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How the rookie GMs did in their first NHL draft
Posted: Saturday June 24, 2000 09:17 PM
Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe (left) took a risk choosing little-known Alexei Mikhnov with the 17th overall selection. AP
By Eric Duhatschek, CNNSI.com
Fully one-fifth of the National Hockey League, including the
expansion Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, boasted new general
managers for the 2000 Entry Draft.
Following is a look at how each of them fared with their first picks:
|Doug Risebrough, Minnesota Wild|
With the third overall pick, Risebrough selected the top player on his list, gifted Slovakian winger Marian Gaborik. Once upon a time, Gaborik was projected as the top prospect in the draft, but an inconsistent 1999-2000 season playing for hometown Trencin in Slovakia dropped him to the No. 4 rating among Europeans. That didn't deter the Wild, however, who believe he could be a dynamic scorer along the lines of fellow Trencin grad, Peter Bondra of the Washington Capitals, who has led the league in goals twice in the past six years. We agree. Grade: A- .
|Doug MacLean, Columbus Blue Jackets|
The Blue Jackets selected defenseman (and potential matinee idol) Rostislav Klesla with the fourth overall pick. Sometimes compared to the Los Angeles Kings' Rob Blake because of his willingness to hit and his capacity to score (45 points in 67 games), Klesla is a multi-dimensional player who some scouts believe will ultimately be the top NHLer selected in the 2000 draft. With an effervescent personality and a good understanding of the English language, Klesla could anchor the Columbus blue line for a decade or more. Grade: A .
|Craig Button, Calgary Flames|
Button made a popular hometown pick with the ninth overall choice, selecting Calgary Hitman goaltender Brent Krahn. In Krahn, a hulking 6-foot-4 goaltender who some compare to Toronto's Curtis Joseph in terms of his acrobatic style, the Flames add depth to the weakest link in the organization. The day before, Button picked up Mike Vernon from Florida (via Minnesota) to fill a short-term gap in goal. Ultimately, they expect Krahn to provide the long-term solution. Grade: B .
|Mike Smith, Chicago Blackhawks|
Smith, who has a doctorate in Russian studies, had back-to-back first-round picks, courtesy of last year's trade with the Vancouver Canucks. And, predictably, he snapped up a pair of Russians with the 10th and 11th selections. His first choice, Mikhail Yakubov, is a rail-thin center with playmaking skills, who was the No. 2-rated Russian in the draft. Yakubov needs to fill out physically -- at 183 pounds, he isn't ready for the NHL yet -- but he has first-line upside. With the next pick, Smith went for the top-rated European, right-winger Pavel Vorobiev. Grade: B .
|Kevin Lowe, Edmonton Oilers|
Twenty-two years after being the first player ever chosen by the Oilers in the Entry Draft, Lowe took a calculated risk with his initial selection and grabbed Alexei Mikhnov at No. 17. A Ukrainian who didn't get much exposure in international junior competitions, the 6-5, 194-pounder is most frequently compared to Toronto's emerging star Nikolai Antropov, who had similar physical gifts and mysterious past. Grade: C .
|Glen Sather, New York Rangers|
Sather went into the 2000 draft without a first-round pick and in his first deal dropped down from 38th to 63rd in order to pick up an extra draft choice, 95th overall, from the Detroit Red Wings. In the end, the Rangers' first selection was Filip Novak, a 6-0, 174-pound defenseman from Regina of the Western League. Rated 33rd overall by Central Scouting, Novak slipped precipitously in the mad rush to draft Russians, so the Rangers were comparatively pleased to get him at this stage in the draft. Grade: C .
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