Al Muir's Blog

(11:19) I won't be blogging live tomorrow (at least, that's not the plan at the moment), but I will be here after the second round for a quick review, and then later in the day for an overview of the weekend. Thanks for stopping by tonight.   

(11:11) While the beer's chilling, here's a quick take on the night's winners. I love what LA did--short of trading up for Stamkos, they couldn't have done much better than adding a pair of ace defenders in Doughty and Teubert. Calgary walks away smiling after picking up Cammalleri and Nimisz and clearing some cap space. Washington looks like it got tremendous value in Gustafsson and Carlson. Nashville whistles a happy tune after filing two major needs with Wilson and Pickard. But grabbing Boedker and Tikhonov and Jokinen was like coming within $100 in the Showcase Showdown for Phoenix. That's my first blush impression, anyway.


(11:00) So, after four hours of watching teenagers in new suits hug their extended families and pose for pictures with retired NHLers, my first thought is a pizza and a six pack. Seriously, I'm starving here. Next thought is shock that Deschamps remains undrafted after the first day. Hard to imagine him sliding past Florida (which has Tampa's first pick of the second round) or the Kings tomorrow morning. Two or three years from now, he's going to be the Patrice Bergeron of this draft, the kid that scouts who were picking in the 20s kick themselves for bypassing. He's gonna be *that* good.

I could also see the Kings calling on Jacob Markstrom or Jake Allen with that pick (assuming, of course, that they sitll have it tomorrow). They have Jonathan Bernier in the system, but another premium goalie could be a very valuable asset...especially since the Kings have so many other selections they can use to fill other needs. 

(10:55) Four hours after the Lightning take Stamkos, the Wings go with Thomas McCollum. Makes sense. Osgood's nearing the end of his career and Jimmy Howard was a sieve this past season in Grand Rapids, so adding a premium netminder to the system was a smart call. He covers a lot of the net with his 6-2, 175 body, and he's got great technique. He's like Osgood in that he's a real battler and takes care of the plays he's supposed to. Check back in four years, and the Wings could have themselves a good one.


(10:52) With the Pittsburgh first rounder obtained in the Marian Hossa trade, the Thrashers go with Tier 2 waterbug Daultan Leveille. Never saw a minute of him playing, so all I can tell you is what I've read. He's really small, really fast, and a long-term project. I'm sitting here shaking my head, wondering what Don Waddell is thinking.

(10:44) Anaheim trades out of the first round, sending 28 to Phoenix for 38 and 39. Good use of assets by both clubs. Coyotes go off the board to grab Viktor Tikhonov, the grandson of the legendary Russian coach. The buzz is that the Kings would have nabbed him with their next pick. That's an impressive jump for a player expected to go in the second or third round, and even more amazing to see that kind of demand for a kid that's been bypassed in his first two years of eligibility. Tikhonov was the best Russian forward at the Super Series, and the best forward period at the World Juniors. Great instincts, solid hands and a real knack for creating something out of nothing. Based on his maturity and dedication, it wouldn't surprise to see him stick with the Coyotes in 2008-09.

(10:40) Geez, the Caps are having a nice night. Love the pick of John Carlsson. This kid's a big hitter who makes solid reads at both ends of the ice. He was a great offensive player in the USHL, but I think he'll be more of a straight defensive player if he makes it to the NHL. Great value at this point of the first.

(10:34) With their second pick of the round (obtained from San Jose in the Brian Campbell trade), the Sabres go...small? Seriously? Tyler Ennis? Was Verne Troyer not available? A team that desperately needs some size up front goes with Ennis, who lists his height at 5-8 1/2, the same way my seven-year-old describes himself as seven and a half. There's no arguing his offensive abilities--43 goals and 91 points last season--but with Nicolas Deschamps still on the board, there must be something they *really* like about this kid. This is a swing for the fences pick.

(10:26) Calgary might have just made my favorite pick of the night. Tod Button mentions the recently deceased Mickey Renaud before calling on Spitfires teammate Greg Nemisz. I saw a lot of this kid this year, and there's a lot to like about his game. Tremendous size (6-3, 197) and great instincts around the net. People mention John LeClair as a comparable, but a better one is Glen Murray. Like the soon-to-be ex-Bruin, Nemisz can score (34 goals this year), but he takes some knocks for his skating. That said, he works hard, and knows how to find his own end without leaving a trail of peanuts, so he has a chance to be a solid second liner. 

(10:23) WW: If I had to put money on it, I'd say the Wings will go with a goalie. I really like Jake Allen--thought the Devils might take him--but  Thomas McCollum seems like more their type.

(10:19) Guess no one else wanted to trade with the Devils. They finally had to make a pick and went with Tedenby. He's really tiny, but he's a real Martin St. Louis-type. Great wheels, tremendous instincts around the net and an absolutely overwhelming desire to compete. You just can't discount this guy, especially playing for a team that's had a lot of success with smaller players. He's a few years away--Swedes usually choose to spend their developmental time at home--but he projects as a top-six winger when he comes over. 

(10:15) They go with Cuma. Thinking about it now, makes more sense for the Wild than those two forwards. This is a team that needs to rebuild the blueline and Cuma's a safe pick at this point. Again, nothing fancy to his game. Kind of a mid-sized guy who--surprise--is capable of playing a solid transition game. The Wild aren't afraid to fast-track a guy, and he plays the kind of safe, simple game that could translate quickly.  

(10:10) The Devils are sliding as fast as Tedenby. They just dealt the 23rd pick for Minnesota's 24th and a third rounder in 2009. The Wild might be looking to grab Tedenby or perhaps Greg Nemisz, the big power forward from Windsor. Tyler Cuma's another possibility.

(10:06) The Oilers go with Jordan Eberle. All you need to know is that the kid has great hands and a tremendous release. 42 goals in 70 games for Regina. A real slippery, if not speedy, skater, as well. Looks like a nice addition to their eventual top six alongside Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano. 

Just realized that Mattias Tedenby hasn't gone yet. That's a big surprise. 

(10:04) Glenn Anderson must have left his mustache in his other suit. It's like seeing Alex Trebek after he shaved the lip. Kinda creepy. 

(9:58) Great value pick by the Caps in taking Anton Gustafssson, the son of former Washington great Bengt Gustafsson. Just going on talent, there were plenty of scouts willing to rank him much higher in the first round, but concerns over back problems led to a belief that he might fall to the second. You have to think the Caps relied on Bengt to get the inside word on his condition. If he stays healthy, this could be one of those picks, like Mike Richards going 24th in 2003, that looks like an absolute steal in hindsight

(9:56) Redskins: Afinogenov's name is getting tossed around, but if he's going to be moved this weekend, it'll be tomorrow. 

(9:55) Devils were due up, but they dealt the pick to the Caps for their first rounder and one of their three second rounders. Not sure which one yet. 


(9:50) It's Del Zotto. Seems to me that I heard more negative things about this guy than positive. Everyone loves his skill set. Great size, good wheels, and a tremendous shot. No doubt he can be a very nice offensive defenseman. Same time, there are questions about his desire, his ability to make the most of that skill set. Maybe it's maturity, maybe it's a sense of entitlement (that word came up more than once from scouts).  Either way, it's no real surprise he was still here for the Rangers. This one could go either way.

(9:47) Rangers are up. I'm thinking John Carlson here, although Michael Del Zotto is sliding. 

(9:43) Philly uses their first of two first rounders to grab Luca Sbisa. Not a real sexy pick. A nice all-around defender who doesn't do anything really well or have any gaping problems with his game. He's smart, though. Reads the play well, never panics and makes a good first pass. Best case scenario, he ends up playing reliable second pair minutes three or four years down the road. 

(9:39) Nice work by David Poile. Trades down, adds an asset from the Sens, and still gets the player everyone assumed he wanted. Pickard is just a solid, solid pick. Great, big body. Tremendous athlete. Really sound technically. Everyone assumes he'll be in the mix, if not the starter, for Team Canada at the World Juniors next Christmas. You'll hear Carey Price's name mentioned when discussing Pickard. That's a bit of an oversell, but he definitely looks like he has the potential to be a very good No. 1 down the road.

(9:38) Here come the Preds. Gotta be Pickard, doesn't it? 

(9:32) The Ducks were hoping Karlsson would fall to them when they traded down. Them's the breaks. They grab Jake Gardiner instead out of Minnetonka High School. Great speed, good character, and has a frame that suggests he'll eventually fill out to be 6-3, 210. Think of him as a bigger version of the just-traded Marc-Andre Bergeron. He's offense first and foremost, but his defensive ability is compromised by his inability to read the play when he doesn't have the puck. Could be a solid, third pairing, second PP unit guy. 

(9:24) Joe Colborne to the Bruins? I hate this pick. Hate it. Feel free to quote me years from now. The kid's huge--which is good--and he's soft--which is not. Well, not soft, but he doesn't use that massive size (6-5, 190) to the sort of effect that they'll expect of him in Boston. He's a playmaker who does most of his work on the perimeter, rather than using his size to create space down low. Sound like another, more talented, player who got run out of Boston a couple years ago? Hey, three or four years from now, when this kid actually is ready to take a shot at the NHL, he might have added this dimension to his game and become a snarling hairy man-beast. But if he doesn', this pick is going to look ugly. 

(9:19) WW: What's with all the picks? Hey, the Kings were about the worst team in the NHL. They're still years away from competing, so there's two good reasons to stockpile picks. First, by adding more bodies, you increase the odds of of picking guys who actually develop into contributing NHLers. Second, you have assets that you can deal, if you choose, to help fill any holes you identify as immediate needs. Lombardi's doing a great job. 

(9:17) The Sens go with Erik Karlsson. Everyone's been talking this kid up over the past few weeks. His game is ideal for the new NHL. Fast, great puck mover, reads the play superbly. Think Brian Rafalski. He's a few years away from the NHL though. He's small, and really, really slight. It's going to take some time before he packs on enough meat to prevent himself from getting poster-ized in the NHL. 

(9:14) Nashville deals the pick to Ottawa for #18 and a third in 2009. Good value move for both. Ottawa could use a goalie, too. Maybe they take Chet Pickard and Nashville goes for Thomas McCollum.

(9:09) Zach Boychuk goes 14th to the Hurricanes. The Canes stated they were going to go after a forward, and Boychuk was the BFA. He's really small--he's listed at 5-9 but I've heard that might be generous--but he's got the speed to make up for it. Great offensive instincts, and can play with a nasty edge. Don't expect to see him in Raleigh any time soon, though. He needs plenty of development time. Nashville's up next. I'm convinced they're going for a goalie. 


(9:06) stlfan: I could see the Blues using one of those second rounders on McCrae. He's got the character that Davidson has made a priority, good size and he's got decent offensive instincts. Of course, it all depends on how the chips fall the rest of the way. Never know who else might be available once it gets back around to them. 

(8:58) The Sabres grab the 6-7 Myers. More than one scout talked about how frustrating he was this year--the body is really appealing and he's a great skater, especially for his size. But there are concerns about his ability to think as fast as he skates. He's going to need a lot of time, both to fill out physically and to learn the game, but he's got a chance to be a top pairing guy over the long haul. 

(8:56) Nice play by the Kings. Drop one spot to add a third rounder in 2009. Gotta love the way Lombardi is leveraging his assets. Sabres move up to grab the player they want.

(8:54) Lombardi is talking to Buffalo. Tyler Myers would look pretty good on a smallish Sabres squad. 

(8:53) Time for #12. Something tells me the Kings are going to move this pick. 

(8:49) So that's why Anaheim was willing to give up the 12th pick. Obviously heard that the Hawks weren't going to let Kyle Beach get by them. There are all kinds of people in hockey who wanted nothing to do with this kid, but I've got a feeling he's going to be a dandy for Chicago. He's a big, power forward who'll play the wing in the NHL. One day, he may be the Clark Gillies to Johhny Toew's Bryan Trottier. 


(8:42) Canucks take Cody Hodgson. Safe pick. Great two-way player who scored 40 goals last year in the OHL, and was the leading scorer at the Under-18 last summer. Offense is exactly what the Canucks needed. Add in his competitiveness and he brings up memories of Trevor Linden. Vancouver fans have to be happy with this pick.

(8:35) I grew up a Spitfires fan, so it's nice to see Windsor's Josh Bailey go ninth to the Isles. Smart moves by the GM of New York, Garth Snow, to drop back twice, add some assets, and get the guy they wanted. He had 67 assists last year, and I think that was tops in the OHL. I think he needs another year in juniors before he thinks about turning pro...but that may just be my bias talking. Be nice to see him stick with the Spits, a team that looks well on its way to challenge for a spot in the Memorial Cup next year. I see him as an elite second-line center when he hits his prime.

(8:32) Boedker looks like an ideal fit for the Coyotes, doesn't he? Great speed, good size and fills a need for scoring on the wings. You can see him sliding in alongside Mueller on the second line (with Jokinen centering the first)...and it'll probably happen next year. If you saw him at all playing for the Rangers in the Memorial Cup, he just looks like he has the physical and mental maturity to make the jump.


(8:28) Winged Wolverine: surprised by the trades? Absolutely. Well, let me qualify. There was certainly reason to believe there would be a lot of deals based on the lack of quality/quantity in the free agent market this summer. I think the surprise is that these deals are being made vying for draft position more than anything. Just shows that after that top five group, you can pretty much throw a blanket over the rest. There's not a lot to choose from in the next 12-15 players, but each team is going to have their favorites. Better to make a deal and get the guy you have your heart set on rather than sit pat and hope he falls to you. 

(8:28) Watch for the Coyotes to take Boedker here. 

(8:25) So the Preds traded up to nab Colin Wilson. I guess the only surprise is that they felt they had to make that move to get him. I had him going to Nashville in my mock because his size, consistency and competitiveness really fills a hole in their lineup. And don't be surprised to see him make the jump next year. He's already said he thinks he's ready to play in the NHL. What I saw of him, he might be right. 

(8:23) stlfan: don't think Pietrangelo will be ready to make the jump next year. Really needs to work on his defensive game and his play away from the puck. But everything else is there for him to be a real impact player. I know there were a couple scouts who think he's a better long-term bet than anyone other than Stamkos in this draft. 

(8;22) I'm laughing. How did I not see *this* coming? Isles deal #7 to Nashville for the #9 (acquired from Florida in the Vokoun deal last summer) and a second rounder, 40th overall. I *think* that's another pick acquired from Florida. Have to look that up.  

(8:18) Seems like the Isles will go either with Boedker or Beach. Boedker, the Dane, is a safer choice. Great speed, elite playmaking skills, decent finisher. That said, Beach seems like more of a Ted Nolan player. Nasty, physical and a great presence down low. There's been all kinds of talk about attitude problems, but word is that issue was resolved during the interview process at the recent scouting combine. I'd put my money on Beach. 

(8:09) Columbus trades #19 (acquired from Colorado in the Foote swap) and #67 to Philadelphia for R.J. Umberger and pick #119. Interesting deal. Umberger went to Ohio State, so he'll be a popular figure there and should fit nicely into their top six. It's also a hurry-up deal. They get immediate help instead of having to wait three years for that #19 to make his debut. For the Flyers, they clear salary cap room to ensure they can get a deal done for Jeff Carter, and add a mid-first rounder. Filatov to the Blue Jackets at #6 makes sense at this point.


(8:04) It's Schenn. As miserable as it's been to live life as a Leafs fan the past few years, you finally have something to look forward to. A mean, effecient, defense-first defender. That said, good thing this is such a value selection. They gave up a third rounder yesterday in the Jamal Mayers deal, and they've coughed up either a second or a third in this tradem so they won't be making many picks tomorrow. Barring trades,  this is about all they'll have to crow about from this weekend...unless they can get someone to swap a box of Timbits for the rights to Andrew Raycroft. 

(8:02)  So it's two picks, a second and third, in addition to the seventh overall going to the Isles. They get to choose whether the second is this year and the third next year, or vice versa.

(7:55) Looks like it'll be Luke Schenn going next, but to Toronto, not the Isles who currently own the fifth pick. Guess you *can* teach an old dog new tricks if Cliff Fletcher is abandoning his old "draft, schmaft" approach. Pretty bold move by the old guy. Bet it cost him a little more than #60 for the privilege of moving up two spots.

(7:50)  Pietrangelo it is.  Nice pick by the Blues, great complement to Erik Johnson. Figure in the rest of the youngsters they've got in the pipeline (Steve Wagner, Ian Cole and Jonas Junland) and they've got the makings of a very nice group a couple years down the line. And let's throw this out there: Jarmo Kekalainen may be the best head scout in the league outside of New Jersey's David Conte. Discuss among yourselves.

(7:47) The Blues are going to take Pietrangelo.  

(7:46) Buzz is Anaheim is going to package those two first rounders with a player to move up. We'll see. 

(7:42) Apparently they've decided to go ahead with announcing draft picks even though everyone's buzzing about the deals and hoping for more. They crammed 18,000 into the rink with the promise of watching teenagers walk up to a stage. Imagine how many they could have lured if they just turned this into a huge swap meet (hmmm...remind me to send a note to the NHL before next year's trade deadline). First three have been no surprise: Stamkos to the Lightning, Doughty to the Kings and Bogosian to the Thrashers. Now's where things get interesting.  


(7:31) Something tells me Kyle Beach is going early, maybe to Vancouver at 10. I'm thinking if Burke thought he could have nabbed the big winger at 12, he doesn't make that deal with the Flames/Kings. 


(7:21) The word is the Panthers have just dealt captain and leading scorer Olli Jokinen to Phoenix for Ballard, Boynton and a second rounder (49th overall).

Wow. First pick hasn't even been made yet and we've already had three deals involving significant players. Guess this makes up for the lack of drama with the Stamkos coronation that should be happening any minute.

Gut reaction? This deal makes good sense for both sides. Florida loses their captain, but also a guy who apparently had come to the end of his patience with the Panthers. His departure opens up a roster spot for Shawn Matthias, the Team Canada WJC vet who impressed in a brief tryout last year. Boynton and Ballard will be solid additions. The Panthers allowed the fifth fewest goals in the East last year, but they were looking for a veteran upgrade. Watch and see how Jay Bouwmeester's game improves playing with less pressure.


As good as that sounds, the Coyotes really got the sizzle in this swap. Gretzky and co. get a great leader, someone who can take a lot of pressure off the young kids that were asked to carry a little bit too much weight last year.  And now they can trot out a center group of Jokinen, Mueller and Hanzal? Gretz should be happy rotating those three. They're going to have to address two holes on the blueline, though. Ballard was a 21-minute man, and Boynton was a tough, character player. Guess they're counting on big things from Keith Yandle, and they'll probably look to add another veteran through free agency or trade.


(7:05) Okay, there's the reason the Flames dumped Tanguay. Looks like they're going to pick up Cammalleri from Los Angeles as part of a three-way deal. Costs them their own first rounder (17), but having picked up the 25th from Montreal, that's not exactly a dear price. LA moves up to the 12th overall slot courtesy of Anaheim (nee Edmonton) , and the Ducks a pair of first rounders: 17 from the Flames and 28 from the Kings.

Think the salary of Cammalleri saves the Flames about $1.5 million, plus they get a feistier, more consistent forward who gives them a dangerous (if smallish) one-two punch up the middle. The Ducks pick up an additional first rounder--ridiculous value for dropping down just five picks at a point of the draft that seems pretty much even in terms of potential. One more talking point to justify my belief that Brian Burke is the best GM in hockey. The Kings must have someone in mind that they have a real hankering for, plus they get rid of a guy that they never could have re-signed before he headed to UFA status next summer.


(7:02 PM) I hide away for 20 minutes to grab some dinner (can't beat that Burger King Steakhouse burger) and come back to find that Flames are on the verge of dealing Alex Tanguay to the Habs for the 25th overall pick. First thoughts? No-brainer for both. Tanguay was no favorite of Calgary coach Mike Keenan, and a player who's always run hot-and-cold was wearing mittens more often than not last season. Getting his $5.25 million hit off the books makes good financial sense, and clears space to take on another salary.

For the Habs, they get an offensive-minded forward who just happens to be a francophone...and I don't know about you, but the hockey world seems like a better, more civilized place when the Canadiens are working that French mo-jeaux.


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