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Claimed:Decisions, Decisions


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Decisions, Decisions

With the Season 37 Entry Draft set to take place in a few weeks, two VHL
teams eagerly awaited the annual draft lottery. The lottery took place
mere days ago and now it has the two teams wondering what will happen.
Ordinarily draft lotteries are a little more exciting than this season's
was since the New York Americans held three out of a possible four
lottery picks in this year's draft. The Riga Reign stood as the other
team with the lone lottery pick. With New York having a 75 percent
chance of winning the lottery they were more than likely to secure the
first overall selection. Luckily for Riga, they secured the first
overall selection in what promises to be one of the best entry drafts in
the past decade. Now the obvious question is what will the Riga Reign



The draft has been hyped as deep and with plenty of new, first
generation talent, but the two best players are without a doubt
recreates. Expected to go first overall is Bratislava Watchmen
defenseman Slaeter Fjorrstrom, who is in actuality the second best
prospect available. The highest rated prospect is centre Tom Slaughter.
Slaughter is considered top rated not only because of his advanced
development, but also because of his being tagged to player agent
Sterling Labatte, a Hall of Fame defenseman who has brought three
subsequent Hall of Fame players into the VHL. Labatte's latest player
will likely be a fixture in scoring races over the next eight seasons.
Fjorrstrom's agent, meanwhile, has spawned a number of good players in
his own right with his players being well known as likeable, skilled and
loyal. The agent, 'Lobo' has been a loyal member of the Riga Reign for
many seasons.

It is rumoured that Riga would prefer to add a defenseman to their
rebuilding roster over another forward and with Lobo's deep ties to
General Manager Mike Szatkowski, it would be a tough decision for the
team to make. Conversely, Labatte's past player signed a free agent
contract with the Reign before Season 31 only to be traded two seasons
later without any notice. Labatte's relationship with the same General
Manager and team is still strained with Labatte indicating his player's
loyalty likely won't remain with Riga if he is drafted by the team.
Slaughter insists, however, that he will play anywhere and that he
simply wants to play well and win.

New York, on the other hand, was the team that traded with Riga for
Labatte's past player and Labatte says his player's experience with
current New York General Manager Chris Miller was excellent. Both teams
are building off of deals that had something to do with Labatte's
previous player and thus he's very familiar with both franchises. The
question then becomes again, what do both teams require moving forward?
It seems clear that the Reign need more defensive depth with only one
defenseman of substance in the system. New York has three defensemen in
the system and only a handful of skilled forwards to work with. New York
is in need of a centre man, a position Slaughter has been working
toward, finding much success in Bratislava since moving to the top line
centre position. Interestingly enough, Fjorrstrom and Slaughter have
developed a good deal of chemistry playing together in the VHLM this
season. Unfortunately, they will likely always remain as parallel
players for the duration of their careers.



Labatte has made no bones about preferring New York as an option for his
player. The team has a good core of players and a plethora of draft
picks in this draft. Riga is also in a good position going into the
future, but Labatte is apprehensive of playing for a General Manager who
wasn't forthright in previous interactions. Labatte has always been a
loyal player agent, finding a lot of success where his players land and
he expects that same level of loyalty and commitment to winning from his
General Manager. In the coming weeks, as the draft nears, it will become
increasingly interesting to see if Riga wants to take a risk with
Slaughter or if they want to play it more safe with a slightly lesser
prospect in Slaeter Fjorrstrom. It is noteworthy that the last time
Labatte's forward (Grimm Jonsson) fell to second overall in the draft,
he also landed in New York and played an integral role in reversing the
tide of that franchise. Slaughter is looking to have an equal impact as
Jonsson did all those years ago.

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Content: 3/3 - I would personally be very surprised if Riga pass on Lobo, being he fills a position of need and has proven results with the Reign. The real suspense is going to be what happens after the second overall pick.
Grammar: 2/2 - Nothing here, well done.
Appearance: 1/1 - Looks like a side column in a newspaper, pretty cool.
Overall: 6/6 - (Y)
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