(for the statistical part of the post, scroll down to the bottom/top of the comments)
In the past weeks, I have been advocating for our team do something that is easily the most polarizing concept in sports at the moment. The proverbial "Tank", a phenomenon that has taken a lottery based league like the NBA by storm as they brace for the consequences of potentially the best draft class of all time. The NHL's system is nearly identical thus it is always an option for a fanbase to lose more games somewhat intentionally to gain draft position, in hopes of acquiring elite talent.
Our best example at the moment is the Buffalo Sabres. They shed veteran salary, brought up their farm team as well as some newly acquired rookies and fired the coach that kept them competitive for more than a decade. They will likely be bad for 3 to 5 years but will also likely snag some of the leagues best future talent in some of the upcoming drafts (Connor McDavid!). Of course the Edmonton Oilers are the ideal example but their painfully horrendous upper management makes them an anomaly in my books.
What I am suggesting here is not nearly as ambitious as a full tank. I am suggesting to trade a few veterans, give our young forwards more ice time and hire a developmental coach because I feel strongly that our team isn't nearly good enough to compete in the west and this draft possesses a few forwards who are clearly special in Sam Reinhart, Leon Draisaitl, Sam Bennett and Michael Dal Colle. Meanwhile, losing a few more games would not be devastating for this fanbase or the players and would likely result in the firing of Barry Trotz and possibly David Poile. The crucial aspect being that we are already in the bottom 10 of the NHL and would only drop to 5th, where we would be guaranteed of one of those awesome forwards (Aaron Ekblad is definitely going to be on of the 3 first players taken especially considering that the Oilers will be one of the first teams on the board). This could be the beginning of a bright new era in Smashville one where we embrace the entirety of modern hockey philosophy and advance as a franchise, truly establishing this beautiful sport in what will become a magnificent hockey market. Behold, the method to the madness.
Lineup, Transaction and Philosophies
Smith - Wilson - Hornqvist
Forsberg - Fisher - _______*
Watson - Spaling - Bourque
Sissons - Gaustad - Beck
Meanwhile the defense stays the same although Ekholm gets more ice time.
Pekka for 7 - 12 games
More starts for Mazanec as clearly his future is brighter than that of Dubnyk and Hutton.
The * signifies a trade for a blossoming young RFA, Nazem Kadri is a good example but won't be used as everyone on OTF seems to dislike him and I'm not sure myself if he is a good two way option going forward. Ryan O'Reilly would be the ideal in that situation but is unlikely as Colorado seems to be run by intelligent people, most notably Patrick Roy who is very involved in their personnel decisions. At any rate, trading some our veterans who aren't on ideal contracts (Legs, Nystrom, Cullen, Stalberg) who would be useful to blossoming playoff teams (Ahem, Anaheim, Colorado, Toronto) would be the idea as well as receiving young talent/picks in return.
Before everyone posts their arguments (please do either way) as to why they believe tanking is bad, and that is a pox in the world of professional sports, while threatening to kick me off this blog forever you should remember that we are in a competitive rebuild already, we traded a playoff tested veteran for a young project and our cornerstone goaltender will be lucky to play 15 games this year. This is not a suggestion to blow everything up and start from scratch nor is it a suggestion that hockey won't work in Nashville and everyone should cancel their season tickets and go watch Nascar highlights throughout the winters and that the team will be moved to Markham, I am advocating for a renewal of the philosophies of this franchise as a well as a more tangible renewal in our talent base going forward, so that we can witness a truly elite team in a few years. A potential lineup that could be extremely promising as early as 2017.
Fillip Forsberg - Ryan O'Reilly - Michael Dal Colle
Weber - Josi
Jones - MDZ
Ryan Ellis - Solid Veteran
Disclaimer: Obviously Fillip Forsberg and "the entity known as if we end up drafting an elite forward this year" are unproven and young and so forth. They can easily be replaced by Mikhail Grabovski and the like in free agency until they truly blossom. It's still an upgrade over what we rely on at the present moment.
The following is the crux of my precarious, precocious and polarizing argument. In the past 10 years, the top 5 picks in the draft have produced an average of 316 points per draft year for their career. Meanwhile, the remaining twenty five picks of the draft produce on average 107 career points. Clearly, a top 5 pick is especially valuable and should be pursued when possible. 2014 is not a loaded draft though the top 5 is full of excellent talent and I truly believe we should draft as high as possible in order to snag one of these skilled forwards. CPT stands for Career Point Totals from the moment they were drafted to the present day. My calculations:
Draft Year / Top 5 Picks CPTs / Remaining 25 selections CPTs / Notes of interest
2010 / 487 / 568 - Missed Vlad Tarasenko by two spots... though Austin Watson is nice.
2009 / 936 / 912 - Human Rocket Ship! Nothing much to see here otherwise... solid draft.
2007 / 874 / 1944 - Jon Blum over David Perron: the worst draft error in Preds History.
2006 / 1776 / 2360 - Excellent draft, aaand we trade away our 1st pick for Brendan Witt...
2005 / 1397 / 2100 - Horrible year lest B. Ryan, A. Kopitar and a guy named Sid Crosby.
2004 / 2117 / 2132 - Malkin - Ovechkin draft, sadly Radu lowers the numbers for the 25.
2003 / 1876 / 5837 - The best draft of all time. 5837!!!!!!!!!!! Aaand, we take a defenseman.
2002 / 1515 / 3265 - Solid, aaand we take Upshall (205 Cpts) over Joffrey Lupul (371).
2000 / 1882 / 3219 - Not great. 519 Scott Hartnell Cpts at 6th overall distort my numbers.
10 years totals / 15810 / 26860
1581 divided by 5 is 316 whereas 2686 divided by 25 is 107. Thus it is ideal to land within the top 5 where you can find elite talent as opposed to good talent, in most year. Though you always get a Cam Barker or two, there is an excellent chance of ending up with an Eric Staal or a Phil Kessel, players who could make our team elite right now.