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Draft Day Thoughts…

Don’t expect the Edmonton Oilers to trade up or down from the #8 slot. We haven’t seen a team trade up or down in the top-ten since 2008. We are more likely to see a team trade the pick for an NHL player than see a team move up or down within the top ten. I’m more interested to see if Ken Holland makes a trade before leaving Vancouver.

Will Holland trade Milan Lucic? Will he ship out Kris Russell?

I’ve been told some teams are interested in Russell, but will they offer Holland enough to make him pull the trigger?

After talking with many hockey people and media the past 48 hours here are some thoughts on the draft, trades, free agents and more.

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1. If I was running the Oilers draft I would take Matthew Boldy at #8. He has a great shot, good vision and uses his body well to create space.

2. I wouldn’t take Cole Caufield. I think he can play, but I like Boldy better and I see less risk in taking him.

3. Columbus has two draft picks. A 3rd rounder and a 7th. If they re-sign Matt Duchene then Ottawa gets the Blue Jackets first rounder next year. It sounds like the Blue Jackets are hesitant to give Duchene $10 million, so he will test the free agent market. If they don’t sign him and lose Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky they will have loads of cap space. But there aren’t many top-end free agents to sign.

4. It sounds like the Blue Jackets aren’t going to re-sign Ryan Dzingel either. He’s scored 26 and 23 goals the past two seasons, and I think the team who signs him will want him to be more than he is.

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5. The Islanders would like to sign Anders Lee, but they don’t want to go longer than five or six years. If another team is willing to give him seven years he will leave.

6. Richard Panik would be a good low-cost free agent signing for the Oilers.

7. Jason Zucker gets traded for the third time in the past five months, but this time the trade will actually go through.

8. Tobias Rieder and Ty Rattie will not get a qualifying offer and both will become unrestricted free agents.

9. PK Subban’s name keeps coming up in trade rumours. Nashville looking to dump salary. Need a skilled forward , so moving Subban will free up cap space. Expect the New Jersey Devils to make a pitch. I see him going there.

10. If Chicago passes on Bowen Byram they will regret it for years. He is that good.

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11. I spoke with Ken Hitchcock earlier this week on my radio show. I asked him about Jesse Puljujarvi.

What intrigues you about Puljujarvi’s game and what does he have to work on to become an effective NHL Player?

“As a Coach, when I saw him play and practice for us, I thought as a young player that you know you can put him on the ice. You know because he understood the concepts of positional play, and he has a really good stick as far as checking. He’s a trusted third line player right now. Now obviously Jesse wants to be more than that, and that’s going to be the debate for years; does he get to be a top 6 player?

“I saw him as a guy you could put on the ice but I didn’t see the offensive side of his game yet, because he was young and that growth wasn’t there. Now, does it come? Sometimes it comes, and sometimes it stalls out, but there was no problem putting him on the ice. He filled a role, and you were comfortable putting him there, and for me at least he played double digit minutes. I saw him as a top-nine player, but I think there were people that thought he should be, based on where he was drafted, a top-six player.”

How do you manage the expectations of players who had offensive success in junior or college when they enter the NHL?

“Well, you have to help them change the value system. And that is the push back and the debate that goes on. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but you have to convince them that in order to get to where they want to go themselves, they may need to buy some time so that they get on the ice and play until the other things develop.And that’s the offensive part of the game where it slows down in their head; they’re able to do things that they did in junior or minor hockey and it comes along with time.

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“At the end of the day, playing in the NHL is based on trust. And the trust in the NHL is based on checking, it’s not based off offensive play. There aren’t any coaches I know who are successful, that just because a player is an offensive player, they put them out there. If you can’t check, if you can’t be responsible, it’s hard for any coach in the NHL that’s worth his salt to put the player on the ice.

“To me, there’s the negotiable part, which is the offense side of things, and that is long term growth. Then there is the non-negotiable part, which is the checking. You look at a team like the Blues, they have younger players. I know Barbashev and Sundqvist, these types of players are going to be good offensive players, good third line players, but right now they are fourth line players because they check, and they’re trusted. So they get to play, and the rest of their game develops over time, and that is the key thing. You have to be able to have the head coach trust you and that trusting is showing you’re committed when the other team has the puck, you’re committed as you can be, and then you get to play.”​

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