Since the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup last month, there hasn't been much going on in hockey. And of course, there hasn't been much going on with the Avalanche for a couple months before that, so it's been understandably quiet around here at Grading Dater. But with both the NHL Entry draft and the start of free agent signings both within the last two weeks, I think it's time to crank out an update. So to all the readers who are not my brother, welcome back! And to my brother: stop kicking pucks into my net!
As we know, the Avalanche selected forward Gabriel Landeskog with the second pick of the draft. I like the pick a lot... he fits the Avs' needs (a huge part of the Avs' defensive problems is that their forwards are way too easy to get the puck away from), and by all accounts is a kid of great character who's not afraid to step up into a leadership role. Plenty of people are still griping about trading away Chris Stewart, but I think Landeskog's combination of skill plus desire & character could make him a much more valuable player for the Avalanche than Stewart ever could have been.
I had hoped that the Avs would pick Adam Larsson, the big Swedish defenseman, with their lottery pick. As I said, I like Landeskog, but I see Larsson as being a much rarer type of player. He's a big, fast, skilled defenseman who's been playing in an elite pro league for a couple years. My view is that with a top-five pick, you want to grab a superstar-type player, and I see Larsson as much more of that type of player than Landeskog.
On the other hand, I can also see that even though Landeskog's skill may not be quite up there with Larsson's, he's probably the safer pick for the Avs. The Avalanche did address their needs at defense, when they drafted defenseman Duncan Siemens with the 11th pick.
Now, onto the media coverage of the draft: during the season, when it became fairly clear that the Avs would have a lottery pick, I was critical of the draft coverage on the Post because it was pretty clearly not very well-researched. Things got quite a bit better as the draft approached, however, as Dater (and occasionally Frei) buckled down and started doing some reporting.
The first article I've chosen is Dater's comparison between Larsson and Landeskog (after a media day of some sort), in which Larsson comes across looking immature an unprepared, while Landeskog appears ready to be some team's next captain, like tomorrow.
I found this article to be heavily slanted towards Landeskog: it includes 279 words (after the intro stuff) about Landeskog, and only 63 about Larsson. That's a really big deal in an article like this one: when one subject gets a huge advantage in the time the reporter spends on them, it reads as if the reporter favors that subject. Dater (and his editor) should have taken more care to spend equal time on each player.
Dater's impression of Landeskog seems to be the universal one; just about everybody came away from the media day impressed with this kid. On the other hand, Dater's description of Larsson as a nervous, sweaty guy who was completely uncomfortable answering questions, did not seem to be shared with others who were present at the media day, as seen here and here, where he was described much more favorably as a kid who didn't speak great English but handled himself well nonetheless.
This article should have been much more balanced. This reads like an article on Landeskog, with the Larsson stuff thrown in just to make Landeskog look better by contrast, rather than an effort to truly cover both players. Whether poorly written or poorly edited, it is unfair to Larsson, and ultimately disappointing.
The next article is also a Dater submission, this one a very well-done introduction to the Avalanche's first-round picks. Plenty of quotes from a variety of sources, including Landeskog's coach. the Avs' chief scout Rick Pracey, and the players themselves. This article is proof that when Dater sets his mind to being a reporter, he can be a very fine one.
Rather than trying to go through every draft blog entry that Dater and Frei submitted, I just read through them to get a general idea of how they went. They weren't bad... Dater in particular just kind of jumped around from Nugent-Hopkins to Huberdeau to Larsson to Landeskog, giving his reader bits of information and rumors about all of them.
A lot of the blog entries were the annoying "I just heard a rumor that..." kind of thing. Personally, I'd prefer that rumors go unreported at all... rumors are not news, leave them to Eklund. On the other hand, though, I do appreciate that before a draft of any sort, the only thing that's really out there is rumor, so in this case I don't have a huge problem with them, unless they affect the actual reporting later (as we will see when we examine the free agency coverage).
The above All Things Avs blog is a Dater submission including his thoughts after the draft. Pretty general, standard thoughts about the draft process and what's ahead for these players and for the Avalanche. Dater then includes some interview video of each player, which as I've said before I really appreciate in these blog entries.
Next on the list is the Denver Post's coverage of the Avalanche free agent moves, including Dater's massive whiff on the Avs' next goalie.