Friday, June 26, 2009

Live blogging the NHL draft

Welcome, everyone...Just minutes away and we already have our first deal. Defenseman Chris Pronger is apparently on his way to the Philadelphia Flyers (assuming, of course, that his wife approves!) which gives Philly one more cheap-shot artist who's afraid to fight. Just what they need.

Also a possible surprise at #1. Late rumors have the Islanders passing on BOTH John Tavares and Victor Hedman to take Brampton's Matt Duchene. We'll know in a few minutes.

6:11 pm. - Islanders are on the clock, and it would be a real shock for Tavares if he isn't taken #1, which has been the expectation ever since his great performance at the World Juniors last Christmas. Personally, I like "building block" defensemen a lot, and Hedman seems to be that kind of d-man.

6:14 - 20,000 Islander fans in the Nassau Coliseum, most of whom want Tavares.

6:16 - Early Wild news: Petr Kalus is coming back. He's the Czech player we got in the Manny Fernandez deal. He was upset when he didn't make the roster last year, and left Houston for Europe after a couple weeks. Apparently that didn't work out well, and now he's coming back. I was very high on him, and hope it works this time.

6:17 - Here's Garth Snow....and the pick is.....John Tavares! Islander fans love it, and it seems like the safe pick. What strikes me about Tavares is how mature he seems for an 18-year-old. Great players in Canada start getting media attention early on, and so he's already comfortable in front of the microphones. Very poised.

Tampa on the clock. Hedman seems like a no-brainer.

6:26 - It's Hedman. This is a guy you can build a franchise around. Avalanche on the clock.

6:37 - Avalanche take Matt Duchene, so Wild fans will get a good look at him the next few years. Thrashers on the clock.

It's ironic that Chris Pronger got traded today. The Tavares/Hedman discussion mirrored the 1993 draft, when forward Alexander Daigle and defenseman Chris Pronger were the clear top two. After much debate, the Ottawa Senators chose Daigle, who turned out to be a big bust. (He did a little time with the Wild at the end of his career.) Pronger turned into a big jerk, but a pretty effective player, and Hartford was happy to take him at #2. It could turn out that Hedman is the better player.

TSN just showed a cute picture of Duchene is his room as a 15-year-old, wearing an Avalanche jersey, with framed Roy and Sakic jerseys on the wall. Now he's a grown-up Avalanche.

6:45 - Evander Kane goes to Atlanta....Big, strong player. He was named after Evander Holyfield.

6:50 LA Kings are on the clock. Brayden Schenn is next, a player Toronto is known to covet (they pick #7)...Possible deal?

6:55 - This draft is ticking me off because everyone feels obligated to pass along everything in both French and English, in deference to the ridiculous Quebicois. Enough of the Pepe LePew show, just pick the players!

The Kings, who have good young players AND available cap space, coiuld be scary next year. Now they added Brayden Schenn. His brother went #5 last year to Toronto.

The Phoenix/Hamilton/Mars Coyotes are on the clock.

7:03 - The Desert Dogs take Oliver Eckman-Larson, a talented Swedish forward who probably won't be here until the 2010-2011 season. Now come the Maple Leafs.

There are a number of talented Europeans available, but Toronto GM Brian Burke isn't always very high on Europeans. He has said - and I admire this - that he wants "kids who grew up dreaming about the Stanley Cup," which of course means Canadian kids. Burke is a former Edina guy, and has a reputation as a bit of a pompous ass, but he has won wherever he goes.

7:10 - Nazem Kadri to the Leafs...TSN had good audio of Burke talking to Ottawa's Brian Murray, and Murray looks unhappy now that Kadri is gone.

I have a good friend, Gary Harker, who is a scout for Toronto and is sitting at the draft table. He was with the Kings when they drafted a Japanese goalie a few years ago, and now he's there for the Kadri pick. I think that makes him the first scout in NHL history to have the Japanese/Lebanese Daily Double on his resume.

7:20 - Dallas takes Scott Glennie, meaning there's some European offensive talent available. If the Wild are going to make a deal to move down, it should happen pretty soon.

7:27 - The Euros are falling. Senators take Jared Cowen, a big physical d-man, and yet another Canadian.

Now we're moving into the territory where Gopher Jordan Schroeder could be chosen. He's a talented player, but there are questions about his size, (5-foot-8, 175) even though he was one of the strongest players at the combine. I wouldn't mind seeing the Wild take him, although he's similar to Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and most teams only need one small playmaking-type player. I would hate to see P-Marc go - he's maybe my favorite Wild player - but if we could make a deal for him, I could live with it.

7:33 - Oilers on the clock, and Magnus Pajaarvi-Svennson is still there. Fast, big player, and Edmonton has a history of Europeans.

7:35 - Yes, they take him. Predators up next, Wild after that.

7:44 - Ryan Ellis to the Preds, good defenseman. Wild are on the clock, and the two local boys - Schroeder and Nick Leddy - are available. I'm not one of those people who thinks we need to have Minnesotans - I'd be happy to win the Cup with 20 Lithuanians - but here's a chance to take a good one. (Unlike Parise, Okposo, Kessel and others who were chosen before we drafted.)

7:51 - Looks like the Wild are trading the pick...Less than a minute to go.

It's a trade...We move down to the 16th spot and give the Islanders the 12 pick...we also get the 77th and 182nd pick. Islanders take Calvin DeHann, which means the Wild could have their pick of Zach Kassian, John Moore or Schroeder.

8:04 - Oops, Kassian goes to Buffalo. Would have been nice to have.

The Wild trade now gives them nine total picks in this draft. New GM Cliff Fletcher is trying to restock the cupboard after the previous regime traded away draft picks like popcorn.

8:08 - Florida takes Dimitri Kulokov, the 1st Russian taken, and a kid who fell from an expected top-10 position. Hard shot, good size and he's already been playing Canadian juniors, instead of staying home among all the intrigue that seems to go along with Russian players and potential problems with the Kontinental Hockey League.

Ducks up next, then Wild. Mike Russo of the Star-Tribune thinks the Wild are hot for Nick Leddy of Eden Prairie. If that's true, they could keep trading down several more picks, because he'll still be available.

8:18 - Ducks take Peter Holland, who was the 24-th ranked player on Bob McKenzie's draft board. (McKenzie is the Canadian Mel Kiper, Jr. and a broadcaster for TSN.) The ever-provincial TSN reports that 11 of the first 15 players taken are Canadians.

Wild brass moving towards the podium, holding a trade of this pick. TSN thinks Wild are feeling pressure to take Schroeder.

8:21 - Nick Leddy!! Last year's Mr. Hockey from Eden Prarie. Won't be a Wild for a couple of years, or at least one...Headed for the Gophers.

He's also the first player taken from the Upper Midwest High School Elite League, one of my clients.

Last time the Wild chose a Minnesotan in the 1st round, he became the biggest bust of all our first-round picks, A.J. Thelen. I hope this works out, but I'm not excited about it. John Moore is still out there, Louis LeBlanc as well...some pretty good talent on the board.

Jordan Schroeder is also now in position to be the biggest "fall" of the 1st round. Again, it could be his size. I don't think ANYONE thought Leddy would be the 1st American chosen.

Blues take David Runblad, the 4th Swede to go in the 1st round. Home-town Canadiens are on the clock.

8:35 - Canadiens made their local folks happy by taking Louis LeBlanc, a Montreal-born player and the first Frenchie taken in the draft. He's been playing in Omaha of the USHL, and is headed for Harvard next year.

8:45 - Rangers take Chris Kreider, another college-bound player (Boston College). He's the first Massachusetts player in six years to go in the first round. Great skater. Schroeder still waiting.....

8:53 - New Jersey trades up to take Calgary's pick....Lou Lamoriello likes college kids, and has as many American players as anyone...

Nope...Jacob Josefson, another Swede, goes to the Devils.

9:00 - Columbus takes John Moore, who has signed with Colorado College. Three hours and counting for Schroeder.

9:08 - Satan's Team is on the clock, and they roll out Roberto Luongo (Montreal native) to make the pick. Luongo mispronounces Schroeder's last name, but it's the end of Jordan's nightmare..He's finally selected, even if he now will have to play in front of toothless, illiterate fans every night.

9:14 - Calgary takes Tim Erixon...ANOTHER Swede. Big night for the Three Crowns.

9:20 - ANOTHER Swede, Marcus Johanson becomes the 7th Swede in the 1st round. And the one I really like, Carl Klingberg (see the post from earlier this week) is still on the board.

9:28 - Peter Chiarelli, GM of Boston, just took a nice shot at the Montreal fans, saying that the entire organization was "excited to return to Montreal." The last time they were there was in April, when they completed a four-game sweep of the Canadiens. The Bruins then took Jordan Caron from one of the best-named junior teams anywhere, Rimouski Oceanic. (Sidney Crosby played there as a junior.)

9:35 - Kyle Pamlieri goes to the Ducks, 4th American chosen. He was kicked off the US Junior team last year, allegedly for having a girl in his room. Imagine that: An 18-year-old kid trying to spend time with a girl! He's off to Notre Dame, where he may have a girl or two in his room.

9:40 - Hurricanes on the clock. Philippe Paradis, perhaps the hardest shot in the draft, goes down to NASCAR land. He wasn't ranked that high (40th) and looks very surprised as he walks on stage.

This thing has now taken nearly four hours, and we could all have been off drinking Molsons now if it wasn't for the time wasted pandering to the Frenchies in the crowd.

Chicago is up next. It's not so easy picking a Kane or Toews when you're drafting in the 28th spot, is it?

9:46 - Dylan Olsen, a UMD signee, goes to Chicago. Two picks left, and Simon Despres, Carter Ashton and Landon Ferraro (Ray's kid) are all still on the board. At least one of them will have to wait for tomorrow.

9:48 - Tampa has someone they want, and just switched their 2nd round pick (#32) for Detroit's #29. I think Detroit is going to take my boy Klingberg, and they know they can get him tomorrow.

9:54 - It's Carter Ashton, a big 6-2 forward that a lot of people thought would go much earlier. The Penguins will pick next, and the evening will be over.

9:58 - Simon Despres goes to Pittsburgh, ending the first round. It all starts again at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

There was a lot of talk this week about the Wild making a deal, moving Harding, trying to get Heatly, etc. So I guess right now I feel a little let down, but there's always tomorrow. We've obtained a couple draft picks, and maybe the boys in the front office can leverage that into something. Good night for now.

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