Ramblings: Draft Week Coverage

Cam Robinson

2018-06-21

 

 

We are almost there! After a day of travel on Wednesday, I touched down in (overly) hot and humid Dallas to begin the coverage for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. My esteemed co-worker and Managing Editor, Peter Harling is here as well. DobberProspects has you well covered for this premier event.

 

This is my first live draft and the thing that stands out the most so far is the bustle of it all. Thursday represented the media availability for the top prospects which meant some time to ask some of these future stars questions and get a sense of their expectations for the week, the day and their future.

 

Highlights:

  • Some players who stood out due to their poise and articulate natures were Filip Zadina, Quinn Hughes and Noah Dobson. Unsurprisingly, the native-English speaking players looked cool and comfortable at this event, but Filip Zadina added some sass in a few of his responses which is always nice to see.

 

  • Speaking of Zadina, despite the comments he made after the combine about his feeling that Montreal desired a centre or a defender, he said that the Habs had wined and dined him in the last month and he’d met with their brass on three separate occasions. He also visited with the Senators in Ottawa.

 

          I know we’ve heard theories that this kid may slide on draft day, but I will be shocked if he’s            there at fifth overall.

 

  • Hughes strikes me as a highly intelligent kid who spent a good deal of the time talking about his teammates. I remain incredibly high on him as a prospect who could likely step right into an NHL lineup this fall.

 

**

 

I attended Jim Benning’s media scrum earlier in the day. The Canucks’ GM spoke about the unlikelihood that the team would move the seventh overall selection – despite the smoke that’s been swirling around them in the media.

 

Benning also mentioned how he feels they’re in a great spot at seven. Teams in front of them may be tempted to draft for positional needs rather than the best player available. He assured us that they would not fall victim to the same fate.

 

Last year, the organization brought Elias Pettersson and Cody Glass to town for extended meetings. This was likely due to the team knowing both would be available and they needed to decide who to select. This year, however, the team didn’t bring in any players for visits. Their plan is to simply select the best player sitting on their board because no one can predict how picks three through nine will play out.

 

**

 

This will be the final time that I inundate you with my Top 130 Final Draft Rankings. I break-down the top 45 prospects, discuss tiers, assets I value heavily, and allow you to be the critics. As for judging the results, we’ll all need to wait five or 10 years to know for certain.

 

We call that the long game.

 

 

**

 

I maintain that I’m not a mock draft type of guy. I did sit down with Peter and Aynsley Scott about a month back and we mocked up the first round on an episode of DobberProspectsRadio, but that was more an exercise in pleasure than work for me.

 

That said, I threw this out on Twitter while bored and sitting around the airport.

 

{source}<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>I did say I’m not a mock draft guy, but I’m bored at the airport so here’s a top 10 swing. <br><br>1. Dahlin<br>2. Svechnikov<br>3. Kotkaniemi<br>4. Tkachuk (COL)<br>5. Zadina<br>6. Hughes<br>7. Dobson<br>8. Wahlstrom<br>9. Boqvist<br>10. Bouchard</p>&mdash; /Cam Robinson/ (@CrazyJoeDavola3) <a href=”https://twitter.com/CrazyJoeDavola3/status/1009470851857563648?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>June 20, 2018</a></blockquote>

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js{/source}

 

 

**

 

All eyes are on the Habs at pick number three this year. Word has definitely gotten out that they desire a centre and the clear top choice is Finnish pivot, Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The powerful 17-year-old had a very strong draft-eligible campaign with Assat of the Finnish Liiga where he posted 0.5 points-per-game. He highlighted his season with strong showings at the Five Nations and U18 World Championships.

 

Whether he’s a worthy selection at third overall will be left to the eras of time, but I don’t think it would be outrageous to select him there. For Montreal, they would surely like to slide back a couple spots, gain an extra pick and still get their man. However, the incentive to trade up in this draft will be very low. As mentioned earlier, the 3-9 spots are a very closely packed grouping

 

If you want a top-level centre, it’s definitely Kotkaniemi and he won’t be around long.

 

**

 

Ottawa doesn’t have many options when it comes to deciding what to do with their fourth overall selection this year. What they should be doing is this:

 

  1. Do everything they can to trade the Avalanche something to null the condition on that terrible Matt Duchene deal that will cost them a lottery selection in one of the next two years.

 

 If that fails…

 

  1. Wait for the last possible moment and if Filip Zadina is gone, you give Colorado your 2018 first rounder – fourth overall, and hold onto your 2019 selection.

 

 

The team is going to be bad. Ridiculously so if Erik Karlsson leaves. Is there another organization that you’d slide cash on to finish in the basement next season? Sure you can say the message you’ll be sending to the dressing room is ugly, and it is. You’ll be clear that you expect the team to be at least as bad as they were this past season. Players don’t want to hear that, but sometimes, the truth hurts.

 

Having an opportunity to land an exceptional talent like Jack Hughes first overall next year far outweighs the security of selecting a non-Zadina player fourth overall this year. Even if the team somehow managed to end up as the third worst team in 2018-19, they’d still have the third-best odds at Hughes and their worst-case scenario sees them pick sixth.

 

But they get a chance at Hughes! Hell, they may even get an equal or potentially even better player at sixth overall in 2019 than they’d get at fourth overall in 2018 if that player is Brady Tkachuk or Noah Dobson. Of course, they’d be forced to wait a year longer for that player to develop, but I can’t stress this enough – They’d at least have a crack at Hughes.

 

If they keep the pick, they’ll get a good player at four. There’s no denying that. But whomever that player is, they won’t help them much next season while the tire fire is still burning. Eugene Melnyk has made it clear that ownership has no interest in spending a penny more than they need to above the cap floor if the squad isn’t going to compete.

 

Well, they’re not going to compete.

 

The only way to salvage this wreckage is to hit a home run with Karlsson – whether that be via trade or extension; accumulate as many future assets as possible and leave the rest in the hands of lady luck at the lottery next year.

 

I’d say that I’d be surprised if Ottawa kept the pick this year, but nothing the Senators do anymore can surprise me anymore.

 

**

 

I’m off to the media dinner so excuse the brevity of these Ramblings. I’m up for the DobberHockey Ramblings on Friday evening after what will surely be an incredibly busy draft day. Expect some deeeeep digs into all things draft, trade and likely some further ridicule of the Ottawa Senators.

 

**

That’s all for now. Thaks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3

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