News from the 2010 NHL entry draft in Los Angeles:
-- Update: Just talked with Canucks GM Mike Gillis, who says the Panthers have not asked for Mason Raymond but for "roster players we're not going to trade" for defenceman Keith Ballard. Florida has proposed a scenario that involves the 25th overall pick. In fact, many teams have inquired about the Canucks first-rounder.
-- The Ottawa Senators are looking to trade down from the 16th spot and accumulate a second-round pick. The Sens currently have no second-rounder. According to a source, the Sens have three players they like at 16, and believe at least one will be available later in the first round.
-- The Vancouver Canucks are one of several Western Conference teams hunting Florida Panthers defenceman Keith Ballard. General manager Mike Gillis was just talking with his counterpart, Florida's Dale Tallon. The Canucks are contemplating sending restricted free agent Mason Raymond to Florida for Ballard. Another scenarion involves the Canucks first-round pick, 25th overall. Vancouver will not move both Raymond and the pick for Ballard, but are discussing other scenarios on the floor right now.
-- The price for Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle is either a top-six forward, or a first-round pick and a well-regarded prospect.
-- Russian prospect Kirill Kabanov is onto another agent, and that makes something like four different representatives since he arrived in North America. As of this morning, teams were informed that Kabanov is now represented by the Orr Hockey Group.
-- Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk seems to be real busy. I've now seen him twice in the hotel lobby. Both times he was on his cellphone, and in one instance, he was huddled with his scouts in what looked like a serious discussion. Files this under 'things that make you go hmmmm' and remember it later if Dallas pulls off a trade.
-- Heard from another source that the fourth (Columbus) and fifth (New York Islanders) picks are definitely in play. Columbus doesn't want to trade down too far, unless it involves a roster player. The Islanders, apparently, are open to lots of concepts.
-- It seems the Edmonton Oilers are still interested in the second overall pick, and the chance to pair Taylor Hall with Tyler Seguin. One rumour picked up by the Edmonton media on Thursday was that GM Steve Tambellini offered Boston winger Ales Hemsky and prospect Jordan Eberle -- Canada's world-junior hero two years running -- for the No. 2 pick. There is also some talk about the Bruins moving centre Marc Savard and goaltender Tim Thomas. GM Peter Chiarelli has acknowledged that he needs a defenceman, but that was before he re-signed Johnny Boychuk.
-- Russian prospect Kirill Kabanov is onto another agent, and that makes something like four different representatives since he arrived in North America. As of this morning, teams were informed that Kabanov is now represented by the Orr Hockey Group. That's the firm established by Bobby Orr which represents Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and others.
-- The Vancouver Canucks have begun discussions on trading down, and out of the first round, with their 25th pick. I wrote about the Canucks and the Russians prospects in Friday's paper. Can't see GM Mike Gillis gambling his only pick in the first three rounds on a Russian, but if he moves down into the second round -- and presumably picks up another second-rounder -- than a Russian is a distinct possibility. The Canucks took high-end skill forwards in each of the last two drafts, after both Cody Hodgson and Jordan Schroeder slipped. Organizationally, the Canucks realize what skill forwards cost in free agency or on the trade market, and would prefer to grow their own. If Vancouver winds up with multiple second-rounders, that would take some of the risk out of selecting a player like Kirill Kabanov, Vladimir Tarasenko or Evgeny Kuznetsov.
-- Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and the New York Islanders could be convinced to move top-5 selections. The Jackets (fourth overall) are hunting a centre (see previous Globe on Hockey post), while Islanders GM Garth Snow (fifth overall) showed himself to be a mover-and-shaker at last year's lottery. If any team trades into the top-5, it likely means they covet defencemen Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley, or feel a need to jump up and secure goalie Jack Campbell, or sniping winger Brett Connolly. I'm also hearing that Portland Winter Hawks centre Ryan Johansen, the fastest riser in the draft, could go in the top-5.
-- It could easily be a feel-good night for minor hockey in Winnipeg, as three hometown boys could go in the first round. Defenceman Dylan McIlrath, of the Moose Jaw Warriors, is the second-fastest rising prospect after Johansen and is considered the toughest, meanest player available. He could go between picks 10-15. Forward Quinton Howden, also of Moose Jaw, should be drafted by the 25h pick. The third player -- goaltender Calvin Pickard of the Seattle Thunderbirds -- may have to wait until Saturday's second-round, but could sneak into the late stages of the first, particularly to a team that has multiple first-rounders (i.e. Anaheim, Chicago).
- Spoke with Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson on Thursday. He wouldn't say it, but the Jackets are crushed that potential free-agent centremen Tomas Plekanec and Patrick Marleau have re-signed. Columbus is desperate for a centre, and the UFA pickings are now slim. Fewer pivots means increased competition among the teams seeking centres. Howson said he would explore trades (i.e. Boston's Marc Savard and Ottawa's Jason Spezza), or perhaps just try to improve his depth at centre, hoping someone rises. He won't get an NHL-ready pivot with the fourth overall pick -- although Russian Alex Burmistrov could be a perfect future complement to Rick Nash -- and said there has been "very little [trade]action on the pick right now." Howson acknowledged that his depth on defence -- seven NHL-quality blue-liners -- may help him fetch a centre. He also has Russian winger Nikita Filatov, who is expected to be at training camp in September after spending half of last season with CSKA Moscow of the KHL.
- The Miami Herald reports that the Florida Panthers will take Kingston defenceman Erik Gudbranson with the third overall pick. No surprise there. Gudbranson is probably the safest choice at No. 3. But new Panthers GM Dale Tallon is also shopping the 15th overall choice, and it might be enough to land Blackhawks winger Kris Versteeg. Chicago apparently covets U.S. under-18 goaltender Jack Campbell, but does not believe he will be around at No. 24, when the Blackhawks first go on the clock. Hawks GM Stan Bowman has five picks in the first two rounds - 24, 30, 43, 54, 60 - and could still use some cap flexibility. He's a man to watch Friday. So is Tallon, who is wont to shake up the Panthers culture.
- The Dallas Stars want a defenceman in the first round, but could be in no man's land with the 11th pick. Gudbranson, Brandon Gormley and Cam Fowler -- the top three rearguards - will all be gone by then. U.S. junior Derek Forbort could also be gone, because teams who covet him know they have to get to pick No. 10 to secure his services. If so, the Stars would be reaching for the next best defenceman, so look for a trade or for a change of plans if that scenario plays out.
- The New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals are believed to be the teams least scared off by the "Russian chill." New York believes its city attracts Russians. Ditto for the Red Wings and their culture. The Penguins and Capitals both have Russian cultures and potential mentors in Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.