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Dizzying Heights of Pre-Draft Hype

By June 20, 2008

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The number-one pick at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft will be a formality: The Tampa Bay Lightning are already shilling Steven Stamkos as the new savior.

As a marketing slogan, "Seen Stamkos?" is lame. But it's better than "Tampa Bay Lightning: A Downward Spiral of Self-Destruction Since 2004."

Let's hope, for his sake, that Stamkos (pictured) is as good as advertised.

In the meantime, a Tampa Bay columnist reports that the Lightning are also seeking an NHL-ready player with their third-round pick, further proof that draft week is hockey's true silly season.

As an added bonus, this year's pre-draft hype has provided one of the dumbest trade rumors in hockey history.

And if you can't wait for the real thing, there are plenty of "mock drafts" out there. What exactly is the point of these exercises?

Beyond all the foolishness, the reality of the draft is more mundane. A scout once said it's like walking into a grade nine science class and trying to pick the doctors.

If you're more familiar with the NBA and NFL drafts, keep in mind that the NHL is different.

Young hockey players develop a lot quicker than they used to. But most NHL teams don't go to the draft looking for immediate help. Only three players from last year's first round stepped directly into the big leagues.

For a typical top prospect, any meaningful contribution to an NHL team is 2-5 years away.

Most of the players selected beyond the first round will be on the street by then, looking for real jobs.

  • See also: NHL Entry Draft Resources

    (Photo: Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)

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