That’s right, it is Saturday and that means it is time for this week’s “The Buzz Between The Boards.” The NHL off-season is in full swing now as we get closer to the NHL 2010 Draft and teams are starting to make off-season trades. So be prepared, there may be a lot to cover the next few weeks. Today I will start my mock draft as promised, but I also want to look real quick at the two big trades that have happened this week.
First off, the Montreal Canadiens made a big move Thursday by dealing playoff hero Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues for a pair of prospects. Wait, What?!?! Yes that is exactly what they did, upsetting many Montreal fans and making a lot of people in St. Louis happy. This now means that the keys to the future in Montreal belong to Carey Price. While Price is talked of highly in the talent and potential areas, you did just trade away a guy that lead you to two big playoff upsets and performed every time he was called upon this season. The regular season, Olympics, and playoffs were all places for Halak to show he could play, and he proved it. Yes he will fetch a nice paycheck, but it seems as thought the Blues may have just got themselves a good deal. They now have a goalie that has shown he can play at high levels in some big moments, along with some young talent. It makes them better instantly at some level. While the Canadiens are now going to be mostly relying a talented, young goalie that is still learning and has attitude issues sometimes. I know Montreal did not have a ton of choice and Price’s value was probably not as high as it would have been a year ago, but unless Lars Eller and Ian Schultz show something over the next few years. Eller is a nice prospect and could be seen pretty soon on the NHL roster, but if Halak continues winning in St. Louis then this move will become one of the most criticized ones in Montreal ever.
Then today it came out that the Nashville Predators agreed to a couple of trades. The Preds first sent Dan Hamhuis and a conditional pick in the 2011 draft to the Philadelphia Flyers for Ryan Parent. Hamhuis is set to be a free agent in just a couple of weeks, so the Flyers now will try to sign him to a new deal. Many expect him to make $3 – 3.5 million a year on a new deal, and the Preds could not afford to sign him with their payroll and plan moving forward. This deal can work out for both teams, as the Flyers already good D is now stronger and Nashville got the defender that was their own first round pick in 2005 back. Nashville was not going to be able to sign him, so they appear to have just wanted to get something good back rather then let him walk. Now the Flyers may be looking to move one of their lower blueliners to free up money or for something they really value. Next the Predators traded veteran center Jason Arnott to the New Jersey Devils for RW prospect Matt Halischuk and a 2nd round pick in 2011. The Devils get back Arnott, who spent some good years with NJ years ago and scored the Cup winning goal over the Dallas Stars in 2000. Since Arnott has been in Dallas and then Nashville, but now returns back to the Devils. He is a physical center with leadership qualities and has been a constant 20 goal-type of scorer. He may be getting older, but he still has a couple of years left and could be a strong #2 center.
Now onto the 2010 NHL Draft! The draft kicks off this coming Friday and will also be going on Saturday! I know our whole Too Many Men team has been discussing mock drafts and draft coverage so you can expect plenty of coverage this week. But being that my weekly posts will cover trades, rumors, free agency moves and more, I figured I would kick it off with my mock draft. So here it is, “The Buzz Between The Boards” 2010 mock draft. (This will go strictly by the picks as they are now, as predicting draft day trades is as hard as winning the lotto most of the time.)
1. Taylor Hall, LW – Edmonton Oilers (Windsor OHL) – Almost unanimous pick with most writers & bloggers. Stellar talent, and could be super-star in a year or two.
2. Tyler Seguin, C – Boston Bruins (Plymouth OHL) – May be traded, but looks NHL ready for this year. Very talented in the offensive zone.
3. Eric Gudbranson, D – Florida Panthers (Kingston OHL) – Great hitter and heavy right-handed shot. Could have a huge future. Think Phaneuf.
4. Cam Fowler, D – Columbus Blue Jackets (Windsor OHL) – Very mobile and a great skating defender. Maybe the #1 defenseman to some GMs.
5. Brett Connolly, RW – New York Islanders (Prince George WHL) – Good talent and many think they may take him to play along with Tavares. Could be Gormley at this pick though.
6. Ryan Johansen, C – Tampa Bay Lightening (Portland WHL) – Big and developing center would give Tampa more forward talent. Will take Connolly if he is there.
7. Brandon Gormley, D – Carolina Hurricanes (Moncton QMJHL) – Steady and experienced compared to some of the top defenders. May be ready soon for the NHL.
8. Nino Niederreiter, LW – Atlanta Thrashers (Portland WHL) – High thought of Swiss prospect. Quick and shifty, showed he may be NHL ready at the World Championships.
9. Jeff Skinner, RW – Minnesota Wild (Kitchener OHL) – A talented goal scorer, could be a solid first line threat in a few years. Expect the Wild to go with offense.
10. Dylan McIlrath, D – New York Rangers (Moose Jaw WHL) – Big size and can be intimidating to forwards, and is developing a little offense too.
11. Derek Forbort, D – Dallas Stars (U.S. U-18, NTDP) – Dallas has great young forwards, but the D is the concern now and in the near future. Big frame and lots of potential, could be amazing in 3-4 years.
12. Emerson Etem, LW – Anaheim Ducks (Medicine Hat WHL) – Goal scoring young gun from California. Would probably love to play near home, and Anaheim would be stocked on wingers.
13. Mikael Granlund, C – Phoenix Coyotes (HIFK Finland) – May be a smaller guy at 5’10″ but has offensive talent and a motor. Some consider him the top European prospect.
14. Alexander Burmistrov, C – St. Louis Blues (Barrie OHL) – Russian center has shown that he is adapting to the North American game quick, and Blues no longer need a goalie.
15. Austin Watson, LW – Boston Bruins (Peterborough OHL) – Good sized winger that is one of the players that could go to a lot of teams. Scoring and can play in his own zone.
16. Mark Pysyk, D – Ottawa Senators (Edmonton WHL) – Shows great skating ability and speed for a defenseman, and did not necessarily play with a good team.
17. Jack Campbell, G – Colorado Avalanche (U.S. U-18, NTDP) – Could be taken earlier, but Blues may pass now. Athletic and big, and has already shown he knows how to win.
18. Quinton Howden, C – Nashville Predators (Moose Jaw WHL) – A guy who can lead the attack with physical play and fore-checking. He can also score, 65 points in 65 games.
19. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW – L.A. Kings (Novosibirsk KHL) – Great hands and shot, already has shown he can play in the KHL and could add to L.A.’s talented young core.
20. Jonathan Merrill, D – Pittsburgh Penguins (U.S. U-18, NTDP) – Can hit and can bring a big left-handed shot to the powerplay. Could be a future centerpiece of a defense.
21. Nick Bjugstad, C – Detroit Red Wings (Blaine HIGH-MN) – Red Wings add another player that might take a little time to blossom, but could be a great power forward in a few years.
22. Riley Sheahan, C – Phoenix Coyotes (Notre Dame) – Big and physical, he has proven that he can play in a defensive system and is improving offensively. Coyotes could go goalie here though.
23. John McFarland, C – Buffalo Sabres (Sudbury OHL) – Tough and physical guy while also boasting good agility and speed. Also have heard he has a great wrist shot.
24. Kirill Kabanov, LW – Atlanta Thrashers (Moncton QMJHL) – While many seem to agree on his talent and possibly bright future, his attitude and maturity may hurt is draft position.
25. Jarred Tinordi, D – Vancouver Canucks (U.S. U-18, NTDP) – Good defensive blueliner who was the captain of the U-18 team. Vancouver will look to improve the defense.
26. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C – Washington Capitals (Chelyabinsk KHL) Russian kid could provide more flash and talent for the Capitals up front.
27. Alexander Petrovic, D – Montreal Canadiens (Red Deer WHL) – After getting forwards for Halak, Montreal may look to improve D. And this kid is big and can skate.
28. Calvin Pickard, G – San Jose Sharks (Seattle WHL) – If he slips this far, I think the Sharks take him. Stats are not great, but was good on a decent team with signs of great upside possibly.
29. Charlie Coyle, C/RW – Anaheim Ducks (South Shore EJHL) – Anaheim stockpiles more good offensive prospects. Coyle is a down low guy and will grow at Boston U.
30. Jaden Schwartz, C – Chicago Blackhawks (Tri-City USHL) – Chicago may have to move some of their offensive talent due to cap, but they will regain some with this top offensive playmaker.
And that is it, my pick (or guess) at all of the 30 picks in the first round. Feel free to leave your thoughts down in the comments, get ready for the draft this coming Friday.