Sunday, June 25, 2006

NHL Entry Draft Recap

The Vancouver Canucks hosted the NHL Entry Draft yesterday for the first time since 1990. Similar to 16 years ago, yesterday's draft was top-heavy. Most agreed on who would consist of the top five picks this year - Erik Johnson (STL), Jordan Staal (PIT), Jonathan Toews (CHI), Nicklas Backstrom (WAS) and Phil Kessel (BOS) - before the draft went all over the board.

Click here for the complete draft list.

The Canucks had five draft picks yesterday. Here they are along with a short synopsis from Hockey Forecaster and the Vancouver Province:

Michael Grabner, RW (1st round, 14th overall)

Scouting Report: Grabner is the best Austrian available for selection for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, and has two seasons of WHL hockey under his belt... led the Chiefs, and finished in the top 10 overall, with 36 goals in 67 games in 2005-06... owns excellent one-on-one skills and an accurate shot. Grabner knows where to go in order to score goals... needs to display greater consistency in order to maximize his potential as a goal-scorer... could flourish with a better playmaking center on his line, and a greater supporting cast overall...

Impact: After dealing Todd Bertuzzi in the Roberto Luongo trade, the Canucks felt compelled to add another goal-scorer to the fold. Grabner is already used to life out West, so his learning curve may be a quick one. Look for Grabner to make a big splash in Vancouver no later than the 2007-08 campaign.

Daniel Rahimi, D (3rd round, 82nd overall)

Scouting Report: Rahimi is a huge physical specimen with big-time upside... spent most of 2005-06 in the Swedish junior elite league... owns some offensive potential, but needs to work on his skating in order to fully develop his game... is expected to remain in Sweden for several more years...

Impact: Vancouver has had a ton of success over the years with Swedish prospects. They now hope Rahimi will eventually turn out as well as Alexander Edler--another unsung draftee that has turned into one of the system's best along the blueline.

Sergei Shirokov, LW (6th round, 163rd overall)

Scouting Report: After being passed over in the NHL draft twice, Shirokov is the ultimate sleeper... produced seven goals and 14 points in 39 games in the Superleague this season... displays the energy and in-your-face attitude NHL scouts love... produced three goals and five points in six games for Russia at the 2006 WJC... can draw penalties and likes to drive opponents crazy with his shift-disturbing attitude... may be best suited for an energy-line role in North America, mainly because he can be knocked off the puck with relative ease... Shirokov is an excellent puck-handler.

Juraj Simek, LW (6th round, 167th overall)

Skinny: He's a skilled winger known to have fire in his eyes. Simek has some highlight-type one-on-one skills that the Canucks scouts love. He has an NHL wrist shot. He's going to have to play in North America before the Canucks really know how much talent the has.

Evan Fuller, RW (7th round, 197th overall)

Skinny: Delorme said that after the Canucks picked four Europeans they started looking for a tough North American to give the Euros some protection. They decided on Fuller, a speedster with some grit. Delorme said Fuller won over the Canucks in a fight against Kamloops tough guy Matt Kaslan.

I stayed at the draft until after the Canucks' third-round pick. Here are some of my scribbles:
  • Anyone know why fans hate Bob McKenzie? We were sitting next to the TSN desk and Uncle Dave's twin brother was getting taunted all night.
  • Gary Bettman was greeted by boos as well, but we already know why.
  • Ditto the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames.
  • Like most Canucks fans, after hearing about the Tanguay-for-Leopold trade, I wondered if Pierre Lacroix and Francois Giguere had lost all their marbles. Then, Eric Duhatschek reminded me that this was the new NHL and trades are as much about cap space as it is about building and re-building a team.
  • Great touch by the Washington Capitals organization to let Alexander Ovechkin introduce their first-round selections. You know you're a franchise player when...
  • When Gary Bettman announced the Demitra-to-Minnesota trade, the crowd at GM Place gasped collectively. Did the Wild really just acquire an offensive-oriented player? Meanwhile, while the rest of us got over that bit of shock, Jes Gőlbez of Hockey Rants and Pavol Demitra's number one fan, undestandably, reacted a bit differently.
  • A large contingent of fans of the Everett Silvertips made the 90-minute road trip up the I-5 to see four of their players drafted. These are great fans - I've seen them at Vancouver Giants games and yesterday, they were out there cheering and ringing the cowbells for the selections of Peter Mueller (PHX), Leland Irving (CAL), Ondrej Fiala (MIN) and Brady Calla (FLA).
  • Anyone notice Mike Keenan NOT announcing the Panthers' pick? I don't see why he wouldn't. Canucks fans should realize how valuable Keenan has been to the Canucks organization. He brought them Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Sedin and Jarkko Ruutu a few years ago. This weekend, he gave them Roberto Luongo.
  • On the other hand, everyone noticed Bobby Clarke's brain cramp when he forgot the name of the guy he was drafting. I wonder if Claude Giroux re-introduced himself when he got up on stage.
  • If the Boston Bruins can get Tukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft, what can the Canucks get for Dan Cloutier?
More in-depth analysis of the NHL Entry Draft comes courtesy of James Mirtle, who was liveblogging the event, and the boys from NHL DraftNET.

Finally, thanks to everyone who showed up at the Gecko Club after the draft last night. It's always nice to sit down, drink (lots of) beer and talk hockey (among other things) with good people. A special thanks to Jeff and Alanah from Vancouver Canucks Op Ed and Jes Gőlbez from Hockey Rants - it's good to finally put some faces to the blogs.

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 12:34 PM


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