When a Draft Plan Falls Apart

Rivals and circumstance conspire to thwart legendary manager's best laid plans.
by Clark Kent | September 20, 2010, 12:51 PM ET

Heading into the 2010 SICHL Entry Draft, Edmonton Supersonics GM Mike Franceschini found himself with only four selections in seven rounds, (two in the first five,) the result of trading away the future for a successful Cup run in 2009. This lack of picks, coupled with a strong regular season that resulted in a poor draft position near the bottom of every round, left the team with limited options come Sunday morning.

Determined to make the most of the situation, Franceschini spent months pouring over pages of reports from his army of scouts that had been dispatched around the world for the past 12 months, and felt he had developed a sound strategy that would make the most of a compromized situation.

In the wake of the draft, all that could be said at the Supersonics' draft table was that "sometimes the best laid plans fall through".

Picking 24th, Franceschini knew that he was out of the running for some of the blue-chip prospects available. "We simply didn't have the assets required to pull into the top 10, let alone the top two. We had our guy and figured we'd be safe getting him at our position. Unfortunately, we were... incorrect."

Although the team will not confirm it, sources speculate that the player the 'Sonics coveted was power forward Tyler Pitlick of the Medicine Hat Tigers, whom the Las Vegas Aces claimed with the 17th overall pick, surprising many.

With their prime target gone and other similarly coveted players already claimed by other teams when it was their turn at the podium, Franceschini shifted into contingency mode and dealt the 24th pick to the provincial rival Calgary Mustangs in exchange for the Mustangs' second and third round selections in the draft. The Mustangs used the pick to select Russian forward Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Franceschini elaborated on the strategy. "When our primary targets all went earlier than we had anticipated, we made a decision that we could drop a few positions, still get a player we want, and add extra assets in the process."

With the 30th overall selection, the 'Sonics selected centreman Riley Sheahan of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Sheahan, who projects as a playmaking forward, is notable for his arrest earlier this year after a night out partying with Reykjavik Riders prospect Kyle Palmieri. "He got into a bit of trouble a few months ago," said Franceschini, "but what 18-year old hasn't? We believe we can put him in a situation where he'll be surrounded by positive role models, and are confident he will develop into a fine hockey player."

Despite that gamble paying off, the draft plan continued to unravel for Franceschini as the second round progressed. Multiple spectators attest to hearing a loud expletive from the direction of the 'Sonics table when the Vancouver Island Norsemen selected Finnish forward Teemu Pulkkinen with the 45th overall pick, far ahead of projections. A source close to the team reported afterwards that Pulkkinen was highly coveted by the 'Sonics at the 56th overall position, which would also have been considered a reach.

The 'Sonics ultimately used the pick to select Brock Beukeboom, a defensive defenseman with a bit of an offensive touch, and son of former SICHLer Jeff Beukeboom. Beukeboom joins a stable of defensive prospects in the 'Sonics system, so will be given time to develop.

With the 102nd pick, the 'Sonics were expected to go off the board again by selecting Russian forward Maxim Kitsyn, but the Philadelphia Fire Ants had other ideas, claiming the enigmatic sniper with the 76th pick. "Just another example of Norm screwing up my plans," said Franceschini. The 'Sonics used the selection on diminuative forward Cody Ferriero, a fireplug-type of player that projects to a third- or fourth-line SICHL role.

Looking exhausted, Franceschini was philosophical when reviewing the day's events on Sunday evening. "We didn't have a lot of picks, so we actively decided to swing for the fences with the ones we had. Most of the guys we targeted were hit-or-miss players, and in our situation we need to find those types of players and have one or two pan out. Unfortunately, it didn't work out. But let me be clear: we may not have gotten the guys we targeted, but we are extremely excited to welcome these quality young players into our family and hope they will become active parts of this team moving forward."

Rounds 5-7 of the SICHL Entry Draft take place tonight live on SICHL.com.

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