Winnipeg looking for high character in draft

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:51 AM ET

ST. PAUL, MINN. - Is there another Shane Doan available this time around?

That may be one of the ‘round-a-bout questions Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and his staff are asking themselves as they prepare to step to the podium at Xcel Energy Center on Friday to make the seventh overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

The last time a Winnipeg NHL franchise chose seventh overall, Doan fell into their laps, much to the chagrin of the Edmonton Oilers fans after Steve Kelly went sixth overall.

All Doan did was make the Jets as an 18-year-old and carve out a solid NHL career that is ongoing in the desert.

To this point, Doan has appeared in 1,119 games, produced 296 goals, 442 assists and 738 points, to go along with 10 goals and 19 points in 39 playoff games.

If Cheveldayoff and company can even find a reasonable facsimile of Doan, they would be absolutely thrilled.

As great a career Doan has enjoyed, it should be noted he had only seven goals and 17 points in 74 games as an NHL rookie in Winnipeg — so patience will likely be required, regardless of who is selected.

“Obviously the depth of the organization comes into play, depending on position,” said Cheveldayoff. “At the end of the day, we’re not in the business of trying to force players into the NHL at too early of an age. That’s my belief. Certainly if a player is ready to play, I believe he’ll find that level and he’ll earn that opportunity. There’s an old adage that there have been a lot of players that have been ruined or not developed properly that have been rushed to the NHL. Not many have been ruined by taking their time to get there. When a player is ready, it will become apparent and that’s when they’ll be part of the organization.”

There are going to be many different options for Winnipeg at seven, should they choose to stay at that number.

Will it be a high-scoring, game-breaking centre like Ryan Strome or Sean Couturier, a slick offensive blue-liner like Ryan Murphy or a less dynamic but still impressive guy like Dougie Hamilton, Mika Zibanejad or Duncan Siemens?

“The hard part at seven or anything other than one, I guess, is that you really don’t know what’s going to be available,” said Cheveldayoff. “Given the attributes we’re going to discuss and given the players that are there, to say you’re going to look for one particular player or one style of player or another is kind of premature.”

One thing that is apparent is that Winnipeg’s brain trust is looking for more than just impressive statistics.

“We’re going to look for players who are of good character,” Cheveldayoff said earlier in the week. “Obviously, there are some individual attributes of on-ice play, that you want to have certain mixtures on. At the end of the day, we’re looking for very good people and someone who is going to be a good character player for a long period of time. And character comes in many different ways.”

But what type of draft is it?

“It’s a little bit of a unique draft,” said Cheveldayoff. “If you ask 10 different people, who’s going to go first, second and third, you’ll probably get 10 different answers as far as where it might go. If you also ask, are you going to get a good player at five-to-10, there might be some people out there that say you’re going to get a great player.

“There’s lots of different opinions and that’s the beauty of the hockey world. Everyone sees things differently. Each and every year, people go in and talk about it being a great draft or being a weak draft, but there are always guys who come to the forefront who are picked at different points and times throughout the draft.”

With so much talk of this draft being top heavy, there’s a good chance teams will be burning up the phone lines to try and move up.

“Universally, if you talk around the league everyone says there are some good players to be had at the top end of the draft,” said Cheveldayoff. “I wouldn’t be shocked if you see some teams aggressively try to get into that Top-10. We’ll see.”

Lucky sevens

7th overall selections from past five seasons

C Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes, 2010 — Won Calder Trophy

C Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs, 2009 — 29 games with the big club last season, but produced only three goals and 12 points

LW Colin Wilson, Nashville Predators, 2008 — Appeared in all 82 games last season (16 goals, 34 points),

RW Jakub Voracek, Columbus Blue Jackets, 2007 — 39 goals and 134 points in 241 games over the past three seasons.

RW Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders, 2006 — 44 goals and 116 points in 192 games over parts of four seasons.

Other notables to go in the seventh slot

D Ryan Suter, Nashville Predators, 2003

RW Joffrey Lupul, Anaheim Ducks, 2002

D Mike Komisarek, 2001 Montreal Canadiens

RW Shane Doan, 1995, Winnipeg Jets

C Jason Arnott, 1993 Edmonton Oilers

RW Russ Courtnall, 1983 Toronto Maple Leafs

C Ken Linesman, 1978, Philadelphia Flyers

D Brad Maxwell, 1977, Minnesota North Stars

C Bernie Federko, 1976, St. Louis Blues

C Doug Risebrough, 1974, Montreal Canadiens

LW Bill Barber, 1972, Philadlephia Flyers


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