Traikos: NHL Entry Draft should be full of surprises — Toronto Sun

Some years, there is suspense surrounding the top-end selection of the NHL Entry Draft. Read More

Traikos: NHL Entry Draft should be full of surprises — Toronto Sun

Traikos: NHL Entry Draft should be full of surprises

Author of the article:Michael TraikosPublishing date:Oct 06, 2020  •  Last Updated 3 hours ago  •  6 minute read

Talk to 10 scouts and half will prefer the size and strength of Sudbury’s Quinton Byfield (right). John Lappa/Postmedia Network

Some years, there is suspense surrounding the top-end selection of the NHL Entry Draft.

But this is not a Taylor vs. Tyler type of year.

The New York Rangers have the No. 1 pick and it’s no secret that they are going to use it on Quebec-born winger Alexis Lafreniere. Of course, that’s where the predictability ends.

The virtual draft, which takes place with Round 1 on Tuesday and Rounds 2-7 on Wednesday, will rob players of the experience of walking on stage and meeting their new team. And it will also rob viewers of getting to see players sweating in their suits while waiting to get picked.

But we won’t be robbed of drama.

Who is going No. 2?
This is where it always gets interesting. As much as the No. 1 pick is an easy tap-in, selecting second is not as simple as taking the next-best player. From Jonathan Toews and Leon Draisaitl to Miro Heiskanen and Cale Makar, there are plenty of examples where the best player in the draft went No. 3. This year could be more of the same. Talk to 10 scouts and half will prefer the size and strength of Quinton Byfield and the other half will want Tim Stuetzle’s skill and creativity. The only consensus is that both have the potential to be franchise centres.

How important is this draft for the Senators?
Ottawa is one of two teams (New Jersey is the other) that has three picks in the first round. Obviously, they need to ensure that they get a franchise player at No. 3. But their fifth and 28th picks are equally important to being able to turn things around in a hurry. Ottawa, which chose Colin White over Brock Boeser in 2015 and went with Logan Brown rather than Charlie McAvoy in 2016, needs to make the most of their selections. All of them. Going 1-for-3 or even 2-for-3 is simply not good enough anymore.

Will anyone waste a first-round pick on a goalie?
Carey Price was the last goalie to get picked in the top-5. Since then, only Spencer Knight (13th, 2019), Jack Campbell (11th, 2010) and Jonathan Bernier (11th, 2006) have gone in the top-15 — and with good reason. You are just as likely to find a No. 1 goalie in the fifth (Connor Hellebuyck), sixth (Darcy Kuemper) or seventh rounds (Henrik Lundqvist) than you are in the first round. That doesn’t mean Yaroslav Askarov will fall past the top-15. After all, if you’re a team with two or more first-round picks — Ottawa and New Jersey have three each, while the Rangers and Ducks have two each — why not use one on a goalie who could be the next Price?

Is Taylor Hall heading back to Canada?
The Arizona Coyotes are reportedly shopping the rights to the pending unrestricted agent. And, further to those reports, Hall may be willing to accept a one- to two-year deal while the salary cap stays flat. That’s good news to anyone looking to add a Hart Trophy-winning winger on a short-term deal. But before we start penciling in Hall on a line with Connor McDavid, keep in mind that the 28-year-old is probably looking at somewhere around $8-million per year. That’s too pricey for Edmonton’s cap situation. A more affordable option might be Boston’s Jake DeBrusk. Unfortunately for the rest of the Western Conference, Colorado can more than afford it.

Are Patrik Laine, Jack Eichel and Johnny Gaudreau really on the trade market?
While it is rare that a team would trade its franchise star, it’s even more rare for the team not to regret the deal immediately after it happens. Just ask Peter Chiarelli, who basically lost his job in Boston and then Edmonton after trading Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall. That doesn’t mean Laine, Eichel or Gaudreau won’t get moved in the next couple of days. But the return will have to be massive. And the GM pulling the trigger better negotiate a contract extension for himself before pulling the trigger.

Will the Canucks try and trade for Oliver Ekman-Larsson?
When Arizona’s captain put Vancouver and Boston on the short list of teams he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause for, it was a sign of how far the Canucks had come. But it also provided a glimpse of where they are going. Vancouver does not have a cap problem. Not yet, at least. But next year, Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko will require new contracts. Toss in Ekman-Larsson’s $8.25-million cap hit and Vancouver’s financial situation will look a lot like Toronto’s.

Will Montreal GM Marc Bergevin go all in?
The best part about Montreal’s qualification round win against Pittsburgh was that it proved to management that the team is a playoff contender. The worst part about Montreal’s playoff run was that it may have fooled management into thinking the team is a Stanley Cup contender. And so, rather than continue with the rebuild, GM Marc Bergevin is already talking about potentially moving the No. 16 pick for a top-six forward. That’s not a bad move if the player is Patrik Laine. But if it’s Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn, the Habs may be moving fast, too soon.

Will a goalie get moved?
Matt Murray? Elvis Merzlikins? Devan Dubnyk? Take your pick. One — or more — of them could get traded in the next couple of days. At the same time, with a free agency crop that includes Stanley Cup finalists’ Jacob Markstrom and Anton Khudobin, as well as Braden Holtby, Cam Talbot, Henrik Lundqvist and more, the market has never been this flooded with potential No. 1 goalies. That should affect the prices. In other words, if you need a goalie and you aren’t picky, then you might be able to get one for next to nothing.

TOP 10 AND WHERE THEY’LL LIKELY GO

1. NY Rangers: Alexis Lafreniere, LW (Rimouski, QMJHL)
With Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider on the left side, New York would be better off with a centre. But there’s no way they are passing on a winger as talented as Lafreniere.

2. Los Angeles: Tim Stuetzle, C/LW (Mannheim, Ger.)
Slotting the offensively skilled centre behind Anze Kopitar gives L.A. the kind of one-two punch that could make them a Stanley Cup threat again.

3. Ottawa: Quinton Byfield, C, (Sudbury, OHL)
The 6-foot-4 and 215-pound centre, who has drawn comparisons to Evgeni Malkin and Ryan Getzlaf, is everything that the Senators need in order to progress into the final stages of their rebuild.

4. Detroit: Cole Perfetti, C (Saginaw, OHL)
GM Steve Yzerman will be seeing a lot of himself in Perfetti’s game, which is built around a Mensa-level hockey I.Q. and maturity level that should make him a future captain.

5. Ottawa: Jamie Drysdale, D (Erie, OHL)
Putting Drysdale, who scored 47 points in 49 games this season, on a defence pairing with Thomas Chabot should make life easier on whoever is in net for the Senators.

6. Anaheim: Marco Rossi, C (Ottawa, OHL)
The CHL’s leading scorer would be a welcome addition to a team that didn’t have a 30-goal scorer or anyone who cracked the top-100 in points.

7. New Jersey: Yaroslav Askarov, G (SKA-St. Petersburg, KHL)
Thirty years ago, the Devils selected Martin Brodeur with the 20th overall selection. It worked out pretty well. So why not take another goalie who has Vezina Trophy winner written all over him?

8. Buffalo: Jake Sanderson, D (USA-U18)
The Sabres could use a top-line winger to play with Eichel. But the team just as badly needs a top-pairing defenceman to play alongside Rasmus Dahlin.

9. Minnesota: Lucas Raymond, LW, (Frolunda, Swe.)
Very few — if any — have Raymond going lower than eighth overall. But if the winger, who battled injury this season, is still there, the Wild will be very happy.

10. Winnipeg: Alex Holtz, RW (Djurgarden, Swe.)
If the Jets are going to trade Patrik Laine (and they probably shouldn’t), then they better draft someone who can put the puck in the net.
— Michael Traikos

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