Draft day not always about immediate pay-offs

First things first.

I’m sure you’ve all been waiting breathlessly for the news that I am back in the 21st Century. I have an operational cellphone again.

Now that that’s out of the way, on with the regular column.

So the NHL and NBA seasons wrapped up within a day of each other, which is only fitting, since their drafts are both next week, starting a day apart.

The NBA draft will be Thursday, with both rounds done in the same evening.

The NHL draft starts Friday and continues Saturday.

And I don’t know if anyone (except my friend Al) noticed, but Major League Baseball started its annual draft on Monday. Their draft goes for about three or four days, with something like 50 rounds.

The reason most people don’t know about the MLB draft isn’t because they don’t follow the sport, I believe. I think it’s because there is seldom an immediate payoff for a top draft pick in MLB, compared to the NFL, the NBA and, sometimes, the NHL.

A top draft pick in baseball is still likely to spend a year or two in the minors, sometimes longer.

In football and basketball, their draft picks are usually expected to contribute immediately, although even that comes with a couple of exceptions. The NFL draft is seven rounds, and a lot of times the guys in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds are taken to provide at least a bit of competition in training camp. You sometimes get a diamond in the rough in the later rounds, but it’s not too common.

In the NBA, even though it’s only two rounds, teams have been known to use a pick on a European player who is already playing pro ball over there, and won’t be able to come to this side of the Atlantic for a couple of years.

Sometimes the pick is made because the team is tight against the salary cap, and can’t afford another contract. Other times, it’s because the team doesn’t see any immediate holes to fill on its roster, but sees a need for a position a couple of years down the road.

And then there’s the NHL. This year’s draft is seen as one where none of the picks will be playing in the league this season, going back to junior instead. That’s not to say they aren’t good players, with the potential to be stars, but not right away.

Going to be tough for some fans in today’s instant-gratification world to handle.