Nice night for Cam Fowler.
Not only did the Windsor Spitfires defenceman - and projected third overall choice in the 2010 entry draft - have to sit there, waiting almost two hours to get selected, when he finally did hear his name called, he was cascaded with boos.
That of course had nothing to do with him - Fowler was chosen by the Anaheim Ducks, who happen to be the arch-rivals of the host Los Angeles Kings. Everything Ducks-related got booed Friday night; only commissioner Gary Bettman was villainized more by the crowd at the Staples Center.
But Fowler was the one player in this year's draft that got the Tyler Myers' treatment - he fell hard and fast, for no reason other than the fact that he lacks a physical component to his game.
Myers, of course, had the last laugh. After going 12th overall to the Buffalo Sabres two years ago, Myers took home the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year two nights ago.
As Fowler has reminded reporters over and over again the past two days, the Detroit Red Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom isn't overly physical either - and has won multiple Norris Trophies in his career.
It was another former Norris Trophy winner, Scott Niedermayer, however who greeted Fowler at the podium last night.
"He just said, 'congratulations,' and I was, 'oh my gosh, it's Scott Niedermayer.' The rest kind of blacked out for me," said Fowler. "But I told him it was a huge honour, and hopefully, I can talk to him some more and pick his mind about things."
All in all, it was another NHL entry draft that promised much and delivered very little - at least in terms of trades. There was a lot talking and bluster, but nothing tangible ever came together.
Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray was responsible for one minor deal - swapping his first-round selection to the St. Louis Blues for prospect David Rundblad - but he did not end up trading away Jason Spezza, who had been waffling about his future with the NHL team.
According to Murray, in the salary-cap era, making a trade is easier said than done.
"The way the cap is, the way the teams are and the money, it's very, very hard to make a trade," said Murray. "As much as we talk and hope, it's hard to make that one move for your team that you think you really want and need to make - because all it does is open up another hole, because you have to take something back of almost equal dollars."
Moreover, Murray implied that the Spezza talk is dead; the next step will be to get together with him once the weekend is over and mend whatever fences may need repairing. The Senators were linked in speculation to a possible deal with the Calgary Flames that would have seen Robyn Regehr go to Ottawa as part of the package.
"There's nothing and there's not going to be at this point in time," said Murray. "We've talked enough about Jason. Hopefully, we'll talk when we get back to Ottawa to get this back in place so that all this speculation goes away."
So in the end, the draft was once again about putting players into the system - unless of course you were the Calgary Flames or Toronto Maple Leafs, both of whom had traded away their No. 1 choices. Except for the bluest of blue-chip players, the Taylor Halls and Tyler Seguins, most will disappear off the larger radar screen for a couple of years, developing in junior and the minors. Some will fade into oblivion. Others will emerge as bona fide NHLers.
One to watch will be the Phoenix Coyotes' first choice, 13th overall, Moncton Wildcats defenceman Brandon Gormley, the pick surrendered by Calgary in the ill-advised Olli Jokinen trade. Gormley was projected to go as high as third overall - a player who reputedly does everything well. In a Phoenix Coyotes' organization that stresses teaching, those qualities can only be enhanced. TSN analyst Pierre McGuire compared Gormley to Nashville Predators blueliner Shea Weber in terms of his poise on the ice. The Flames left Weber on the board in the 2003 draft, selecting a Swiss defenceman named Tim Ramholt ahead of him. If Gormley reaches Weber's level as a pro, the Jokinen deal will linger painfully on in Calgary for years to come.
Fowler was one of a gaggle of American players chosen in the first round - six from No. 11 to 20, including the first goaltender, Jack Campbell, the world junior championship hero.
Fowler was the highest rated of the bunch, a player compared to Brian Leetch and Phil Housley by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau. One is in the Hall Of Fame, the other is one of the most productive offensive defencemen in NHL history. If Fowler can ever get to that level, that will amount to a steal of a pick for the Ducks.
Fowler admitted that, sitting there, watching the draft go by, proved difficult, but said it would motivate him going into training camp.
"It's all part of the process," said Fowler. "These NHL teams are looking for a certain type of player; and it just seems I didn't fit any of those up until now. Who knows why it happened, but they've got some great players there and I'm happy to be a Duck."Report Typo/Error