For one week of the year, fans of bad hockey teams have a legitimate reason to be happier than those of competitive teams. The 2012 NHL draft is four days away and for only the 2nd time in NHL history, three Canadian teams will be drafting in the top-five; the Leafs sit at five, the Habs at three while the Oilers will choose first.
I can guarantee you that fans in Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto are much more excited this week than fans in Phoenix, New Jersey and New York.
It will be curious to see if fans still be excited Friday night after the first picks are announced?
The Oilers need a lot of help before they are a legit contender, so they have to make sure they make their pick count. Nail Yakupov is rated #1 on about 95% of draft rankings. I’ve seen Alex Galchenyuk go first on a few, but mostly it is Yakupov. There’s been lots of talk that the Oilers are leaning towards Ryan Murray, because they desperately need help on the backend, but I’ll be very surprised if they don’t take Yakupov.
Just like the last two years, it is difficult to get a guarantee on who they will pick, and I applaud the Oilers for keeping it a secret. It makes the build up more exciting, but mostly it will make the moment extra special for the young man and his family.
"I kind of blacked out after they called my name," said Taylor Hall after being drafted 1st overall in 2010. Hall and Tyler Seguin had a lot of fun during the Taylor v. Tyler debate, but Hall admitted he wasn’t sure until Tambellini said from the Windsor Spitfires. Obviously Yakupov, Murray and Galchenyuk would love to go first overall. There is lots of prestige about being first, not to mention a load of pressure, but these guys would relish the opportunity to have Tambellini call their name.
I suspect the Oilers will take Yakupov, and he’ll be a dynamic scorer. If it was me I’d take Galchenyuk, because I like that he’s a centre with size and skill. No of us can predict the future, which is why the draft is so exciting, so we won’t know for at least five or six years if they choose the best player, but either way I’ll be shocked if the player they draft doesn’t turn out to be a very good.
DRAFT WEEK THOUGHTS
- Filip Forsberg is the most intriguing player in the top-ten. He hasn’t put up many points playing in the "AHL" of Sweden this year. His team, Leksands IF, is the 2nd tier of the SEL, and he didn’t put up huge numbers. He didn’t score very much at the WJC either. Granted that is a very short tournament. All the scouting reports are that he’s a great two-way player, that he protects the puck well and makes smart decisions. That’s great, but without some big offensive numbers, I wouldn’t want to take him in the top-five. I want that pick to be a point-producer.
- Most of the rumours involving trading of picks centres around the Carolina Hurricanes. They own the 8th pick, and many are speculating they are looking at a deal with the Pens for Jordan Staal. I like Staal a lot, but would Jim Rutherford trade the #8 and Brandon Sutter for Staal? That’s a big package for a player who’s never scored more than 50 points. I understand he’s played behind Malkin and Crosby, so he’ll likely produce more, but is he a 70-point guy? I’m not sure. Would be an interesting deal for both teams. The Pens would get a perfect 3rd line centre, and a top prospect. Could be appealing for both. Chip Alexander, beat guy for Canes, is pretty tapped in, and he said that Rutherford was open to move the pick, but as of now he has no significant offers.
- Could the Canes just wait until next year, when Staall become an UFA, and sign him then?
- Spoke with Florida Panthers director of amateur scouting, Scott Luce, on Friday, and he said he thinks Murray and Matt Dumba have the potential to be #1 D-men. It’s great hearing from different teams and how scouts analyse players differently. Most really like Dumba, but some have concerns if he can play the same way in the NHL. Luce is a big fan of Dumba. He also said they had Yakupov ranked #1, in case you are wondering.
- Expect the Capitals to make some sort of deal on Friday. The Caps have the 11th and 16th picks, and at the very least I see them switching draft positions with another team. George McPhee has said he’d be open to moving one fo the picks for a proven player. The Caps need a scoring winger on their 2nd line.
- The player I like the most who probably won’t go in the top-ten is Brendan Gaunce. Five years from now the team that drafted him will be very happy.
- I keep getting asked if the Oilers can trade Belanger. Sure they could, but why do they have to. Belanger had an awful season, but if he is your 4th line centre, then your team should be better. My concern is if Belanger will accept that role. If he still feels he’s a top-nine forward then the new coach could have some issues, but if Belanger accepts that role, I think he could chip in with 20-23 points, help out the PK and win faceoffs. It is much easier to be a 4th liner, when your top lines are doing their job. Look at Colin Fraser in LA.
- How is Ralph Krueger as a head coach? I’ll find out today when Hnat Domenichelli joins me in the two o’clock hour. The former NHLer has played the last nine years in Switzerland and knows Krueger.
- The only other tim three Canadian teams picked in the top-five was in 1989:
Quebec took Mats Sundin 1st.
NYI choose Dave Chyzowksi 2nd.
Toronto took Scott Thornton 3rd.
Winnipeg drafted Stu Barnes 4th.
New Jersey called Bill Guerin 5th.
Most amateur coaches are more relaxed than Wil Farrell was in Kicking & Screaming, a horribly bad flick, but like Farrell all coaches volunteer their time.
Starting next week, I’m going to start honouring our great amateur coaches in our Elite Sportswear Coach of the Week segment.
If you want to nominate a coach send an email to Gregor@theteam1260.com. We’d like to speak with coaches who are currently coaching. It doesn’t matter if it is a team sport or an individual sport. Just fire off an email and tell us what makes this coach so good. Include his name and the team he coaches.
Kudos to all of you who volunteer your time as a coach, manager, running the time clock or any other part of amateur sports. It’s great that you help out, and hopefully all of us can help out at one point in our adult lives.