Round 1 goes to...
For some of us Draft Day is akin to a public holiday – it ranks up there with Christmas and my daughter’s upcoming Birthday and certainly chokes out Victoria Day or Labour Day in a Battle Royal. And by Draft Day, I mean NFL or NHL and occasionally 2 speedy rounds of NBA but never MLB – because like Sports Networks everywhere – I have never understood the value or the proper timing for drafting a quality shortstop who is making a name for himself in the Caracas Grade 5 Mixed T-Ball League. By the time you get to the Mike Piazza pick (62nd Round, 1390th overall) the picks are pretty much being called in by the Assistant Locker-Room Attendant’s son and the only guy left on Press Row is the Oscar Madison look-a-like who took Rounds 40-55 off for the requisite five martini lunch and is now quietly napping on his typewriter with visions of alimony dancing in his head.
Oh, but that NHL Draft Day, is a bird of a different feather… 7 Rounds of hard-hitting, headshot, knee-on-knee, boarding from behind action! Translation – 1 Round of all-important, under the Friday Night Lights, team logo donning, Gary Bettman hand-shaking activity followed by 6 Rounds of early morning interspersed with cartoons, NHL Network coverage consisting of GMs looking over their shoulders at the Detroit Red Wing table as they wonder when the next Zetterberg or Datsyuk will be called. For those keeping score at home, that very well might be at #49 this year with Martin Frk from the Czech Republic, who despite a distinct lack of vowels has some skills to burn. According to all reports, GMs also spent an awful lot of time wondering, like the rest of us why Peter Loubardias insists on appearing on national TV flaunting the George Hamilton tan-in-a-can look fresh from the beaches of Pittsburgh and providing a level of play-by-play analysis that has me reaching for my Books On Tape of Gilbert Gottfried Reads Charles Dickens just to bring down my blood pressure. You can see Craig Button looking around on-set and realizing for once he’s not #1 Fingernails On A Chalkboard guy…
Cue the excitement folks. Let loose the Category 5 storm of Draft Day wheeling and dealing, unleash the Kraken that is Brian Burke upon the hapless and bewildered minions gathered on the floor of the Consol Energy center. Nothing? Ah, here we go – in a move that surprised absolutely no-one, Jordan Staal, fresh from turning down a 10-year deal to remain as a 3rd-line centre in Pittsburgh heads to the Carolina Hurricanes for Brandon Sutter, highly touted prospect Brian Dumoulin and the 8th Pick overall. Well played Mr. Shero, well played. That pick would later turn into another strong D-Man in the form of Derrick Pouliot from Portland… another potential brick in the wall in front of the Penguin net where the ghost of Marc-Andre Fleury appears to still reside.
But meanwhile… at the top of the board… shock of shocks… the Edmonton Oilers/Detroit Lions have taken another Wide Receiver. Picking first overall, yet again for what appears to be the 20th year in a row, Oilers GM Steve Tambellini took his new contract and his inner Matt Millen to the dance and, in a Draft considered to be D-Man Loaded, waltzed to the podium and took another winger. True, Nail Yakupov was by far and away the consensus #1 overall Pick by every scout since Tonto, but on a team whose defensive Depth Chart reads like a “Who’s Not” of NHL blue-liners, you have to think offers were out there to trade down. If nothing else, the Kraken had to pay Tambellini a visit and offer up his sacrificial lamb Luke Schenn (who later became James Van Riemsdyk) and the 5th overall (which became Morgan Reilly) for the coveted #1 slot. Assume, we accept that circumstance dictates Tambellini has to take The Nail (no coffin jokes yet, please) on Friday night… what happens during the supposed sleep hours that causes him to return to the draft floor the following morning and do this - #32 Mitchell Moroz (LW), #63 Jujhar Khaira (LW), #91 Daniil Zharkov (LW)!?! There weren’t that many Left Winger’s in Stalin’s Cabinet pre-Purge. Hey Stevo, Jay Feaster just called and said something about you making him look better than an Armani suit… I’m sure Tambellini will one day make a fine foil for Button.
Thankfully, for Tambellini, Scott Howson is still, for now, a General Manager in the NHL although if Monday’s reports are true, this delightful picture may well be adorning cartons of 2% in Ohio in the very near future. Why you ask? Allow me. The New York Islanders, led by that wacky, miracle of modern business acumen known for all things contract-related to Rick Dipietro, Garth Snow offered the good Mr. Howson ALL… yes ALL of the Islanders 2012 Draft picks for the #2… Ryan Murray as you may recall. While this little tidbit sinks in, I will mention that these picks would be - #4, #34, #65, #103, #125 and #155 which would have given the Blue Jackets a grand total of 12 picks for moving down 2 spots. In what I can only assume is the result of Magic 8-Ball Technology and his own tried and true evaluation of The Deal which still sees Rick Nash unmoved and apparently unmovable according to 29 other GMs, Howson – according to NHL.com – turned Snow down. Are you kidding me? We’ve had 6 years to get used to the fact that Garth Snow has the hockey sense of a sea cucumber but I know Fantasy Hockey Leagues that wouldn’t Scott Howson be a General Manager. In the end at #4, the Islanders ended up ‘settling’ for Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings… yup, son of Paul Reinhart… nice blood-lines. Hey Scott, Jay Feaster called, something about a suit! And then the Kraken took RW Connor Brown in the 6th Round who was… wait for it… a (-72) +/- for the Erie Otters last season… and all was again right with the world…
Congrats go out to Kelowna Rockets’ Colton Sissons (#50 Nashville), Damon Severson (#60 New Jersey) and newbie Ryan Olsen (#160 Winnipeg) – nicely done gents… Until next time Kelowna, keep your sticks on the ice and your GM resumes current.
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