Public Service Announcement: In most cases, the NHL draft is not for immediate returns

"We'll see you in a few years, kid..." - Bruce Bennett

A mock draft is a guessing game, and tying a team's immediate situation to the guess is a sign of how wildly a mock draft is guessing.

The National Hockey League draft, much like the Major League Baseball draft, is not about immediate results.  Even if a first-round draft pick is deemed ready for the pro leagues, odds are they won't be contributing at the top of their game until years from the time they were drafted.  This is certainly truer for MLB than the NHL, but both leagues are dependent on players developing over time.

That being said, the media makes sure to extend itself and satisfy / entertain fans with mock drafts - trying to predict what teams will do and why.  It is a reading of tea leaves, gazing into a crystal ball and all that jazz.  SB Nation does this annually with each individual team blog participating in a mock draft, but more often you see major media sources driven by one writer or a scant few contributors who make guesses on what a team will do.

And all too often, the media in the NHL - driven by a general disconnect toward teams not in Canada or the northeast United States - decides to base a pick on the most basic of rationale, no matter how much it conflicts with basic fact the draft is not for immediate results.

Case in point, Sportsnet.ca conducted their 1st round mock draft and put it out for the world to see.  The two players that they slated for the Lightning in the first round, Dylan Larkin and Roland McKeown, may or may not be there when Tampa Bay makes it's selections, so I can't get on their case for slotting those guys for Tampa Bay.

What I can get on is this assessment of why the Lightning would select Dylan Larkin at #19.  Emphasis is added by me:

19. Tampa Bay Lightning, Dylan Larkin, C

The type of player who helps a team win in the playoffs with his drive and determination. Larkin is a solid, reliable two-way forward who will probably round into a defensive contributor in the NHL.

Basically, the write-up suggests that, with the Bolts being swept out of the first round of the NHL playoffs this spring, they are in need of a player like Dylan Larkin.  With Larkin on board, the Bolts will go further in the playoffs, even if Dylan Larkin is likely years away from making it to the team.

If any Lightning fan is looking at the draft for immediate results on the big club, you should realize by now (especially under Steve Yzerman's stewardship as GM) that results come much, much later and to ease off expectations of immediate return.  This is not the NFL where players in their early 20's are selected and expected to contribute immediately, the NHL draft focuses on players in their late teens who must still hone their game in one capacity or another.

If you're drafting with the playoffs in mind, it's likely you're playing in a fantasy league.  In the case of the Sportsnet write-up (and it's not to judge Dylan Larkin at all; none of what I'm spouting off is aimed at Larkin or the type of player he will be in the NHL if and when he makes it) it's simply a weak justification of a wild guess.

The 2014 NHL Draft, by the way, is slated for June 27th and 28th in Philadelphia.

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