DRAFT UPDATE: 2 PM THURS

Every facet of the hockey world has now arrived in Los Angeles for the 2010 draft: Coaches, GMs, scouts, players, agents, soon-to-be-players, media and the fans. It actually seems like more of an event here than it was in hockey-mad Montreal last year.

And your Nation Network correspondents, myself, Robin Brownlee and Pat Steinberg are all over it.

There is more of a buzz due to the trades and player signings the past few days, and many GMs want to get in on the action now. Brian Burke and Darryl Sutter want to make an impact and according to many in both cities they are literally itching to make a move.

The Toronto media is certain Tomas Kaberle will be moved, and Sutter has never been shy to make a move. I bumped into a member of the Flames organization this morning and he said the Flames feel they have to do something. He wouldn’t elaborate on anything specific, but acquiring a centre is the most pressing need.

TOUGH GUYS TOUGH NOT TO LIKE

I was fortunate enough to grow up and witness the most heated era of the Battle of Alberta. The Oilers and Flames were both great teams, the Oilers were just a bit better, but those battles were epic. Beyond the great players, Tim Hunter and Dave Semenko were next in line, if not near the top, as fan-favourites.

After slugging it out for 16 years in the NHL Hunter retired and instantly became an assistant coach in Washington. After five years with the Capitals he moved to San Jose for six years and is now entering his third year behind the Leafs bench as an assistant.

Hunter was drafted as a D-man in the 3rd round, 54th overall by the Atlanta Flames in 1979. As a 19-year-old he tallied 14 goals and 67 points in 72 games for Seattle in the WHL. He did so while racking up 311 PIMs as well.

Hunter is like most tough guys; well-spoken, witty, honourable and great story tellers off the ice, but tough, mean and intimidating on the ice. Last night I stood attentively as Hunter regaled me and some others with some great stories.

THE ART OF INTIMIDATION

Hunter’s 2nd NHL game was in Calgary against the Boston Bruins. His second shift he lines up beside Terry O’Reilly. “He skates over and lines up beside me at the dot and I’m a tad nervous. Just before the puck is dropped O’Reilly steps on my stick and breaks it. ‘Now what you going do he says,’

“Without hesitation I say ‘Go back to the bench and get another stick.’"

“The game was on hockey night in Canada and afterwards O’Reilly told me he’d heard about me and used this tactic as intimidation because he didn’t want to fight me. I wasn’t exactly excited about the idea of fighting him either, but it was a great lesson in intimidation.

“Many years later I’m playing for the Canucks and we’re taking on the Flames. In my last year in Calgary I tutored Paul Kruse and Sandy McCarthy a bit, and now I’m lined up beside Kruse right in front of the Flames bench. Just before the pucks dropped I remember O’Reilly’s move and step on Kruse’s stick and break it. What you going do now I growled? ‘Ahh come on Hunts, I just spent an hour working on that stick.’

Hunter’s facial expressions and body language make his stories all the better, especially these two. He told us many more tales and when I asked him what he says to the young tough guys in today’s game he had this insight.

“I tell them you can’t worry about the smack talk. I had a thousand guys tell me they were going to kill me just before we dropped them. I’m still standing today, so I tell the guys never let the other guy get in your head.”

RANDOM THOUGHTS

A scout of 20+ years in the NHL told me he heard the Bruins are so interested in trying to secure Taylor Hall they offered the Oilers Milan Lucic to take Tyler Seguin. After pulling myself up off the floor I looked at him and said, “Are you for real. There is no way they’d do that.”

He was adamant this is what he was hearing. I think this shows that as the draft gets closer even long time hockey guys can get caught up in the “What If” game.  I just can’t see it happening, but it is fun to hear some of the strange stuff that is floating around the draft.

The Oilers and Gilbert Brule look like they are headed to arbitration later this summer. The Oilers will qualify Brule, but he will file for arbitration. Brule’s camp will be looking at something along the lines of $2 million/year or more. Will this affect Brule’s status with the team? We might find out this weekend.

The Oilers paid Robert Nilsson $2 million/year two years ago and have regretted it since, and I wonder if that will affect their thinking. I like Brule’s game now more than Nilsson’s two years ago, but we’ll see what the Oilers think.

The Florida Panthers met with Cam Fowler yesterday, again today and want to see him again tomorrow. The Panthers were rumoured to be leaning towards Gudbranson but clearly they are interested in Fowler.

I like the Colin Fraser deal. He adds a bit of size, skates well enough and will actually bring some grit down the middle on the 4th line. If he can improve in the dot he’ll help even more. Getting him for shot-in-the-dark (6th rounder) makes it look even better. He isn’t a saviour but he will add more energy than Marc Pouliot or Ryan Potulny would provide on the 4th line.

  • Ender

    Seguin and Lucic for Hall? If that deal was really available and I find out the Oilers didn’t take it . . .

    Well, actually I probably won’t do anything. But I’ll be very, very upset.

    This being a fan thing isn’t working out for me. Where do I sign up to be the GM?

    Edit: See retraction printed #17 below.

      • Ender

        That can’t be it. Have you seen Tambellini? 50 feet, maybe. With the wind. And look at the guys on his team getting hurt or arrested left, right, and centre. If Lady Luck and a lottery were involved, methinks Tambo may have missed the boat.

        No, I think it’s got to be more along the lines of community service or something.

        ~”What’s that, Glamour-boy? You don’t want to pick trash out of the ditch? Fine, I have something a little more up your alley.

        I sentence you to a 3-year contract as the GM of the Edmonton Oilers. Ha! Bet that trash looks pretty good now, eh Son?”~

  • Lucic yes please. Oh and I’ll have a 12 month suscription to Cosmo too please. (I like the articles) Then I’ll have a shiatsu and a blowie from Megan Fox on top of a 2003 Golden Tee golf machine.

    Not going to happen.

  • Hey Jason, I just heard Pierre Lebrun say he believes the Oilers have decided in the last 48 hours that they will choose Hall. Do you think thats the final say or perhaps the Oilers are letting it leak a bit to force Boston’s hand?

    • Jason Gregor

      Based on what I’ve heard the Oilers made their decision on Wednesday, and I can see why it would be Hall.

      Interesting side note is that Tyler Seguin hasn’t spoken to the Oilers or Bruins since he arrived in LA. That would lean me to believe the teams know who is picking who.

  • erixon

    NO to Lucic. Dude is not worth $4 million a year. He is a 10-15 goal scorer playing with Savard, if he were to come here his numbers would drastically drop off. Alright player but way too big of a pricetag. PASS.

    • Ender

      When I read this, I immediately rushed off to find the numbers to prove that erixon was stone-cold crazy and . . .

      I couldn’t do it.

      Lucic makes about $4M per season for the next three seasons. Had roughly 0.6ppg two seasons ago and 0.4ppg this last year. I compared those numbers to our current roster to see who he compared against.

      Turns out, that’s Nilsson or POS type numbers for production. For a guy that makes twice the money.

      Damn. Maybe the Oil really were offered that deal. Worse, maybe they did their homework and correctly turned it down. I hate it that Tambo might be smarter than me.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        Add that Lucic has some injury problems at such a young age and it’s not far fetched to think Boston regrets giving him that much money.

      • All due respect, Lucic brings just a tad more to the table than Nilsson or POS. Not to mention he comes out of the Vancouver Giants organization… the same one that soon to be Asst. GM Scott Bonner runs… and perhaps even soon to be (?) Assistant Coach Don Hay.

          • Chris.

            Who cares about spending some money over the next three years? This team will likley be gutted and purged of most of the expensive vetran ~talent~; the cap is going up; and there is no appetite/agenda to sign expensive free agents anyway… Horcoff’s contract will be off the books before the Eberle’s, MPS’, and Hall/Seguin’s of the world are ready for big raises… I have no problem with Tambellini overpaying for a player like Lucic in the meantime… He’s the kind of player this organization needs.

          • Chris.

            Fair point… Props in fact.

            However, Lucic is young enough that if he was a complete disaster he could be bought out at 1/3 his salary and the hit could be spread out… I guess I just think Lucic is worth the risk given his age, potential, and the fact the Oilers desperately need some players of his ilk.

            Edit: My fear is that this may be a 5-7 year rebuild. Eberle, MPS, Hall/Seguin will all be in their RFA contracts, and it will be the future batch of of lottery picks and prospects will be on entry level deals when it is time to carefully add UFA’s and chase Stanley for real. It’s a question of timing… I don’t know if Tambellini should intentionally avoid expensive young talent at all cost though.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Lucic, really? While I think he is overrated that is a lot to give up to move up 1 spot, that is if Seguin and Hall are really that close in terms of value.

  • GSC

    If the Oilers move Brule, it will show yet again that this organization has learned absolutely nothing about what type of player it takes to help rebuild a franchise.

  • Poo Czar

    It’s still bugging the hell outta me that they didn’t pony up to pry Byfuglien outta Chicago. Reasoner and picks? Really???

    Y’know, this season sucked, but I’m enjoying the hell outa these few days before the draft…

  • Hemmertime

    I didn’t believe the Lucic thing, we should jump at that if it was true I thought. But the more I think about it the more it makes sense.

    Lucic cap: $4,083,333. Career PPG: 0.45 Last season PPG: 0.4
    6 ft 4 220 pds

    Horton Cap: $4,000,000 Career PPG: 0.7 Last season PPG: 0.88
    6 ft 2 229 Pds

    I’ll start this saying I loved the way Lucic was trending after last season. But really Horton is a much better player who played on a much worse team who is trending better than Lucic – and the way Lucic is going at 4 mil I think might not be a good idea to get him, there would be a reason Boston picked up Horton and passed on Lucic.

    If the Oilers do in fact want Taylor Hall I do not think Lucic would be enough to sway me, the 15th overall pick or Horton would. If they want Seguin then certainly snap up Lucic for nothing (bite the bullet on 4 mil contract for 3 years possibly).

  • Chris.

    Lucic is only 22. It’s true that he had a tough, injury filled season… but Milan Lucic is twenty-two years old.

    I can’t help but wonder if the people who are so quick to dismiss Lucic are the same people who think Sam Gagner is a big disappointment.

  • offside

    Lucic at $4M may not be a bargain unless he develops more scoring ability that has not surfaced as yet . Maybe he will be like Penner in that regard – a late bloomer ? Maybe thats why Boston went for Horton at same price ? Tough call on Lucic at that price tag !