The 2013 NHL Draft came and went. There was a lot of buildup and excitement but it turned out pretty tame.
The one big bomb dropped was the Cory Schneider trade to New Jersey for the ninth overall pick (more on that later).
No Time To Panic
The Edmonton Oilers rookie general manager, Craig MacTavish, set the bar pretty high for making some moves for his team. He didn’t come out of the weekend with any active NHL roster players. There is lots of time for him to make some moves. Training camp doesn’t open for two months, no need to panic. I still feel very strongly he made a mistake stating in one of his press conferences that he wanted to make a "bold move".
The NHL is a very competitive market. All the teams are trying to get an advantage. When they hear that a GM is ready to wheel and deal, especially in a market as hungry for change as Edmonton is they are not going to do him any favors. It will be interesting to see what he will make happen over the next couple of months.
I was very impressed with the selection of Darnell Nurse with the seventh pick. This young defenseman out of the OHL is a very big man, 6’3, who will fill out a big frame as he gets older. He currently plays at 185lbs. I bet by the time he hits twenty one or two he is easily wheeling around the ice at 215lbs. Big defenseman that can skate and have an edge are very valuable.
There should be no rush to push him into the NHL next season. I would be in favor of sending him back to junior next year. He will probably get a chance to play in the World Junior Championships at Christmas. He will mature through that experience and continue to mature physically.
There is no need to force this type of player into the Oiler line up next season. Learning to play defence in the NHL is not a great idea. He deserves the chance to develop at a fair pace instead of drowning in the NHL.
This young player has all the tools needed to play plus he has two excellent role models in his father, who played in the CFL and his uncle, Donovan McNab who played in the NFL. It is is real plus that he can bounce ideas off these two even though they may not be hockey experts! Drawing on their experiences as professional athletes will be huge during his career.
Nurse looks like he has all the ability and attitude that will be required to make it to the NHL as a regular. One big factors will determine how his story ends. Is he willing to put in the time and sacrifice? From what I have heard about him, this won’t be an issue. Moving on….
Yesterday the Oilers announced that Colten Teubert, Alex Plante and Theo Peckman have not been qualified. They are now unrestricted free agents. Never something that a young player wants to have happen to them. For these three, next season, wherever they play, their NHL careers are in the balance. That is a statement these guys also do not want to hear.
Ever year new players are drafted or signed. Each NHL team wants to improve. Often young prospects will get the benefit of the doubt on a couple of things. But there comes a point where you are no longer a prospect. Those excuses that were made for you when you were younger – slow feet, not intense enough, not well enough conditioned, bad shot, etc – are no longer acceptable. Teams want you to succeed because they drafter, signed or traded for you but you need to continue to progress as a player.
That is the challenge for all young players. They must work on areas of weakness before they are moved aside by someone that has improved on their weaknesses. It is a race and quite honestly a race that never ends.
I played with two of these guys, Teubert came to the team after I had moved on. Both Theo and Alex are good guys but at the end of the day that isn’t enough. I really hope they both get on a team and get going so they can live their NHL dream.
Not Big But Fast
Yesterday the St Louis Blues put speedy but little d-man Kris Russell on waivers. I know I am always saying that the Oilers need to get bigger but I think they should put a claim in for Kris.
He is a player that brings a lot of speed and jump from a defence corps. MacT has said that he wants more puck moving defencemen in his lineup. Well, here one is and he is for free! Last year he made 1.3 million. Not a truck load. His deal is up so I would assume you could get him for somewhere around the same number on a deal for this season.
With Russell and Justin Schultz in your top six there would be quite a bit support on the rush for the young forwards. Those two would help to open up the game, especially on the rush for those guys. Russell has had twenty points a couple of times in his career. Not too bad.
All I can say is wow! What a nightmare going on in Vancouver. GM Mike Gillis trades away the goalie he wanted to keep and keeps the goalie, Luongo he wanted to trade!
I understand that this was the only way to resolve their goalie situation at this point. Something had to give and this was their out. I just do not see this arrangement working out for Luongo and the Canucks.
A new coach will help. John Torterella will have not past feelings built up on Luongo but the fans sure do! I predict the season will start out friendly and nice. Everyone loves to cheer for the underdog (even though Luongo is a very good goalie). However, what happens in early November when the Canucks hit a slump and the friendly fans at GM place in Vancouver start chanting Corey Schneider’s name?
Although I hope I am wrong, I think this will get ugly in Vancouver.