HF- "Lets Just Pretend Mike Lundin Doesn't Exist"

What gives HF? Seriously.

Look, we're long past the point of expecting anything resembling objectivity considering one of your top writers was once quoted as claiming Blair Jones was "trash" because he was a 4th round pick, but can you guys at least acknowledge that Mike Lundin (another 4th round pick, so I guess that makes him "trash" too) has made the NHL? Is that really too much to ask?

By the way if anyone wants the translation of this line from the article: "Developing top-end talent is only one criterion for analyzing a prospect pool, but it is a very important criterion." I have it:

Shorter HF- "We only recognize the existence of much hyped 1st and 2nd round draft picks. We realize those [censored] (guys) at Bolt Prospects have made fun of us for being so myopic and that the successes of players like Paul Ranger have already completely undermined the credibility of our rankings methodology, but screw it (and screw you Lightning fans). We're not changing, no matter how many times reality shows us to be wrong. Go Thrashers!"

Look, HF, let Bolt Prospects share with you some wisdom: there are only 5,10, maybe 15 special talents in any given draft. Beyond that, there isn't much athletic difference between the player you draft in the 30's and the player you draft in the 100's. There really isn't. With the occassional exception, all of these players have been skating and playing this game from a very very early age. They know how to skate reasonably well. They have some semblance of stick skills. They have been immersed in organized hockey long enough to know something about positioning. So the difference between the player you draft in the 30's and the player you draft in the 100's often isn't athletic. The difference often comes down to the player's situation, their attitude and work habits, their reputation etc etc.

Blair Jones (you know, the guy your writer unceremoniously tabbed as "trash") is probably going to be an NHLer. He's already played 21 games in the NHL, has been doing well this season in the AHL, and the Lightning organization already views him as a Blair Betts type checking line center in the making. He was the 102nd pick in the 2005 Entry Draft, taken well behind players like, for instance, Dany Roussin.

Honest question: is Blair Jones really athletically lesser than Dany Roussin? For those who don't know, Roussin, a 2nd round pick) has spent the past two years in the ECHL even though he is two years older than Jones.

What was the difference between these players? Dany Roussin benefitted from playing on a team with Sidney Crosby. His situation afforded him the opportunity to put up grossly inflated numbers playing alongside one of the most special prospects of the last 20 years. Was he really athletically better than the five other rounds of players taken behind him? Doesn't really appear so.

On the flip side of the coin, Blair Jones commited the irrevocable sin of not responding to the coaching of a Sutter brother in Red Deer, a sin so deadly that it bounced him down from being a highly ranked WHL prospect in the NHL CSS's early rankings ro a 4th round pick by the time of the draft even though his numbers improved once he was traded to Moose Jaw. Jones' draft stock took a nosedive because his laid back personality didn't mesh with the fire and brimstone coaching style of a Sutter. So he lasted into the 100's, even though athletically he was as good or better than many of the prospects taken ahead of him. Was he really less of a prospect than Roussin though? And there are several other examples of players taken well ahead of Jones who have already seen their careers dashed on the rocks of professional hockey.

Just to reiterate my point: other than the first 15 picks, at most, in a draft, there's not the colossal divide in athleticism that hype driven machines like HF and THN want you to believe there is between a 2nd round pick and a 4th, 5th, or even 6th round pick. And the Lightning's drafts show that if a team runs their minor league system based on merit rather than reputation or draft position, even an 8th (Ryan Craig) or 9th round pick (Nick Tarnasky) can make the NHL, and even a 6th round pick like Paul Ranger can become an impact player in the league.

HF can choose to be dismissive about these late round picks. They can call them "trash" (Jones), or refuse to acknowledge their existence (Lundin). They can ignore the Lightning organization's track record of developing late round talent, or downplay it by claiming they have not produced impact players (as if Ranger is not an impact player and Karri Ramo doesn't have the look of a future impact player). That's fine. It's only their reputation that gets hurt.