Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chances getting smaller?

it's a fact, if Kyle Wellwood burps on the ice, Nik Antropov is too high up to hear him

The Forechecker, a great hockey statistics blog, recently put up an article detailing size and weight of all 30 teams in the NHL. As you can see, the Leafs come up slightly below the league average, in 18th place. This is only slightly surprising to me, we actually shed some small guys in Tucker and Wellwood, and only really lost size in Gill when it boiled down to transactions. It also helps that waaay back in 07 when the Leafs were making another ill-fated playoff push it was the "Big Three" of Poni, Sundin, and Antro that I heard Philly's announcers talking about in a game, to them back then we were a big team that used it's size. Looking over our dudes though, most top out at 6' even, and guys like Stajan, Steen, Moore, Devereaux, Tlusty, Stralman, and Williams are pretty darned shrimpy.

Is this a big deal? I mean, the Sharks and Sens top the list and both appear to be dominant teams (in the regular season), but both perennial contenders Dallas and Detroit actually reach out at the bottom of the list. Dallas even played a fairly physical playoffs this past season, so it would appear that size isn't necessarily a determining factor when it comes down to team competitiveness and play style.

So why talk about something that apparently doesn't matter? Because Cliff Fletcher seems to think it does.

The Leafs selected eight players at this last draft, Fletcher's first in a while. Not one of them topped out below 6'2". Weight doesn't really apply to 18 year olds, but they project to be a pretty massive group of guys. Both Damien Cox and the boys at Hockey's Future seem skeptical of the actual talent level of the group, while Steve at another great hockey analysis blog begs to differ. The two big names past Schenn are Hayes and Stefanovich, both of whom definitely have first round skill levels, but both have question marks that are hard to argue with surrounding their consistency and work ethic in regards to their careers.

Were Fletcher's draft day decisions based on figures that appear to be meaningless? Or did he just pick the best guys that seemed available, and by coincidence they all bang their heads on the way out of their limos? I'm really interested to see how the big guys work out. The franchise already has a past neglecting small players, we will never hear the end of the Steve Sullivan catcalls.

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