it, particularly since his stock dropped a lot and he might still be available at #15. The Canes already have Eric Staal (C) and Andrew Ladd (LW) as franchise first liners… The way they pick usually tells me that they would be strongly interested in Benoit Pouliot… but Bobby Ryan (RW) a modern Power Forward with an incredible shot would so perfectly complete the trio along with Ladd and Staal that the Hurricanes can’t afford to pass on him.
The Streamer’s prediction: Bobby Ryan
#4 Minnesota Wild
The Wild are more than set at center, particularly in term of small ones with P-M Bouchard and Patrick O’Sullivan who join bigger Mikko Koivu. So we have to bar Brulé from the start. Now who’s left? Pouliot and Kopitar. Pouliot is a no brainer here, he’s a tall talented LW who’ll do whatever he’s asked by Lemaire and will thrive in a smaller market like Minny. He would also fit very well on the first line along with Bouchard (C) and Gaborik (RW). Why not Kopitar? Well this guy is pure skill, alright, I have to agree, but he apparently doesn’t know where the defensive zone is, which is lethal under Jacques Lemaire and the gang.
The Streamer’s prediction: Benoît Pouliot
#5 Montréal Canadiens
Our turn now. Well in my opinion, it all depends on who has the last word. Bob Gainey or André Savard. If it is André Savard, the obvious choice is Kopitar, since he goes with the BEA theory, (Best European Available, hehe!). However, if Gainey has the last word (and trust me he will have the last word! We’re talking about Bob Gainey, not Réjean Houle), I’d tend to think that he’ll go with the two way physical explosive extremely talented Brulé, in other words: a smaller yet way more talented version of … Bob Gainey himself!!! Gilbert Brulé, I think, is very similar to Koivu, let’s say he’s a more physical and better scorer than Koivu, but maybe less of a team player and less of a passer than our Captain. Kopitar is the darkhorse of this top 6; he’s like Kostitsyn, the guy who deserve to be picked at #2 if we were only to take potential skill into consideration. But the problem is that he might never develop to full potential, in other words: he’s a risky project. I’d say that in the end, Gainey will go with Brulé who will soon become a Habs fan favourite, particularly since it’s been heard that Koivu might retire young (don’t panic though, he still has at least 2-3 years left). Plus, the icing on the cake, Brulé is a right handed center, exactly what the doctor ordered. Beware Mike Ribeiro (joking, joking… don’t panic Ribs fan club, don’t panic…)
The Streamer’s Prediction: Gilbert Brulé