What a debacle. What a pitiful end to such a promising season. Yes, I know there’s one at least game left, but it’s merely a formality at this point. Dan Bylsma has lost the team. The players aren’t even bothering to pretend like they care about defensive responsibility anymore. The problem is from top to bottom and it’s time to clean house. I think it’s too early to call for Bylsma’s head, but that won’t be far off.
I’m honestly not sure who to blame at this point. Is it Bylsma’s fault for not reining in his players? Is it the players’ fault for not adhering to the system and playing some goddamn defense for a change? Or is it Ray Shero’s fault for not properly structuring the roster? I suspect there isn’t one single point of failure, but in the interest of figuring this out, I’m going to start at the top.
Let’s take a look at exactly how good of a job Ray Shero has actually done since taking over, beginning with the draft.
First of all, I think a lot of fans fail to realize the amount of talent Ray Shero inherited. When he took over in 2006, the majority of the core group of players was already in place. Of players currently on the roster, Orpik, Fleury, Malkin, Crosby, Letang and TK were all drafted by Craig Patrick. Max Talbot and Rob Scuderi, who obviously aren’t here any more, but were huge contributors to the 2009 Stanley Cup championship also came to town via Mr. Patrick.
In Shero’s six drafts, only two players he has selected have seen significant playing time at the NHL level.
Jordan Staal and Dustin Jeffrey. That’s it.
That’s not a very high success rate. And I would argue that the Jordan Staal pick should be considered a failure. Yes, Jordan Staal has been good, but he was the second overall pick. He damn well better be good. Now look at the other players that were drafted after him. Is he better than Toews or Backstrom? Hardly. I’d even argue that Kessel would have been a better selection given the Penguins’ glaring historical need for a winger.
Now before you jump down my throat, I know that drafting 18 year old kids can be a crapshoot, but Shero and a lot of other people are being paid a lot of money to separate the wheat from the chaff here, and they’re failing. Sure, there are still some players that may pan out. It’s too early to close the book on guys like Bortuzzo, Sneep and Strait and there are indications that Despres could be a key contributor in the future. It’s even more premature to try and properly evaluate the 2010 and 2011 drafts, but I defy you to take a look at this list and tell me that you honestly believe Shero has done a spectacular job.
Next up I’ll take a look at the trades he’s made.