Welcome to our second annual NHL draft. First pick coming up, and the question is: Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin? The Edmonton Oilers, who stunk up the league at historic levels last season, get the first pick.
Commissioner Bettman at the podium now...first time the draft has been held in LA, and I think half the crowd has just been hanging around the building since the Lakers won the NBA title last week.
Lots of speculation that the Oilers are trying to make a trade to get the #2 pick as well, so they can take them both. Boston, which has the pick, doesn't seem to be biting.
6:17 - Oilers brass walking to the stage...and the #1 pick is.....Taylor Hall of Windsor. A big, fast left wing, he's was rookie of the year in two junior leagues, and led Windsor to the Memorial Cup this year. Edmonton has a big rebuilding project in front of it, and he'll be a huge building block. Bruins are on the clock.
6:25 - Bruins should take Seguin....And they do....Another good-sized forward.
Pierre McGuire just made the first Alexander Daigle reference of the night. Daigle is the most famous #1 pick draft-bust of all time. He spent a year at the end of his career as a member of the Wild. TSN (the Canadian ESPN, who is providing the coverage tonight) has a panel of experts and they're not sure Seguin is NHL-ready just yet.
Panthers on the clock.
Florida GM Dale Tallon put most of the pieces together in Chicago before leaving last summer, so now he needs to do the same thing in Florida. He has two first-round picks (barring a trade) and he takes...Eric Gudbranson...huge defenseman, 6-4, 195 pounds...already being compared to Pronger. Hopefully he's less of a flaming jerk than Pronger. Panthers have missed the playoff nine years in a row, so there's nowhere to go but up.
Just saw my friend Gary Harker sitting at the Maple Leafs' draft table. Toronto doesn't have a pick until tomorrow, so the 10 or so guys at the table are just taking up space, unless the Leafs can trade Tomas Kaberle for a first-round pick.
6:45 - Columbus, which entered the league the same year as the Wild, but has made the playoffs only once, is on the clock...Ryan Johansen, a 6-2 center. Late blooming kid who grew late, he was ranked 10th on Central Scouting's list...might be a bit of a reach.
Islanders on the clock.
It's always interesting how poised these Canadian kids are when they get interviewed. Junior hockey get so much attention in Canada that these kids develop media skills by age 16. They always sound better than the American or European draftees.
Alyssa Milano being interviewed now...part of the stable of Hollywood hockey fans.
Islanders take....Nino Neidderreiter. Swiss kid who came over to Canada to play juniors. Also 6-1...size seems to be the key thing this year.
Wild are now four picks away, and six of Central Scouting's top nine are still on the board, including the Russian I like, Alexander Burmistrov.
Tampa on the clock, with new GM Steve Yzerman in charge. Yzerman, of course, spent his career in Detroit, and was considered a local icon, but he ditched for warm weather as soon as he got a change. Bright guy.
Everyone thinks Tampa needs a defenseman, but instead they take forward Brett Connolly. Was considered a can't-miss prospect a year ago, but injuries limited him to just 16 games last year. If he's healthy (has hip problem) he could be dynamite...or he could be Alexander Daigle.
The Wild need a center, and a goal-scorer, but now there are three big defensemen still available...Cam Fowler, Brandon Gormley and Derek Forbort. Forbort is a Duluth kid who is committed to UMD, but he's already 6-foot-4 and has great hands.
WEATHER ALERT: Big storms moving in, so if the power goes out, the blog will end..sorry.
Carolina Hurricanes are next...and they take Jeff Skinner, the former figure skater who scored 50 goals in juniors last year, plus another 20 in the playoffs...Lots of mock drafts had him going to the Wild, but now it seems they are almost locked into taking a defenseman.
Thrashers next...then the Wild
Thrashers take Burmistrov, disappointing me....the Wild are up next.
The organization thinks it's deep in D-men, and needs scorers, but now the top four or five guys left on the board are d-men...Cam Fowler, Gormley, Forbort....Also out there is Emerson Etem, the former Shattuck kid.
And the Wild take...Another Finn! Mikael Granlund...will probably play another year in Finland...Allegedly a lot of offensive talent, but will probably take time to develop, like Mikko Koivu.
No Americans taken yet, in a year that was supposed to be big for Yanks.
Rangers at #10 take Dylan McIlarth.....tough guy, not a big skill guy...
The surprise so far: all these defensemen still out there.
Dallas at #11 takes the first American...and it's the goalie, Jack Campbell. Has won at every level he's played at, but still a curious pick.
7:47 - Cam Fowler's nightmare ends as the Ducks take him at #12. Could be the steal of the draft. Second American taken.
Anaheim's GM and staff is booed loudly in the Staples Center...I didn't think enough people in SoCal cared enough to actually have a rivalry.
Phoenix on the clock...needing defensemen...take Brandon Gormley...they have to be amazed that he was still available. He's 6-2, 185 and Central Scouting had him as the sixth-best North American player available.
At 13, the Blues take Jaden Schwartz, a center who was ranked 28th on the Central Scouting list....Another Canadian.
Also, the storm just knocked out my DirectTV signal....may be a while before I catch up.
UPDATE: Well, obviously this one didn't go so well. The storm took out the TV, the NHL's draft tracker on the internet was spotty, etc., etc....Sorry about that. The Wild appeared to have a pretty good draft, picking four of the first 59 players chosen. The first-round pick, Mikael Granlund, is described as a "Saku Koivu clone." Let's hope that's right on.