As the crowds thinned and the eager kids in the stands traded their suits and ties for hockey jerseys, the 2008 NHL Entry Draft picture became a great deal clearer.
Here are some of the themes from Day 2 that are worth noting:
Those with needs filled them: Naturally, Tampa Bay got a lot better on Day 1 with the acquisition of Steven Stamkos, but the Bolts filled out their cupboard on Saturday, picking up quite possibly the best goalie in the draft in Dustin Tokarski, plus a very good shutdown center in James Wright.
Toronto, a team never lauded for its draft prowess, managed to put together a very solid afternoon. The Leafs landed Mikhail Stefanovich with the 98th pick, despite the fact the Quebec League star was ranked as a potential first-rounder, then added burly Chicoutimi center Joel Champagne in the fifth round. In the seventh round, the Buds scored project defenseman Andrew MacWilliam out of the AJHL. The Leafs aren’t exactly bursting with talent up front, so Stefanovich and second-rounder Jimmy Hayes are key pick-ups.
Inevitably, some prospects are going to slide past where they were projected and this year was no exception. David Carle, younger brother of San Jose’s Matt, dropped all the way to 203rd overall after he revealed he had a heart ailment.
Kelsey Tessier, a Quebec Remparts pivot projected to be a second-rounder, slid down to the fourth, perhaps because of previous discipline issues which saw him leave legendary prep school Shattuck-St. Mary’s a few years ago. Finnish defenseman Jyri Niemi, who has been touted as one of the hardest shots in the Western League, dropped from first round consideration down to the Islanders in the third round.
So it’s not just me
Philly scooped up Quebec League defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon in the third round, despite a lower draft ranking. Clearly geography was at work for draft pundits, as Rouyn-Noranda isn’t the most accessible town in the world, despite Bourdon’s exciting all-round game.
Playing with house money
In the end, all the Russians fit for duty were drafted, lack of a transfer agreement be damned. Teams with a glut of picks were smart in taking chances in middle rounds on these talented players. Los Angeles grabbed both Vjateslav Voinov and Andre Loktionov, while the Islanders used a pick acquired from Edmonton to snag Kirill Petrov, though he in particular seems a lock to stay in Russia for several years. New York also provided the first big surprise of the afternoon by tabbing Matt Donovan out of Cedar Rapids in the USHL in the fourth round; Donovan was not listed at all by central scouting.
Second (or third) time around
One of the biggest questions before the draft was whether Kitchener Rangers star Justin Azevedo would hear his name called after being snubbed in two previous drafts. Once again, it was the Kings taking a chance on the Ontario League scoring champ, but he wasn’t the only overager to see his dreams finally come true. Garrett Roe (L.A.), Justin DiBenedetto (Isles) and goalie Mike Murphy (Carolina) also found themselves a club.
We’ll take J. Demers
San Jose completed an interesting twosome, taking Julien Demers from the Ottawa 67’s and Jason Demers of Victoriaville. The two are unrelated.
The Hockey News will cover the NHL Entry Draft from all angles with live coverage and up-to-the-minute pick-by-pick updates on both June 20 and 21 in our Draft Central.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his features, The Hot List and Year of the Ram, appear Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
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