Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks draft pick at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft

You might have recently thought “Hey, that Logan Couture guy is pretty good. The Sharks are lucky to have him.” I know I’ve thought this on many occasions over the last few weeks.

Then for some reason, you get this bizarre urge to find out Couture’s draft year. You eventually determine he was the ninth overall selection during the 2007 NHL Entry Draft in Columbus. In an effort to look smart (read: not stupid), you nod your head in approval thinking ninth overall sounds about right.

But hold on for one second!

You recall the San Jose Sharks being a very good team during the 2007 NHL season. Your brain reaches a logical conclusion that there’s no way the Sharks could have had a draft pick that high that year.

Suddenly you are very confused. A team who finished with the fifth most points in the league during the 2007 season ended up drafting a player ninth overall later that summer.

Wait. Come again. What just happened?

It all started on draft day, June 22, when the San Jose Sharks traded forward Mark Bell and goalie Vesa Toskala to the Toronto Maple Leafs (sorry for the reminder Leafs fans) in exchange for Toronto’s  first and second round picks (Lars Eller, 13th overall and Aaron Palushaj, 44th overall, respectively) in the 2007 draft, and a fourth round draft pick in 2009 (Craig Smith).

Hey – Maybe this is still one of those “wait and see” kinds of trades. Nevermind. Neither player has suited up for the Leafs in some time. Maybe John Ferguson, Jr. was desperate to acquire a starting goalie to make up for trading Tuukka Rask to Boston a year earlier for Andrew Raycroft. And he was adding a power forward in Bell at the same time too. Sounds reasonable enough, right? Nevermind that too. Maybe JFJ lost faith in the draft system after taking Jiri Tlusty 13th overall in the 2006 draft when Claude Giroux ended up going 22nd overall. Anyways…

Following the deal with the Leafs, the Sharks promptly traded those first and second round picks (Eller and Palushaj) to the St. Louis Blues for their ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft. Of course, that pick ended up being Logan Couture from the Ottawa 67’s.

Ouch.

For those keeping track, the Sharks managed to rid themselves of Mark Bell and Vesa Toskala for Logan Couture, a serious 2010-2011 Calder trophy candidate, and all it cost them was a fourth round pick in the 2009 draft.

Did you hear that noise just now? I think that was the sound of several thousand Leafs fans smashing their face into their keyboards.

There are some teams that flat out rob others during draft weekends. While most of the hockey world was busy watching the Chicago Blackhawks pick Patrick Kane first overall, the Sharks quietly stole one of the best talents available in the 2007 draft for close to nothing… unless you consider Craig Smith something of a big deal.

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Some interesting notes from the 2007 draft:

  • 2007 was the first time two American-born players were selected first and second overall in NHL draft history (Kane picked by Chicago and James van Riemsdyk picked by Philadelphia).
  • The Colorado Avalanche selected 2010′s impressive rookie Kevin Shattenkirk 14th overall.
  • Whether the accompanying pressure is fair or not, Lars Eller ended up being a key piece of the Jaroslav Halak trade to the Blues last summer.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs did not make a first or second round selection in this draft (sounds familiar… where have I heard this story before?). In fact, their first selection of that weekend came when they took Dale Mitchell 74th overall in the third round. Yeah…
  • Montreal selected P.K. Subban 43rd overall, one pick ahead of Palushaj.
  • With the 97th overall pick, the Edmonton Oilers drafted a Swedish-born forward who would later become a YouTube shootout sensation and one of the top players in the American Hockey League in the 2010-2011 season. That player, Linus Omark, makes his NHL debut on Friday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Comments (11)

  1. Wow, that was informative and devastating all at the same time.

    -Justin
    @hockeycardshow

  2. Apples and oranges my man, apples and oranges….

    You have to remember… if Logan Couture was their 1st round pick, we would have seen him with a pacifier in his mouth on the cover of the Toronto Sun 2 years ago. This just in: the Sharks are a little better than the Leafs and drafting AND DEVELOPING talent. ;)

    • @ Matt – re: Development – That’s a great point. There’s an article on The Hockey News that talks about the fact that Couture is 21 as a rookie, and has played in the minors to get better. Clearly the Sharks went the right route. Your suggestion of the Leafs rushing a similar caliber prospect is probably accurate.

      @ Justin – Hahaha, I’m sorry. But to make you feel better, Phaneuf is back in the line up tonight. Wait, sorry. Didn’t mean to make you feel worse!

  3. San Jose seems to trade up every year. While they’ve managed to get Settoguchi and Couture, it’s also resulted in them moving up for the right to select Lucas Kaspar as well.

  4. San Jose have a strong history of drafting well and it’s probably because they’ve done a great job partnering with some of the high-tech companies in California to analyze the stats of draft eligible junior players.

    For example, instead of looking at a player who scored 30 goals, they’ll look at how many of those 30 goals actually mattered. Obviously, a goal that is scored late in the third period of a tied game is far more important than scoring the seventh goal in a 9-2 victory, and they’ve figured out a way to isolate that type of statistic.

    That’s why it seems like they always draft the “right” players. They tend to get the clutch players who are consistently good, whether it’s high round picks like Couture or Settoguchi, or late round picks like Ryan Clowe, Jason Demers or Joe Pavelski.

    San Jose are like Billy Beane/Oakland A’s of hockey (think Moneyball) – The Leafs could learn a lot from this!

  5. Not to take anything away from Seto but Sharks scouts did make one mistake when we passed on Anze Kopitar for Setoguchi.

  6. Martin: The idea of “clutch” goals and goals that “matter more” is the exact opposite of advanced statistics and Moneyball/puck.

  7. Regarding the Sharks drafting methods, they don’t, that I know of, utilize advanced statistics. However, they do place a huge amount of weight on getting character players (captains in the junior ranks, ect.) I think when they drafted Couture they saw a guy who would be a great leader and have an excellent two-way game, who probably ended up as a second liner- not unlike a lesser Joe Pavelski. In addition, they frequently take safe players, who are near-locks to make the bigs (Couture, McGInn and Michalek are the best examples of this). Howevever, it looks like the are getting a premier offensive talent, who is extremely smart defensively, and is clutch when the team needs him. Worth noting that in the five minutes since starting this comment Logan has a goal and a primary assist.

    Also, like a lot of teams, San Jose’s drafting has some holes. The best evidence is in selecting Setoguchi over Kopitar, when many believed Anze had #1 overall talent. Burke, San Jose’s head scout, wanted, and still wants nothing to do with Kopitar, continuing to believe he is overrated. The other area San Jose struggles is when they go for hitting the ball out of the park. Lukas Kaspar and Steve Bernier were looked at as potential 1st line talents. Kaspar didn’t have the will to play at all, and Bernier hasn’t really made strides to improve his game, despite some extremely impressive play his first year and a half with San Jose. Another recent bust is Mike Morris, but he was a victim of terribly bad injury luck more than anything.

    The Sharks are phenomenal at developing second liners and second pairing d-man, but our last premier offensive talent was Patrick Marleau- 13 years ago. While part of this has to do with having pretty consistently high picks, Michalek, Bernier, and Seto were selected with franchise forwards still on the table (Getzlaf, Kopitar, Parise, ect.) Maybe Logan can be our 2nd PPG forward in ten drafts, but this shows a clear differentiation with Detroit who is IMO, the premier drafting and developing team. Also, San Jose doesn’t draft europeans outside of Germany, Czech Republic, and Swedish d-men. No Russians means they are passing up the best opportunity for premier talents outside the top 5-10 (although this also comes with more busts).

  8. @ Matt – Thanks for reading the post and contributing in the comments. Very awesome.

    I don’t think the Sharks made an error not taking Kopitar. At the time, Kopitar was a big unknown. Sure he was an elite player in his league, but his league was some terrible Lithuainian league with guys who couldn’t skate. He didn’t have a lot looks against real competition. Similar to Kyle Turris in the BCHL. Also, if I recall correctly, there were question marks about Kopitar’s attitude at the time (could be wrong on that).

    I don’t believe Kopitar would be the player he is today on a team where he wasn’t the “go to guy.” He wouldn’t have ever been that guy in SJ.

    Totally agree with you on the second line development though.

  9. Quantum leap in logic was made in this article…the Leaf picks were (Lars Eller, 13th overall and Aaron Palushaj, 44th overall, respectively, as you point out. To suggest Couture (the 9th pick) would have been with the Leafs suggests the Leafs would have traded up to 9th and select ed him somehow. You can’t suggest the Leafs can’t keep picks/draft/develop players (there’s plenty of evidence to argue this) from one side of your mouth while arguing from the other side the Leafs would have traded up and turned Eller into Couture in 2007. You’re journalists (right?!), just report the facts. Couture should have been a St.Louis Blue.

  10. Having followed the Sharks from the very beginning, I have to say recent history is much kinder to the org then the very first draft. Pat (the baby fat) Falloon taken 2nd in the draft overall when a man name Scott Neidemeyer was taken third. Sounds like a typical Leaf decision (based on most of your own comments). Think of the logic, draft a cornerstone 1st line puck moving defender (defense wins Cups), or a pudgy RW who lasts 6 years before he eats himself out of the league. You bet thats what I would have done!!! NOT!!!

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