Friday, 27 June 2014

Thoughts on the 2014 NHL Draft

Kid, you've been drafted by the Islanders. Now smile.

One thing I’m wondering about, but am too lazy to actually research, is what a draftee says to the local press after being drafted by the New York Islanders or the Columbus Blue Jackets. In Montréal, we keep hearing the same things, how excited they are to be part of such a prestigious organization. We know these kids are trained to deal with the media and their responses are rehearsed, but what about if they’re Long Island bound? What’s the script then?
With the Canadiens or the Leafs, you have an easy job talking about the history and rabid fan base. The Wings and Devils you mention the strong organization, the Rangers you talk about the Big Apple and Mark Messier, the Kings is easy with the beaches and Hollywood and a Stanley Cup to boot. Southern cities have climate and young fan bases to conquer, Nashville has a special character you can refer to, and the unspoken aspiration to also bed Carrie Underwood eventually, which confers a genuine smile to the starry-eyed prospect. In like fashion, the western Canadian teams have unpluggable gushers of puck bunnies, which you can refer to as the ‘awesome fans’.
So what about the Islanders?
“I really excite about grrreat trrradishin of Mike Bossy a decade before I vaz borned.”
“I’m really stoked about the facilities. The Canadiens’ already have a decade of use or more, the Islanders' will be brand spanking new when they get around to starting construction, in five or ten years or so, and we can then move out of the rusting shit pile that is Nassau Coliseum!” (High-fives Larry Brooks)
“Onstage I got to to shake hands with eccentric nutjob owner Charles Wang. I can’t wait to meet lifelong Islanders like Alexei Yashin and Rick DiPietro. Maybe some day I can be a goodwill ambassador like Pat Lafontaine for a few months before I get kicked out the back door too.”

  • Michael Dal Colle, you drew the short straw and are headed to Charles Wang's madhouse.  Pray that he sells to someone else, soon.
  •  Jake Virtanen goes to the Canucks at #6, Abbottsford kid with size, lots and lots of speed, scoring touch.  He's been on my radar since he was listed as a possible pick for the Canadiens in mock drafts early in the season.
  • I fear what the Canucks will do with their #24 pick.  They'll be in the market for pretty much exactly what we're looking for.  Like last year when they took Jordan Subban one pick before we were up in the fourth round, they're going to cockblock us.
  • The Leafs take some nobody named William Nylander, who I never liked anyway. And I’m sure I’ll learn more than I ever care to about this stiff due to the ministrations of Mark Masters. Stupid Leafs.
  • I hope this young man has a great career after he gets traded to another NHL team so the Leafs can acquire an overrated fourth-liner.
  • Trade between the Preds and the Preds announced on Twitter: BREAKING NEWS: James Neal traded to the @PredsNHL for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.
  • Can't believe the Penguins couldn't win more than one Stanley Cup with a core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, and Kris Letang.  Breaking it up already.  
  • For not much return it seems.  Why rush to make this trade on the draft floor if you're not getting picks in return?
  • The Jets get Nikolaj Ehlers, lots of talent, but a few questions too, about his size, and whether his production is attributable to his playing on a line with Jonathan Drouin.
  • The Ducks spend the #10 they got from Ottawa in the Bobby Ryan trade on Nick Ritchie, another thumper to compete against the Kings and the Sharks.  This might sting for the Sens if they get crumbs for Jason Spezza, and can't retain Bobby Ryan next summer. 
  • Why do talking heads, who are paid for their public speaking, so often mess up the word 'boisterous'.  They're not completely sure what the word is exactly, they kind of confuse it with vociferous, so it kind of comes out as "bvoister-ous".  If you don't know the word, don't use it.  Say loud, or animated, or another word that means what you think it means.
  • And stop saying "mischeevee-ous".  It's mischievous.  "Miss tchivas", if you must.
  • The Preds never score, so they go for a slick smaller scorer in Kevin Fiala. 
  • The Coyotes go for another thumper in Brendan Perlini, to keep up with their conference rivals.
  • So far so good, haven't lost any players we could conceivable covet when our turn comes around.  If we play our cards right, we may get three or four players we like at #26.  But the Bruins will probably object, insist we only take one...
  • Who's the Bond villain announcing the pick for the Blue Jackets?  Oh, it's just former Pittsburgh Penguin Ville Siren.  Nice accent still.
  • Prediction: Philadelphia messes up again, picks Danny Watkins, again.
  • Nope, they snag Travis Sanheim.  Sorry kid, I hope you bust.  Or get traded out before that happens.
  • Whenever I come across a commercial on TSN, I try to switch over to RDS, but they're running commercials then too.  It's like they planned it that way...
  • Hello, the Lightning draft Anthony DeAngelo. That means someone else falling to us at #26.
  • Gahd I can't stand Gary Bettman.  If he was the principal at my school I'd vandalize his car and bully his son.
  • Ah, Nick Schmaltz goes to the Blackhawks.  Glad I don't have to cheer for a guy in a bleu blanc rouge 'Schmaltz' sweater.
  • I fear the Pens will snap up Ivan Barbashev.  They'll want his scoring, after trading James Neal.  But no, they take Kasperi Kapanen.  Phew!.  Three more bullets to dodge.
  • Cameras trained on the Canadiens draft table, and RDS goes to commercal?!?  I wants my rumour-mongering, and I wants it now.
  • Conner Bleackley, there was a guy who we hyped up, I wouldn't have minded him on our team.  Colorado gets him though.
  • Vancouver takes Jared McCann, while I keep cringing.  At this point though, we're kind of sure to have a crack at a player I'd like to have.
  • What petard do we want Boston to hoist itself with?
  • Bruins grab David Pastrnak (where'd the 'e' go?), a Czech from Sweden (?) who never got on my radar, after the minutes of intensive research I've done.  Hope he has a nice career in Division 2 hockey in Sweden.
  • What a tan on Michel Therrien. He looks relaxed.  A four-year contract extension will do that for a guy, I guess.
  • Wow, Marc Bergevin really pushing it, speaking French at the podium, cracking jokes, not getting booed out of the building.
  • Nikita Scherbak, a scoring winger, who I didn't have man-love for, but who had crept up on me, a couple of highlight videos and positive writeups.  Happy with the pick.
  • Marc Bergevin explains that he was rated high on the list, they decided to keep their pick when he was still there at #26.  Mentioned that having Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin and Alex Galchenyuk on the team will help to support the kid.
  • Some scouting reports on the kid follow.
  • Jackets Cannon:  Another guy who comes into the draft with some “grit” to go with a big body, some good skating, and some hands, Scherbak has a lot to like in his game. He’s still very raw, since he’s really just getting his feet wet in North America despite being older for this draft class. He has room to improve on his defensive game, and there are some questions about his effort level and consistency of said effort. One wonders how much of that is the “Russian” tag versus actual results. All of that having been said, he’s known to be willing to win battles in the corners.  Scherbak is a player who still needs a lot of polish, but might have one of the highest ceilings of the “middle” tier of players in the first round given the fact that he’s still really finding his game in North America. Still, he’s made steady improvement and looks to continue doing so.
  • Brendan Ross – Dobber Prospects: An intelligent player who’s shown to be very coachable, Scherbak’s game is featured around strong skating, creative vision and a willingness to engage physically in puck battles at both ends of the rink. He’s learning quickly and his big steps in development are exactly what teams covet.
  • Elite Prospects:  Scherbak is a skilled but gritty forward who has a strong shot and offensive senses plus the ability to evade would be checkers by using his quick agility and slick hands. He puts pressure on opposing defenses every game. Has some work to do with regards to rounding out his defensive game and effort levels.
  • On the Forecheck:  Scherbak is a very creative playmaker, and his 50 assists attest to this. He has excellent offensive-zone vision and is able to find teammates with laser-like passing. His combination of speed, excellent puck protection, willingness to take a hit to make a play or drive to the net adds a little “power forward” to his game as well.  Defensively, Scherbak has come very far this season thanks to his strong work ethic and desire to get better. He is both willing to hit and be hit to make a play and that has helped him become less of a defensive liability for his team.
  • Hearing Garth Snow talking about his GM'ing is like listening to Matt Millen do the same.  
  • He drops an 's'-bomb, drops the mike, smiles contentedly.  
  • Realizes what he's done, that he works for Charles Wang, that his life is a mess.  Smile fades, in slow-mo, for all the world to see.  Riveting TV.
  • More teams picking more players, blah blah blah, who cares, the Canadiens have picked already.  
  • Let's trade the rights to Douglas Murray and George Parros for some second-round picks.

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