I love the NHL entry draft. It's the culmination of an entire year of research and hard work, preparing for the big day which has become a weekend event with a two or three day lead in if you are there in person (like Dean Millard has been this week). With as much study and research as we put into it over the course of the year, you naturally come up with some things you hope to see happen at the draft because it will make for a great story or because you've come to respect a certain prospect and hope for the best for him.
This year is no different and there are a bunch of things I would like to see happen in Minnesota this weekend. Here are a bunch of them as well as some predictions like who I think might go where.
- First off, with all the talk about the L.A. Kings looking to deal Ryan Smyth to the Oilers (or Flames). I'm already on the record as giving a thumbs up to seeing Smyth's possible return to E-Town. If GM Steve Tambellini can't get it done... he's going to get roasted by the fan base.
- The Flames meanwhile have asked Robyn Regher to waive his no trade so they can move him, most likely to Buffalo. Reports out of Calgary suggest the possible return from the Sabres would be a 1st round pick and prospect Luke Adam (pictured). I have no reason to contradict that but two other names that make sense to me: Mark Pysyk, a Flames fan living behind enemy lines and playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings, and Brayden McNabb who dominates the blueline in Kootenay, a team the Flames have drafted from several times in recent years. Oil Kings play by play guy Corey Graham has convinced me that Pysyk would not be the guy on the move after Buffalo recently signed and paid him big bucks and really, the same could be said for McNabb who the team inked right before the Memorial Cup.
- Rocco Grimaldi is an extremely skilled forward who definitely appears somewhere on the draft list of all 30 teams. He's a an active Twitter-rite and has a very strong and open faith which he tweets about regularly. His bio description alone reads as: "I confess the Lord Jesus Christ! It is by his love and grace that I am living!". I have absolutely no problem with any of that so don't take this to be anything more than it is. What it is, is a wish that the team that ends up drafting Grimaldi is New Jersey for no other reason than to see what he comes up with on Twitter. TPS regular contributor Brad Elliot Schlossman had a great bit on Grimaldi recently including photos of him playing minor hockey against kids several years older... it's awesome.
- Speaking of the Oil Kings... I know several teams are high on center Travis Ewanyk and I would really be stunned if he wasn't taken in the 2nd round. I think he ends up with San Jose.
- Michael St. Croix is a guy I spoke about with a lot of teams and not everyone was a big fan but there were a few clubs. Call it a hunch, I see him ending up with the Flyers.
- Keegan Lowe's stock was on a steady rise over the second half of the season and more than a few teams have him on their radar. Wouldn't it make for a great story if the Calgary Flames or Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs selected him? Both are very realistic possibilities.
- Guest player blogger Dylan Willick of the Kamloops Blazers is an excellent choice for a sleeper pick and I'll predict he's not available after the 5th round.
Dean often refers on the show to my "man-crushes" when it comes to prospects. What he's talking about are the players who, in their draft year, I was a big supporter of using a draft pick on higher than they are ranked. Here's a few of those guys for 2011:
- J.T. Miller, Joel Edmundson, Stefan Noesen, Travis Ewanyk, Dillon Simpson, Dylan Willick and Ryan Sproul.