I've made it reasonably well known (well known if you read this blog or the occasional comment in the AJC blogs) that I'm no fan of Rick Dudley. Many 'round these parts think the man can do no wrong and couldn't be happier to have him at the wheel. Can't say I could blame you after what this franchise has been through over the last 10 seasons.
My problem is, I remember the other teams that he was in charge of. I'm not sure many of you are quite aware of what went on there. Many of you know him from the Rick Dudley is not Don Waddell fame. Let's take a stroll down memory lane and look primarily at the NHL Drafts Dudley was in charge of from Tampa to Florida. I will try and do this as fair and balanced as I can. Feel free to debate. We won't look at Ottawa in '98 as he took the GM spot one day after the draft. And we won't look at Chicago because, you know, he wasn't the GM. Dale Tallon was, of the Dale Tallon Florida Panthers fame.
Tampa Bay - 1999
Dudley traded down from the #1 spot to the #4 spot in this very weak draft class. He then traded the #4 pick out of the 1st round entirely. In the process he picked up Dan Cloutier, Shawn Burr, Andrei Zyuzin and a 1st in 2000. Four guys that he drafted in '99 played in the NHL totaling 261 games played and scoring 15 goals.
Tampa Bay - 2000
Dudley traded the #5 overall pick to the Islanders for Kevin Weekes, Kristian Kurdroc and the 31st overall pick (kind of hard to get screwed by Mike Milbury, but I think Duds pulled it off). He had the #8 overall pick from the trade the previous year and selected Nikita Alexeev. Wow, taking a skilled Russian at #8 overall, imagine that! Nikita played 107 games in the NHL scoring 14 goals and 15 assists. Other than Nikita, only two players picked by Dudley in this draft ever played in the NHL.
Tampa Bay - 2001
With the #3 overall pick in the draft Dudley chose Alexandr Svitov (hey, another skilled Russian!). Alex played in 179 NHL games scoring 13 goals and 24 assists. The only other player of note drafted by Dudley that year was some guy named Evgeny Artyukhin. Who, by the way, as of last year was the only player still playing in the NHL that Dudley drafted for the Lightning, making Artyukhin by far the best player Dudley drafted in his three years with Tampa Bay.
Now, in the effort to be fair Dudley did some nice things as GM that helped Tampa win a Cup after he left. He acquired Dan Boyle, traded for the Bulin Wall and I believe also picked up Marty St. Louis. Though the purpose of this post is to look at his drafting skills. Also it should be pointed out that Dudley left the Lightning after he tried to trade away some guy named Vinny Lecavalier, who keep in mind, also was kind of instrumental in the Bolts winning it all. Now then. On to the Panthers...
Florida - 2002
Dudley traded down from #1 to #3 and selected Jay Bouwmeester. All in all a pretty good pick I'd have to say. He did pass on Eric Staal at #2, but we won't be picky. He also had the #9 overall pick and selected Petr Taticek. Petr played a total of 3 NHL games. No one of note was selected the in the remaining rounds.
Florida - 2003
With the #3 pick Dudley selected Nathan Horton. A fine selection indeed. He also had another first rounder with the #25 pick and Anthony Stewart was chosen (46 NHL games played, 2 goals). No one panned out from the remaining rounds.
Clearly Dudley did much better drafting with the Panthers than with the Lightning. Unfortunately for them, he didn't do quite as well with the other moves like bringing in a Dan Boyle or anything like that.
By my count, Dudley traded three top 5 picks outright, and received very little in return. He also had five top 10 picks that he used, and totally whiffed on three of them.
I'm not trying to be over the top negative. I just wanted some of you that may not know where my criticism is coming from and why I wish we had chosen a different GM. You know after 10 years of losing when you finally make a change I would have thought that would be the perfect opportunity to see what was out there in the GM world of the NHL instead of letting the guy that put you in that spot for 10 years hand pick his replacement.
Dudley is hailed around these parts as the best talent evaluator in the NHL. Take a look at the draft history above. What do you think? Now, every ounce of me hopes I'm a complete fool and everything works out for the best and Dudley wins us a Cup. I just don't think so. I can't understand passing up on guys like Fowler, Gormley, or Campbell. I can't understand trading a 1st and 2nd rounder, Morin, and Reasoner and the main guy coming back has yet to top 40 points for the season. Clearly Byfuglien has talents and he should continue to improve. I just think we gave up way too much and got caught up in the playoff heroics, which can be a dangerous thing to do. I can't understand hiring another coach that has not been an NHL head coach for a full season.
Again, I'm not trying to dump on Dudley just for the sake of being negative. And I'm not trying to say the kid we drafted at #8 this year is going to be a bust. I've just read too many times about how everyone is saying Dudley is the man. He drafts the best talent. Nobody knows more about players than him. I had to say my piece.
Thoughts and comments are a welcome.
After thinking about it, I suppose you could say I believe Dudley's drafts have been barbaric: