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On the importance of ‘support from the bottom’ (see: Toffoli, Krug, Saad, etc.)

May 2, 2014, 12:59 PM EDT

Tyler Toffoli AP

Tyler Toffoli: 22 years old, drafted 47th overall by the Kings in 2010. Five points in the playoffs.

Torey Krug: 23 years old, undrafted, signed as a free agent by the Bruins in 2012. Six points in the playoffs.

Brandon Saad: 21 years old, drafted 43rd overall by the Blackhawks in 2011. Four points in the playoffs.

Andrew Shaw: 22 years old, drafted 139th overall by the Blackhawks in 2011. Four points in the playoffs.

Brendan Gallagher: 21 years old, drafted 147th overall by the Canadiens in 2010. Five points in the playoffs.

Erik Haula: 23 years old, drafted 182nd overall by the Wild in 2009. Two points in the playoffs, key defensive forward.

And those are just the young guys — none of them first-rounders, you’ll notice — on teams still alive in the postseason. Let’s not forget about the diamonds in the rough that were eliminated in the first round, like San Jose’s Matt Nieto (47th overall in 2011, five points) and Columbus’ Boone Jenner (37th overall in 2011, five points).

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, here’s what president of hockey ops Trevor Linden said about a Canucks team that’s gone from elite to missing the playoffs in practically a blink of an eye:

“When I see playoff teams that are successful, I see teams that have some depth, teams that can roll four lines out. I like the people we have in [our] core positions, but they need support from the bottom. There’s a gap between the core players and what’s coming from below them. There hasn’t been a real push from the bottom and that’s created issues.”

Consider: Alex Edler and Jannik Hansen are the last Canuck draft picks still with the team that have made a considerable impact at the NHL level, and they were chosen a decade ago. OK, fine, d-man Chris Tanev, 24, has turned out to be a savvy college free-agent signing, but Vancouver is still a prime example of the importance of drafting and developing, even for teams that can afford to spend to the cap and go after unrestricted free agents.

And it absolutely has to go beyond first-rounders. Edler was a third-rounder; Hansen was taken 287th overall! Back when those two were playing on cheap contracts, they were a huge source of value for the Canucks. Ditto for undrafted Alex Burrows and the since-departed Mason Raymond, a second-rounder in 2005.

John Tortorella wasn’t the right coach for the Canucks, but he was right when he said Vancouver “needs youth.”

Because every team needs that.

Constantly.

  1. strictlythedanks - May 2, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Haula is a stud. He brings pure speed, tenacity, and effort every night. Lucia did a phenomenal job developing him with the gophers.

  2. wjarvis - May 2, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    Kind of surprised they didn’t pick Andrew Shaw for the Blackhawks, he was drafted in the 5th round of the 2011 draft (96 players after Saad) is 22 years old and has played consistently since the end of the 2011-12 season.

    As the article says drafting helps a ton, especially if you can hit the jackpot on players like Toews, Kane and Seabrook in the first, and then add players like Keith (2nd), Bickell (2nd), Crawford (2nd), Saad (2nd), Hjalmarsson(4th), Shaw (5th), Kruger (5th), Smith (6th), Bollig (undrafted). I’m pretty sure most of the best teams in the league can generate of list like this where a bunch of their top players and also most of their role players are homegrown.

    • wjarvis - May 2, 2014 at 2:10 PM

      Well I’m an idiot, I just saw Saad first, they did include Shaw right after. I guess I should either get back to work or get more coffee.

    • guitarhunterdude - May 2, 2014 at 2:11 PM

      They did, you missed it.

  3. comeonnowguys - May 2, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    Personally, if the Hawks had just played an offensive team like the Avalanche, I’d be more inclined to say the Wild could sneak up on them.

    The fact that they played a relentlessly defensive team that many would argue is better than the Wild, it will be harder for the Wild to catch them off guard.

    But, that’s why they play the games.

    • comeonnowguys - May 2, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      Apologies, this is in the wrong article.

  4. aldog83 - May 3, 2014 at 2:55 AM

    Toffoli is a gamer!

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