Thirteen of the top prospects in this year’s draft and a host of media had lunch and then did interviews on the roof top of the Empress boat of the Gateway Clipper fleet. It’s a beautiful afternoon in Pittsburgh, but it was incredibly hot and muggy on the roof top.
Most of the media members must have thought the cups of water had vodka in them, because they were chugging them left and right. The 13 young men: Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray, Mikhail Grigorenko, Alex Galchenyuk, Morgan Reilly, Cody Ceci, Radek Faksa, Olli Maatta, Jacob Trouba, Griffin Reinhart, Matt Dumba (ranked 1st to 11th by central scouting) and the top ranked European, Filip Forsberg and the #1 ranked North American goalie, Malcolm Subban went through a few bottles of water while answering numerous questions.
All the players were incredibly excited, but most admitted it was just one step towards their goal of making the NHL.
Here’s a quick recap of what I discovered.
- Alex Galchenyuk hasn’t spoken to the Oilers since the combine, which would lead me to believe it won’t be taken first tomorrow. That isn’t a major shock, considering Galchenyuk admitted that, "My injury probably cost me a shot at going #1. I’m healthy now and feel great, but not playing made it hard for me to show what I can do," he said.
- Filip Forsberg played wing this past season, despite being listed as a centre. When I asked him the hard question of comparing his game to an NHLer he responded with, "Corey Perry. I like to shoot and I’m not afraid to mix it up. I love how he plays." If he can score 30 goals and get under the opposition’s skin he’ll be a great pick for someone on Friday.
- "Hitting doesn’t come down to size. It comes down to the technique, how you go about doing it, how you catch the guy, how your feet are positioned, balance, your explosiveness and how you pop through the guy so I’m not worried about that. I guess we’ll see once I’m at that level we’ll see what I can and cannot do. I’m excited to go to the next level," said Matt Dumba.
Dumba was a great kid. Very personable, excited and determined yet very respectful. He’s heard the concerns about his size and style equating to success in the NHL, but he’s confident in his abilities as a player and as a hitter.
- Malcolm Subban’s favourite goalie is Henrik Lundqvist and he tries to emulate his athletic style.
- Lots of rumblings that the Ottawa Senators are a legit contender in the Rick Nash sweepstakes. It would take a lot to get him, one of their young goalies, Bishop or Lehner, Foligno, their first rounder this year and possibly another high-end prospect. Would be good to see a market like Ottawa land a big fish, rather than the usual teams like Philly, NYR, Detroit, etc.
- Did you know that Pittsburgh has the most bridges of any city in the Western Hemisphere? Little tidbit I learned over lunch today.
- New associate coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Craig Hartsburg, will join me at 2:20 MST today on TEAM 1260 and we’ll get his thoughts on Nash and some other NHLers.
- Former NHLer and father of Griffin, Paul Reinhart gave a very good viewpoint from a parent’s perspective on what today should mean for their kids.
"I think the big thing for these guys and their families to recognize is that what happens in the next 24 hours really has nothing to do with your career. Everything that you have done to date has put you in this position, but it’s all about what you do afterwards. One thing I’ve tried to inpart upon my boys is that you are now graduating to a point where development will always be important, but make no mistake, when you are being paid winning is important.
"Tomorrow will be a wonderful statement for what you’ve done in the past, but going forward to be successful in this game you have to become a winner, you have to make sure that, not just you continue to develop, but that you somehow develop the players around you."