Draft weekend festivities
I'm heading East for the next few days, taking a bit of a mini-road trip through Ottawa and Montreal with my old man out here.
What that means is that I'll miss the news, notes and dealings out of the 2007 entry draft in Columbus this weekend, but with Eric McErlain and Greg Wyshynski both headed to Ohio for the festivities, the AOL Fanhouse will have the ordeal well covered.
Here's a quick look at the Top 10 as per McKeen's Hockey, where Iain Morrell and company are hard a work in preparation for Friday night:
|1 -||Patrick Kane||RW|
|2 -||Kyle Turris||C-R|
|3 -||Jakub Voracek||RW|
|4 -||Karl Alzner||D|
|5 -||James van Riemsdyk||L-C|
|6 -||Alexei Cherepanov||RW|
|7 -||Kevin Shattenkirk||D|
|8 -||Ryan McDonagh||D|
|9 -||Sam Gagner||C|
|10 -||Logan Couture||C|
I think the Blackhawks are likely after Kane, given that organization is dying for an American superstar to be the next 'face of the franchise' and the word that he's dying for a shot at the NHL as soon as possible. The consensus is that there's little separating the top six or so skaters this year, although I've also seen great things about Gagner, son of former NHLer Dave.
Kyle Turris is a terrific story, too, especially given he's playing in the BCJHL and not major junior. Should he go No. 1, or even at the two or three spots, it really helps to raise the profile of Junior A hockey back in my home province, and the WHL may soon find it has more of a rival league to contend with for top young players.
The benefits of the BCJHL mainly relate to the fact that players can keep their NCAA eligibility in Junior A, something they forfeit when playing major junior, and the league has produced a few first-round picks recently in Travis Zajac and Kris Chucko. Even 10 years ago, the BCJHL wasn't on NHL scouts' radar, save for the likes of uber-stars Brett Hull and Paul Kariya who both had stints in Penticton.
Turris has stated he will be going to the NCAA next season with Wisconsin regardless of where he's drafted, a good thing in my books and a route more players should pursue on their way to the NHL.
Major junior is not the only way to go, and the CHL is really going to have to step up their scholarship programs if they want to compete long term for kids like Turris who are aiming for more than a pro career out of hockey.
Anyway, there's my piece on the kids in the draft, who will likely be overshadowed by a few big deals as the league's GMs meet for the year's biggest off-season tea party. It promises to be interesting, that's for sure.