Friday, October 21, 2011

Major Injuries Hit 2012 Draft

In 2009 it was Spokane defenceman Jared Cowen (OTT), out the second half of the season with a knee in jury. Brett Connolly (TBY) missed most of 2010 with the Prince George Cougars. Last year both US-NTDP defender Connor Murphy (PHX) and Peterborough Petes forward Matt Puempel (OTT) missed significant time from their draft year.

Unfortunately the trend appears to be continuing in 2011-12 with three potential top-15 prospects on the shelf for what appears to be an extended period of time.

Sarnia Sting forward Alex Galchenyuk, who has not played a regular season game yet this year, is reportedly going to have knee surgery and will be out of action until March 2012. This after a tantalizing 83-point rookie season with the Sting last year.

We spoke with Alex on the show very recently and he suggested 4-6 weeks but that was before this report of surgery so obviously things have changed for him. He talked about the disappointment of not being able to help his team this year.
"It's pretty tough to watch a game from the press box, you want to be out there and help your team win and celebrate with your teammates. Not being able to do that is pretty tough."

Now joining Galchenyuk on the injured list is Everett Silvertips star defenceman Ryan Murray who is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain. The top ranked defenceman suffered the injury after taking a hit in the early stages of a game against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Wednesday.

Not only is that a huge blow to the Silvertips, to Murray himself but potentially also to Hockey Canada who would have been looking for Murray to be a major contributor for their entry in the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship in late December. While the expected return is before the event, how will the time off affect his timing and performance will be in question.

Clearly the Silvertips are going to be devastated. This is a club that many, including I, pictured outside of the WHL playoffs anyway but the loss of their best player for this long will almost certainly bury them in the cellar.

In Halifax, the Mooseheads are still awaiting the return of their star import Martin Frk who has not played yet this year because of a concussion. We're told he is very close to returning to action but with concussions you never know for certain and Halifax is doing what they should, erring on the side of caution.

Frk had 50 points last year as a rookie in the QMJHL and on a team that hovered near the basement all year long. There was, and still is, a lot of excitement as fans imagine what a Frk/Nathan MacKinnon combination could do this year.

How will these injuries affect the draft stock of Galchenyuk and Murray? Using the examples above, it might not hurt them all that badly. Cowen, like Murray, was the top ranked defenceman in his draft class at the time he was hurt. He did slip to Ottawa at 9th overall but that is still a top-10 pick.

Brett Connolly went 6th overall and both Puempel and Murphy were taken in the early 20's during the 2011 draft. Could any of the above have gone a couple spots higher if not for the injury they had? Sure... but it's not like they plummeted out of the first or even second round.

Drops like that are more often based on character and questionable conduct; ask guys like Kirill Kabanov (NYI, 3rd round) and Jon Merrill (NJ, 2nd round).

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