Saturday, 4 July 2015

Greg Pateryn is now under contract for three seasons.

About the contract extension for Greg Pateryn, what welcome news for Habs fans, and what a good move by the agent and the player.  The rugged rookie defenceman seemed to have caught on with the Canadiens late in the season and during the playoffs.  His steady game and physical style may have endeared him to Head Coach Marc Bergevin and General Manager Marc Bergevin, both former defencemen themselves.

At 25 years old, Greg is a mature player, having played four seasons at Michigan under coach Red Berenson, and almost three full AHL seasons before his callup last spring.  His first season as a Bulldog was marred by injury, but during the 2013-14 season he surprised observers with some offensive flair and a nice hard slapshot that helped him rack up 15 goals and 34 points.

Greg is also mature physically, he's a grown man at 6'2" and 220 lbs, a stature he's not afraid to use.  He was reportedly asked to focus on his defensive play in his own zone and on a more physical style, which may have contributed to his diminished offensive production last season.  Again though, the coaches seem to have liked what they saw, never mind the scoresheet.

While I don't necessarily expect or even want a Chris Pronger-level of aggression in all defencemen, it was nice to see Greg skate effectively and dish out hits liberally.  And it was nice to see him sneer at huge Jimmy Hayes of the Panthers when the latter objected to a hard clean hit.  We need a little more brass in our lineup, some strength and stoutness of character.  Greg brings that.

With that in mind, Greg and his agent's decision to sign this extension is a masterstroke.  They tack on another two years to their deal, which means he’s in the fold for three, with a modest raise from NHL minimum to a cap hit of $800 000 the next two seasons.

In his situation, as a fringe #6-7 defenceman, what he needs to do is play and work on his game, to improve, to solidify his status as an NHL’er.  By making himself cost-effective, predictably so, he gives himself the greatest chance of being on the roster and getting these minutes, at an NHL wage.

He wasn’t going to have a great next season that would translate to a bigger contract, it’s not like he’s poised to score 14 goals and wow an arbitrator, so his opportunity cost, the trade-off for the stability is negligible.

But he’s set himself up to be a workhorse, a necessary cog, by the time he approaches UFA status, at which point he may be in a position to cash in.

The Canadiens meanwhile, when they envision and plan the roster for the coming seasons, can plug him in with some assurance, he’s signed for three seasons, a known quantity, they can see that as taken care of and figure out other issues.

So good work by all, the Canadiens retain a useful young defenceman on a cap-friendly deal for the next three seasons, and the player sets himself up as such an inexpensive option that he may make himself indispensable on the roster.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Doug Wilson moves the goalposts on Jim Benning, scuttles the Kevin Bieksa trade.

Ian MacIntyre autopsies the failed Kevin Bieksa trade with San Jose on TSN 1040, and says the stumbling block is that Doug Wilson “moved the goalposts” on Jim Benning, wanted the 2nd-round pick he gave in return to be a 2016 pick. Mr. MacIntyre says that’s extremely poor form, not a common mistake that happens often, just normal confusion in the heat of the action. On the draft floor, when you’re batting around picks, it’s understood to be that they’re for the current draft, unless you specify a future pick.

There’s some faint corroboration for this, in that during the second round, a talking head reported that Doug Wilson didn’t want to part with his second rounder, the GM “needed it” to acquire Jérémy Roy, and sure enough he traded up for the 31st pick and got the Sherbrooke defenceman as the first player drafted in the second round. Which is neither here nor there, it’s actually more accurate to say that he wanted to keep it so as to move up, blah blah blah.

I know there are lots of unwritten rules and codes in hockey, maybe this is one where Doug Wilson broke the code, reneged on his word, but I always kind of think that until you ‘fax it in’ and the NHL makes it official, it’s not official, it’s not a trade. Maybe the contract extension was taking a while to figure out with the agent, maybe Jim Benning hadn’t quite shook on it yet, and meanwhile, Jérémy Roy kept falling, and falling…

Anyway, he reports that the Canucks management were furious, they were left out to dry. Kevin Bieksa was negotiating a new deal, had gone house-hunting in San Joes, thought he was gone, and now isn’t. Not great.

One of the differences between Marc Bergevin and Jim Benning is that while our GM is approachable, affable, and can be quotable, he’s remarkably unwilling to discuss much. If it’s official, if a deal has been made, he’ll inform the media and discuss the matter, but otherwise you can’t get anything out of him. Which is good, there are seldom any leaks from the New Forum.

Jim Benning isn’t as polished when speaking, not as entertaining, he’s kind of rough around the edges, but he’s remarkably candid with the media, he’ll get into hypothetical scenarios, divulge his intentions, etc. I was taken aback, pleasantly so, when he told the press flat out that he was trading Eddie Lack, not Jacob Markstrom, and that he was confident he’d get a “fairly high pick” in return. I thought it was refreshing to see a GM not bend over backwards to pretend, to deny what everyone can see is shaping up.

And that’s where he got into trouble, and why the mood is so foul with Canucks fans now. Jim Benning set up expectations of a Kevin Bieksa trade and an extra second-rounder for his popular goalie, and neither deal came about.

Expectations and Zack Kassian

Zack Kassian was acquired from the Sabres three seasons ago at the trade deadline, with the Canucks taking another shot in their unending quest to find a (better) RW to play with the Sedin brothers.  At the time, it was thought that maybe the Sabres had rushed him to the NHL, that maybe he should have played more in the AHL, but it was hoped that the 'change of scenery' might be what makes him click.

In hindsight, he should have been sent down to the minors while they still could, before he'd need to pass waivers.  There were a lot of growing pains, whispers about off-ice problems, clashes with the coach and/or management.  Maybe now that he's gone the journos will spill the beans on some of that stuff.

But what's clear is that Zack Kassian has hockey skill, he's talented.  He can score goals, he can pass, there are some great highlights of his on YouTube, see for yourself.

Unfortunately, Canucks fans are forever waiting for the 'next Cam Neely', the 'next Todd Bertuzzi'.  Zack Kassian didn't immediately fit in on the Sedin line, he played lower down the lineup, at which point they wanted him to lay waste to humanity.  Canucks fans are still scarred by the way the league let the Bruins goon them out of the Stanley Cup, they want big and tough, maybe more than Canadiens fans.

Dale Weise was expected to be an enforcer in Vancouver.  Jason Garrison was thought too meek and mild to some tastes.  Zack was expected, by the fans at least, and also due to the roster construction, to face off against the Derryk Engellands and the Brian McGrattans.  He was their size, after all.

The thing that can help him in Montréal is that Michel Therrien wants effort, he wants forecheck, but more than anything he'd rather have the puck than seeing one of his players make a hit.  If Zack plays responsibly, and does well when he has the puck, he won't be asked to drive guys through the boards.

There are guys like Jeff Carter or Rick Nash who are big, but don't necessarily play tough, according to Don Cherry.  Their size is an asset, if someone tries to intimidate them it's not that easy, but they're also not running around creaming guys, they have better things to do.

If we fans can accept that Zack Kassian isn't the anti-Lucic we all pine for, if we accept that he's a skill player who's really big and who sometimes can get nasty, then we'll have the right expectations and won't be disappointed.  And Zack won't feel miscast, like Dale Weise did.

It's good that he accepted responsibility for his underwhelming turn in Vancouver.  Three different coaching staffs found him wanting, so it's not the case of a coach playing favourites.  If he can come into camp in better shape, in good spirits, if he can click with some linemates that complement him, we'll compliment him on his great play, and we'll compliment Marc Bergevin for another swindle of the Canucks.

Hot Takes on the 2015 Free Agency Opening Day

Ducking in and out, catching up on the July 1 opening day of the NHL Unrestricted Free Agent signing period, as it accumulates on my PVR.

---TSN starts off with a glitch right off the bat, announcing that Mike Weber had been signed by the Vancouver Canucks for $1.5M, which immediately set my spidey senses tingling.  Did they really mean Mike Weber from the Buffalo Sabres, or the Canucks Yannick Weber, their very own Restricted Free Agent?

They cleared it up about fifteen minutes later, it was indeed Yannick who got re-signed, which will make Carey Price's sister Angela happy, that her boyfriend keeps playing in Vancouver.

This wasn't a slam dunk, the Canucks hadn't qualified Yannick, apparently afraid that he might take them to arbitration, where his point production might sway the decision in a costly direction.  He still got a healthy raise from the $850 000 he earned last season, when he hadn't been qualified either in the off-season.

Interesting, tumultuous off-seasons for Yannick, after apparently solidifying his status as a regular defenceman and first-wave powerplay quarterback late in the season, he's tumbled back down the hill, and he's still seen as a #6-7 fringe guy by the administration, by the coach, and by the fans.

---Andrej Sekera signed by the Edmonton Oilers.  Amazing what a competent GM and President can do, in this case attracting one of the prime UFA's to what used to be the Siberia of hockey.

It looks like Jeff Petry's contract was the template they used, $33M over 6 years.  Which they weren't able to afford for Jeff last season.  And have now spent on a leftie who's two years older.

---Michael Frolik decides early on to go to the Calgary Flames, for five years at $4.3M per.  He'd professed an affinity for Montréal a couple days ago, how he liked it there and trained with fellow NHL'ers in the off-season, and I thought he'd be a good band-aid for a couple of seasons on right wing, at $4M per max.

Of course, I knew that was unreasonably low, that he'd get much more on the open market, so I'd crossed him off the list.  Apparently so did Marc Bergevin.  Good move, that's a lot of money for a Middle 6 forward, it doesn't fit in our salary structure.

---P.A Parenteau will play in Toronto, he'll make $1.5M for one season.  I'm a little surprised at this.  I thought he might go to a team like San Jose or Washington, a team that has some playmaking centres and can use a creative winger like him, a final piece of the puzzle.  The Maple Leafs certainly don't fit that bill.

Another reason is that the Leafs are now apparently heavy into skill, which P.A. has, but also into analytics, led in this area by assistant GM Kyle Dubas.  From what I read, I thought that P.A.'s underlying numbers were poor, he didn't 'drive possession', etc.  Maybe the Leafs had a different read, or different numbers entirely.

I'm saddened that he didn't flourish in Montréal, that injuries stalled his season, he seemed genuinely happy and positive during his stay in Montréal.

I liked how Gabriel Dumont, who was a little glum when he was sent down to the AHL and exposed to waivers last October, explained that Pierre-Alexandre spoke to him and tried to encourage him, telling him he spent seven seasons in the minors before he finally got a fulltime job in the NHL, so he should keep working hard and believing in himself.

So as hard as it is for me to say this about a Leaf, I wish him good luck with his new team.

---Raphaël Diaz returns to the Rangers, one of his former teams.  Really Rangers, don't you have enough defencemen?  He had a mediocre season with the Flames, only got playing time due to injuries to other defencemen.  I guess they know him over in NYC, and must think his 'particular set of skills' will fit in with the rest of their blueliners, especially if Keith Yandle is on the trade block as the TSN guys floated.

---Cody Hodgson signs with the Preds, and they'll undertake the reclamation job with him that they did with Mike Ribeiro.

---Zack Stortini, remember him from the Bulldogs?  Ottawa signs him to a two-year deal.  I guess having dealt away Eric Gryba's elbows, they needed to load up on toughness, especially with Don Sweeney acquiring 'character players' like Zac Rinaldo, but Zack Stortini is more of a punch-taker than a puncher.  Two years?

Add in one-time Toronto wonderboy Mike Kostka on a two-way contract, and you know that Colton Orr and Korbinian Holzer can't be far behind.

---I was with some coworkers preparing for the Canada Day Parade when one of my buddies who's a Canucks fan approached me and informed me of the Zack Kassian trade.  They usually like getting my goat, know when I'm PVR'ing a game and will pretend to check their phones and blurt out the score.  With this in mind, I thought I was being set up, and said as much, out loud, that this was a faintly plausible ridiculous trade hoax.

So, Zack Kassian, and the proverbial fifth, for Brandon Prust.

  • I hate dealing away Brandon, a leader of the team, and a guy who'd voluntarily come here as a UFA, and embraced the community.
  • Mariepier Morin had promised there would be hell to pay if he got traded away, especially now that they were engaged.  Her media career is not 'portable', she needs to be in Québec.  I'd hate to be Marc Bergevin right now, and incur her fury.
  • Brandon's pugilism isn't replaced by Zack Kassian, who's big but not a great fighter, he's reluctant to assume that role.  Maybe this is another opportunity for Jarred Tinordi, to contribute to a 'team toughness' concept.
  • Trading away a Bottom 6 left winger for a right winger who could/should (by all rights) play in the Top 6 should be a no-brainer.  If Zack can put it together.  Whereas Brandon is a sure thing, you know what you're getting.
  • From Vancouver's end, I don't understand what they did, they already have a 3rd/4th-liner that they're moderately overpaying in Derek Dorsett, who plays that exact same role of 'energy heart-and-soul gritty leadership provider'.  Maybe they'll only hold Brandon for two days and flip him to another team, like Boston did for Martin Jones.  
  • The Canucks better not trade him to the Bruins.
  • Jim Benning says that Brandon Prust was brought in to partly allay the leadership and toughness deficit created by the departure of Kevin Bieksa.
  • The Vancouver media believes that Zack Kassian's departure creates a spot for scoring prospect RW Jake Virtanen to win in camp.
  • The Canadiens save about a million dollars in cap space in the one-for-one trade.
  • Brandon's 3rd/4th-line and PK duty can be assumed easily, fingers crossed, by Michaël Bournival.  Go, kid!
  • If things work out, Zack provides some size and skill in the Top 6, and is a true right-winger, not a leftie asked to play the right side.  He has great hands, some surprising moves, clever passes, if he can be consistent, that guy can play, absolutely.
  • We get Brendan Gallagher, Devante Smith-Pelly, Dale Weise, and now Zack to replace an ineffective P.A. Parenteau.  That's really not bad, if things work out following a somewhat optimistic scenario: Gally and Dale hold steady, Devo takes a step or two forward, and Zack makes a big jump.
  • Positive Mental Attitude: Zack, when interviewed by James Duthie, spoke about how excited he was, how the Canadiens are his dad's favourite team.  He said how, regardless of a trade, he'd resolved that next year he was going to have a big year, make a statement.  
  • He didn't go into details when James Duthie probed into this area, he just said that he was going to prepare to take his game to the next level.  Plainly, based on his last couple of seasons in Vancouver, he means being more diligent in his off-season conditioning.  Zack is a little jowly, never broke any records during testing at training camp.  If he can drop a dozen pounds and get stronger, that'll go a long way to improving his game, his intensity, his consistency so he doesn't wear down during the season, or suffer shoulder injuries, etc.
  • At first blush, I didn't believe this trade was even real, and then I hated it.  But going through the process, analyzing it, I feel better about it.  If Zack can make the same quantum leap that Dale Weise did when he arrived from Vancouver, we're laughing.
  • The fifth-rounder we get in addition is a big bonus.  Let's stockpile more picks, always.  And the fifth round is where Trevor Timmins does his best work, right?

---The Penguins acquire Phil Kessel to play right wing with Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin.

Oof!  That could be deadly, they could explode.  Especially if Sid can pound some sense into him, and get him to get in adequate physical condition for an NHL player.  As everyone has thought, if Phil Kessel can score 30 with Tyler Bozak and Cody Franson, imagine what he'll do with Sidney and Kris Letang feeding him the puck.

And good on the Leafs for pulling the trigger on a relatively decent deal.  They weren't going to hit a homerun trying to trade such a prickly player with that contract.  Better to cut the cord and move on, since they don't really care about the next couple of seasons.  This isn't about maximizing value to make a Cup run, this is a strip down of the roster, an inculcation of the organization to a new philosophy.  And quite honestly, the Leafs are looking to be bad, to get a few high picks before they get better.

The Leafs unload their 2011 first-round bust Tyler Biggs in the deal, the guy they'd traded up to get, to add truculence.

Tim Erixon, who's ping-ponged from the Rangers to Columbus to the Blackhawks and the Leafs, goes to Pittsburgh too.  He's maybe going to have a career as a throw-in, on the Rick Nash trade, and now the Phil Kessel trade.

Sidenote: interesting that Scott Harrington gets dealt away by Pittsburgh.  One blogger whose work I enjoy thinks he's the posterboy for over-valued CHL defensive defencemen.
One of the things that drives me off-the-wall crazy about Hockey Canada at the junior level is the fetishization of stuff as nebulous as "heart" and "grit" and "toughness." Consequently, we get guys on our international junior teams who, when they appear to exhibit some of these intangible qualities, are lauded for their on-ice defensive abilities. Take, for example, Scott Harrington. A Penguins 2nd round pick in 2011, he was named the captain of the OHL champion London Knights this past season (leadership!), was a finalist for OHL defenseman of the year (defense!), and was guaranteed a spot on Canada's World Junior Championship team's blueline because he was there before because he blocked shots (heart!). Corey Pronman lists him as one of Pittsburgh's top-10 prospects, saying that his upside is a 3rd or 4th NHL defenseman due to being a "high-end thinker" with stellar defensive ability.
And yet he'll more than likely be out of NHL hockey by the time he's 25, doomed to a career bouncing around the minor leagues and Europe, mostly because he's not a very good hockey player, relatively speaking.

Maybe Mark Hunter, formerly GM of the London Knights and now with the Leafs, knows something we don't.

---Mike Green signs with Detroit, by the same stroke stifling my dreams of flipping them right-handed puck-moving Tom Gilbert for Anthony Mantha.  And a couple of picks.

Mike Green is a few seasons away from the phenomenal 31-goal year he had once, he's suffered a few injuries and concussions since then, so the three-year term is very reasonable for the Wings, compared to some of the prognostications by TSN's panel.  I thought they were still relying on his rep, which used to be of an All-Star.  That's not the case any longer.

---And the Wings adds some talent with Brad Richards at a reasonable $3M cap hit for one year.  Those guys aren't kidding around, we may tremble at their approach next year.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Thoughts on the Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau buyout.

I have a couple of thoughts on the P.A. Parenteau buyout.  He's just been placed on waivers for those purposes by the Canadiens.

I figured he'd dodged that bullet when I wrote this a few days ago:

I had the odds that P.A. gets bought out at 33%, but since he hasn’t been put on waivers yet, I guess that ship has sailed too. I guess they’re taking a chance that with another strong off-season of work, maybe fewer injuries, he can contribute more.

I had in my mind’s eye an image of Rick Dudley giving him a call every couple of days, checking in on him, maybe Scott Mellanby drops by while he’s working out at the gym, sizing him up, poking and prodding him, while they hem and haw about whether to buy him out.
The first thought is that Pierre-Alexandre is another asset that we have to write off, that goes to zero instead of being realized or amortized.  We tell each other often that if a player doesn't work out, he can be 'flipped for picks', or 'traded to another team', but sadly it seems it rarely happens.

I know that the mantra painted on the dressing room wall is "Pas d'excuses", but I think we've been a little unlucky.  Off the top of my head, P.A., Mike Weaver, Bryan Allen, Sergei Gonchar, Louis Leblanc, Yannick Weber, Ryan White, on and on it goes, all these 'assets' end up being non-negotiable.

I envision the team as being on a treadmill, and we're taking on new players every year, and some fall off the back.  It's nice and easy to talk about the fact that we're not taking aboard any Sydney Crosbys, any Connor McDavids, so we'll never win, but I think the secret to success is to keep replenishing, to trade off a Douglas Murray or a Roman Hamrlik before they're due to fall off, even for 'low picks', and to keep replenishing the well.  Ideally, for every player who falls off, we add two prospects, and inevitably some of them will be winning tickets.

Of course this is easier to do when you're not in a race to the playoffs, if you're not holding on to everyone for depth, in case of injuries, but I think there's a way to bet on both horses a little bit.  We can have a little more success, be a little more far-sighted, by flipping players for futures, if we make that our mission, if we refuse to take lightly that players will leave without compensation.

I don't have the figures in front of me, it's more of a sense than a conviction, but seeing the Lightning pick up nine players in this draft, take Dennis Yan and Anthony Cirelli with two third-round picks, while we made do with five picks, is a bit of a stark contrast.

As astute as Marc Bergevin has been, I think we've bled out a little more than we could have.  And even as he juggles so many balls, I'd like to add in another one, that diligence, that conviction that a player traded for a 3rd rounder two years from now is a win, is very much better than nothing.  I'd like it to become part of the management philosophy.

And it would necessitate some changes in the way we do things.  Leaving Mike Weaver in the pressbox for an entire season may not be the way to go.  Maybe if we see we're not using him, we send him off for a low pick, and depth is provided with prospects doing injury callups instead.  We take a little hit there, for a bigger gain elsewhere, by giving Trevor Timmins more shots at the dart board.

These are not black and white, right or wrong issues, just tweaks, nuances, another factor to add into the equation.

And I don't think it's a matter of outlook, of policy that sank the value of Pierre-Alexandre.  If he'd popped in a handful more goals, if he hadn't been injured, that would have been the determining factor.  Just a little luck...

But another facet we now have to consider is how we structure our contracts.  For years we spoke of how big ticket contracts could be dumped on teams trying to reach the salary cap floor, in a theoretical sense.  We always hoped that Scott Gomez's front-loaded contract could become attractive to such a team in its last couple of seasons, when it would deliver a big $7.3M salary cap hit, but would require only 3 and 2 million in salary or thereabouts.

The thing is, teams trying to reach the cap floor won't take an awful player on to do so (exception: Chris Pronger loophole).  They want guys who can still play.  They still need to sell tickets, attract fans, they're budget teams because they're trying to establish themselves.

But this off-season, we've seen two players go to budget teams because of this dodge.  James Wisniewski was taken by the Hurricanes in trade, because, aside from still being able to play, he'll provide the Hurricanes with $11M in cap hit, but require only $8M in salary.

Same with the Flyers dumping Chris Pronger's contract on the grateful Coyotes, who'll enjoy his almost $5M in cap hit as they jury-rig themselves a roster that'll reach the cap floor.  The Glendale team will only have to pay out a half million in actual salary though.

And now I kind of figure that that's what the Blackhawks are counting on with Marian Hossa, and the Kings might have hoped for in Mike Richard's case, that they'll be effective for a few more seasons, but as they get to the cap-circumventing years of their contract, when they're making a million dollars or so, they can be dumped on a budget team trying to reach the cap floor.

And it makes me wonder, if P.A.'s contract had been similarly structured, if it called for him to receive only $2M this season, would he have been much more marketable.  Could we have wheedled a mid-rounder out of a budget team for him in that case?

Now, we didn't sign P.A., we didn't write the contract, but I think there's a clear opportunity for a rich team like the Canadiens.  If we're bidding for a free agent and the contract is going to be necessarily high, we can front-load it, pay as much money as possible up front, and in the last year or two, those that might be a problem due to declining performance by the player, he can hopefully be packaged to a team looking for salary-cap floor relief.

I don't think it would be a problem for players and their agents to receive most of the money up front.  That's usually what they want.  And I note that Jeff Petry will earn $7M in the first couple of seasons, but 'only' $4M during the final two.

And that's an advantage we have over the Nashvilles and the Glendales, we can churn through players like this, with 'ejectable' final years on their contracts.  The contracts can't quite 'backdive' so aggressively with the new CBA, but we can still derive an advantage this way.  We can have a yearly salary cap hit in line with the rules, but spend more than that, and ice a more competitive team.

If Mr. Molson is willing to write slightly bigger cheques and charge us a little bit more per 'stimé' to facilitate a winning team.  Which I do not doubt he is.

EDIT: June 29, 2015 AT 11:46 AM

According to La Presse, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau was informed of the buyout by his agent Saturday evening. He still hadn’t spoken to anyone from the organization as of Sunday noon, and Marc Bergevin hadn’t raised the subject at their end-of-season talk. He wasn’t expecting a buyout.
«C’est sûr que je n’ai pas eu la saison escomptée, a-t-il reconnu au bout du fil. À cause de ça, je peux comprendre la décision du Canadien, c’est une décision d’affaires. Ça ne s’est pas passé comme prévu pour moi, ce fut une saison en dents de scie.»

“I admit I didn’t have the kind of season I was hoping for. I can understand the Canadiens’ decision, it’s a business decision. It didn’t go as expected for me, I had an uneven year.”

He says he hopes to get a chance with another team in the fall.

Hot takes on the 2015 NHL Draft, Rounds 2-7

Stream of consciousness as I watch the second day of the 2015 NHL Draft.

1)  I’m looking and looking at my TV channel guide, and scrolling through my channels, and can’t find where Round 2-7 are being broadcast.

Sportsnet has eight channels, they can’t fit this in somehow? Have they run out of loudmouths to bark over the proceedings?

I guess I have to watch it in standard def on the NHL Network.

2)  Disappointing return for crowd-favourite Eddie Lack for the Canucks, They get a third-rounder from the Hurricans.  Some fans were apoplectic, they started a petition when they thought he was getting traded for a 2nd rounder.  And people laugh at Canadiens fans for dialing 911 and reporting to police Zdeno Chara’s assault on Max Pacioretty…

3)  Jérémy Roy leads off the second day, he goes 31st overall to San Jose.  You have to wonder how close the evaluation was between him and Noah Juulsen for the Canadiens.

4)  TVA Sports also isn’t televising the 2nd round now, just a replay of last night’s first round proceedings.

Take a bow, Gary Bettman! Your partners Sportsnet and TVA are sure doing a bangup job. As a fan, I concur with you that I’m very well served by this new deal. That still has a decade to go. As a fan.

5)  The Senators just snapped up Gabriel Gagné of les Tigres de Victoriaville. 6’4″ forward who can score goals.  I was hoping that Marc Bergevin could get into the second round and get him.

I saw him play on TVA on Friday nights, they had a couple of games by the Tigres, but it’s not like he caught my eye really, just his size and potential are enticing.

6)  Boston goes for giant defenceman Brandon Carlo right after. You can take the goon out of Boston…

7)  Patrick Roy and the Avalanche take A.J. Greer from Joliette, Québec, and Nicolas Meloche of the Drakkar back to back at 39 and 40.

8)  James Wisniewski is traded from Anaheim to Carolina.  Love the Wiz. We should have signed him pre-emptively, before he got too close to UFA, and got that massive contract.

9)  Daniel Sprong, another LHJMQ product, is a Penguin. How soon before he’s on the wing with Crosby or Malkin?

10)  Interesting that the Ducks sent Emerson Etem to the Rangers, with Carl Hagelin coming back. When he was picked 29th overall in 2010, Mr. Etem was the poster boy for how hockey was growing in Southern California, and how great it was that the Ducks picked a guy from their backyard, etc.

11)  About the Oilers acquire Griffin Reinhart from the Islanders, the timing, his development curve matches up really well with the rest of the young stars on the Oilers. And they knew him inside out, since he was an Oil King.

The Oilers have a GM. Finally.

12)  Ah man!…

The Bruins just picked up Jérémy Lauzon from les Huskies de Rouyn-Noranda. He was ranked 42nd overall, 65th at the midterm, for N.A. skaters. He was a dark horse I hoped we could sneak in the third round, but he caught a lot of eyes late in the season.

There’s going to be no one left…

13)  Truculence is dead in Toronto. The Leafs drafted Jeremy Bracco, the pipsqueak of the draft.  This is the guy the anti-Smurf brigade was afraid Marc Bergevin might acquire. Not for any definite reason, just to pursue a narrative.

The kid looks like he’s fourteen on camera.  It’s unfortunate for him that while he's running through his canned, rehearsed comments during an interview, he says “I couldn’t be happy to be a Maple Leaf…”, when he meant to say ‘couldn’t be happier.

14)  Kids who come off the board in the 3rd round:

Dennis Yan, the Shawinigan Russian kid by way of the U.S..

Guillaume Brisebois, another highly touted LHJMQ defenceman.

Keegan Kolesar, cool name, tough guy, bit of a dinosaur checker-enforcer out of the Seattle Thunderbirds.

J.C. Beaudin, one of the guys I was hoping for in the third round, centre with size.

Alexander Dergachev (it seems his name will be spelled differently), a prospect that some on HF Boards absolutely loved, others thought would be too, too slow to play in the NHL.

Samuel Montembeault, the goalie from the Armada.

15)  And the Canadiens pick a kid in the 3rd round who, despite all my diligent gleaning of scouting reports, I’ve never heard of.  Lukas Vejdemo, an overage centre from Djugarden in Sweden.

16)  Carolina gets Callum Booth early in the fourth, Zach Fucale’s backup.

They also get 6’4″ Chicoutimi centre Nicolas Roy, who was projected as a first-rounder at the start of the season, but fell to the fourth. Oh well, I guess Trevor no likey.

My original plan to draft the best Roy available is seriously in the weeds now.

17)  Nashville picks up a nifty little centre, Anthony Richard, who put up 43 G , 91 points in 66 games.

18)  Trevor Linden looks subdued during an interview, explains that it was tough getting good value in return for Eddie Lack, but they wanted to resolve it so they pulled the trigger.

He kind of winced when discussing the aborted Kevin Bieksa trade.

He started a sentence with: “Ultimately, at the end of the day, …”

This media buzzspeak is getting out of hand.

19)  What are the odds that Christian Wolanin isn’t Craig’s son, or that Michael Spacek is Jaro’s son?

The Senators trolling Habs fans, get a big player we coveted, Philip Ahl.

The Preds going back to the LHJMQ well, pick smallish but productive defenceman Alex Carrier.

20)  Looking at the differences between Peter Chiarelli and Mac T (and Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini), and how the new guy seems to know what he’s doing, it seems like night and day.

Think about the fiasco last fall when they signed Alexander Tkachev. Except they weren’t allowed to, he wasn’t eligible to sign as a UFA, he had to go back in the draft.

I was making allowances in the past for them, how it’s hard to get around all the No Trade Clauses, but it seems that it was incompetence more than anything that was a barrier to excellence.

I sense a plan, rather than the 'just sit back and wait’ approach from the former administrations. Remember Homer with his fifty lottery tickets before the big draw?

“With so many tickets, how can I possibly lose?…”

21)  I don’t know anything about Matt Bradley, the Canadiens' fifth-round pick, but I’ll affirm that he’s the grand-nephew of five-star general Omar Bradley.

He's described as a 'good skater, high hockey IQ, good both ways, wins faceoffs, relentless on the forecheck, protects the puck well on the cycle, decent shot, might not have the hands to be a top 6 guy' kind of player.

Is this Brady Vail all over again?

The kid has a lot to live up to, being a Trevor Timmins-approved fifth-rounder and all…

22)  The Lightning snooping around in our backyard again. Stay in Florida!

They get Mathieu Joseph, who some were touting as a possible undrafted Prospect Development Camp invite, in the fourth round.

And you can’t ignore Connor Garland anymore, or at least Arizona can't, not with his production this season. 129 points!  They get the overager in the fifth round.

23)  Toronto at it again, pick a smallish brainy player in Dmytro Timashov. Not necessarily a good skater, but great passer, was knocked for not scoring enough goals this year. David Desharnais clone?

24)  Remember Matt Schmalz? He was an invite to the Prospect Development Camp last summer, didn’t get a contract. The Kings (surprise, surprise) get the 6’6″ Sudbury forward.

25)  Martin Brodeur interviewed on the NHL Network, talks about how much he's learning as a new executive with the Blues.

Would St. Louis be a better place to live than New Jersey?

26)  I don’t know if I’m remembering correctly, but didn’t some tout Ryan Pilon as a 2nd-rounder? He’s drafted at the end of the fifth. I guess scouts thought his game depended on his partner Ivan Provorov to a great degree.

He was actually ranked 24th by Central Scouting. Ouch, that's quite the drop.

The Leafs nab Stephen Desrocher in the early sixth, the kid made an impact in the playoffs and Memorial Cup, big, threw some hits, moved the puck well, scored a few goals.

I like this pick in the 6th. The Sportsnet crew was getting carried away during the Memorial Cup, saying he could sneak into the second round he was playing so well, but this low it’s a great shot to take.

27)  The Canadiens take Simon Bourque, one of the dark-horse defence prospects from the LHJMQ, definitely not on that first tier, but described as intriguing. If he’s half as good as his namesake Raymond, I’ll take it.

It's nteresting that Ben Kerr of Last Word on Sports had him in the same range as Jérémy Lauzon, who I’d seen elsewhere ranked in the third round or so, and Alexandre Carrier, and they both got picked much higher than him.

I would love to hack into these NHL scouts' computers and read the notes and get the lists from different teams, see how they compare, how one team will see a guy as a first or second-rounder, and others as a DND or very low-round pick.

28)  I’m guessing Sens fans will be okay with Joel Daccord (it’s a thinker…)

29)  The Canadiens pick Jeremiah Addison with their seventh round pick, an Ottawa forward.

I wouldn’t mind a little more Québec content, maybe sign an undrafted player or two after the Prospect Development Camp?

I believe RDS and TVA might be heard on this subject too.

30)  Well I’ll be darned. Those T-Bay jerks in our backyard again.  They pick Bokondji Imama at the end of the sixth round, I'd missed it.

I was excited about his potential after the Canadiens Prospect Development Camp last season. The big thing is they said he could skate, and he’d taken up the sport ‘full-time’ only recently, instead of also playing other sports.  Also, he was the youngest invite at camp, hadn’t turned 18 yet, so I figured there was a lot of upside.
This season didn’t quite follow the appropriate growth curve though.  He didn’t produce much after an initial outburst when he returned to the Drakkar.  He had a couple of disciplinary issues, one where he shoved a referee out of his way, got suspended.  Add in that the Age of the Enforcer is over, and that’s three strikes.
So while I fretted that we'd missed an opportunity by not signing him as a free agent last summer, my qualms subsided.  I wasn't sure that he was worth the bother.  Now that another team snagged him though, I'm green with envy.
But good on the kid, 6th-round pick, now he has to work and become a hockey player, he won’t have a career by just punching people.
31)  So the Canadiens only make 5 picks this year.  By comparison, Tampa had 9.  For them, Dennis Yan and Anthony Cirelli, the hero of the Memorial Cup, both jump off the page in the third round.
I’m not blaming anyone, and I understand that the second and fourth-rounder used to acquire Jeff Petry were well spent.  With that in mind, it’s still worrisome that as loaded as they seem to be with young prospects, Tampa is still adding more, at a faster rate than we are.
Our division isn’t getting any easier, what with the Sabres also now stacked with prospects, and the Leafs under actual management now.
32)  About the discussion on social media whether the Canadiens should have traded or tried harder to trade for a second-rounder, or to trade down, with the counter-argument that maybe there were no partners to dance with, I think there’s one point that’s important to bear in mind.
When the Canadiens’ turn came up, they weren’t dithering on the phone, they got up and went to the stage.
Further, there were multiple trades for first-rounders at the end of the first round. The Maple Leafs traded down from 24 and 29, and Tampa traded down from 28. So there probably were opportunities for Marc Bergevin to flip the pick, there were teams looking to come up.
But the fact that he kept the pick means that they felt strongly about Noah Juulsen, they saw good value at that point, didn’t want to risk going down and losing him. They didn’t think other players they might come up with were equally good prospects.
So let’s accept that the Canadiens really wanted the kid, they got to know him through the Silvertips-Scherbak connection, and felt he was their boy.
Now, a caveat I’ll introduce is that this was the way we landed David Fischer in 2006, some of the scouting staff got to know him in minor hockey at various tournaments, and tagged him as the guy they wanted years in advance. Some teams had him as Do Not Draft, and the Canadiens managed to trade down from 16 to 20 and still get him.
Let’s hope that this year isn’t also a case of tunnel vision, of ‘falling in love’ with a prospect and failing to properly evaluate others in comparision.
But that’s just a bone to chew over, something to pick at. I believe the Canadiens staff is as qualified as any to make this pick. If it doesn’t pan out, it won’t be because they réjeanhouled it.
33)  And to finish off with a theatrical snap of my suspenders, here's a post from HockeyInsideOut, from way back in early June:
Un Canadien errant    JUNE 11, 2015 AT 4:22 PM
Submitted for your consideration as a first-round pick target, Noah Juulsen, a defenceman ranked 22 among North-American skaters by Central Scouting.
-6’1.5″, 174 lbs right-shot defenceman
-put up 9 G, 43 A in the WHL
-grew up idolizing Kevin Bieksa and patterns his game after him
and here’s the kicker:
-plays on the Everett Silvertips, the same team as Nikita Scherbak, so the Canadiens would have viewed him a few times this season.
The Canadiens have gone back to the same well before, drafting Darren Dietz in 2011 from the Saskatoon Blades, then taking Dalton Thrower in 2012 from the same team, and last season taking Brett Lernout, a kid who started his WHL career in Saskatoon. Player Development Coach Patrice Brisebois and the scouts must have been talking.

Friday Morning Angst: Thoughts before the 2015 NHL Draft

Love the draft, the anticipation, it's like Christmas when you're about to receive and unwrap sooooooo many shiny new presents.  I wish we had more picks, that we were drafting higher, but that's what having good management, competent coaching and a competitive team will do, it lands you at the bottom of the draft order.

1)  Since we're picking at #26, I think you take the best player available if there’s one clearly head and shoulders above everyone else, like someone you had ranked as 10th overall and is still on the board.

If not, then within a tier of comparable players, you can focus on an organizational need, someone who’ll fit in to your AHL plans. As we discussed before you can’t have a bottleneck where prospects are limiting each other’s ice time, like four goalies or four goal-scoring right wingers.

With these caveats, it might be time to look for a defenceman, with Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi now graduated, we don’t have any frontline prospects in our system, we haven’t drafted many d-men since 2012.

I have my fingers crossed for Jérémy Roy.

2)  We're not going to help immediate help for our forwards and to address our scoring woes.

Michael Frolik would be a really good option to band-aid over our Top 6 for a couple of years, I’d like to have him, but in a weak UFA class he’ll be in demand, and I don’t think we’ll be able to afford him.

3)  I often compare and contrast our situation, our team, to the Vancouver Canucks, it's funny how our fanbases are alike in many ways. Yesterday I brought up Patrick White, their David Fischer, as a ‘for instance’, and a buddy of mine visibly winced, shook his head, and asked me not to bring up that guy’s name ever again.

4)  Size isn't quite the attractant it once was.  Prospects like Brandon Carlo would have been fought over just a couple years ago.  Look at the Flyers grabbing Samuel Morin in the Top 10 in 2013.   The Canadiens traded up in 2010 to draft giant project Jarred Tinordi at #22, to make sure they didn't miss on him.

Now, look at the Norris Trophy nominees, all on the solid 6 foot range, with the smaller Erik Karlsson the actual winner.

At the start of the season I wanted 6’4″ Nicolas Roy, but now am smitten with Jérémy, and his size is a non-issue.  There was concern he was too slender throughout this season, but he measured in at a respectable 6′ and 188 pounds at the Combine

5)  I’m not averse to Daniel Sprong, never really saw him play, I like the descriptions I've read but take the warning flags in consideration.

I think Trevor Timmins will have a great read on Jérémy Roy, since he plays on the same team in Sherbrooke as Daniel Audette, who's already on board as a draftee. Donald Audette, his father, is a scout for the Canadiens too, so lots of intel, lots of viewings, if there’s a player they can get right it’s him.

Noah Juulsen is in a situation that’s somewhat alike, in that he played on the Silvertips with Nikita Scherbak.

Brett Lernout started his career on the Saskatoon Blades with Darren Dietz and Dalton Thrower, I think that’s when he planted a seed and the Canadiens kept tabs on him, and moved up in the draft to get him.

6)  Unrealistic Trade Scenario, Vancouver edition:

a TSN 1040 listener proposes Zack Kassian and Eddie Lack to Carolina for Jeff Skinner, a second-rounder, “and maybe a fourth-rounder.”

Note that their second is 35th overall.

7)  After hearing what Carey Price had to say in the press conference after the awards ceremony last night, I feel a little better about our team, it’s a very optimistic, positive assessment of the team, which isn’t necessarily what we’re faced with daily on social media.

8)  Viktor Stalberg is on waivers, apparently not to be bought out, just to see if another team would take the contract off the Preds’ hands.  Wasn’t he a great favourite of HIO, one or two summers ago, to embiggen the roster and the third line?

9)  Hold the phones, I’m not stuck watching Sportsnet or TVA if I want to watch the Draft. Apparently NBC will be using TSN talent, so I know what I’ll be streaming.

And, as the article points out, there’s an added bonus: less Leafs!
Of course, there will be an expected shift in the news that McKenzie and Dreger break. For TSN, anything and everything Toronto Maple Leafs was the focus; and even when it wasn’t, there would be some way to tie a story back to the Centre of the Hockey Universe.

This didn’t necessarily play well when the coverage was simulcast in the U.S., where the myopic debates about the Leafs’ checking line winger for next season aren’t exactly front-burner topics.

So with NBCSN doing its own thing, McKenzie anticipates that the franchises we constantly see on the network will be the ones they focus on – spending a little more time on the Philadelphia Flyers at No. 7 than the Leafs at No. 4, potentially.

10)  And is it my faulty memory, or didn’t TSN really truly have a ‘national’ component back in the day, with attempts to report from every team? Lisa Bowes covered Calgary, Ryan Rishaug Edmonton, Dave Pratt and Farhan Lahlji Vancouver, …

I’d have TSN on or off for a few years, depending on if I had cable, and when I did I’d soak it up, loved to find out what was going on elsewhere.

It seems that the Toronto focus has really intensified in the last decade. Due to budget cuts maybe, they’re slacking off from their original mandate to cover sports for all Canadians, like basically every cable network like History and Discovery starting to show teen pregnancy shows and ‘Fast and Furious’ sequels.

My sense, anyway.

11)  The KHL seems more and more wobbly.  There was just a 24-player trade, due to financial strife within the league and roster manipulations.

12)  Taking in various mock drafts, I hate how the Bruins end up with Barzal X 2, Meier X 2, and in the others could pick up Zboril, Guryanov, Svechnikov…

13)  With the Sabres acquiring Robin Lehner and Ryan O'Reilly, it looks like Tim Murray doesn’t have the cojones to lose another season for Auston Matthews in the 2016 draft. Too bad. I’d have liked to see him pout again about not getting the first pick, failing to understand that he had an 80% chance of getting the #2 pick, and only 20% chance at the #1.

14)  After his craven appearance at the NHL Awards ceremony, I wonder what disadvantaged child or three-legged puppy Gary Bettman will use as a human shield this time, to forestall the tsunami of boos.

It's not that I don't respect them, I have no beef with Panthers fans, but I fear they’re not knowledgeable fans, they don’t understand how urgent it is that you HAVE to boo, mercilessly, the whole session, whenever the repugnant little toad approaches the microphone and smarms into it.

15)  TSN 1040 Vancouver’s Dave Pratt and ‘Bro’ Jake (excitedly): “If Robin Lehner is worth a first-rounder, how much (more) is Eddie Lack worth?!”

Dan Rosen, of : “Well, what the Lehner trade does is take out one of the teams bidding for a goalie and which had a first-rounder in play out of the equation. There’s even less demand for Eddie Lack now.”

Dave Pratt and ‘Bro’ Jake: “…”

16)  I was hoping that Tom Gilbert could net a second or at least a third, but maybe that ship has sailed for now, maybe a pick for next season. A first for 2016 at the deadline?

I had the odds that P.A. Parenteau gets bought out at 33%, but since he hasn’t been put on waivers yet, I guess that ship has sailed too. I guess they’re taking a chance that with another strong off-season of work, maybe fewer injuries, he can contribute more.

I had in my mind’s eye an image of Rick Dudley giving him a call every couple of days, checking in on him, maybe Scott Mellanby drops by while he’s working out at the gym, sizing him up, poking and prodding him, while they hem and haw about whether to buy him out.

The buyout window is more helpful for players, allows them to find a job, rather than teams, who if it was mid-July let’s say, could evaluate their roster, see who they picked up in trades at the draft, as UFA’s on July 1, and then decide if they need to buy anyone out, a player they couldn’t trade.

Video: Noah Juulsen's First Day as a Hab

Video: Noah Juulsen's First Day as a Hab


1) He’s a leftie who shoots right. Which is good, when skating backwards and defending and pokechecking, he’s using his strong side, his dominant hand.

That’s why most righties shoot left, when you’re a kid, you hold the stick with your right hand on top, generally. And that’s why it’s a little harder to find players who shoot right.

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, my father is a rightie but shoots right, a lot of players do that.

2) Michel Therrien brightened in his presence and beamed, like he was his prom date. He couldn’t keep his hands off him. I sense love at first sight, a big strapping stud of a defenceman for the Head Coach.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Hot takes on the 2015 NHL Draft's first round.

Stream of consciousness as I watch the 2015 NHL Draft.

--Marc Bergevin on TVA Sports, says the only GM he hasn’t talked to today is Glen Sather.

Lots of talk, but he says in the past he’s gone further in talks that went nowhere, so nothing’s in the bag so far.

Doesn’t think any other major trades will occur beyond what the Bruins did.

He’s spoken with Pat Brisson, but not on Alex Galchenyuk yet, that’s in the next few days.

--Craig Button keeps saying that Jack Eichel is no consolation prize. I know what he means, but it’s misleading, not what he means to say. He should say “he’s no mere consolation prize.

Because Jack Eichel is a heck of a consolation prize if you don’t get Connor McDavid.

--  I can't read Mac T's expression, seated as he is beside a Peter Chiarelli in charge at the Edmonton table.

--After Gary Bettman gets an altogether decent booing, by Florida hockey standards, the Oilers prepare to announce their choice.  We're treated to camera shots of Connor McDavid in the stands with his family, hoping against hope for a last-second call from the Governor.

--Connor McDavid not exactly overjoyed at hearing his name called, but he manages an expression of relief.

--Owner Darryl Katz, onstage for a group shot, refrains from making an expression of interest for a Seattle franchise.

--Tim Murray walks onstage, about to make his disappointing pick at #2.

He just barks it out: "The Sabres select Jack Eichel".  No intro or nothing.

Last year, he was blunt at the mike, straight to the point, didn’t spend a minute thanking everyone, so I’ll not read too much into that.

But I do hope against hope that Jack Eichel goes back to Boston College next season.

--Darren Dreger tweets that the Sabres and Avalanche make a trade: Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, the 31st overall pick, and JT Compher for Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn.

So the Sabres clear out a waivers headache in Mikhail Grigorenko, who gets to play under former Remparts coach Patrick Roy.  The Sabres get some experience and talent, they're not losing intentionally next season.

Good return, great haul for the Avalanche for Ryan O'Reilly.

Sabres have Jack Eichel, Zemgus Girgensons and Ryan O'Reilly as a 1-2-3 murderer's row at centre.

--At 4th overall, the Leafs Mark Hunter wins the arm wrestle and chooses the London Knights' Mitch Marner, contrary to Kyle Dubas who reportedly was leaning in Noah Hanifin's direction.

I always liked Mark Hunter, although he didn't quite pan out.  Big, disciplined player, more exciting than older brother Dave, sane as opposed to his homicidal brother Dale.  When he came up with Gilbert Delorme, two huge kids, massive and powerful, I thought they'd tear Nordiques limb from limb.  

First lesson, that I had to constantly re-learn, that prospects don't always turn out as expected.

Wait a minute, I think the first time was with Doug Wickenheiser...

--Oh yeah, the Coyotes select Dylan Strome 3rd overall, and he'll probably insist on certified cheques when payday comes around.

--5th overall, the Hurricans choose Noah Hanifin, who some compare to Scott Niedermeyer.  Man he looks good in highlights, he can skate like crazy, and he's 6'3".

--6th overall, the Devils go against type and select a big talented offensive player, centre Pavel Zacha.  All I know about him is his stats, and they do make a draft nerd salivate.

--A felon who was somehow never found guilty, never sentenced, announces that the Flyers choose Ivan Provorov at 7th.  Hate to do that kid, but I hope you bust.

--It's official: Sportsnet hosts can't count to ten.  They kept saying the Flyers were about to choose the eighth overall pick.

--Ville Siren looks like a Bond villain.  Last season he went fully-shaved bald, and looked like the nemesis to 007, but tonight with stubble he feels more like a henchman, someone who dies eight minutes from the end.

The Blue Jackets use the 8th overall on Jack Ver... Werr...

Jack Vrenski?...  Werenski?  Zach not Jack?

I don't think they're pronouncing right.

--My skin crawls at the canned, rehearsed 'moment' between Darryl Katz and Connor McDavid.  I muted him before he threw a tantrum that the city should pick up 2/3 of the cost of the Entry Level Contract for him.

--Sam Consentino does the CHL telecasts on Sportsnet, and he's on the broadcast for the draft.  He’s heavy and sometimes unclear on the clichés (“He’s cool, calm, collective…” “For all intensive purposes…”), but he does know the junior game and the players.

--The Sharks grab another big talented forward in Timo Meier at 9, a LHJMQ product, the first one picked.

--The Avalanche nab Miikko Rantanen 10th overall.  One of those guys so 'out of range' I never developed any opinion about, it's like the housing market in Toronto, irrelevant to me.

--Dale Tallon, the dude the Canucks ended up with after the Sabres picked Gilbert Perreault first overall in 1970, and now the Florida GM, yields the floor to Bill Torrey to make the 11th pick. Special advisor?

The Panthers get huge Lawson Crouse, to line up next to their other sides of beef, Nick Bjugstad and Kevin Hayes.

--The first 'reach'?  The Dallas Stars grab Denis Gurianov at #12, a highly-skilled big, fast scoring forward who I was hoping was in range, if we were lucky, at #26.  

The Russian Factor doesn't enter into it for the Stars, who are happy they picked Valeri Nichushkin in 2013.

Oh well, that means someone else is falling to us...

--Effin' Bruins have three first rounders in a row now.  I hope that's remembered years from now as Bust Alley.

--They grab Jakub Zboril at 13.  Sigh...

--Jake DeBrusk, a guy we thought might land in our laps, goes 14th overall to the Bruins.

Son of a goon...

Based on the body language between his mom and dad, are we to deduce that they’re divorced?

--Zachary Senyshyn at 15th overall?  Wow, the Bruins must love this guy.  I'd see him him touted as a sneaky, dark-horse pick for the late second round.

I thought for sure they'd take a huge guy like Brandon Carlo or Paul Bitner, with three shots at the dart board.

--The Oilers deal away 16th overall to the Islanders for Griffin Reinhart, an Edmonton Oil King product, so a kid they know.

And dumb, dumb Garth Snow, who spent a Top 5 pick on him a couple years ago, spent two seasons developing him, sells short on him, for a 16th and the 33rd pick.  Brilliant.

I bet he drafts Slava Voynov…

But no, the Islanders take Matthew Barzal at 16th.

--Yeah, great move by Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers.

1) They get a young defenceman, with a lot of development out of the way, World Juniors, AHL, some NHL.

2) They’re not waiting for him, he should be ready to go. They have to start winning now, especially with Connor McDavid.

3) They know him inside out, they own the Oil Kings, his junior team.  Right there, that should have set off alarm bells for Garth Snow.  If they want him, that should be a sign you should keep him.

--With the Bruins taking Zach Senyshyn, one of my man crushes falls closer to us.  Evgeny Svechnikov?

--At 17, the Jets select Kyle Connor, who comes from the future to save his mother Sarah.

--The Senators at 18th take one of the guys I hoped would fall to us, local boy/defenceman Thomas Chabot.  Mom and dad look pleased, they can easily keep track of him, watch his games.

Chabot and Marc Méthot, that should be a fun time on the same pairing for Bob Cole.

--Another bites the dust: Evgeny Svechnikov goes to the Red Wings at 19. 6’4″ guy with wheels who can snipe, nothing wrong with that.

Great, the last two picks, guys I was pining for, land in our division.

Not a huge deal, I never really believed.

But Jérémy Roy though... 

Come on someone, draft a goalie already.

--And another down: Joel Eriksson Ek, a smart talented centre.  The Wild snap him up at 20.

--Stupid Senators again, at 21 they steal, outright thieve from us: ...

Colin White.  Good, actually.  No feelings for that guy.  

Looking better and better.  Either Brock Boeser or Jérémy Roy.

--Who sounds more the more likable oaf? Colin White or Mike McCarron?

--At 22, the Capitals draft a goalie!  Yayyyyy!  Ilya Samsonov.

We're guaranteed one of my man-crushes.  There's no way out now.  Marc Bergevin will do my bidding.

--Okay, the murderers' row of Canadian Clubs: Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg, before Montréal.

The Canucks at 23 steal Brock Boeser, a scoring talented winger with decent size.

--Crap, the Leafs are going to take one of ours, I can feel it.

It's hard for me to de-train myself from hating them, due to years of Domi and Kadri.

Or are they trading?  To Philadelphia?  Both repellent organizations.

They're stealing our trade-down opportunity too...

Now the Flyers get to rob us.  I get hives just looking at Ron Hextall.

--Phew!  Travis Konecny is the Flyers' choice at 24.  Good little player, just not an organizational fit for us I believe.

--Okay, trade down, or Jérémy Roy.

--Jets grab Jack Roslovic at 25.  Lots of people were predicting him to the Habs, big centre.

It's wide open before us.

--Damien Cox comments that he thinks the Canadiens had Jack Roslovic targeted.  But they get up and go to the mike, so no trade down.

--Sam Consentino at it again. Talking about Travis Konecny, he says that the Top Prospects game was a “lightning rod” for him.

He meant something like ‘cattle prod’, a motivator.

A “lightning rod” is someone or something that attracts a lot of attention, mostly negative.


--The pick is:  Noah Juulsen.  

Look, I always, always called that shot. I wrote a few times that the Canadiens would be exposed to his game due to him playing on the Everett Silvertips with Nikita Scherbak.

I knew it.

Right-handed dman, two-way all-around game, had almost a point a game, played lots the last two years under Kevin Constantine.

I predicted it.

I did.

--It would have been easy to pick local boy and defenceman Jérémy Roy, who they also know really well, he plays with Daniel Audette, and father Donald Audette is a Hab scout. I guess they preferred Noah.

In Trevor Timmins and Marc Bergevin I trust. They are much better positioned than I am to make these decisions.

I believe that he’s a player we had rated quite high who fell to us. He’s an incredible find that other teams were moronic to pass over.

At 6’2″, he has ‘perfect hockey size’ for a defenceman. We need these guys who play in the rough and tough WHL, who’ve undergone trial-by-fire.

He’s a two-way defenceman. Outstanding, enough with the specialists like Tomas Kaberle and Hal Gill, we need guys who can play in every situation.

And he’s a right-shot defenceman, which is all the better, those guys are harder to find, they’re worth more in trade if necessary.

--With Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu graduated to the NHL, we are bereft of quality defence prospects right now. Everyone we have left are longshots, the highest-drafted is Dalton Thrower, who was a low second-rounder, and is struggling to develop, due to injuries among other reasons. So it was time to replenish the well on the blue line.

--About the rest of the 1st round, I feel like Kent Brockman after he wins the lottery:  "Great tragedy, many people killed, ... See ya!"

And NBC Sports, Gary Bettman vaunted partner-monopolist, have switched to a track and field meet from the NCAA long ago.


27: Jacob Larsson to the Ducks, Swedish defenceman.

28:  Anthony Beauvillier to the Islanders.  That one stings.  But if Garth Snow traded up to get him, that's like a kiss of death for a prospect, isn't it?  How good can he be really?  Man-crush, abating...

29:  Gabriel Carlsson to the Blue Jackets, Swedish Defenceman.

30:  Nick Merkley to the Coyotes.  Not a fit for us I thought.

--Draft fact #2:  I don't know the difference between Gabriel Carlsson and Jacob Larsson.  

It's going to be like Jared Cowen, Cam Fowler and Cam Barker, I still can't keep them straight.

--No really: If you’re Garth Snow and want to trade up, and find that Steve Yzerman is willing to trade down, he doesn’t have anyone he particularly likes at that position, don’t your spidey senses start to tingle? Don’t the little hairs on your neck stand up? Aren’t there huge red flags waving everywhere?

--About drafting a defenceman rather than a (scoring) forward, with Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu graduated to the NHL, we are bereft of quality defence prospects right now. Everyone we have left are longshots, the highest-drafted is Dalton Thrower, who was a low second-rounder, and is struggling to develop, due to injuries among other reasons. So it was time to replenish the well on the blue line.

--What do we need to do to get a second rounder for tomorrow?  What do we have to offer?  A shiny squeaky toy to Garth Snow?

My resolutions prior to the 2015 NHL Draft.

1)  In Trevor Timmins and Marc Bergevin I trust.  They are much better positioned than I am to make these decisions.  I'd sooner second-guess Dr. Burgess when he tells me I need to see a specialist (Won't that just heal/rehab/go away on its own?).

2)  I will hope for whoever the Bruins draft to be an unmitigated disaster.  Sorry (yet-to-be-named) kid.

3)  I will cheer extra hard if we get a local boy, someone like Jérémy Roy or Thomas Chabot or Anthony Beauvillier (in case of a trade-down scenario).  If we pass up one of these guys who are still available in favour of some exotic import, I might furrow my brow and purse my lips, but I'll remain silent, outwardly at least, referring to 1).

4)  I will hope that a player we had rated quite high 'falls' to us, or that we trade down and get the same player we'd have chosen at #26 in the second round, plus extra picks.  Or that we trade up to snap up a player who we just couldn't resist, was great value at the draft position we got him.

5)  I will adjust the narrative of to fit whichever of the eventualities above actually transpires.

6)  I will hope that tomorrow in the third round we draft the best available Jérémy Lauzon or Nicolas Roy, factoring in the first resolution.

7)  Whoever we draft, I'll convince myself that he's an incredible find that other teams were moronic to pass over.

8)  I'll keep hoping to the very last minute that we can convert Christian Thomas, Magnus Nygren and the rights to Eric Tangradi into high third-rounders or even second-rounders.  These guys have got size, wicked shots, I don't know why we'd even trade them, come to think of it...

9)  When we draft a smallish skill guy, I'll hype those hands and gloss over his modest stature.  When we pick a giant, I'll believe that skills can be taught, improved, honed to a great degree, and argue that you can't coach size.  If we get a 5'11", 185 lbs prospect, I'll describe that as 'perfect hockey size'.

10)  If we trade picks for players and prospects, I'll militate in concert with the 'future is now' faction.  If we draft projects bound for at least four years of NCAA development and a couple more AHL years, I'll preach patience, the long view, and organizational strength.

11)  Are we sure Buffalo doesn't want Tom Gilbert for the 31st overall pick?  Just checking, no pressure...  But did we actually make the call?  Include the nebulous rights to Olivier Archambault?  Okay, okay, carry on, didn't want to be a bother, I just thought that...  

12)  And before they got Robin Lehner, did we check with Tim Murray that he wouldn't rather have Dustin Tokarski?  No?...  What about Zach Fucale?  Really?  Really!...  But we anted up a second-rounder ourselves just two years ago.  What's that?  You'd like me to clear the line?  Of course, of course, wasn't trying to impose myself, get in the way or anything, I was just...  What's that?  Oh yes, of course, thanks.  Bye...

13)  If we get a Swedish player, I'll rejoice, that league is under-scouted, great value there.

14)  If we get a Finn, I'll be ecstatic, that league is even more under-scouted.

15)  If we get a KHL/MHL player, I'll jubilate, that we're playing the 'Russian Factor' to our advantage.

16)  If we get an American player from the NTDP, I'll nod affirmatively, that country's hockey development system is turning into a powerhouse, they're gushing great young players.

17)  If we get a Czech, I'll be pleased, we've had good success with Czech players (Tomas Plekanec).

18)  If we get a Slovak, I'll be enchanted, we've had good success with Slovaks (Martin Reway).

19)  If we get a WHL player, I'll be thankful, we need these guys who play in the rough and tough Dub, who've undergone trial-by-fire.

20)  If we get an OHL player, I'll be thrilled, it's the best, toughest development league in the world.

21)  If we get an LHJMQ player, I'll be overjoyed, the best yet most under-represented development league in the world.

22)  If we get a USHL player, I'll sit back and bask, these guys are diamonds in the rough, jest needs sum' polishment.

23)  If we draft a nifty offensive centreman, awesome, that's just what we needed.

24)  If we draft a '200 ft' centreman, great, that's always a great pick, those guys don't 'miss'.

25)  If we draft a scoring winger, fantastic, we need more snipers in the system.

26)  If we draft a big tough winger, super, we need to size up, for when the Kings come to town.

27)  If we draft a puck-moving, high hockey-IQ defenceman, terrific, can never get enough of those.

28)  If we draft a big tough defensive defenceman, perfect, we need someone to clear the crease and protect Carey.

29)  If we draft a two-way defenceman, outstanding, enough with the specialists like Tomas Kaberle and Hal Gill, we need guys who can play in every situation.

30)  If we draft a right-shot defenceman, all the better, those guys are harder to find, they're worth more in trade if necessary.

31)  If we draft a left-shot defenceman, way to go!  Best player available, don't worry about which way they shoot or position or details like that, that sorts itself out in player development and trades.

32)  If we draft a goalie, are you effing nuts?!  WE HAVE CAREY PRICE ALREADY!