Welcome to the Nations liveblog! We’ll be updating things here all night long as the action unfolds. Trades, picks, speculation and punditry will be the order of the day.
the draft is Christmas in June for most hockey fans. Especially the Nations collective since every single Nations club has a pick inside the top-10. Edmonton (3), Calgary (4), Vancouver (6), Toronto (8) and Winnipeg (9) will all come away with high-end prospects this evening. Unless a GM goes off board or trades the pick for some immediate help. Don’t say it can’t happen. We all know Dave Nonis is dying to flip Kadri and 8th so they can pick Nick Ritchie…
So new Canucks GM Benning thinks it’s the trade deadline apparently.
— Kent Wilson (@Kent_Wilson) June 27, 2014
– The Canucks have already been extremely busy having moved Jason Garrison (to TBL) and Ryan Kesler (ANA) in separate deals. Garrison was a salary dump after a lacklustre, injury-slowed season, but Kesler garnered a package of Luca Sbisa, Nick Bonino and the 24th overall pick in this draft. Those are all decent, but middling assets, but Kesler’s NTC and short list of acceptable teams no doubt limited Vancouver’s options.
Freshman GM Jim Bennining also grabbed consummate pest Derek Dorsett from the Rangers for a pick, ensuring the Canucks reputation as the most widely disliked team in the league will continue under the new regime. Scuttlebutt is Vancouver is also apparently pursuing Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres. Clearly the new guy wants to make an impression.
For coverage more in-depth of the Canucks moves, please visit the increasingly nervous folks over at Canucks Army.
– In other news, the NHL announced a 2014-15 salary cap of $69M. That puts a lot of pressure on clubs like Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia. Toronto has a lot of room to work with currently, but they also have to re-sign or replace no less than 12 (!!) RFA’s and UFA’s. That $7M Dion Phaneuf extension is starting to look a little problematic…
– The Calgary Flames have publicly kicked around the notion of either moving up or down, asking price dependent. Chances are they stick at 4 though and pick one of the Sam’s or Leon Draisaitl. There is a lot of noise in Calgary about power forward prospect Nick Ritchie thanks to the presence of Burke, but it’s unlikely a club in the Flames position will take a high risk player like the big winger if there’s more of a sure thing around when they take to the podium. That’s what most Flames fans are telling themselves right now at least.
– As for the Oil, almost everyone has them targeting Leon Draisaitl given organizational needs. The German centre adds skill and scoring, but is of the “big body” variety, a class somewhat absent in the club’s current youngster ranks. They just have to hope he’s not another Jason Bosignore (ask Lowetide if you don’t know who that is).
Button has Ritchie going to the Leafs in his mock draft
— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) June 27, 2014
Button had Gauthier going to the Leafs in his mock draft last year.
— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) June 27, 2014
– Toronto has been tied to efforts to get into the top-4, but nothing has really solidified. If they stay at 8, it would be entirely Leafsian for them to pick Ritchie only to have him bust completely down the road.
– For their part, the Winnipeg Jets are stuck in the no mans land between competing and rebuilding. Their team is decent and they have good pieces in various positions, but the whole thing is undermined by the below average goaltending of Andrej Pavalec. *cough* Buy him out *cough*
Sniper Evander Kane keeps popping up in trade rumours and he could be a key piece if the Jets decide they would like to move up a few spots. That said, if they stay at 9, Winnipeg will likely target a forward given the progression of Jacob Trouba and the fact they might be ditching Kane this off-season. Nylander, Ehlers and Virtanen could all be in play when 9 rolls around.
In general news, the Panthers are still furiously shopping the 1st overall pick, but nothing has emerged as imminent. No doubt Dale Tallon is hoping to drive up the bidding and garner a slam dunk package in return. We’ll have to wait to see if he’s successful or not – Florida could use a bit of success no doubt.
4:05: “Heavy” seems to be the buzzword of the off-season thanks to the bigger than average Kings winning the cup again. The 230 pound Nick Ritchie seems to be the beneficiary of this particular hype right now.
4:09: Looks like FLA is probably going to keep first overall:
Tallon tells Sportsnet that he’s at 80 per cent to keeping the pick.
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) June 27, 2014
On the other hand, that means a 20% chance of blockbuster!
4:15: There’s a rumour popping up that the Flames and Canes may swap picks with Cam Ward moving to the Flames as well. Which is a terrible move from Calgary’s perspective because Cam Ward, despite his reputation, is a salary dump for Carolina. Ward is costly ($6.3M/year), injury prone, coming off a pair of below average seasons and 30 years old. He’s not a valuable asset – he’s a toxic one.
The only reason to trade for Cam Ward is if the Hurricanes sweeten the pot.
4:20: According to Stauffer, the Oilers may not choose Aaron Ekblad even if he slips to 3rd
For those asking if both Ekblad/Draisaitl were available at #3… would not be a slam dunk that Ekblad would be the pick
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) June 27, 2014
Makes some sense with Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom in the bank.
4:33: This from our friend Gaphic Comments on the subject of the Canucks trying to grab 1st overall:
— Graphic Comments (@GraphicComments) June 27, 2014
4:43: Unmentioned in the preamble, but the Coyotes bought out Mike Ribeiro today. Then they kicked dirt on him saying he had attitude problems. Nobody, anywhere was surprised by either of these things.
4:51: According to Darren Dregger, Brad Treliving and Tim Murray (BUF) are currently having close talks on the draft floor…
4:57: Only a few minutes until we get things started here. Biggest first round dark horse is probably Josh Ho-Sang, who has top-10 talent but an attitude that seems to rub most hockey execs and coaches the wrong way.
5:11: The Calgary Flames draft table and some guy they pulled off the streets, apparently…
— Riley (@schevvy1) June 27, 2014
5:19: The Panthers keep the pick and select Aaron Ekblad first overall.
5:25: Sabres step up and select Sam Reinhart #2 overall. No big surprises so far. Next up, will the Oilers take Leo Draisatl or go with the consensus pick Sam Bennett?
5:31: Edmonton goes with the flow and picks Draisaitl leaving Sam Bennett for the Flames.
5:37: No surprises yet. Calgary picks Sam Bennett at 4th.
5:43: Islanders can’t flip the 5th overall pick for immediate help. Instead pick consensus player Michael Dal Colle.
5:50: After the first commercial break of the night (!) the Canucks step up and pick sniping winger Jake Virtanen.
5:58: Carolina picks the second defender of the night, going with big WHL blueliner Haydn Fleury.
6:02: Toronto doesn’t give in to the temptation to take “young Brendan Shanahan” Nick Ritchie, instead going with Nylander the younger.
6:05: BIG TRADE – James Neal to the Nashville Predators…likely for the Preds 11th overall. Details pending.
Correction, the return is actually Nick Spaling and Patric Hornqvist. Predators keep their pick surprisingly.
6:09: Winnipeg picks the highly talented Nikolaj Ehlers. He had some of the best numbers of any player in the draft, but he’s slight.
6:13: Circling back to the Neal trade…he is signed at $5M year, but Hornqvist is $4.25M, so the Penguins don’t even get much short term cap relief. Furthermore Spaling is a pending restricted free agent. Strange move for PIT.
6:15: Nick Ritchie finally gets picked by the Anaheim Ducks at 10th overall.
6:22: Nashville takes Swiss born forward Kevin Fiala at 11.
6:27: The ARIZONA Coyotes go with Brendon Perlini at 12. Big, rangy, scoring winger. Fabbri and Kapenen are the two top-10ish talents still on the board.
6:34: Washington goes back to the European well and pick forward Jakub Vrana. Not the fastest guy, but known as a goal scorer.
6:38: Dallas takes the third defender of the evening in Julius Honka at 14. One of the best skating offensive defenders available.
6:43: Speaking of offensive defensemen, Anthony DeAngelo is the other dark horse of this draft aside from Josh Ho-Sang. With 15 goals and 71 points in just 51 games he had, by far, the best counting numbers amongst draft eligible blueliners in the league. Some attitude issues and questions about his defensive game make it a mystery as to where he’ll land however.
6:45: Detroit picks inside the top-15 for the first time since 1991 (!). They pick C Dylan Larkin out of the US development system.
6:48: Columbus sticks with the US development system and goes with Sonny Milano at 16 overall, a creative offensive forward. He played with future top-3 pick Jack Eichel last year. He is committed to Boston College next year, which tends to spit out NHL players pretty regularly.
6:54: Sami Kapanen’s kid is still on the board. A top-10 pick on many lists heading into the draft.
6:57: Philly steps up at 17 and selects Travis Sanheim. The Calgary Hitman is the 4th defender to go in the draft, despite being mostly unranked heading into the season. Probably the fastest riser of any player this season.
7:01: Minnesota picks the third US U-18 player in the last 4 choices in Alex Tuch. The second biggest forward projected in the first round at 6’3″ and 220 pounds behind Nick Ritchie. He also played with Sonny Milano and Jack Eichel.
7:07: Tampa Bay picks the first dark horse – defender Anthony DeAngelo. Highly gifted, can the Lightning straighten out his attitude problems?
7:10: TRADE – San Jose trades picks 20 and 179 to the Hawks for picks 27 and 62.
7:15: Chicago uses their new found 20th overall pick, Chicago choose Nick Schmaltz out of the USHL. Highly crafty forward, but not the most consistent.
7:20: The other big faller so far is Robbie Fabbri, who like Kapenan showed up in a lot of top-10 lists. He scored 45 goals and 87 points for Guelph in just 58 games, but is only 5’10” and 160 pounds.
7:21: Speak of the Devil, Fabbri goes at 21 to the St. Louis Blues.
7:24: The other big faller Kasperi Kapenan finally goes to Pittsburgh at 22. He was hampered by a shoulder injury this past season.
7:31: Colorado picks Connor Bleackley of the Red Deer Rebels at 23rd overall. A two-way centre with some offensive upside who already wears the “C” for his team.
7:35: Vancouver goes with Jared McCann for their second first rounder of the night. They got this pick in the Ryan Kesler trade. McCann is considered a high skill guy, but he didn’t even manage a PPG pace in the OHL. Expected to take a big step forward next season.
7:40: Two-way Czech forward David Pastrnak from the Allsvenskan (Swedish tier-2 league) is picked by Boston 25th overall.
7:46: Montreal chooses Nikita Scherbak. An intriguing prospect who led the Saskatoon Blades in scoring with 78 points. The next best guy, a 20 year old, had just 43.
7:53: San Jose finally gets to pick at 27 thanks to their deal with the Blackhawks. the Sharks go with Nikolay Goldobin from the Sarnia Sting. A tremendous offensive player who managed 38 goals and 94 points in 67 games. Pretty good value late in the first round. He likely fell due to the “Russian” factor.
7:56: TRADE – the third swap of the first round is Tampa (pick 28) to NYI for 2 picks (35 and 57).
8:00: The Islanders moved up in order to pick dark horse Josh Ho-Sang. High risk, high reward choice.
8:05: And Garth Snow says on National TV “They sh*t on me too”. No bleep. God bless live television.
8:07: The Kings pick Adrian Kempe at 29th overall. A two-way forward from Sweden who played in the Swedish Elite league amongst men, despite being the second youngest player in the draft.
8:15: First round action wraps up with the New Jersey Devils picking John Quenneville. A 20+ goal scorer for the Brandon Wheat Kings this.
Thanks for joining us for the liveblog everyone. Come by tomorrow for an open thread and team specific coverage at each individual team site.