Well, count this as a surprise. The Montreal Impact have selected defender/midfielder Jeb Brovsky from the Vancouver Whitecaps fifth overall in the 2011 Major League Soccer Expansion Draft.
Brovsky is 22 years old, turning 23 in December. He's a native central midfielder who spent some time at right back in his rookie year because he was coached by Tom Soehn. I liked the kid's potential as a decent passing central midfielder but he was one of the league's worst players at right back and had a number of nasty habits: absolutely suicidal tackles, average-at-best athleticism, marginal ability with his left foot, and a slight tendency towards slow decisions and bad movements (although the latter is true for most rookie professionals).
Brovsky has got his good qualities. He's an exceptional leader in the community who'll doubtless be popular in Montreal, winning the Whitecaps Foundation Humanitarian Award for his good works. He's a good kid and a hard worker; I'm not sure I saw him take a minute off the entire season. If Jesse Marsch is smart enough to stick with Brovsky in the midfield and he's given time to develop his natural eye for passing, he might be a solid MLS depth player.
That doesn't necessarily mean he was worth taking in the expansion draft, but then Montreal ran a weird draft in general, didn't they?
Obviously, Brovsky wasn't Montreal's worst pick; when you grab Brian Ching even though he told the media he'd sooner retire than play with you, Brovsky's not going to be much of a headline. It is still an odd choice.
I thought that the Impact wouldn't select any Whitecaps; we were, after all, the league's worst team and didn't exactly leave an embarrassment of riches unprotected. If the Impact did want one of Vancouver's players then Michael Boxall, a solid (in every sense) if underdeveloped central defender, was clearly the best choice. Most mock expansion drafts I saw which had any Whitecaps going at all saw Montreal taking goalkeeper Joe Cannon; one person predicted Bilal Duckett. The only person in any walk of life I heard thinking Montreal might be interested in Brovsky was Vancouver Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi, speaking to Peter Schaad on the TEAM 1410 Monday afternoon.
What on Earth do the Impact plan to do with Brovsky? He certainly won't get ahead of French midfielder Hassoun Camara on the depth chart. There were ominous rumblings from Marsch that praised Brovsky's versatility at right back; if he's counting on Jeb for defensive cover he's in for a real disappointment.
This is only the expansion draft, of course, and if Brovsky's a hit or a miss it won't sink their season. Portland didn't exactly nail their expansion draft but they were in the playoff hunt until late in the season.
As a fan of quality individuals I'll be sad to see Brovsky go. As somebody who hoped Jeb might develop into a useful player given the right instruction I'll be a little disappointed I won't get to see him do it in Vancouver. But, at best, Brovsky will be a nice guy, a charitable person, a quality part of the community, and a replacement-level player. I don't think it'll hurt the Whitecaps one iota in 2012, and I don't think it'll help the Impact much either.