I've always said that drafting is an inexact science, in explictly complicating terms, and a crapshoot at best in everyman terms.
When it comes to gauging talent, there is no foolproof method. Hockey clubs - the best of them - dispense a great deal of time, effort and money to get things down right. Some scouts will see certain players play over one hundred times and still mess up.
Each summer - I'm just like you - I get acquainted with 30 possible first round picks, most of whom I didn't know much of one month ago, and hope the Habs get a good one. Back when the OHL Cornwall Royals were still in town, I'd get to watch things such who would back down from Owen Nolan and such. In 2007, when the Canadiens drafted Ryan McDonagh, my knowledge of him was limited to what was read in The Hockey News or from online sources.
When it comes to drafts, the fan becomes somewhat of a prognosticator, moreso than the expert they claim to be. On the subject of the Canadiens, just about every single draft selection gets ragged on because of a better one that came later. Hindsight makes experts out prognosticators like you and I. In the end, it doesn't take much to look at any draft five or six years later and criticize it illogically.
Canadiens fans excel at this. According to many of them, no one team drafts worse than the Habs.
Given, the Canadiens had crapped quite a bit in the first round of the crapshoot between 1990 and 1999, in recent seasons they have gotten much better results after putting in a more concise and concentrated effort in scouting excursions.
Today, there is quite a myth to the Habs bad drafting habits, and it overlooks all complexities of the draft through its round in comparison to other teams. Simply put - it's nonsensical.
When it comes to Detroit and Pittsburgh for comparison sake, are they better at it that Montreal? The proverbial blind squirrel couldn't have missed high first rounders Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury, and maybe it would have stumbled on late round gems like Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
Critics will say Detroit is all suckage in round one, and Pittsburgh rarely grabs talent past the second round. There will aways be angles to assess failure. The people who go looking down this route don't realize all that it says about them.
It's awful safer to find balance and truth in fact, because there will always be questions why Toronto takes an Alexander Steen right ahead of Cam Ward, or how could Marcel Hossa at 18 be superior to Brooks Orpik, Brad Boyes or Steve Ott. The questions cannot be answered with hindsight.
Unless you're a fan, and the answer is the people drafting are uneducated morons.
Imagine for a second, an NHL world in which more players who played in the 2008-09 season were drafted by Montreal than any other club. Imagine also that those players have tallied more points than any group of players drafted by other team.
Sounds like pretty convoluted notion, right?
Not so, reveals Topham at Lions in Winter. The author of an interesting and revealing piece did some scoping, scraping, addition and division - a scout like effort, I may add - and came up with some very interesting findings.
That imaginary NHL world mentioned above is not so unreal - its actually fact.
And where better to find balance in thinking when looking at a draft - in hindsight or in the present?
Read Topham's piece, it might come in handy next time you're angered thinking of David Fischer over Claude Giroux or Simeon Varlamov.