It's hard to believe that the 2011 NHL Entry Draft is already upon us with the first round happening Friday night at 7:00 p.m. (EST) from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
It's been a long season, and we're approaching 500 posts here on the B2011DW blog. It's been a pleasure to bring you the information and insights on the 2011 draft (and even a small look ahead to 2012 and 2013 as well) so we're going to put the head down, find the hidden energy reserves, and finish out strong.
Much of the draft rumor talk this week revolves around speculation that Steve Tambellini and the Edmonton Oilers are entertaining moving back a few spots to give up the No. 1 choice. Now, while this thought could be dismissed out of hand given the popularity of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but Edmonton at least entertaining offers makes sense for them. This is the second consecutive year that the Oilers own the top pick, and while they will need a pretty sweet offer to move it, one team that could make sense for them to make a trade with is Florida. Dale Tallon has some pretty good currency to work with in terms of extra picks, prospects and even a roster player or two the Panthers could flip to Edmonton for the right to draft Nugent-Hopkins. The Oil would only be moving back two spots, giving them a shot at Adam Larsson or Jonathan Huberdeau, plus they would have extra assets to work with.
It all comes down to how much Tallon is willing to give up, but Florida could use the bounce they would get by selecting RNH a year after trading with the Bruins to send Nathan Horton to Boston as one of the key missing pieces to a Stanley Cup champion.
B2011DW talked to a source who said that Tambellini has quietly taken some calls about that No. 1 pick. A year ago, he was adamant about not moving it, and even tried to trade with Boston to get the first two selections. The philosophy has changed somewhat given Edmonton's need to be a better team now and not later. We can't confirm if the Oilers have talked specifically with Florida about that top selection, but if there is a deal to be made, it makes sense for them because moving back just a couple of spots keeps them in the running for a top forward in Huberdeau or even Gabriel Landeskog, or allows them to land their high-end defenseman in Larsson while adding other pieces to the cupboard.
We shall see whether the Oil stands pat at 1 or they flip the pick for more assets.
Another option for them is to try and package additional assets to try and move up from 19, where they currently own L.A.'s first pick, to the top-10 to try and land a second high-profile prospect.
As far as players go, Mika Zibanejad looks like a slam-dunk inside the top-8, which means that the Bruins will have a nice shot at any one of Ryan Murphy, Ryan Strome and maybe even Sean Couturier. Zibanejad exploded onto the scene after playing very well in Sweden's top pro league and impressing NHL teams with his winning attitude and personality. Where the B's once hoped to have a shot at him at ninth overall, that isn't happening. We don't think he'll get past Ottawa at six.
Also hearing from a good source and friend that the rumored Jeff Carter to Columbus from Philadelphia for eighth overall (and possibly a player) deal is done and that the Flyers will jump ahead of Boston in the draft order, with announcement pending sometime this week. If this is in fact true, then expect the Flyers to snap up Strome if he is on the board, which we would expect would mean that Murphy would probably be the guy to go to Boston at nine. Strome or Murphy- Ryan's Hope- either way, Boston wins. They get another Tyler Seguin-style high-end scorer to insure them against an early Marc Savard retirement, or they get a Phil Housley-type elite skills offensive-minded defender who becomes the best skater in the organization right from jump street.
With the Bruins having won the Stanley Cup, don't expect them to move up on Friday. They will likely hold onto the assets they have (9th, 40th, 81st picks in the first three rounds) and add to the organization rather than surrender ones at a premium to try and move up a few spots. The math does not lie: a nice player will drop to the B's at 9- there is no need to move forward unless the cost isn't going to hamstring them. The Bruins have a rare championship winner's opportunity to strengthen their organization with two non-playoff picks in the first two rounds.They'll take advantage of that.
It's all winding down now. Bruins fans aren't yet coming off their euphoria of a Stanley Cup victory, but the team is focused on having a good draft. They're having defenseman Nathan Beaulieu in town for a quick visit on his way to Minnesota. Their list is essentially done- it's decision time.