So I've received a good number of emails regarding Defending Big D's pick in the SB Nation mock draft, and how that was drastically different than the player our readers voted for in the poll from last night. The comments in this morning's post were along the same lines as the email and I thought I should clear some things up.
When I posted the poll last night, I already knew exactly who I was going to pick. It had already happened in fact. But I thought it would be interesting to see what the readers thought about who the Stars should grab. Little did I know that the results of the poll would be so drastically different than what I actually decided to do. The majority of votes went to Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi, but since Toronto picked him right in front of the Stars that was off the board. That left the Stars with several options, most notably with several top notch defensemen to choose from.
Ryan Ellis was the second choice by voters, by wide margin. A good number of you feel that picking Ekman-Larsson, a young defenseman who still has several years of development left, over Ellis was a bad choice. I understand the sentiment and the frustration, but I stick by my choice.
Ekman-Larsson is a very young prospect that has skyrocketed up the player rankings over the past year. In fact, he wasn't even in the top 100 of most rankings list in April of last year. But a year playing in the Swedish Elite league (even if it's the second tier) has shown the incredible potential OEL has for the future and teams are eager to lock him for what he can bring to the NHL level as early as 2010-11. This sudden rise in the rankings and the fact that he hasn't been under the microscope for very long has made him somewhat of an unknown enigma, especially among fans.
In gearing up for the draft I have immersed myself in prospect rankings, profiles and scouting reports. I've talked to hockey writers who have seen these players in person. I've seen the reports of how teams that have very high draft picks have shown a lot of interest in Ekman-Larsson, and the growing sentiment is the he won't even make it to the Stars at the eigth pick.
When Art and I had this discussion, we brought Ellis into the mix along with Scott Glennie, Dmitry Kulikov and Jordan Schroeder. Art was making a big argument for Glennie, who is very talented and is a hard working, high scoring right wing. The same goes for Schroeder. Both Schroeder and Glennie fill a need for the Stars who lack depth on the right side, but in my eyes Kulikov, Ellis and Ekman-Larsson are all above those two on the draft board. This high, with this pick, you draft who you feel is the best player available, not who best fills a need.
You could make as great an argument for both Kulikov and Ellis, and why they should go above Ekman-Larsson. They both put up some insane numbers in the WHL this past season and both are more advanced than Larsson when it comes to who's going to make it the NHL fastest. I could have picked either of them, and been perfectly content with that choice.
Yet my gut and my heart were with Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The interviews from teammates and coaches, the way he's handled himself with the media, the way that people I've talked to personally who have seen him play have raved about him; that made me feel I made the right choice. In the end, I had to play Dallas Stars General Manager. I had the scouts (you the readers) pulling me one way and I had my closest adviser (Art) pulling me another. In the end it was my decision, and it was a tough one.
I'd hate to have to go through that for real.