Friday, June 25, 2010

Final draft thoughts...the big day is here

Well, the big day is finally here!

All the work, all the speculation, now we’ll get down to the nuts and bolts of the 2010 NHL Draft and the players we’ve been following all year (and in some cases for much longer, right, Taylor Hall?) will know their NHL futures.

I spoke to Brandon Gormley yesterday at the top prospects luncheon and he had some nice things to say about the Bruins: “Yeah, it was great—everything went well and I had a nice time meeting with all those guys. Cam Neely was there and it was an honor to meet with the players and staff. I think they wanted to get to know me more and personalities and things like that. It was a good time.”

Then, came the surprise: When I asked him how his visit to Boston went, he replied: “I didn’t go to visit Boston, actually, but I’ve heard great things about the city.”

Now, there are two conclusions you can draw from that: No. 1, the Bruins recognize that Gormley is out of reach and therefore didn’t want to expend the time and energy to bring him to Boston for a visit. OR—the more likely scenario is, that they knew, even with the 15th pick prior to the Horton trade, they were out of range for the surefire top-five player, so they didn’t want to alert any other teams who may covet Gormley by tipping their hand with a visit to the Hub. That’s my feeling, because I’ve been hearing about the team’s interest in Gormley for months now. And why not? He’s skilled, poised, mature and has a depth of character that the team covets.

It remains to be seen whether GM Peter Chiarelli can make the move to land Gormley, but trade rumors have been swirling around about Marc Savard, Tim Thomas and Michael Ryder. We’ll see if there is any truth to the belief that Gormley is coveted by the Bruins and if they’re willing to give up the core player and assets to do it.

Now, moving onto 32. I’m hearing that Edmonton has some real interest in Charlie Coyle at 31 if he slips out of the first round, and that makes a lot of sense. He’s a very good player, and could be a first-rounder if you’ve read the comments section here recently. Now as far as Chicago goes, I’m hearing from a good source here in L.A. that the’Hawks covet Austin Watson, actually and with two first-round picks and two second-rounders, are trying to wheel themselves in position to get Watson.

Coyle and Kevin Hayes could both go in the first, but I think that’s more of a longshot. They’re good guys, but I think it’s one or the other but not both. We’ll see- 22 and 24? Probably very early but you never know.

If you believe that Jack Campbell is the only goalie who will be picked in the first round, then Seattle’s Calvin Pickard might be an interesting option to Boston at 32. Now, he’s under the radar a bit because his team didn’t make the WHL playoffs and he didn’t play well in Team Canada’s disastrous under-18 outing, but this kid is a real athlete who was a major reason the Thunderbirds even had a shot at the postseason. He was often assaulted nightly in net and put up great individual numbers even if the wins weren’t there.

“I think it’s pretty clear he’s the second-best goaltender in this draft and there’s a pretty big dropoff after that, so if you’re thinking of getting a goalie and you can get him in the early second, that’s a pretty good value there,” said Red Line Report’s Mike Remmerde.

Portland’s Brad Ross is another consideration at 32. Red Line had him in their first round, and as much as Remmerde likes him, even he admits that top-30 will probably be too high for the agitator extraordinaire, who impressed a lot of people with his skill and production this year playing on the uber-draft line of Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Johansen.

London Knights forward Jared Knight could also be in play at 32-- he didn't get an invite to the NHL combine, but put out an impressive video of his own attempts to duplicate physical testing and even some on-ice skating work. He visited Boston along with Watson and Justin Faulk two weeks ago, so you have to think the interest is there. At 32? Maybe not. But 45, certainly. He's got a pretty mediocre first few steps, but is one of those guys who came on strong after a diabetes diagnosis early in the season.

Chiarelli has said he doesn’t plan on moving the 32nd pick because his staff believes that the value between 15-32 is pretty close and they believe that they can land a player they had targeted early in the 2nd that they had projected in the middle of the 1st. That said, that’s also scoutspeak for “anything can happen” and don’t be surprised to see the Bruins jump up a few spots in the late 1st to get a player they covet who perhaps drops unexpectedly and they don’t want to risk losing by waiting till 32. When it comes to this strategy, everything is so dependent on what happens with those teams in front of Boston as we get down to pick 25 and later.

Finally, welcome back Rex!

James Murphy reported that future Hall of Fame winger Mark Recchi has signed a one-year extension and will be made formal on Monday. It’s a nice Catch-22 for Boston, who will return the ageless one for a 22nd NHL season and his second full campaign with the B’s since being acquired in March, 2009. The veteran forward will be a solid option on the ice, but he’ll really bring value in helping to mentor and set the right example for Boston’s top pick and any of the other youngsters on the team next year. Last fall, he took '09 third-rounder Ryan Button under his wing, and he’s one who takes his leadership duties and professionalism seriously. Although we missed Rex at Botegga Louie—we ran into NHL commissioner Gary Bettman there—sounds like Joe Haggerty got the better end of the deal in his chat with Recchi.

Well, I’m seeing a lot of NHL jerseys on Figueroa street, so hockey is in the air. Time to wrap this up and get ready for the big event. We’ll be at the rink in a couple of hours…it’s almost time.

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