June 18, 2008
Screenwriter William Goldman famously once said, "Nobody knows anything." We find this especially true about the NHL Draft. So with our time-honored cynicism, we present these pithy profiles of 2008's top prospects and five completely nonsensical reasons why they'll be busts.
We didn't expect to feel a festering urge to throw in the towel on this satirical series by Episode 2, but cobbling together five
somewhat ridiculous reasons to avoid drafting Russian left wing Nikita Filatov was an arduous task. The kid's golden; seriously, there hasn't been someone this universally praised since Obama before Reverend Wright was uploaded to YouTube.
Filatov is an 18-year-old offensive phenom whose been called a "human highlight reel." His nine-point performance in the 2008 world juniors was good for second in the tournament. He's the No. 1 ranked European skater by Central Scouting, and he's coveted by everyone from the Los Angeles Kings to teams that would have to dramatically move up to snag him like the Edmonton Oilers.
But undaunted, we muster up some cynicism and present five
somewhat ridiculous reasons why you don't want to draft Nikita Filatov:
1. Body by Rold Gold. Filatov is listed at 171 pounds in much the same way Andre The Giant was listed at 7-foot-5: It's all part of selling the product. The fact is that Filatov looks like an elementary school photo of Panic At the Disco's lead singer. He's young enough where one could expect his body will look significantly different three years from now; but right now a lot of Filatov's immediate potential is being pinned on the success of Pee-Wee-sized Patrick Kane's Calder Trophy campaign. Undersized players either become stars like Patrick Kane, or they get knocked around this League like a confused pinball. So size is a concern for Filatov ... even if he clearly has more mad hops than we do. Dang, judging from the photo, he can definitely touch backboard. Maybe rim.
2. He Speaks Very Good English. Thanks schoolteacher mom. Thanks for ruining all of our good fun by having Nikita learn to speak and understand English. Thanks for depriving us of goofy Ovechkin-like malapropisms and Datsyuk-esque broken English comedy. We like our Russian stars to be crippled by the language barrier. Why else would you interview them?
3. He's Not a Defenseman. TSN has Filatov listed at No. 5 in its pre-draft rankings, with defensemen Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian and Alex Pietrangelo all listed ahead of him. You'd have to go back to 2002 to find a draft so deep in D-men where three were taken in the top five: Jay Bouwmeester, Joni Pitkanen and Ryan Whitney. At least two of those guys actually still play defense. This could be one of those situations where three teams look back fondly at having drafted foundational players on the blueline, while one team sneers at the missed opportunity while it waits for Alex Semin, Jr. to blossom.
4. He's Also Not a Defender. Scout 1 on Russianprospects.com doesn't even mention a defensive game. Scout 2: "Defensively tries to help, but is marginal in his own zone, preferring to break out into an offensive rush." Our friend Chris Botta on NYI Point Blank offers a third scout take: "Right now, he couldn't check anyone in the NHL, but his desire to learn will result in Filatov becoming an adequate player in his own end." Alexander Ovechkin worked his ass off to be better than adequate; will Filatov settle for "occasional liability?"
(Of course, does any of that matter when he can do this?)
5. The Uncomfortable Amanda Bynes Thing. Finally, Battle of California's brilliant Rudy Kelly made this discovery on Monday, and it continues to haunt us. Will an unsuspecting team draft Filatov only to later discover it's actually Amanda Bynes from "She's the Man?" And will he/she ever give the world a sequel to "What a Girl Wants?" Creepy.
Up Next: Five reasons you don't want to draft Drew Doughty.