Good morning from Dallas. It is draft day and things are starting to heat up here in big D!
Yesterday was the media accessibility day and here are a few takeaways from some of the players I was able elbow my way into their scrum.
Filip Zadina: I really enjoyed what this kid had to say. My big take away from the whole event was how candid he was about wanting to play in Montreal. When asked where he hope to be drafted he said it didn’t really matter…
”But I would love to be the third player picked”
Another reporter asked if he has had meetings with Montreal and he has had several and ended the comment with..
“I got a pretty good feeling about Montreal”
Brady Tkachuk: Earlier I spoke to a NHL scout from the Pacific Division and we spoke about Tkachuk. He said they asked if he would like to play for their team and he said absolutely, because he would get to play his brother frequently. I asked him if he was going to drop the gloves with Matthew because we all love brother fights in the NHL. He said…
“Im not going to be looking for one, I hope we never do”
Who would win?
“I would, and he knows it. He knows not to mess with me”
Andrei Svechnikov: When asked who he would love to play with in the NHL one day, he replied with a big smile and said
Andrei Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin”
The Carolina Hurricanes have been pretty candid about their intention to make the pick at second overall and that it will be Svechnikov. Every time a NHL GM makes such statements they need to be taken with a grain of salt. They say things that just aren’t true often to the media in strategic manoeuvres towards a specific goal.
Yesterday my friend Russ Cohen told me he overheard Tom Dundon say to Svechnikov in the lobby of the Fairmount
“See you tomorrow”
Saying this directly to the player and not to the media really confirms for me that Svechnikov will be picked at two.
Based on what I heard yesterday the top of the draft will go like this
- Rasmus Dahlin to Buffalo
- Andrei Svechnikov to Carolina
- Filip Zadina to Montreal
I think Montreal is still a wild card here. They are leaking a lot of we need a center and we want Jesperi Kotkaniemi talk. This may be a good example of the strategic misdirection I mentioned above. You just don’t pass over the best player available to pick an organizational need with the third overall pick.
Just to further muddy the water on this pick, I spoke to Aynsley Scott and we had a good debate about if Brady Tkachuk could play in the middle. Tkachuk was asked that yesterday and said he played center growing up, and he did play a little in the middle with USA at the World Junior.
If Montreal really wants a center at the third pick could they be looking at Tkachuk? Picking Tkachuk at third overall is not a stretch at all and could be their real target as he is also very, very close to being NHL ready as soon as puck drop on the 2018-19 season.
One player I have asked a bunch of media and prospect guys about is Ryan Merkley. Many believe he will have to wait to Saturday to hear his name called despite his talent level. I have been curious about the red flags on his file, and have compared him to Anthony DeAngelo on several occasions as they are both highly offensive defensemen but with major red flags.
I think that comparison is now a poor one, and here is why. While they both have maturity issues, they do not share bad attitude issues, or rather Merkley is widely regarded as a nice kid. The problem with Merkley is he doesn’t want to listen to his Coach and that he is very petulant. I think it is a lot easier to think a player will out grow petulance and mature or “figure it out”
I was also told he started to show signs of that at the draft combine a few weeks ago in Buffalo.
However, I asked a few prospect insiders would you be surprised if he was not drafted on Friday? “Not at all, I would be shocked if he was!”
Would you be surprised if he fell out of the second round?
“No, but with so many teams having multiple second round picks I bet one takes him there somewhere”
One interesting Merkley note, after returning from the Media party to the Fairmount on the even of the draft late Thursday guess who got into our Uber when we got out?
I have had plenty of conversations with the good folks here about should Ottawa keep the fourth overall pick, or surrender it to Colorado.
I have heard many convincing arguments as to why they should keep the pick. I think they should give it up and here is my argument why.
The team is spiralling out of control. You want to stop the bleeding of all the negative hype surrounding the team. Giving up the 2019 pick will put so much pressure on the team to not suck next year it will be a huge distraction. Each loss will be one step closer to giving away Jack Hughes.
Will the Senators be that bad?
Its very probable. They just gave away Mike Hoffman and his 20+ goals a season. All signs are pointing to an Erik Karlsson trade. There are also rumours about the Sens shopping Zack Smith and JG Pageau. There are questions about their goaltending, and it is looking more like this team is heading for a rebuild.
The Sens do have another first round pick in the 2018 Draft and even if they don’t win the lottery next year and get the first overall pick it is a strong top end draft and they can very likely get a player of comparable quality to what they will get in 2018.
For me I don’t see enough of a “win” in keeping the 2018 pick and I see a major gamble in doing so. If the Sens keep their pick, the Hockey Gods could have them surrender the Jack Hughes pick to Colorado and that would scar the franchise for decades! Think Tom Kurvers for Scott Niedermayer, only worse!!!
With the conversations I have had in the past day, here is my updated top 31 and final ranking. (Not a mock Draft)
- Rasmus Dahlin
- Andrei Svechnikov
- Filip Zadina
- Brady Tkachuk
- Noah Dobson
- Quinton Hughes
- Evan Bouchard
- Oliver Wahlstrom
- Jesperi Kotkaniemi
- Ty Smith
- Joel Farabee
- Adam Boqvist
- Joe Veleno
- Barrett Hayton
- Rasmus Kupari
- Vitali Kravtsov
- Dominik Bokk
- K’Andre Miller
- Grigori Denisenko
- Isac Lundestrom
- Serron Noel
- Martin Kaut
- Jacob Olofsson
- Mattias Samuelsson
- Jonatan Berggren
- Rasmus Sandin
- Benoit_Olivier Groulx
- Ty Dellandrea
- Nils Lundkvist
- Bode Wilde
- Jared McIsaac
That’s it for now, thanks for reading and be sure to look for some DobberProspects Radio updates where Aynsley and I play to do a post round one analysis and have some great interviews from the Draft floor.
Enjoy the draft!