The 2011 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone. The long days of wondering who Ottawa was going to scuttlebutt away from the first round are now done, and we go ahead and start stalking these young kids (not me, of course) until their teeth fall out and Don Brennan calls them "garbage picks". I will say I will miss the buzz around this Draft, a one without a superstar but with a whole ton of depth.
First off, I trust our scouting staff. Ever since the Murrays arrived in Ottawa they've drafted almost to excellency, unlike their predecessors. So when armchair GM's around the world are complaining about Zibanejad over Couturier and Noesen over Biggs, it's better that us, ture Sens fans just waggle them away and believe. The fact is Zibanejad was likely No.3 or 4 in our scouts' list, with Landeskog, Huberdeau, and possibly Strome at the top. When those guys were taken, they trusted their list, not potential hype. Sure, Couturier was ranked Numero Uno at the start of the season, but you don't draft a player because of Central Scouting and Bob McKenzie rankings. I really believe Coots will be a solid player in the future, I just don't want it to become Mika vs. Sean for the rest of their lives. As I see it, Mika's ceiling is a Henrik Zetterberg type for player, perfect as a second-line centre IMO. And if I were a betting man, I would say Prime Zib would stay in the Elitserien one more season, refining his skills before heading off to Ottawa for 2012-2013. Although it was off the board, Stefan Noesen looks like a good pick. It's possible that this wasn't off the board, and that Bryan knew he wouldn't get him at 35. Possibly a team like Anaheim or Detroit was in the hots for him, we don't know. All I know is that you have to be the one making the phone calls to actually understand where a player is rated by General Managers around the league. The Matt Puempel pick was my favourite, not a huge cost to bring in a purely-offensive prospect, something the cupboards need. The same thing goes for the Nikita Filatov trade, although I am historically wary of Russians, it makes sense in a low-risk/high-reward type of move.
Frederik Claesson, the fifth-round pick of the Sens is a guy I liken to a defensively-repsonible guy. He played the last half of his season in the SEL last year with Djugardens, and the only game as I said I remember him from was one where Djugardens was beating Skelleftea badly, and Claesson was extremely well against the man and on the Penalty Kill. Vaclav Burda's assesment of him being an Anton Volchenkov-type might not be too far off.
I will say the one thing I was a bit disappointed by in the Draft was the fact that they didn't take a goalie. I love Robin Lehner, but it's never bad to have lots of depth in net, just ask the Nashville Predators. Maybe the scouts didn't see a goalie they could use a pick on, but it wouldn't have been bad to take one. Possibly World Juniors standout Benjamin Conz, who somehow has been passed over in three straight drafts. Obviously he must rub off the wrong way.
Friday is Free Agent Frenzy Day, and I've officially declared that unlike the Draft or Trade Deadline, I won't be staying at home to watch it over the Internet this year, just because the crop this year is do darn horrible. I think I'd rather go to work that day (I work 6 days a week, Friday is usually my break day). No offense to Brad Richards, Brooks Laich, Christian Ehrhoff, or Tomas Vokoun, but I doubt there will be much free-agent activity of July 1st. I actually think there might be more trades, but we shall see. Concerning the Sens, they've gotten the potential Top-6 Forward in Filatov, and Bryan Murray said after the Draft they won't be overly active, just grabbing a back-up goaltender and maybe another forward. For a back-up, I'd like Brian Boucher, but there's lots of options out there. Whether or not they can trade a defenseman (Filip Kuba or Brian Lee, in my estimations) over the off-season will be seen, but I'd be okay with 8 defenseman.
On the new coaches, Paul MacLean is a great add as the new head man. He knows how to win, and learning from the best coach right now in the NHL shouldn't hurt either. His assistant coaches come from the junior ranks, and obviously the fact that MacLean chose both of them is a good thing. There's always that Melnyk-Cameron thing, but it's being blown way out of proportion by the media. The one thing I can't wait is Dave Cameron re-uniting with Jared Cowen. Remember how great Cowen played in the World Juniors with Team Canada, and Cameron letting him know before-hand that his defensive stability will be needed? That kind of history is something I want to continue with Ottawa.
So long to all, to another day.