In no particular order, here are some thoughts left over from my trip to the draft this weekend.
– A lot is being made about what Feaster and company said about Jankowski after the pick ("best player in this draft in 10 years" etc). It was clear watching the decision makers at the draft that they both believed in the pick, but also knew they were reaching and therefore would need to sell the move pretty hard. Thus the superlatives and hyperbole.
Not to say the kid can’t become the best player in the draft eventually – hell anything is possible. Just that nobody can know that at this juncture. If the brass had a crystal ball of that power and clarity, the Flames immediate future wouldn’t be so uncertain.
– Participating in the scrums and talking to some of the MSM gents who were there (in particular, Scott Cruickshank of the Herald who was nothing but helpful and accomodating) what stood out about all of the Flames picks this summer was how chatty and poised they were in front of the mics. I don’t know if the Flames are targeting certain personal characteristics outside of the rink with their picks these days, but this current crop all seem mature, gregarious and poised when it came to handling the media.
– For celeb hunters – I ran into Doug Gilmour eating lunch, shared a shuttle with the Flames executives and coaches to the rink on day two (no, they didn’t throw me out on my ear) and bumped into Joel Quenneville and Paul Holmgren at various times. For anyone who wants to network or just catch a few glimpses of futrue stars and current decision makers, the draft is certainly something to see.
– The Pittsburgh fans love their team. They filled the rink with a buzz any time anything remotely Penguins related happened. And the thunderous boos you heard for the Flyers on day one if you watched on TV continued with startling consistency all the way through day two.
– Related: the Staal trade was a good one for Pittsburgh. I think Jordan is a tremendous player with lots of good years left, but he made it clear he was going to walk at the end of his contract. Instead of humming or hawing for a season, Shero turned around and moved him for high-value pick, a decent prospect and a guy who continue take on tough minutes so Malkin can beat up the lesser lights in Brandon Sutter.
Combine that move with the Michalek deal and suddenly PIT has about $15M to spend heading into UFA season. The rich get richer.
– The amount of time reporters with access have to spend in the belly of buildings awaiting availabilities and press conferences is hard to fathom until you’re behind the curtain. Those dudes work hard between spending time tracking down people to talk to, transcribing the interviews and then putting out copy in a timely fashion.
– Not really discussed yet is the Flames interesting veer into uncharted territory when it comes to draft fishing holes this time around. They haven’t spent much time picking guys out of Quebec, HS nor US-developmental systems before, usually opting for SEL or major junior players. The last guy Calgary picked out of Quebec was before Friday Hugo Carpentier, I think (2006).
This year, they got two from Quebec-ish systems in Jankowski and Culkin and three guys involved in US-developmental/college type systems in Sieloff, Gillies and Deblouw. Jankowski will be heading to Dubuque/Providence college down the road as well.
It makes you wonder if the new regime sees some value in the new territories, be it that guys are being under-scouted or, in the USHL/NCAA/Providence side of things, if they really like the developmental system in place there.
– I was surprised with a goalie in the third round, given Brossoit’s decent year, the addition of Ramo and the continued development of Ortio and Irving. I’m also not a fan of picking goalies when there are even semi-decently skilled forwards on the board like, say, Daniil Zharkov.
At least they didn’t pick a puckstopper in the first round though.
– I don’t like the Luke Schenn swap for PHI, although both players contracts weren’t very good. JVR is a decent middle rotation option at this point in his career and can put up 40 points or so. Luke Schenn is a slow-footed third defensemen who no one would talk about if he wasn’t picked 5th overall a few years ago. He’s young, so he might get better, but right now JVR is the better player and – though slightly more expensive – better value. More here on the deal by Cam Charron.
– I don’t understand why anyone would move anything for the rights to Jonas Gustavsson; even if the return was conditional on him signing. Maybe Feaster could ahve moved Jokinen’s rights for something afterall (but for that pesky NMC).
– On that front and after his signing of Ondrej Pavelec today for probably too much money, I’d be a little concerned if I was a Jets fan right now about the direction of the team. Cheveldayoff has a couple of um, interesting drafts in a row now. I was discussing the Jets with Robert Cleave at the draft and he noted that the majority of MSM coverage for the team in Winnipeg is mostly stuck in cheerleading mode, with almost every move made by the Jets executive either celebrated or justified in earnest by the ink-stained wretches.
Clearly that market is still so enamoured with simply having a team in town it’s probably considered gauche to look a gift horse in the mouth as it were. It will be interesting to see how long the grace period lasts before pundits and fans start questioning things and demanding wins a big more rigorously.