There’s one constant refrain you’ll hear from hockey fans heading into the draft: pick the best player available.
It’s a simplified drafting strategy that sounds so easy when you say it that way. Don’t pick according to the current needs of the organization, as those will change; just pick the best player available when your turn comes up. So easy.
Of course, the “best player available” is a fiction. If there was an objective standard for who the best player is at every point in the draft, we wouldn’t have dozens of draft rankings. Every team has their own list based on their own scouting reports and preferences and no one has a crystal ball telling them who the best player will be.
Even when you can point to a team that seemed to draft according to need instead of just taking the best player, it’s generally pretty unclear whether they actually did that.
For instance, the Canucks took Cory Schneider 26th overall in the 2004 draft. At the time, they desperately needed a number one goaltender of the future, as the team had cycled through a series of underwhelming starters. But then Dave Nonis traded for Roberto Luongo and the need for a franchise goaltender was suddenly gone. Drafting for need appeared to have backfired.
Only, there’s a strong argument to be made that Schneider was, in fact, the best player available. Schneider has become a true number one goaltender, one of the best in the league. Who drafted after him could truly claim to be a better player? You could make a strong case for David Krejci, but he was drafted 37 picks later, so it’s fair to say no one knew he was better at the time. Maybe Mike Green for the two seasons he was a point-per-game defenceman. That’s about it.
So, picking the “best player available” is pretty much useless advice. Everyone goes into the draft trying to pick the best player: they just have different criteria for deciding who that best player is.
Instead, I suggest taking something else into consideration. Teams should try to pick the Best Name Available.
The reason is simple: fans are going to be cheering for these players for, hopefully, the next 15 years or more. And it’s a lot more fun to cheer for someone if they have a name that is fun to say or lends itself easily to puns.
So here are 20 great names eligible for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
20. Jack Ahcan
Just because it sounds a bit like Chaka Khan. I’m easily amused.
19. Dakota Krebs
Sure, Dakota Krebs only had 4 points in 70 WHL games last season, but his name is Dakota Krebs, and that has to count for something.
18. Mackenzie Entwistle
I imagine an ent whistling sounds a little like this:
17. Benton Maass
I can’t help but pronounce his last name as “Maaaaaaaaaaass.”
16. Gera Poddubnyi
That is a quality last name and he gets bonus points for his first name actually being “German” even though he’s from Russia.
15. Parker Foo
I pity the foo’ who doesn’t like this name.
14. Will Warm
I really wish that his first name was Luke, but Warm still offers some solid pun possibilities.
13. Rickard Hugg
Am I too mature to make a joke about how this prospect’s name is basically Dick Hug? No, no I am not.
12. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
Ukko means “old man.” Pekka is the Finnish form of Peter. So this 18 year old’s name is Old Man Peter. Get off of his lawn.
11. Morgan Frost
A hockey player named Frost? A little on the nose, perhaps, but still good. Morgan Frost was also the name of an evil wizard in an episode of the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon.
10. Trey Fix-Wolansky
Why, what’s wrong with Wolansky?
9. Sean Dhooge
I’m assuming his last name is pronounced the same as Doogie Howser, MD. And considering he’s 5’3”, he could easily be mistaken for a teenaged Neil-Patrick Harris.
8. Alex D’Orio
D’Orio is a goaltender and goalie gear makes even skinny dudes look pretty big, so I’m going to call him Double Stuf. Please forgive me.
7. Vladislav Dzhioshvile
6. Jack Rathbone
Rathbone is an underrated last name. Throw a “W” in front of it and you have a metalcore band name.
5. Jayden Halbgewachs
Though undersized and overaged, Halbgewachs’ 50 goals and 101 points in the WHL this past season mean that someone will take a chance on him, even if it’s just a training camp invite. But the biggest reason I want to see him in the NHL is to hear commentators try to pronounce his name.
4. Klim Kostin
There’s just something about alliteration. Add in the sheer unlikeliness of “Klim” (a short form of Kliment, which is a Russianized form of Clement) and this is a winner.
3. Cole Purboo
His last name is how a cat tries to scare you.
2. D’Artagnan Joly
I feel envious of the fans of the team that drafts D’Artagnan Joly: if he ever makes the NHL, he’ll give fans the easiest line name ever.
1. Nick Deakin-Poot
On its own, “Poot” is a funny last name. Add in an homonym for a hockey term like “deking” and you have an all-time great hockey name.
Drafting Deakin-Poot would definitely be a gamble: he’s ranked 213th among North American skaters by Central Scouting, but he is 6’4”, 200+ lbs and his name is Deakin-Poot. Someone’s got to take a flyer on this guy in the seventh round.
Honourable mentions: Nick Perbix, Grant Mismash, Walter Flower, Morgan Geekie, Aleksi Heponiemi, Sam Huff, Cameron Crotty, Logan Cockerill, Filip Chytil