Lord Bob | 21 June, 2008 15:45
Pick #133: LW Philippe Cornet (Rimouski, QMJHL) [61.23+26=49 24]
When the Oilers snagged Philippe Cornet with their fifth-round pick in this year's draft, the reaction at my desk went something like this.
(sounds of frantic clicking and flipping)
I genuinely hadn't even heard of Philippe Cornet until I saw his name sprawled across TSN.ca like so much manure on Paul McCallum's lawn. When I glanced at his statistics, my mood did not improve. Second-leading scorer on a crummy team (way behind Panthers prospect Michael Frolik). Not a lot of speed, not a lot of intensity, no ability whatsoever to win the battles, defensive ability suspect, consistency suspect, and generally arrows pointing the wrong way across the board.
In later rounds, my philosophy is to draft players who can do something and do it well. Vyacheslav Trukhno possessed an NHL-calibre shot when he was drafted, and no matter what happened he'd still have that NHL-calibre shot to fall back on. So when he went to Springfield and struggled at first, you knew that they'd go in eventually, and they did. Kyle Brodziak and Fernando Pisani were both late picks who got to the NHL because they were great defensive forwards when they were drafted and were able to rely on that long enough to get a meal ticket and develop the rest of their game. You look at guys like Ales Pisa and Jan Hejda: they were able to play a calm game and limit mistakes, and this made their careers even when their other skills weren't always top-end.
As far as I can tell, Cornet hasn't got those "plus skills" that we talk about when we're trying to sum up a prospect. It can't fairly be said that he's bad at everything, but his greatest weakness is that he has no particular strengths. So when a guy like, say, Brent Regner (#137 to Columbus) goes in the fifth round, you say "skilled, undersized playmaking defenseman, needs to work on defensive positioning". You see Philippe Cornet, and he needs to work on everything. Not a good sign.
Missed Opportunities: There aren't a lot of brilliant players at this stage of the draft, but Lowe really could have done better. The aforementioned Regner is the sort of player who can surprise a few guys and have a career somewhere: he certainly has the skill for it. If only he'd dropped a few picks, Prabh Rai (#131 to Vancouver) is a skilled young offensive playmaker who could have been a real steal. And as for players we actually could have gotten, Matt Martin (#148 to the New York Islanders) is a solid, irritating winger with some hops and the ability to have the career Dan Baum should have had. And throughout the next few picks, there's a number of players who are on the same level as Cornet or maybe just a bit better.
Dodged Bullets: Then again, it sure could have been worse. Whatever the New Jersey Devils were smoking when they drafted Kory Nagy at #142 out of Oshawa, I want a supplier. Not a very good defensive player and a very, very bad offensive player who couldn't score on the Shooter Tutor, never mind an NHL goaltender. Meanwhile, goaltender Alexander Pechurski #150 to Pittsburgh) is a questionable pick: you're going to take a semi-regular goaltender with no serious experience out of the Russian third division, Pittsburgh? Really? You sure about that? Besides, if we're honest, I bet he would have fallen another round, guys. I mean, not like there was a run on mediocre goaltenders who might as well have been playing road hockey.
Final Verdict: Lowe's first real miss of the draft is lucky not a serious one, since it was only the fifth round. Still, if Cornet shows up in the NHL I'll print off this blog post and eat it. These guys simply don't make it, and if they're not going to make it what's the point of drafting them?