Boom or bust

The UFA’s are dropping like fly’s the last few days and I expect that trend to continue until Sunday.  Dennis Wideman to the Flames (another gem by Feaster, like everyone says if you’re in a hole…keep digging), Hal Gill re-signed with Nashville, Shane O’Brien, Jarret Stoll, Josh Harding, Barret Jackman, Brad Stuart and on and on and on. 

So with that being said I thought I would take a look at what is left and give you 5 guys that I believe could be great bang for your buck and 5 guys that I believe will be busts for the contracts they will get.  So let’s start with the great finds.

Alex Semin LW/RW – WHAT?!?!  Yes, he is on my great buy list.  You don’t hear anyone talking about wanting him.  There for I believe he ends up signing a 1 year deal, maybe for around 5 mil.  Not much risk there and if you are Semin you will be motivated to redeem yourself after last season and cash in next offseason.  I wouldn’t give him any years (2 at the most), but if the years are kept down it’s a great risk to take because the guy has incredible talented.

Shane Doan RW/LW – Again we aren’t talking about some unknown, but I believe Doan won’t care nearly as much about the dollars as he will about the oppurtunity.  Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Detroit, St.Louis, etc.  I believe a team like that is where he will end up with a legit shot at winning the Cup.  And if he signs with one of them I would bet he gets a 1 or 2 year deal and only around a 3-4 mil cap hit.  Great get for whichever team lands him if he does go to market.

Dustin Penner LW – True story, I think Penner much like Semin could be a great buy.  A lot of times when guys start to get overpaid they get underrated.  As good as Penner was in the playoffs I don’t believe his stock rose that much in the eyes of other GM’s because his regular season was THAT bad.  But with Dustin you just have to focus on what he is, not what he could be.  He is a 2nd line winger with great size who plays very methodical and can own the boards.  He won’t ever be a guy that can carry a line, he won’t be an overly physical guy, but he can be a very effective guy and if you can bring him in for the right price he is a very good get.

Jonas Gustavsson G – “The Monster” was pretty much a bust in Toronto.  When he signed with the Leafs in the summer of 09 a lot of pundits believed that in time he could develop into one of the league’s top netminders.  But it never happened and now he is a free man.  In Toronto he never played behind a good defensive team, and goaltenders can look awful playing behind poor defensive teams.  He may sign with the Jets (who dealt for his rights at the draft) which would be a great fit.  But even if he doesn’t, should he go to a team that plays a good defensive system he could be this year’s Mike Smith (don’t expect THOSE numbers, but in terms of reviving his career and becoming a number 1 guy).  But it has to be the right situation.  He is low risk and very high reward.

Mark Dekanich G – This is a personal favorite of mine.  Dekanich dominated the AHL 2 seasons ago, then last summer he signed with the Blue Jackets with the expectation to be the backup to Steve Mason (and he would have ended up with the job).  But the kid had the worst luck imaginable, injury after injury (each one different) didn’t allow him to get into a single NHL game last year.  So he will sign a 2 way contract, but if he can come back healthy he could be an absolute steal for some team. 

And now for the easy part of this, the busts.  It’s easy because a lot more guys bust then they actually live up to their contracts given in unrestricted free agency.

Jason Garrison D – I don’t know if there is anyone in the hockey world that doesn’t think this is a disaster waiting to happen for some team.  He only had a good first 30 games or so, and he lived off Brian Campbell feeding him on the PP.  He doesn’t have a good first pass, isn’t a playmaker, is OK in his own zone, but does have a bomb from the point.  He is just a number 4 that I believe some team will pay like a 2 or 3.

Matt Carle D – No coincidence here that it’s another D-man here as D-men are usually overpaid on July 1, and especially when they’re scarce like this season.  Carle like Garrison is no more than a number 4 who will likely get paid like a 2 or 3.  He can move the puck, he can QB a PP, but the last time I checked the purpose of playing defense was to DEFEND.  He is a bit of a train wreck in his own zone.

Paul Gaustad C – The theme of all this is things that are scarce.  Something that is scarce other than D is centre’s with size that can play in their own zone.  Who wouldn’t love this guy on their team?!  I would, but not for the overpayment that some GM might do for him.  I could see Gaustad getting a 5 year/20 million dollar deal and if that’s the case no thank you.  He is valuable, but he has overpayment written all over him.

Olli Jokinen C – Uh oh.  This guy established himself as a solid player again.  This likely means big contract, which likely means the return of “the Joke”.  If Jokinen is your 2nd line centre and isn’t getting more than 4 mil per on a 2 or 3 year deal then he is a great buy.  But I see a team bringing him in to be a 1st line centre at over 5 mi per on a 3 or 4 year deal.  No thank you.  Also, shoot first centre’s are extremely difficult to fit into a lineup.  Centre’s are supposed to be playmakers and make your wingers better, not the other way around.

Brandon Prust LW – He established himself as an NHL regular in New York.  He was a heck of a find for the Rangers and was great in his role.  He isn’t a heavyweight but will drop the gloves with just about anyone (perhaps you recall Steve MacIntyre giving him a beat down a few years back).  But when you can fight and play a little teams tend to overpay in free agency.  I could see Prust getting over 2 mil a season from some team.  In my opinion you find these guys, you don’t pay for them.

Again, it all depends on the type of contracts these guys get.  Last year I thought Eric Belanger was going to get well over 2.5 mil a season and the Oilers got him for 1.75 (although he was still a bust).  Jokinen for example might be smart and sign with a team where he fits nice and doesn’t look for the gross contract just something that both he and the team can be good with.  We will have to see what happens between now and Sunday but July 1st more often than not hurts teams a lot more than it helps them.  Buyer beware!

2012 NHL Draft – 5 Dislikes

Here are the 5 teams that I thought had a pretty poor weekend at the draft.  I bet a lot of you are expecting to see the Flames on this list.  Nope.  While I killed Feaster for what he did on Friday night, he actually had a good Saturday getting Brett Kulak in the 4th and maybe the best value pick of the draft with Coda Gordon of the Swift Current Broncos in the 6th.  Again, we all have no idea how this draft went til 5-10 years from now, but this is my opinion today so in no particular order here are the 5 teams that left me scratching my head.

 

St.Louis – I don’t know what their strategy was for this draft but it seemed to be “let’s take as many projects and off the board picks as possible”.  What were they trying to accomplish?  It’s just my opinion but Schmaltz was pretty off the board at 25, then something called a Samuel Kurker was taken with their 2nd round pick, MacKenzie MaCeachern and Colten Parayko in the 3rd.  Kurker and MaCheachern both played on high school teams this season, Parayko is out of the AJHL.  1 of those guys would be questionable, they took 3 in a row with early picks.  They had some decent picks late with Walters, Tremblay and Seamen but it was too late.  Hey, maybe 1 or 2 of those projects pans out and Schmaltz doesn’t bust like a lot of USHL players do….but if that happens I would say the Blues have the best scouts in the game.

 

Edmonton – You can’t include the top pick when talking about the Oilers.  I’m not going to sit here and debate whether it should have been Yakupov or Murray.  They couldn’t have gone wrong with either in my mind because the need for D-men is so great for them and absolutely no need for another small winger.  But they went BPA and you can’t be critical of that.  But Moroz at 32 with Finn and Thrower on the board was terrible.  I get it, they need to get tougher.  But Moroz would have been only ok value at 63 let alone 32.  Then at 63 they take a BCHL kid who has size again but is another winger.  Then at 91 they get great value with Zharkov but he was then the 4 winger they took in 4 picks…when they came into the draft overloaded on the wing!  Just ridiculous drafting.  As good as Stu McGregor and company have been at the draft Oiler fans saw this same thing in 2009 when they took Troy Hesketh, Kyle Bigos and Cam Abney in rounds 3 and 4 with much better players available.

 

Colorado – I guess you could say this all started on July 1st 2011.  Their draft was doomed pretty much on that day when they dealt their 1st and 2nd round picks for Semyon Varlamov.  That was a horrific move and some Avs apologists have tried to say how it was a success just because it didn’t go AS BAD as most expected it to.  They played a system this season that was created to make Varlamov as good as he possibly could.  Add to that Varlamov wasn’t worth a 1st and a 2nd, he was going back to Russia!  I’m certain a 2nd would have done the trick.  But to put the icing on the cake, Filip Forsberg fell to 11.  A top 5 prospect fell into their laps, except they gave their laps to the Caps a year ago.  But to cool it on killing them for that deal, the other thing I couldn’t stand is they didn’t draft any size.  This isn’t a large team to begin with, but then they didn’t draft a kid taller than 6’0, and the only guy they took standing 6’0 was Mitchell Heard.  Size isn’t the end all be all, but in a year where the largest team in the league won the Cup, I would suggest it’s rather important!  I know Troy Bourke was a good pick in the 3rd round, but all in all a pretty bad job by the Avs who somehow luck into being a better organization than they actually are.

 

NY Islanders – This doesn’t have anything to do with their picks, although 7 for 7 with D-men….I know I was hammering them for not having D-men but all 7 picks?!?  This organization is a gong show to say the least.  And that point was proven when Garth Snow offered Scott Howson and the Jackets all his draft picks to move from the 4th pick to the 2nd pick.  Absurd offer.  I get it that they loved Ryan Murray, but you can’t trade away your draft.  And some people want to point out that picks in the 2nd – 7th rounds rarely pan out but it’s not as much about those players panning out and more about blowing 6 assets.  You can use those picks/players you draft to make moves later on.  Add to this, not much difference between the big 4 WHL D-men this year.  Reinhart has a much bigger upside than Murray.

 

Columbus – What the Islanders did was stupid, but even more absurd was Scott Howson passing on the deal.  WOW!  Scott Howson right now is easily the worst GM in hockey.  At the moment I can’t think of who would be 2nd.  MAYBE Jay Feaster?  But Howson has to take that deal.  He could have used those picks to trade back into the 1st round probably without giving up 31.  Or, you load up your system with assets that you can deal at a later time to perhaps load up at a trade deadline.  And again, not much difference between the 4 WHL D-men.  Any of those 4 (Murray, Reinhart, Rielly, Dumba) could emerge as the top D-man of this draft, easily.

 

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2012 NHL Draft – 5 Likes

I could run down the entire draft.  That would be annoying for me and I don’t think any of you have that much time to sit and weed through what you actually want to read.  So I will try and just write up on 5 teams that I thought did a great job this weekend today and tomorrow I will write about 5 teams that I thought did a poor job this weekend.  These are not in any particular order, so let’s get this going with the teams I liked.

 

Montreal – I think the Habs have topped everyone’s list as liking what they did this weekend.  They got that big 1st line centre that they’ve craved forever (I have now said that 8 million times this year!)  But then you move to the 2nd round and they got Sebastian Collberg and Dalton Thrower.  Collberg has GREAT offensive upside to be at least a 2nd line 50-60 point guy, and Thrower just adds to the great talent they already have coming on the blueline (Tinordi, Beaulieu, with Subban already on the roster).  Thrower is tough as nails and will play in the NHL.  They got amazing value with Tim Bozon in the 3rd, Charles Hudon in the 5th (both are very talented), and Brady Vail in the 4th is yet another kid a lot of scouts liked to be a good 2 way centre down the line.  They knocked it out of the park this weekend.

 

Nashville – They didn’t have a 1st round pick, yet they walk out of the 2nd round with 2 kids that easily could have been 1st round picks.  Of course they got Colten Sissons….they ALWAYS get these kind of players.  He will play in the league, maybe only as an effective 3rd line guy but none the less.  Pontus Aberg should be just a real nice, reliable 2nd line winger.  Then they get Portland Winterhawk Brendan Leipsic who is undersized but has BIG talent and was a huge contributer to their run to game 7 of the WHL finals.  Mix in with those 3 Zach Stepan who was good value where they got him and 2 big raw swedish kids in the 6th round who I won’t pretend to know anything about but the Preds have had good success with those types of picks.

 

Winnipeg – Loved the Trouba pick as I’ve already said in other blogs, but then they took Lukas Sutter who will at worse be a 4th line centre that can win draws, be hard on the forecheck and plays with a ton of grit (so…he’s a Sutter).  Then Scott Kosmachuck was great value in the 3rd round.  Probably will be a 3rd line guy who much like Sutter is tough, has a great compete level and drives the net hard.  I won’t pretend to know anything about 5th round pick Connor Hellebuyck, but I’m a big believer in taking a goaltender late in every draft because you don’t know how goaltenders will pan out.  Then Ryan Olsen in the 6th and this kid was very underwhelming this season but if he ever figures it out he has a lot of skill and at nearly 6’3, 190 and a RH shot he could be a total steal.  Some of you may recall a game on Friday Night Hockey this season on Sportsnet where he sniped a gorgeous goal that was on a lot of highlight reels.

 

Dallas – I think the Stars killed this draft.  Value with just about every pick starting with Radek Faksa falling to 13.  Then Ludvig Bystrom at 43 who was another guy that could have been a 1st round pick and this team needed D-men.  Really love Mike Winther of P.A. late in the 2nd round.  He had consistency issues this season but could be a poor man’s Mike Richards, has a lot of talent and grit.  Don’t know anything about Esa Lindell in the 3rd round but again addressing their lack of depth on the blueline with a 6’3 Fin that has yet to fill out.  Great value with Gemel Smith in the 4th, Brandon Troock in the 5th, and again taking a goaltending late each draft I love and they took Henri Kiviaho whom again I don’t know anything about.

 

Washington – You know I more so tried to focus on rounds 2-7 in this piece, but you can’t ignore the job George McPhee did in round one.  2 big power forwards for a team that lacks grit, especially in their top 6.  2 different power forwards, Forsberg (who was 1 of the 3 flat out steals of the 1st round) isn’t the bruiser obviously that Wilson is, but none the less.  Then they picked up Chandler Stephenson in the 3rd round, great value with that pick the kid has great wheels.  I won’t pretend to know some of the projects they got in the middle rounds, but they snagged a kid named Jaynen Rissling from the Calgary Hitmen in the 7th round.  I remember reading that he had a great end to his 2011 campaign and there was a belief by some that he could emerge as a 1st round pick before it was all said and done.  Well it’s all said and done and he was picked in the 7th but the kid skates pretty well and has a big frame so as far as 7th round picks go I would say that’s a pretty good one by the Caps.

 

And once again tomorrow I will run down (perhaps literally) the teams whose drafts I wasn’t a big fan of.  I mean who knows how this will all shake down in 5-10 years time but it might be fun to look back and see how wrong I was!

 

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Breaking down round 1

I will try to do this quick cause there was a lot to talk about!

1. Edmonton – Nail Yakupov

I think in the end the Oilers couldn’t stomach the backlash that was likely to come with picking Murray or Reinhart.  But Yakupov is the top offensive player in the draft, and while he doesn’t plug any of the Oilers holes (size in top 6, big 2 way C, D) he should give the Oilers 2 totally lethal scoring lines and make their PP dominant for years

2. Columbus – Ryan Murray

Couldn’t go wrong with Murray.  The Jackets D has been disgusting throughout their exsistence.  Now it’s starting to look real good with Murray joining Johnson, Wisniewski, John Moore and David Savard all in the fold.  One more time, they needed to move up to 1 to take Yakupov for business reasons, but the right hockey move was holding and picking Murray.

3. Montreal – Alex Galchenyuk

Perfect pick.  Been pimping this one for a while now and they came through.  Montreal has needed a kid like this forever.  Size, skill, 2 way ability, hard working, this kid has it all and I think he will emerge as the top player from this 1st round.

4. NY Islanders – Griffin Reinhart

They got it right.  I said it all year that they needed to go D here but they didn’t like doing so.  Most agreed.  But the Islanders not only step up and get a big all world D-man to compliment their forwards but they did a great trade to land Lubo Visnovsky from the Ducks.  The NHL’s version of the Oakland Raiders may finally be getting their act together.

5. Toronto – Morgan Rielly

I don’t LOVE the pick with Forsberg still on the board, but I love Rielly.  Pair him with Jake Gardiner in a few years and it could easily be the quickest D combo in NHL history.  Also, this gives Burke even more flexibility to do what he does best which is pull the trigger on a blockbuster to upgrade down the middle or in net.

6. Anaheim – Hampus Lindholm

This was the first real shock of the draft.  And Pierre, that’s why people dislike you.  “This is a steal, this is a total steal here!”  No it’s not Pierre, that’s just as absurd as last year when he was saying Adam Larsson was the steal of the draft (being ranked 2nd and going 4th, wow what a slide…)  I kept saying it, riser’s go higher than expected and this was definitely unexpected.  But they got a D-man which they really needed, and this kid has the upside to be a total stud.

7. Minnesota – Matt Dumba

The Wild have drafted SOOOOO well lately and it continues here.  I know you are all sick of it but I think Dumba will be the best D-man to come out of the top 10 guys.  He has it all in his game.  Yes he needs to tone it down, but he is an extremely smart kid and will learn to do that.  I hate that the Oilers will have to play against him, Coyle, Koivu, and Granlund 6 times a year.

8. Pittsburgh via Carolina – Derrick Pouliot

Well this was the blockbuster.  Time to brag, I called that trade pretty much bang on in my mock draft for a few weeks.  It was a great fit for both teams.  As for the pick, I didn’t like it.  I love Pouliot but not in this spot.  Forsberg or Teravainen would have been my pick.  Forsberg with Crosby or Malkin?!?  Pouliot better become a top pairing guy that can QB a PP because this was a reach and totally going for need over BPA.

9. Winnipeg – Jacob Trouba

Had to go D here, said it all year.  That blueline moving forward isn’t that good.  I’m not a Byfuglien fan, not an Enstrom fan, Bogosian I like but is still trying to figure it out, and Paul Postma was the only good D prospect they had.  Not in love with Trouba, but he has the upside to be a number 1.

10. Tampa Bay – Slater Koekkoek

This isn’t a reach, but it’s higher than expected.  The reason it’s not a reach is because Koekkoek fell only because of his shoulder injury.  He has pretty great potential, could be a stud if the shoulder isn’t a problem moving foward.  Tampa needed to upgrade the D and they got a good one here if he can stay healthy.

11. Washington via Colorado – Filip Forsberg

Steal.  Total freakin steal.  Even more so when you recall they gave up Varlamov to get this pick and a 2nd rounder as well.  I had mocked Teravainen here last Saturday as a good fit and if I thought he was a good fit with the Caps obviously I think Forsberg is an even better fit!  Power forward, plays a 200 foot game, great shot, he is the exact type of player the Caps needed up front.

12. Buffalo – Mikhail Grigorenko

Love it.  I considered Buffalo for Grig’s last night but thought with them being a small market team they would be scared off by the flight risk factor.  But obviously this kid has the potential to be a great centre in the league and at the 12th pick you shouldn’t be passing that up, especially when you have lacked a big centre since the days of Gilbert Perrault

13. Dallas – Radek Faksa

They needed D in my mind but at this point they couldn’t pass up Faksa.  I think Faksa is a poor man’s Mikko Koivu.  Plays a complete game, will get his nose dirty, not the quickest skater but can get around well enough.  While I doubt he’s going to be the offensive star Koivu is, he will put up points.

14. Buffalo via Calgary – Zemgus Girgensons

I told you for months Girgensons would go here….just didn’t think it would be to somone else!  Edmonton had a chance to pick Parise or Getzlaf in 03 and when they came up Kevin Lowe traded down to take Marc Pouliot.  Well, this is that debacle 2.0.  Teravainen was there for them to STEAL, and they passed it up to get quanity over quality.  Meanwhile, the Sabres go from a team that is always small down the middle to getting real big in a real hurry down the middle.  Great work by Darcy Reiger!

15. Ottawa – Cody Ceci

Solid pick.  I said they needed a D-man here and they get the hometown kid.  Put up great numbers this season but again I don’t know if he has the speed to bring much of his offense to the NHL, but he has the body to be a really good defensive D-man.  It wouldn’t be the first time something like this happened.  Mike Green never put up great offensive numbers in junior, and Jason Smith was a terrific stay at home D-man after being projected as an offensive guy.

16. Washington – Tom Wilson

Love this pick for the Caps!  Big, tough, gritty, with offensive talent.  Again, while the Caps didn’t need much, they got 2 big power forwards and they haven’t had functional toughness on their team (tough guys that can play).  Worst case scenario with Wilson is that he’s a Ben Eager type.  Best case scenario he is a poor man’s Milan Lucic.

17. San Jose – Tomas Hertl

I didn’t like this pick.  Teravainen was far and away the BPA here, and if not him then they were DESPERATE for D-men and Olli Maatta had fallen to them as well.  A big centre who has a good offensive skill set is never a bad thing, but when he’s not the BPA, and he’s not a need, it just doesn’t make sense to me.

18. Chicago – Teuvo Teravainen

They HAD to do it.  A player that is this talented falls to you and you have to take him.  And now it may give Chicago even more incentive to make that big Pat Kane deal as Teravainen plays such a similar game.  I said goaltender the entire way and it would have been a good pick, but if you get a gift like this take it and pick a couple of goaltenders later on.

19. Tampa Bay via Detroit – Andrei Vasilevski

This was a good spot for a goaltender to go too and Stevie Y delievered like he always has.  He isn’t affraid of Russian’s (he proved that last year with Namestikov), and so a Russian goaltender with this much talent was too good to pass up.  Got his D-man, got his goaltender, nice haul for Stevie!

20. Philadelphia – Scott Laughton

I like this pick for Philly for the most part.  It is possible that they move one of Schenn or Couturier (the former seems much more likely) if they make a big move for Bobby Ryan or Rick Nash.  So they could have a hole with the 3rd line centre spot and down the line Laughton should be able to slide right in there.  Not much upside in my mind with Laughton, but really high hockey IQ and should be a damn good 3rd line centre.

21. Calgary via Buffalo – Mark Jankowski

I had him going 25, but wow!  Doug Armstrong was in a spot where he could gamble like that, Jay Feaster was in NO position to do that.  They need sure things to re-stock their system and he trades down to take a kid who is AT LEAST 3 years away.  Horrible job by Jay, and then to put the icing on the cake he gets on TSN and says something to the affect of “this kid will be the best player out of this draft in 10 years”.  Unreal.  Jankowski does have a great upside but this is a risk bigger than Jay’s….ok I won’t go there that’s not nice but this is just a terrible decision in my mind.

22. Pittsburgh – Olli Maatta

I think this just makes the Pouliot pick worse.  Hey, that blueline looks like it will be SICK moving forward, but it would have been with Forsberg in the fold and no Pouliot.  Maatta falls to the Pens here and it’s a total steal.  I feel bad for Sam Cosintino because he gets a lot of flack but he kept saying during the Memorial Cup that Maatta “would be a top 10 pick”.  He looked as though he may come close, but in the end he falls to 22.  A steal here for the Pens but between the 2 picks I would give them a B- for not taking Forsberg.

23. Florida – Michael Matheson

Good pick here.  I had them taking a D-man here most of the way, and Matheson fits the bill.  Like most USHL D he is a great skater who isn’t very physical.  I liked Matt Finn a lot better here but it’s the same idea and at this point it’s a crap shoot.  Dale Tallon is doing a very nice job in Florida.

24. Boston – Malcom Subban

Oh the irony of Subban going to Boston, the arch rival of the Montreal Canadiens where PK plays (I know, that story has already been beat to death).  But you can’t ignore it and it’s great.  I didn’t think the Bruins needed a tendy here, but they don’t really have anything coming behind Tukka Rask so if they felt he was the BPA then so be it.

25. St.Louis – Jordan Schmaltz

Again, I like Matt Finn a lot better in this spot.  I believe at one point I had Finn mocked to the Blues.  But some scouts feel USHL kids get a bit underrated and obviously the Blues scouts felt that was the case with Schmaltz.  He is a little more polished offensively than Matheson, but similar in that they’re both great skaters, both around the same size, both not very physical.

26. Vancouver – Brendan Gaunce

Some of you may think when I ripped the Flames apart in this blog that I did it just cause I’m an Oilers fan.  Not true.  I did it because they’re management is horrible.  I actually dislike Vancouver more, and I admit I love this pick for them.  Along the same lines as I had been thinking here.  Character guy with size.  I’m very surprised Gaunce went after Scott Laughton, but the Canucks love that surprise!  At worse he is a great 3rd line centre, but unlike Laughton he has potential to be that 2nd line guy.

27. Phoenix – Henrik Samuelsson

Why didn’t anyone tell me that the rest of this didn’t post?!?!  ANYWAYS…Hate this pick from the standpoint of I wanted Samuelsson to get to the Oilers at 32.  But seriously I love it for the Yotes.  He fits Tippett’s system perfectly, needs to work on the foot speed but that shoud come, and they know him maybe better than any team in the NHL.  Tippett is tight with Ulf having worked together and played together in both Hartford and Pittsburgh.

28. NY Rangers – Brady Skeji

Another draft, another D-man for the Rangers.  Staal in 05, Sanguientti in 06, Del Zotto in 08, McIlraith in 2010, and now Skeji.  And it’s another USHL D-man and so you have heard this before: great skater, not very physical, solid in his own zone, has good potential offensively.  It’s a solid pick by the Rangers but again I would have went with Matt Finn if picking a D-man.

29. New Jersey – Stefan Matteau

Another story that you’re never going to get sick of.  Hey, did you know Matteau’s dad played for the Rangers and scored one of their biggest goals in franchise history?!  Of course you did, that’s all people are going to talk about.  I guess this is a solid pick, a safe pick.  But to hang on to THIS pick when you have to give up a 1st in the next 3 years is beyond ridiculous.  I guess Lou figures he won’t give one up until he HAS to.

30. Los Angeles – Tanner Pearson

Far be it for me to question the Stanley Cup champs, but I didn’t like this pick.  I know a lot of people love Pearson and I hope he does well but his story just reminds me too much of Danny Syvret who was an early 2nd round pick by the Oilers in 05 and basically has been a career minor leaguer.  Add to that if they wanted a winger to me a kid like Collberg who has much more offensive upside would have been a better choice.  They already have a kid like Pearson in Tyler Toffoli, but again Lombardi and company know what they are doing so I should shut my mouth.

 

So there you have the first round.  Definitely an intriguing one to say the least, and with so many big name players on the trade block it should be a very interesting day tomorrow.  Lot’s of good prospect’s still on the board for rounds 2 and 3 also.

 

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups or the site @Soups_on_Sports

2012 NHL Mock Draft – June 22nd

Here it is, the final mock for the 2012 draft.  I’m not a moron (well…maybe I am), I am taking Bob McKenzie’s rankings as the gospel in doing these, however even his rankings don’t go 30/30 so we will see how well I do.  This is an odd draft.  The team that has the top pick may not want it despite there being a run away favorite for top spot, a lot of this year’s high end prospects were injured for a significant amount of time, and so what was expected to be an extremely deep draft back in September has turned into a suspect draft.  I believe what we will see in 10 years is teams missing a lot picking 15-30, but a lot of steals in rounds 2 and 3.

Keep in mind I do this mock basically as a VERY educated guess.  I haven’t seen many of these players play.  Basically I read up on these kids as much as I can, read as many rankings as I can, look at the drafting history these teams have and what they have in the organization 25 and under and go from there.

Oh and like EVERY SINGLE GM before I make my picks I would like to congratulate the Los Angeles Kings on winning the Stanley Cup, and I would also like to thank the city of Pittsburgh for being such amazing hosts this weekend.

 

1. Edmonton Oilers – Nail Yakupov  5’11  189  RW   Sarnia OHL

As we enter Friday (6AM is when this went up), I strongly believe Yakupov will go 1st.  BUT…50/50 the Oilers pick in this spot.  I was told by a source (yes, even I have a few sources) that the Oilers are working hard to trade down (despite what Kevin Lowe says) and the “source” believes that Griffin Reinhart is who they prefer.  But let’s say Oiler fans, IF they were to pick Ryan Murray….you are still adding a potential elite player with the perfect blend of talent and intangibles to anchor a blueline.  Ryan Murray would fit PERFECTLY with the Oilers.  But I have said it before and I will say it again that people need to get it out of there heads that the Oilers can’t take Yakupov and still massively upgrade their weaknesses (blueline, 2nd line C).  They have the trade chips to get it done.  And again, this kid is going to be a superstar.  I expect 30 goals from him next season, I expect 40-50 in his prime and he will win more than one Rocket Richard trophy.  Pavel Bure 2.0. 

 

2. Columbus Blue Jackets – Ryan Murray  6’1  201  D Everett  WHL

And I’m back to Murray at 2.  Late last night I had this still as Forsberg until Aaron Portzline came out and said he believes they will pick Murray.  Nobody is more plugged into the Jackets than Portzline, so with me not be THAT stupid I will say it’s Murray too and from a hockey standpoint this is a good move.  But from a business standpoint….I’ve harped on it since April 10th, why he isn’t doing everything he can to ensure that he moves to number 1 and pick Yakupov is beyond me.  I know that’s not the right hockey move, but that team needs to do the right business move right now and while Murray will be a heck of a player, he won’t put asses in the seats…Yakupov will.  And what also came out last night from Portzline to make this worse is that he says the Jackets will pass on Yakupov even if he falls to the 2nd pick!!!  Unreal, Scott Howson you learned well from Kevin Lowe didn’t you.  Next decision I’m sure will be you hiring Kevin Pendergast as your head scout.  But back to Murray, he is the safest pick in the draft and will step into any teams top 4 next season.  He has a great all around game, he has all the intangibles you want in a player, the question is will he be able to take it to an elite level.

 

3. Montreal Canadiens – Alex Galchenyuk  6’1  198  C  Sarnia  OHL

Gally stays one more time at 3 for me, and if this is the pick for the Habs it’s the right one.  Best centre in the draft in my opinion.  Montreal has been desperate for the longest time to get a legit number 1 centre with size and Galchenyuk could be that guy.  I know the injury to his knee could scare some scouts off, but from everything I hear the kid’s makeup is unreal.  I guess he’s a workout warrior off the ice.  Now so is Joe down at Gold’s Gym, but Galchenyuk has showed his talent off on the ice too.  He has a chance to be one of the league’s elite centre’s within the next 5 seasons.

 

 4. NY Islanders – Filip Forsberg  6’2  181  LW  Leksands  SWE

 I said it in the last mock on Saturday, if Forsberg is here I believe the Islanders will take him.  One more time, they don’t believe you pick D-men high in the draft.  Passed on Fowler for Neiderritter, passed on Hamilton for Strome.  This is different as Forsberg would be the BPA at this point, but just like the Oilers they HAVE to start building that blueline.  For me the Islanders MUST take a D-man with this pick and start building their blueline, but I’m not them.  Forsberg is a bull on skates, he dominates the wall, is extremely hard to knock off the puck, has a great release, good vision.  The problem for me and a few others is that he didn’t meet expectations offensively this year.  But most don’t see that as a problem moving forward and they know more than I do.  Little side note….I will not be shocked if Teravainen got picked in this spot.  It just feels like something the Islanders would do.

 

5. Toronto Maple Leafs – Matthew Dumba  6’0  183  D  Red Deer  WHL

Burke is the most likely to move from his spot either up or down.  They need to secure Galchenyuk in my mind but to do so they would have to trade up to at least 2.  And apparently the Jackets don’t want to trade (why improve your team hey Scott?).  They don’t have a centre in the organization that has elite number 1 ability.   But the only guy they might pick is Faksa (I said in my last 2 mocks that Grigorenko just didn’t feel right).  Kirk Luedeke from Redline told me today if the first 4 go this way that he thinks Burke trades back to take Faksa.  But I have a no trade rule in my mock drafts, so Burke despite having built a pretty impressive blueline selects another in Dumba.  If you have followed these mocks you know that Dumba is “my guy”.  And he would be Burke’s “guy” too, I would guess more so than Reinhart because of how physical he is.  He’s tough, talented, he is the total package.  If Dumba is 6’2 he is the top pick in this draft without a doubt.  I’m not scared off by the height, some are.  I’m not scared off by the running around he does in his own zone at 18 years old, but some are.  While the Leafs don’t need D at all, this pick should allow Burke to really load up a package to perhaps land that big 2 way centre they need.

 

6. Anaheim Ducks – Griffin Reinhart  6’4  207  D  Edmonton  WHL

I believe if Bobby Ryan gets dealt then a D-man or 2 will come back in return, but they’re so thin moving forward on D that the pick should likely still be a D-man.  This kid showed scouts an edge that they weren’t sure he had in the playoffs and Memorial Cup.   If that edge remains in Reinhart’s game he should be the best D-man to come out of this draft.  He has the size, hockey IQ, and offensive ability already.  He doesn’t have to be Chris Pronger (although that wouldn’t hurt), but Zdeno Chara in that Chara knows when he needs to be mean.  The Ducks need to add to their blueline especially with the loss of Justin Schultz to UFA.  Matt Dumba and Morgan Rielly are just as likely in this spot however.

 

7. Minnesota Wild – Teuvo Teravainen  5’11  161  RW  Jokerit  FIN

This is something I had considered last mock but didn’t have the balls to do it.  Minnesota could easily go D here, they are more in need of a high end D-man then a winger.  But this kid is going to be a high level winger.  I said it earlier, but don’t be shocked if he goes as high as 4 to the Islanders and he could go anywhere between 4 and 7 in my opinion.  If he is at 7 though he would be tough for the Wild to pass up.  They have a nice stable of Fin’s all of a sudden with Koivu leading the way and they don’t really have that “electric” winger.  Sure they have Heatley who can score, but Heater is as 1 dimensional as they come.  Teravainen plays the game at a high pace.  His stock has vaulted up higher than anyone this year.  At this point if he gets to 8 I would be shocked.   

 

8. Carolina Hurricanes – Radek Faksa  6’3  202  C  Kitchener  OHL

Not changing a thing here, so this is what I said 2…edit…3 weeks ago….I am going to stick with this pick.  Jim Rutherford hasn’t been affraid to reach in the past.  Jeff Skinner was considered a bit of a reach and that worked out fine.  But Rutherford wants a 2nd line centre, he likes size down the middle, and he likes the Kitchener kids as this would be the 3rd Ranger in a row he has taken with his top pick (Skinner in 2010, Murphy in 2011).  I got to think that’s something that has rarely if ever happened.  Faksa has risen this season, and riser’s in the last few years have risen further than some scouts want to believe.  Mark Scheifele was that guy last year expected to go in the 10-15 range and got picked 7th, I mentioned Skinner in 2010 but also Ryan Johanson was only expected to go 7 or 8 in 2010 and he went 4th.  Faksa plays a very well rounded game, likes to get his nose dirty and plays 200 feet in addition to putting up good numbers.  This is also a candidate to be dealt.  I almost hit the nail on the head with what the return would be on Jordan Staal (apparently the Canes offered 8, Sutter, McBain, and to take back Paul Martin and the Pens shot it down).  The word is that they have big interest in Sam Gagner.  Jeff Marek of Sportsnet said in an interview with Bob Stauffer Monday that he believes Carolina would move the 8th pick to get Gagner.  Sounds more likely this pick will be moved than the Canes using it.

 

9. Winnipeg Jets – Morgan Rielly  6’0  190  D  Moose Jaw  WHL

Wow!!!  I STILL can’t believe I have this pick staying the same.  I was really doubting Rielly got to this spot, but someone has to fall a bit and without trades happening (which as I just said I believe they will) Rielly could be the guy.  Jets fans will be celebrating like it’s May 31, 2011 all over again if he is!  Rielly is a Dan Boyle, Duncan Keith type.  If his defensive game develops then he is the latter, if it doesn’t then he is the former.  But he had an amazing combine, the knee is apparently just fine, and he could go as high as 4th in this draft.  This team needs an upgrade in the organization on the blueline much more than anywhere else.  If Rielly isn’t here, a chance that Dumba is.  And if neither are there I would still look D, either Trouba or Maatta.

 

10. Tampa Bay Lightning – Jacob Trouba  6’2  196  D  USA U18  USHL

Tough one here between Trouba and Maatta.  But Bob has Trouba ahead and that’s what I had been rolling with since the start of the month so I will stick with it.  But Maatta put to rest a lot of concerns about his inconsistency in his playoff run…but I digress, the “ning” take Trouba.  Trouba was great at the WJC, one of the lone bright spots for the Americans.  His U 18’s were just so-so.  He has all the talent, but some are worried about his hockey IQ.  Add to that being a USHL kid he hasn’t played against much tough competition.  He is going to Michigan next season and while it’s a great program, most NHL teams prefer these kids to head to the CHL.  Interesting to see if this will hurt his draft stock. 

 

11. Washington Capitals (via Colorado) – Olli Maatta  6’2  202  D  London  OHL

George McPhee has built up a tremendous system in Washington and now they will have 2 pretty good picks to make it even better.  They don’t have a lot of big needs, but you are never “too” set on D, and the last I had heard the Hunters have a relationship with the Caps.  If Maatta is here he is the pick I have no doubt at this point.  He won’t be a great offensive D-man, but he should be a very solid shutdown D-man.  Wouldn’t be shocked to see McPhee package 2 or 3 of his picks (he has 4 in the top 54) to move up.  With a loaded system he can afford to do so.  Maybe they roll the dice with Grigorenko here seeing as how they need to upgrade at centre and they have the ultimate Russian to attract other Russian players.  But McPhee despite having that guy still got burned by Kuznetsov signing in the KHL for another 2 years so I’m thinking he is gun shy.  If Faksa falls to this spot he is the pick.

 

12. Buffalo Sabres – Cody Ceci  6’3  207  D Ottawa OHL

They got 2 picks in the 1st round so much like Washington they will be a threat to move up.  They don’t have many needs but I keep saying they could stand to upgrade their defense (just about any team can).  Ceci is a kid that puts up numbers (a bullet from the point), and he has the size to be a shutdown guy in the pro’s.  Having said that I wouldn’t be surprised that if Ceci becomes more of just a shutdown guy.  He doesn’t skate poorly, but he may not skate well enough to be a guy that can jump in the play.  With Myers, Pysyk, and McNabb already in the organization, Maatta could complete what would be a very nice top 4.

 

13. Dallas Stars – Mikhail Grigorenko  6’3  200  C QuebecQMJHL

This could be a gift for the Stars.  Everyone knows by now how Grigorenko has fallen down the rankings drastically.  There are rumors of him actually being 20 years old and not 18, of course the ankle injury set him back this season, and then he played with mono during the QMJHL playoffs.  Dallas doesn’t need a centre here, I have mocked a D-man in this spot all season long.  But if Grigorenko gets here I believe they will roll the dice and take him.  While they don’t have a great need at centre, they could definitely use one in the system.  Especially one who is 6’3, 200 pounds and have the skill set to be an elite number 1 centre.  Those guys don’t grow on trees.

 

 14. Calgary Flames – Zemgus Girgensons  6’1  201  C   Dubuque  USHL

I have said it before and I’m saying it again, I just will not move off this pick happening.  I had Girgensons to the Flames in the January mock draft, that was 10th.  I had him here in the February mock draft, that was 13th, had him here in the April mock draft, had him here in the June 4th mock, had him here in the June 16th mock, and have him here now.  MacKenzie had him 13th.  I’m putting him here for a lot of reasons.  Again with the USHL some teams are scared off by it, but I doubt Feaster is scared off by it.  An American GM is likely going to have more faith in the USHL than a Canadian GM.  Not always, but more often then not.  Add to that the Flames haven’t been strong down the middle since the early 90’s.  If he is there he would fit the bill for the Flames pretty well.  If Grigorenko falls to them (which now seems realistic) they HAVE to take him.  However I will say even though they are desperate for help down the middle, last year they took who was in their minds the BPA and appear to have hit a home run in doing so.  So perhaps Bartschi’s teammate Derrick Pouliot?  Maybe Lindholm?   Or maybe they think along the same lines but like Brendan Gaunce better?

 

15. Ottawa Senators – Hampus Lindholm  6’3  196  D  Rogle  SWE

This is the end of the line.  When Bob did his rankings Monday other than having Grigorenko going 5th I was pretty close to right on the money with where my picks went (even though his are rankings, mine is a mock).  Then the bottom 15 of Bob’s list looked NOTHING like my own (uh oh!!)  But I had Lindholm going 15th for a while, and this is where Bob had him.  He could go higher than this, but I don’t think he will go lower than this.  As for the Sens they love their Swedes and as good as they look on the blueline moving forward they aren’t overly deep there having dealt David Rundblad in the Kyle Turris deal.  Lindholm is a big riser this season and is really a clone of Oscar Klefbom who rose throughout last season and plays nearly identical game.  Smart and physical in his own zone and offensive upside is there.  I’m sure he is on the Sens radar at 15.

 

16. Washington Capitals – Brendan Gaunce  6’2  215  C Belleville  OHL

So at the end of the day the Caps get their big centre they crave.  But as the season went on a lot of scouts started to question Gaunce’s offensive upside.  He is a safe pick, worst case scenario he is a 3rd line centre which is a spot that is more vital to fill than some on lookers will credit.  I think if this was the pick, most would say they picked another Brooks Laich.  That might be true, but you can never have enough of those guys.  Big, plays 200 feet, can chip in offensively.  Coaches adore those players.  Once again however I will state watch for the Caps to package these picks to get a more high end player with such a stocked system.

 

 17. San Jose Sharks – Derrick Pouliot  5’11  186  D Portland  WHL

This is a pretty nice fit in my mind.  The Sharks need D men and Pouliot falls into their lap.  I really like Pouliot and believe he was a bit of a victim of playing on such a good Winterhawks team there for maybe not being aloud to be the horse he has the ability to be.  We seen it at the top prospects game in February, he might have been the top player in that game.  After this many years I don’t know how Doug Wilson hasn’t done more to upgrade their blueline.  I guess he thought guys like Vlasic would become better than they have.  The Craig Rivet for Josh Gorges trade didn’t help either.  If not Pouliot here than perhaps Slater Koekkoek or maybe a guy drop to them but I expect a D-man here.

 

18. Chicago Blackhawks – Andrei Vasilevski  6’3  204  G  Ufa Tolpar  Rus Jr

Once again another pick that I refuse to change.  I just think this makes too much sense, we all saw Corey Crawford subpar playoff performance and they don’t have much if anything coming in net.  In 2010, the Hawks made the finals with Neimi who was virtually unknown as far as Stanley Cup final goaltenders go.  The Flyers made it with Leighton and Boucher who were AHL and career backups respectively.  All of a sudden teams started believing that goaltending just wasn’t as important of a position as it had been in the past.  Well, maybe that was a fluke, or maybe GM’s went overboard with how unimportant they thought it had become.  Regardless, goaltending is huge once again.  As for Vasilevski, outside of the 3rd period vs Canada he was incredible at the WJC.  The Russian factor might come into play here, but even if it did I believe the Hawks in this spot would just move on to the next tendy on the list which would be Subban or Dansk.  Either way I see a goalie going to the Hawks at this time.

 

19. Tampa Bay Lightning (via Detroit) – Tom Wilson  6’4  203  RW  Plymouth  OHL

I admit when I’m right…who doesn’t hate that guy?!  But I admit when I’m an idiot and I admit I made a mistake about Wilson when doing the last few lists.  Now, before the OHL regular season ended his stock did drop a lot, but then he had that terrific playoff run and I got him back here going to Tampa.  The reason I had him going to Tampa back in February was that he could replace some of what they lost in Steve Downie and Carter Ashton at the trade deadline.  He can punish you, and he can put the puck in the net.  Probably will never be more than a complimentary 2nd line guy.  But a 2nd line guy that will be feared on the forecheck, on the boards and in front of the night.  Tampa could definitely use a guy like this.

 

20. Philadelphia Flyers – Slater Koekkoek  6’2  184  D  Peterborough  OHL

I had this pick in my last few mock drafts and I’m not changing it.  Koekkoek was well on his way to at least a top 15 pick in this draft before his shoulder injury.  People who follow the OHL closely love him.  Those that don’t seem to think he is a bit overrated.  I like what I read about him, haven’t watched him play, but I know Philly is pretty desperate for D-men in their system at this point and Koekkoek would be the pick should he still be around.  Has a good all around game with all the intagibles you want.  Needs to smooth out his game, but given time (which he will be in Philly’s system) he should.  Could be a steal for the Flyers.

 

21. Buffalo Sabres (via Nashville) – Tomas Hertl  6’2  198  C  Slavia Praha  Czech

Pretty great job by Darcy Reiger to land this pick for Paul Gaustad.  Yeah sure he threw in a 4th but thats still pretty minimal.  I really thought hard about putting Tom Wilson here as the Sabres in losing Kassian gain back that type of player and apparently they LOVE Wilson.  But I have Wilson off the board already and so they go with Hertl.  He has nice size, really good 200 foot player and has some real good upside offensively (good vision).  The Sabres have lacked size in their top 6, and haven’t had a top 2 centre with size for a while either so this pick to me makes a lot of sense.

 

22. Pittsburgh Penguins – Henrik Samuelsson  6’2  195  C  Edmonton  WHL

They had his dad, they have his brother in the system, so why not?!  But that is just a small reason why I could see this being their selection.  Samuelsson’s flaw is that he lacks quick boots (foot speed), which is a pretty big concern.  But I watch this kid play, and he has such a ridiculously high hockey IQ, and like his dad he is an evil S.O.B. out there who won’t back down from it….it’s such a unique skill set that I think some team grabs him late in the 20-30 range, and the Pens could use this kind of kid (they really could have used him against Philly).  He played mostly on the wing for the Oil Kings this season so despite listed as a centre playing the wing wouldn’t be an issue.  Samuelsson reminds me of David Backes, who lacked quick boots has developed into one of the top centre’s in the league.

 

23. Florida Panthers – Matt Finn  6’0  195  D  Guelph  OHL

A great season for the Panthers, and they look pretty good moving forward.  But I don’t think there is a real strength in the organization right now.  And while they have something nice on the blueline with Gudbranson and Kulikov, they don’t have much coming.  So Finn is a good pick here.  He is a guy that doesn’t do anything spectacular, just does everything well.  Will get his nose dirty but isn’t overly physical.  Can play on the power play but likely won’t ever be a teams QB.  Probably just a really solid number 4 D-man.  A safe pick.

 

24. Boston Bruins – Brady Skeji  6’3  203  D  USA U18  USHL

Taking a look around at all the different rankings not just Bob’s and it looks as though Skeji is the BPA and Kirk Luedeke said on Twitter last week that the B’s would take the BPA (he is very plugged into the B’s organization).  The Bruins don’t have a great need on defense with Hamilton on the way and quite a few of their key D-men still young enough, but I wouldn’t say they’re deep either.  Skeji is a kid that skates very well for his size and is a great defender 1 on 1.  He won’t be a kid who is overly physical, but like most USHL D-men he is sound positionally and uses his stick well.  He has very good hockey sense.  There is offensive upside with him (mainly due to his skating) but most see him as a guy that will be a very smooth skating shutdown D-man.

 

25.  St.Louis Blues – Mark Jankowski  6’2  170  C  Stanstead  Quebec Prep

The Blues rebuild is FINALLY done and they should be a contender for a while.  And the big key to their success this season was being HUGE down the middle.  Jankowski in time will fit that mold.  Another riser, he is a total project but if he is given time to develop (3-4 years) this could prove to be an amazing pick.  He is a tough player to judge because he hasn’t played against good competition this season, but the last guy I recall that being said about was Chris Kreider and the last time I saw Kreider play he was in the conference finals and was perhaps playing better than anyone else on his team.  Classic boom or bust guy but the Blues are pretty stocked in their system and can afford to take this gamble.

 

26. Vancouver Canucks – Colton Sissons  6’1  189  RW  Kelowna  WHL

If Gillis has finally noticed that the culture needed to change in Vancouver then he will likely continue trying to change it with this pick.  Sissons is a kid that could help change it.  He can score, plays with a lot of heart and grit and while he doesn’t have the upside to be a 1st line guy he is just what the riot police ordered for the Canucks…Actually for the Canucks I would say he is a poor man’s Trevor Linden, and I know Canuck fans don’t mind the idea of that.

 

 27. Phoenix Coyotes – Scott Laughton  6’0  180  C  Oshawa  OHL

  They’re absolutely loaded on their blueline, and in fact could deal one of the studs they have this summer for some offensive help.  But they won’t just grab guys that can score and try to fit a square peg into a round hole like David Poile tried to do this season, they will want guys that can play Tippett’s system.  Scott Laughton I believe is one of those guys.  Here is another kid that rose late in the season and as I stated earlier risers seemingly go even higher where they end up in the rankings.  Laughton has a really high hockey IQ and plays a 200 foot game.  He will never put up big numbers but this is a perfect fit for Dave Tippett’s team.

 

28. NY Rangers – Oscar Dansk  6’3  189  G  Brynas  SWE

Started looking hard at the Rangers cause they are pretty solid everywhere in the organization…except in net.  Now of course Lundqvist isn’t near retirement, but they have NOTHING coming in the organization.  Dansk would be a beauty fit here not just because it’s another Swede, but he much like Vasilevski and Subban will need 4-5 years of development time.  By then, Lundqvist is 34-35.  With how much he plays every year I would think by then they will be searching for a guy to come in and play 30-40 games a year.  Dansk has good speed and athelticism, is really sound technically and has a big frame.  If this happens, no matter which of the goaltenders they like here, I believe it’s a very intelligent pick. 

 

 29. New Jersey Devils – Malcom Subban  6’1  188  G Belleville  OHL

Well for a few mock drafts I had Subban going to the Devils.  But then the Devils went on their amazing run and Subban ends up with the Jackets at this point…is what I thought was going to happen!   The Devils announced last week that they will keep this pick, which could honestly be the most ridiculous move their great GM Lou Lamoriello has ever done.  You are picking 29th, it is going to be a very difficult draft to judge due to all the injuries this season, you are about to lose Zach Parise and likely other key players this offseason because you will need to be a cap floor team which almost guarantee’s you will not get near the Stanley Cup final next season and oh by the way the 2013 draft at this time looks LOADED.  But, I’m not Lou Lamoriello, I’m not head scout David Conti, and so they will make the pick which should be Brodeur’s successor.  Subban is extremely athletic, quick and has tremendous potential.  But much like his brother his skills need to be honed.  I believe he will take a while to develop, but the wait could be well worth it.

 

30. Los Angeles Kings – Sebastian Collberg  5’11  174  RW  Frolunda  SWE

I guess I was wrong here too!  I didn’t know that the Jackets had the option on this pick and it would make absolutely zero sense to take it this year in a suspect draft and with the Kings having won the Cup.  So the rich get richer for this season anyways.  Obviously there are not a lot of holes on a Stanley Cup winning team that went 16-4 in the playoffs, but a winger who has a high skill set and speed is something they will need soon.  Gagne could be a candidate to retire this offseason because of the concussion problems but even if he doesn’t he will be for sure gone next offseason.  I would say at this point Collberg has far and away the most skill of any guy left.

 

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Bobby back on the block

I did a blog on this a while back, and not really surprisingly we are back here again.  Bobby Ryan is available for the right price from the Ducks to add to a list that includes Rick Nash, Roberto Luongo, Jay Bouwmeester and Lubomir Visnovsky of players who are on the block and could be moved by Sunday night.

Some people may wonder why Ryan the Ducks are making a 25 year old, 30 goal scoring, power forward, with 2 years left on his affordable contract available?  Well there are many reasons.  First, the Ducks aren’t a cap ceiling team.  They are working with a limited budget and they will need all the money they can get to get both Getzlaf and Perry locked up before next summer.

Another good reason to do it is to bolster their defense.  They will lose Justin Schultz who was the team’s top prospect, and past Schultz.  Now past Fowler and Sbisa this team is extremely thin on the blueline.  Ryan would bring back at least 2 young D-men in a trade (perhaps 1 in the NHL and 1 prospect).  Also, moving his 5.1 mil per year gives them some money (at least for this season) to bring in a UFA D-man.

And finally they could find a guy to fill in his spot.  Not someone as good, but that line is one of the best in hockey and quite frankly will likely still be without Ryan and the right guy replacing him.  For example, the original man on the left side of Getzlaf and Perry.  He’s known as pancakes.  He makes Simpsons references in interviews.  He rocks a better beard than his grandpa Fred…I’m talking about Dustin Penner (talk about suspense!)  Or they could draft someone who could step in, perhaps Filip Forsberg should he fall that far, or Teuvo Teravainen who some scouts believe may pan out as good or better than Nail Yakupov.

As for where Ryan could end up now is anybody’s guess I’m sure. Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Minnesota, NY Rangers, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver are all candidates in my mind to jump in this derby (watch him now go toWinnipeg or Phoenix).  The thing I THINK I’m safe in saying is that it will be a 3 or 4 piece deal that the Ducks are looking for again because this is a team that can’t take on a lot of salary.  A good young roster player, one high end prospect, one middle of the road prospect and perhaps a draft pick (depends on who the other players are).

If you ask me this is a shrewd move by Bob Murray if he can get the right deal.  You get GM’s like a David Poile for example who want to hang on to their guys until the potential problem becomes a total mess for the franchise much like Ryan Suter now is.  They will likely watch Suter walk without getting a thing back for him this summer and I wouldn’t be shocked if Weber followed him out the door next summer.  If Murray wants to keep Getzlaf and Perry he knows moving Ryan is the right move.  It must be a difficult thing to do trading a kid that talented who is just entering his prime, but it’s could be the right move.

Tumbling down the Grigorankings

I don’t think anyone who is a draft junkie like myself seen that coming.  Last night on TSN Bob McKenzie unveiled his final top 30 rankings for the 2012 NHL entry draft.  And while Mikhail Grigorenko had been falling the last 3 months or so, I don’t believe anyone expected him to end up being ranked 12th.

Craig Button has been pretty much putting Grigorenko lower than everyone else all year.  He didn’t say he hated the kid, just that he didn’t believe he had the high end talent to be that elite number 1 centre and seen him as more of a great 2nd line centre.

In Bob’s midseason rankings Grigorenko was ranked 2nd.  He had not moved in his top 10 right before the draft lottery on April 10th.  But a horrific playoff combined with the “Russian factor” and questions about his work ethic see’s him end up out of the top 10 for Bob’s rankings and for those of you that don’t know Bob’s rankings are normally closer than anyone else’s.

But let’s go back to that brutal playoff performance by Grigorenko.  Tough to be hard on the kid for that when he had mono.  Played the entire playoffs while having mono, I would say that’s pretty impressive that he didn’t say a word about it and instead just went out and played every night.

This wasn’t the first time Grigorenko showed that kind of grit.  He hurt his ankle midway through the WJC this year and tried to play through it.  I would say that is pretty manly of the kid to do.  Of course he was pretty ineffective while playing, but he still played.

And that wasn’t it.  With that ankle still an issue, Grigorenko chose to head out to Kelowna for the top prospects game.  I’m sure he had people urging him not to play as a bad performance could hurt his draft stock and yet he still went out there and played.

From what I had read and heard Grigorenko interviewed VERY well at the NHL draft combine a few weeks back too.  So basically what I’m trying to say here is that this kid shouldn’t have been ranked this low.  Everyone knows how much talent he has and how high his hockey IQ is.  I know it’s tough to ignore dissapointing performances but when the kid played hurt and played with mono how do you ignore that?!

I don’t expect Grigorenko to go that low on Friday night.  I would guess the 5-10 range is where he will go as centre’s with size and that kind of talent are so difficult to find.  But then again I thought there was no way that Shawn Couturier got past 5 last year and he went 8th in a flat out steal to Philly.

When guys trend up they seem to go even higher than expected and when they trend down they seem to go even lower expected.  I just mentioned Couturier, and Mark Scheifele (picked 1 spot ahead) was the opposite of that. 

Whatever happens as long as Grigorenko is committed to playing in North America, some team could get a flat out steal.  He is without a doubt one of the most intriguing players to follow come Friday night.

 

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups or the website @Soups_on_Sports

The Grapes of rap

 

It’s a conspiracy that dates back to 1990.  It is a story that certainly will never be told outside of on this award winning website (the award being the brews some of the boys bought me last weekend).  And it most definitely won’t be told in the Don Cherry movies “Keep Your Head up Kid” or “The Wrath of Grapes”.  Perhaps the CBC is tied up in all of this, terrified of losing their star.

Anyways, in 1990 Don Cherry was flying high with the success of the original Rock’em Sock’em video and was gearing up to do Rock’em Sock’em 2.  Having such huge success on television and now VHS (remember VHS?!?), he was looking for some way to take his entertainment career to the next level.

With the world of rap becoming more and more mainstream by 1990, Don decided this was the new wave and he was going to grab his surfboard and ride it (what a line hey, no wonder I’m award winning!)  Enter…Grape Jam.  Using the 2nd Rock’em Sock’em as his platform, it was to be Don’s breakout/debut song. 

Some of you may hate conspiracy theorists and I’m really not one, but judge for yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGeCYnkkHFE

Lyrically it could be one of the best rap songs in Canadian history.  Sure Snow, Choclair, Kardinal Offishall, K-Os, Lloydminster legend Big Pred and Drake have their hits, but this broke down barriers for them. 

I played the minor leagues

I coached the Boston Bruins

If you’re askin’ me I think the games in ruins

Guys don’t fight, they don’t back check

It’s like watchin’ the Nordiques out there in Queebec

 

Are you kidding me?!?  Lyrical genius!!!  And yet, nothing.

DJ’s refused to give it air time, record companies refused to release the single on cassette (yes, cassettes…PERFECT).  Remember now this was 1990, rap music was still viewed as dangerous by much of the mainstream public, especially in Canada.  Those of us that were great fans of the song were left wondering “where is Grapes’ Juno?!?”

But as we all know with Don, he is one of the most resilient men in Canadian history and decided to pick himself up off the floor and get back in the studio.  By 1993 music had changed.  Rap was no longer the dangerous new thing that it was in 1990.  By 93, techno was in and there was “no limit” (see what I did there?!) to how far it could go.  Grapes once again was going to get on the bandwagon before it was full.

In 1993, this time using Rock’em Sock’em 5 as his platform he unleashed “Let’s Go!” and once again those of us who viewed it were certain he had an instant classic, see for yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sExSTLqpNoU

What really sets not only the song, but the video apart from others are the people dancing at about the 0:34 mark, you will not see moves like that on the dance floor anywhere else and yet Don’s people were somehow able to convince them to be in this video.

Added to that, once again Grapes goes to places lyrically that few have ever gone. 

Blue, Blue what a pup

Oh how she loves the Stanley Cup

Hockey man is what I am

Let’s go!

And yet while the Gemini’s continue to pile up, he has never seen a Juno.  Few are aware, but after being held back by the music industry for what can only be assumed was sheer jealousy and fear, Don had enough.  Why should he pour his heart and soul into music and get nothing back in return?  There just had to be a conspiracy against him, worried how simple it was for a former coach and now TV star to crossover and dominate the music industry.

It’s still great seeing Grapes after all these years still looking great, still doing Coaches Corner, and still putting out great…well….still putting out Rock’em Sock’em’s.  But the real fans will never forget the early 90’s when Don Cherry unleashed what should have been 2 smash hits that unfortunately will never get the recognition they so rightly deserved.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups or the site @Soups_on_Sports

Burke looking to go yard again

The 1999 draft was in a word…disgusting.  It wasn’t expected to turn out this way, but it did.  I would say it was a clear cut product of the times.  The “dead puck” era was just pathetic.  The league refused to do much to improve the situation, talented players were shoved to the side for guys with size and not much else, and goaltenders were the end all be all.  But back to the 99 draft, it was embarrassing but one GM got it right and that GM was of course Brian Burke.

Burke decided he was going to do everything he could to land the Sedin twins, and he did just that.  In making 3 different trades Burke was able to land the 2nd overall pick to go with the 3rd overall that he already possessed and took the twins.  Far and away the best players to come out of that draft.

Well if the rumors are true he is looking to turn the trick once again in this draft.  Burke has the 5th overall pick, and rumor has it that he is looking to land the 1st overall pick without giving up the 5th.  The rumors as to what Burke is offering vary, but most believe Jake Gardiner and Luke Schenn is the offer.

While Burke isn’t looking to land twins again, he is looking to land teammates.  Obviously Yakupov at 1, and Nail’s teammate Alex Galchenyuk (whom I believe is the top centre in this draft).  He MIGHT have to move up from 5 to get Galchenyuk as either Columbus at 2 or Montreal at 3 could select him.  But moving from 5 to 2 or 3 shouldn’t be all that difficult (perhaps a 2nd this year and a 2nd next year gets him up to 3).

As for the Oil, I don’t know if that is enough to make Steve Tambellini pull the trigger, but if it has been offered I doubt he has said no as of this time.  No secret that the Oil need D-men BAD, and Gardiner is coming off a terrific rookie season in which he displayed some high end talent. 

Schenn is a tougher sell however.  He is still very young, still has the talent to be a great top 4/shutdown D-man, but the combination of a terrible season and a contract that isn’t cheap (3.6 mil per for another 4 seasons).  The Oilers might want Schenn (I for one am a BIG believer in the kid still but he needs out of Toronto for a fresh start), but they might want him for cheap and not in a package for the 1st overall. 

The other carrot dangling out there for the Oil is that if they got Gardiner, it could only strengthen the team’s ability to land 21 year old UFA Justin Schultz.  If the Oilers had some inside knowledge that Gardiner would guarantee them Schultz, then I would think it would be impossible to turn down.  To go from being thin on D to having the best young D in hockey to couple with the best young forward group in the game would be an insane haul for the Oilers.

I have no doubt the Oilers would trade down to 5 if the Leafs gave up Gardiner along with 5, but if Burke did that it would be ridiculous and proof that he is only trading up to 1 for show.  It wouldn’t be a good hockey move.  Making certain he lands Galchenyuk is the more important move for Burke in my opinion.  The Leafs don’t have a guy in the system that has the ability to be a legit number 1 centre which is the toughest spot to fill in the NHL.  Galchenyuk isn’t a sure thing, but he is close to it. 

At the end of the day I believe the Oilers and Leafs make great trade partners and something could get done here.  But Burke has to be careful.  He can’t afford to go overboard looking to either simply move up from 5 to 1, or going after 1 without giving up the 5th pick.  Needless to say things are getting juicy leading into the draft, which is now just a week away!

NBA finals preview

I sure did jinx the Spurs with that blog didn’t I?!  The one time I begin pulling for the Spurs and sure enough they lose 4 straight.  Oh well, easy come easy go.  The Thunder is a pretty damn sweet consolation prize!  And as I said in the Spurs blog the same applies here, the Thunder will be viewed as the ultimate good guys and the Heat will still be the ultimate villian and it will make for a phenomenal finals!

The big one to watch of course is James vs Durant.  1-2 in MVP voting this season.  Probably the 2 best players in the game today.  Both play the same position, both are total freaks athletically, and both are looking for their very first title.

But it’s not just that.  Of course both teams have their big 3 players (James, Wade, Bosh vs Durant, Westbrook and Harden), and it will be an athletic showcase.  It will be exciting basketball and you can expect the highlight reels to be full every night.

Now back to good v evil.  OKC is the small market team that built it the “right way”.  No big free agent signings, their big 3 were all drafted, one big trade (the Kendrick Perkins deal) and for the most part this team went from the bottom to the top together, even coach Scott Brooks. 

Meanwhile everyone knows the Heat’s story by now.  The worst part wasn’t “the Decision”.  For me, the worst part was the obnoxious party they had the day after in Miami.  Lebron saying “not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5…”, the commentator referring to them as the “3 kings”, the way they entered like the Undertaker would for a big match….it was just absurd.  They all thought they were going to gravy train each other to titles every single season.

James needs this one bad.  If he loses, he will be 0-2 in Miami, 0-3 in the finals overall.  He came up HUGE at the end of the Boston series but this will be a different animal.  The Thunder won’t get gassed, the Thunder will wear them out defensively, and the Thunder of course have the homecourt.  A tough task for “the 3 kings”.

That’s why I’m calling the Thunder to take it in 7.  Again, I believe this will be a terrific series.  It has the ingredients to be one of the greatest NBA finals of all time.  Again I will say it, if you don’t like the NBA you need to check out these finals.  If they don’t get you into basketball nothing will!