LIVE BLOG… from the Draft floor


11:00 am MST

It pays to get up early some days.

Because I got my accreditation late I wanted to make sure everything was still good, so I hoofed it to the Bell Centre. I wasn’t on the list, which I expected, but once I showed my card I got my mug shot. I now work for the TEAM 1250, not 1260. It’s a better keepsake that way.

There are seven rows with 14 seats in the media riser, and with so many media present, I fully expected to be in the overflow seating in section 12;, until I ran into Julie in the NHL PR. We chatted and I found myself in row seven on the media riser. I have a perfect view of the draft floor and it will be much easier to write on a table rather than using my knees as a make shift table. Julie is all class, and she gets another Nation shout out. I’d send the picture, but I’m an idiot and forget the cord to transfer pics from camera to computer. I’ll have them when I get home.

It’s the calm before the storm right now. It’s noon and slowly the media is trickling in. I ran into some people as I was walking here and here’s what I got.

  • Heatley talk is at a stand still right now. The Sens want a lot, and most teams aren’t willing to pony up. Heatley’s agent, JP Barry and his CAA branch are taking a beating in the papers right now. Pundits are claiming it was irresponsible of them to leak the story, because it makes it harder to deal him. CAA is adamant they didn’t leak the story, and feel it was probably Sens GM Bryan Murray, and then he could make Heatley look like the bad guy. This situation might get even uglier. I think the CAA camp has a legitimate beef. If the Sens don’t make a deal before July 1st and pay Heatley the $4 million he is owed then many expect Murray to play hard ball and force Heatley to come to camp.
  • Many wondered if Kevin Lowe could have gotten more for the Human Rake if he had played hardball. I’d like to see how it plays out for Murray if he chooses that route. If a deal is going to happen, it sounds like Heatley will have to be open to more teams. I still can’t get exactly what Minny was offering, but it didn’t include Burns or Koivu. It sounds like Murray’s demands are too high right now.
  • The Souray trade talk is heating up again. It sounds like the Oilers are willing to move him. Speculation is Souray and the Oilers 10th for LA’s 5th pick, and something else. The Oilers really like Evander Kane. They have a history of making moves, so I won’t rule it out. It makes sense on many fronts. Kings get veteran D-man and stay in top ten. Souray gets closer to family. Oilers get high prospect and free up some cap space. The key is what the “something else” is.
  • The Leafs are trying to get another first round pick. They’ve been interviewing lots of mid to late first round picks this morning including, Camrose Kodiak, Dylan Olsen. I literally bumped into him walking here and asked him how his morning was. He’d just finished an interview with the Rangers, and earlier this morning had talks with the Islanders and Leafs, and was in a rush to get to an interview with the Blackhawks. It’s a pretty stressful day for these young kids. You don’t realize it until you see them. It will be a huge relief whenever his name is called.
  • Currently the Sharks are the only team without a first rounder. The Islanders have the 26th pick, but look for Doug Wilson to get involved. Word is he wants to get in the first round, and Ryane Clowe is one of the pieces in place.

12:30 p.m. MST

Took a quick lunch break at the Cage Au Sports, the sports bar right in the Bell Centre, and what a meal. That’s just another reason why sports fans in Edmonton deserve a new rink. I took a quick outside tour and they have  four “action” statues of Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Howie Morenz and Guy Lafleur. They are great, and then there is a line up of plaques down the side wall with other Montreal legends. (Pics will be up when I return…idiot that I am).

Some more rumblings…

The Kings supposedly offered Frolov and the 5th for Heatley. The Sens said no thanks.

And this seems to be the start of the Souray rumours. Let’s play a little scenario.

Steve Tambellini finds out that the Kings are willing to move their 5th, so he makes a call. Keep in mind that even though the Human Rake to LA deal didn’t happen, that doesn’t mean the Kings weren’t trying to acquire him and might still be interested in a top two D-man.

This is where the Oilers and Souray come in. Souray’s value is at an all-time high right now. It might stay there for a few years, or it could be like the housing market in Edmonton; Piqued and is now on a downslide.

My gut still says it is a long shot, and I still don’t buy that the Kings will move the #5 pick, because that goes against everything that Lombardi has done in building a pretty good stable of young talent., but remember the Kings surprised everyone in 2007 when they took Hickey at #4.

It seems pretty obvious that the Kings and Lightning are the teams in the top five that will listen to offers about their pick. The Bolts will considering moving the #2 if Hedman goes to the Islanders, if he doesn’t then BOOK it that he will go to Tampa. Colorado and Atlanta have given the impression they are pretty secure at 3 and 4 respectively.

But the best story is that no one seems to know what the Islanders are going to do.

Many think they like Duchene, but won’t take him at #1, but rather trade down a spot or two to get him and another pick. The uncertainty of the Islanders could set the ball in motion as far as teams trying to move up in the draft.

And the Vinny talk is still dominating the floor. What if Montreal can acquire him? This place would go nuts.

If Tampa doesn’t get Hedman and take Tavares, would that make them more likely to move Vinny? It’s almost mind blowing thinking of all the possibilities.

And can anyone tell me how I can disengage the update that goes to my cell phone telling me JOE SMITH is now following you on twitter. I love that people are following me there, but my phone has been ringing all day with these updates. I need to figure out how to stop it…ha

1:30 p.m MST

Right now…Front and centre in the middle of draft floor Brian Burke is on the horn.

He looks relaxed, his gum is getting one hell of a work out, tie undone, pacing back and forth in an area where no one can hear what he is saying. I wish I had one of those big cones that allows you to hear things from 50 feet away..

**Makes check list for next year…cord thingy for computer and camera…Cone thingy to hear things…Get a tech book to know what the hell Firefox and Chrome is…****

2:45 p.m MST

Regarding the Oilers/Thrasher rumour, (Oilers 4th, Cogliano and Gilbert for Lehtonen, Armstrong and #4) I just got a text that says that package is not correct, but they have had talks.

Discussions are happening, because the Oilers feel they need to get #4 to get Kane.

Kane is drawing comparisons to being 90% of what Jarome Iginla is as a player. If that is indeed the case then he’d be a great pick up.

I know this for sure…The Oilers are trying hard to move up. If they don’t it won’t be the end of the world for them, but they feel this is a great opportunity for them, and it would be the first time ever that the Oilers have moved up in the top ten in any draft.

Fans have already started to show up. The second deck is almost full. A “go Leafs go “chant was quickly booed and replaced by “Lets’ go Habs.”  We are still more than two hours away from the official start but the fans here are just as anxious as NATION readers to get this going.

3:00 p.m MST

Teams are starting to file in. Scott Howson and the Blue Jackets are here…most of the Devils staff, sand big Lou…I just went down the stairs to say congrats to the hall of famer. Good guy.  He’s pretty humble about his Hall of Fame nomination.

*** Now they are pumpin out some Black Eyed Peas…Gotta get that…or Boom Boom Pow…not sure what title is, but some heifers are dancing in the second deck…I didn’t need to see that.***

Still no sighting of anyone from the Oilers, or Thrashers or Kings or Islanders.

But the rumble on the floor is that the Islanders are leaning towards Duchene. That would be quite the start to the draft.

Now the Coyotes, Kings, Bruins,  Ducks, and a few members of the Senators are on the floor.

Cam Neely and Brian Burke and a long and laugh-filled convo.

Howson and Ducks GM Bob Murray and Chiarelli from Boston are talking. The Bruins currently have #25, while the Ducks have 15 and Jackets 16. The Bruins have talked about wanting to move up, so maybe something will happen between them.

3:23 p.m. MST

The man of the hour has arrived. Garth Snow is in the HOUSEEEEE…okay so there was no theme music but right now he has everyone guessing what he will do. Most teams are here, except Chicago, Pittsburgh, NYR, Nashville,St. Louis, Calgary and Atlanta the the Oilers. It makes you wonder if the Thrashers and Oilers are still trying to hammer something out.

I just spoke with Rishaug and Dreger from TSN and they confirm that the Thrashers have indeed made it clear they are now open to offers. The Oilers are interested in that pick, but so are the Kings, Leafs and Dallas Stars. It might be a bidding war.

The Senators have lowered their trade demands for Heatley. They were supposed to be looking for a top-six forward, top-four D-man and a pick/prospect, but have relented a bit. Heatley’s value seems to be diminishing as the day goes on.

The Canadiens management team has arrived to a huge roar from the crowd.

4:00 p.m. MST

The Oilers arrived about five minutes ago and right away Tambellini and Lowe were swarmed by TSN guys. Lots of laughing but didn’t look like they got much out of them.

Had a great conversation with Daryl Evans, colourman on Kings broadcasts and former NHLer. He is certain the Kings will draft a forward, with all their depth on the backend. He fully expects the Kings to make a move via trade or free agency for sure.

Lots of friendly convo going on between media and various team management types, but it seems like the calm before the storm right now. Let’s get it on.

4:36 p.m. MST

As of right now the Oilers have nothing definite, but it is still an hour away from the 4th and 5th picks, and even longer until their own pick.

Remember how late their deals came about at the deadline with O’Sullivan and Kotalik.

Craig Button said on my radio show earlier this week that many teams overvalue their pick on draft day, and that’s why many deals fall through at the last moment, because the ransom is just too much.

It sounds like that might be the case with the Thrashers. Their demands for the Oilers might be too rich right now.  Tambellini won’t over pay, because the Oilers still feel they can get a quality player at #10. If they don’t move up,  I’d expect Glennie or MPS to be called by the Oilers.

Bruins just got introduced and got booed heavily. Gotta love rivalries.

5:06 p.m. MST

Former Habs owner George Gillette address the crowd. Lots of energy in the building. Each team had to announce who would call the name of their draft pick, and it will be Steve Tambellini for the Oilers.

Everyone is waiting patiently for this to start. There has been a bit of a delay, and now they are showing highlights of some of the top prospects. Tavares was shown first…is that foreshadowing, we shall see soon.

This big screen is crystal clear. It is awesome.

Now there are previewing Hedman. I hope they don’t do the top ten or the draft won’t start until 5:30

5:11 p.m MST

Dreger reports that Pronger has been dealt to Philly. It sounds like Lupul, but more details to come. The Flyers continue to surprise, and now maybe Lupul and Pronger have been involved in a deal for the second time.

5:17 p.m MST

Finally the first pick. Garth Snow makes everyone wait a bit more with some thanks to Montreal and their fans and then he goes with what I expected John Tavares. The fans at Nassau are busting it out with some confetti. A strong contingent of Islander fans here are cheering loudly.

Expect Hedman #2 and then Duchene #4…The intrigue will come if the Thrashers hold their pick or deal it.

5:53 p.m MST

WE had to wait 25 minutes to talk to Tavares. Well spoken young man, and he is very focused on bringing back success to Long Island.  I knew the Islanders would take him, it was too big of a risk to pass up on a guy with his goal scoring ability. Hedman might be just as good, but the Islanders needed a scorer.

THey are playing highlights of players blocking shots on the big screen. Classic.  And every time they show a picture of Vinny the place goes nuts. If the Habs somehow trade for him, I bet there will be a five minute ovation.

Larsson is soft, but it isn’t surprising that the Coyotes took him. They have made some horrible first round picks and he might be another.

The “67” chant rains down from the rafters. That is awesome. That is a great chant. If the Oilers ever win the Cup again, you can bet that the next year Oiler fans will chant Eighty…NINE when the Flames come to town.

Burke can’t even speak. This is one of the few times he has to pause before he speaks, so he’ll probably say something good. Kadri is a solid pick. His tenacity is his best asset say the scouts.

6:31 p.m MST

I will be stunned if the Oilers don’t choose LW Magnus Paajarvi Svensson. If they do I wonder if they will stitch both names on the back of the jersey. His numbers don’t show it 7-10-17 in 50 games in the SEL, but they like his speed and offensive prowess.

I’ll be curious if he stays in Sweden of they bring him over to play Major Junior.

He can skate, and some compare him to Markus Naslund. We’ll go see what MacGregor and company have to say about him.

7:15 p.m. MST

MacGregor on Svensson..”He’s a big power forward who takes it to the net and is a great skater. He’s already played in two world junior tournament and will have another opportunity to play in Saskatoon this year. His game is an up tempo game and that’s what we are hoping he can play in the NHL”

I also asked MacGregor about the plan looking ahead to round two and beyond.

“For our second pick we are going to go with a projection pick, a player that has a real big upside. Before I came to talk to you we were looking at what the scenarios would be and if we could make an attempt to try and get back in the first round”

7:30 p.m. MST

The Hab fans go nuts when the Canadiens are put on the clock. It was deafening in here. They start to sing their patented O le  O le O le Ohhh lee song. They are hoping for a trade annoncement with Tampa Bay, but it won’t happen. The Bolts aren’t moving Vinny at this moment.

7:36 p.m MST

Hab fans give Louis Leblanc a standing ovation after his name is called at #18.

The Oilers are working the phones and might have another pick before the day is out.

They liked  D-man John Moore and he is still available, also Carter Ashton is still out there…

7:51 p.m. MST

The Flames trade down three picks and add a 3rd rounder from New Jersey. Could the Devils “Parise” them like they did the Oilers back in 2003. The Devils moved five spots to take Parise, while the Oilers got the 22nd and 68th picks which turned out to be Pouliot and Jacques.

The Devils just took Jacob Josefson, the 4th Swede taken in the first round already.

8:26 p.m. MST

The energy in the building is similar to the feeling on the Nation…subdued. It was a good ride, but now they want it to end. You have to be respectful of the young kids waiting for their name to be called.

Awkward moment of the day comes for the Johansson family. Marcus Johansson went 24th to the Capitals and his family was very excited, his mom gave him the longest kiss or any mom on the day. It was good comedic relief for the crowd and got a mixed reaction.

Just going to interview Tambellini will be back with his thoughts in a bit.

8:52 p.m MST

I asked Tambellini how close he was to moving up into the top five.

“We knew that at pick ten it would take something incredible for us to move. If I had a pick in the top four, I don’t think I would have moved to far down, maybe five or six, but to move to ten it would have taken a lot for that team to accept our deal.”

Does the Pronger trade reveal how much it will cost to get a superstar? Is the asking price that high?

“Depends on who the player is I guess. Pronger is a dominant player and he will change what Philly looks like. That is a franchise type move, not just a player move. ”

Do you think something will still be available on the table tomorrow?

I don’t know. There is so much discussion, it’s almost like the trade deadline where you feel like you’ve talked to everyone a dozen times around the horn. There was so much talk coming into today I thought maybe there would be a little bit more than what happened, but it could be tomorrow. There’s lots that can happen tomorrow or before July 1st.”

That wraps up day one from the 2009 NHL entry draft.  Only one big move, and a move by the Flyers that has many wondering if they overpaid for the Human Rake, giving up Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and two first rounders. The Oilers did get a LW but it wasn’t Heatley who many fans were hoping for.

And I wonder if the Flames in fact gave the Devils some compensation for signing Brent Sutter. The Flames had the 20th pick and traded down to Devils pick at 23. The Flames did get a 3rd rounder, but you wonder if that was a back door hand shake.

Talk to you tomorrow.