Skip to main content

Bluelines: The Draft's Delightful and Depressing

Stan Fischler shares his thoughts from the 2022 NHL draft, Alex DeBrincat, RIck Bowness, Mike Grier, Jack Campbell and so much more.
USATSI_18660435

THE DRAFT'S DELIGHTFUL AND DEPRESSING

1. SLOVAKIANS RULE: What a delightful Slovakian double-dip. Juraj Slafkovskyi to Habs. Simon Nemec to the Devils. Plus, my mother's parents are from Mihalovce --Slovakia.

2. WRIGHT WAS WRONG: Shane turned into Mister Build-Up To A Letdown. Didja see his depressing mug as 1-2-3 went to others? For too many months, The kid over-bragged about going No.1.

3. WRIGHT WAS RIGHT: Winding up with the emerging Kraken actually is delightful for Shane and the best thing that could have happened to The Kid and the Kraken. Seattle will like him.

4. COOL CAT: THN'S Ryan Kennedy says in The Hockey News Draft annual, "Stop the Comparison Shop." So, depressingly, I'll only do it just this once: By drafting Logan Cooley, the Coyotes got the next Patrick Kane!

5. A GOOD NAME: Philly's fifth pick -- Cutter Gauthier -- has a delightful name. He's the very first Cutter in hockey since the 1942-44 Coast Guard Cutters. (AHAUS Senior champs two straight years.) Gauthier will cut a swath down Broad Street!

---

ONE MORE THING:

Did an ill-wind blow through the Windy City yesterday? The Blackhawks disposing of Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach seems to me more a razing than a rebuild of Chicago's franchise.

---

THE 'LOST SHEEP' OF MANITOBA

According to erudite Scott Billeck of the Winnipeg Sun, new coach Rick Bowness "will have to unify a frustrated group of lost sheep."

I don't know what kind of shepherd Bowness is but he is a good coach with exceptional people skills. No bah-bahs from Bowness.

That tells me he can turn disgruntled Jet stickhandlers into being more gruntled than dis.

"I wouldn't have bought in if there were grey areas (on the team) because I hate grey areas," Bowness insists.

Taking Rick at his word, I suggest he head to the nearest paint shop and get himself a few gallons of the white stuff; just to be sure all grey areas are gone.

And by the way, Honest Rick says he knows that he wasn't the team's first choice to run the team. He was the Jets backup coaching pick to everyone's first choice, Barry Trotz.

"I'd have gone for Trotzy too," chuckles the new shepherd of Manitoba's NHL flock.

---

MIKE GRIER HAS A JOB AHEAD OF HIM -- A BIGGIE

The landmark hiring of the NHL's first African-American general manager has dutifully been hailed for what it is; a very special event.

That said, now Grier has to remove the gloves and untangle the knotty San Jose hockey puzzle.

It's hard to argue with Daily Faceoff's Scott Burnside when he called the Sharks the NHL's "most dysfunctional franchise."

That was before the Grier hire. Now, to get San Jose's sextet functional Mike has to hire a head coach and tell his public what he envisions the rebuild will look like six months from now.

Stuck with overpaid-underachieving defensemen Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns, Grier has migraine-making challenges ahead. I wish him well.

---

AL GREENBERG'S THOUGHTS ON NHL DRAFT WEEKEND

Why I like the Draft: The Draft is a fun event. It’s the culmination of years of dedication by the candidates and sacrifices by their families. While it is all predictable, there is nothing nicer than the expressions on the faces of parents when their son’s name is called.

Don’t Touch That Dial – Stay Tuned: There are many nuggets of gold in the lower rounds. The trick is to find them. I’m based in Florida and all one has to do is look at the rosters of both teams. For the Panthers, both MacKenzie Weegar and Patric Hornqvist were last-round picks – Hornqvist was the final pick of the 2005 Draft.

On the west coast of Florida Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli are both third-round picks. Pat Maroon was a sixth-round pick and Andrej Palat a seventh-round selection in 2011.

Around the league, Joe Pavelski was a seventh-round selection. Recently retired Pekka Rinne was the final selection of the eighth round in 2004. On the subject of retired goalies the biggest gem of all was King Henrick Lundqvist who was the 205th pick – round seven – of the 2000 Entry Draft.

Cap Era Non-Surprises: Chicago’s rebuild is obviously full blast with the trades of Alex Debrincat and Kirby Dach. One would think that that duo was part of the solution rather than the problem. Could Patrick Kane be next? It would open mega-cap space to build and give Kane a possibility to go out a winner. On the positive side, the two first-round picks acquired in these trades, and the third for picking up Petr Mrazek’s contract from Toronto, give the Hawks promise for the future.

Avalanche Already Breaking Up: Good deal for Rangers trading Alexandar Georgiev to Colorado for multiple draft picks. They would have lost him anyway. Georgiev has never proven himself as a first stringer and with the Avs will probably backup Pavel Francouz who never really had a chance at the number one spot but has been an excellent number two man. 

---

USED GOALIE LOT -- ANYONE FOR JACK CAMPBELL

Among the many intriguing netminders in the business, Toronto's Happy Campbell fascinates me most because he's half-good.

That is, fine in the first half of the season but lou-zay the rest of the way. So, l asked my Toronto savant, Rob Del Mundo, what gives with Happy Jack.

"The Affable One has yet to prove he can endure the grind of the 82-game schedule," says Rob."He'll likely sign for at least $5 million, but not with the Maple Leafs. 

"Leafs have no choice but to trade Campbell's rights before the deadline to salvage a draft pick."

---

A HALL OF FAMER'S VIEW OF THE LIGHTNING'S DEMISE

My indefatigable Seattle correspondent, Glenn Dreyfuss, recently hosted "The Hockey Time Machine." His guest was ten-time Stanley Cup-winning Canadien, Yvan Cournoyer who captained the Habs to four consecutive titles between 1976 and 1979.

According to Cournoyer, it was fatigue that caught up with the Bolts.

Yvan detected a slowing up in Tampa's pace in the sixth game.

"At the end," says Cournoyer, "they were lacking energy in the second and third period. Don't forget, that Colorado had won two earlier series in four straight."

Cournoyer: "The Cup is so hard to win. You have a minimum of 16 games, a maximum of 28. It's almost half of another season. And in the playoffs, you play hurt. You play when you're exhausted. You want to be on the ice; you want to participate. The Avs had the recipe: good players, young players, good organization and good coach."

---

I'M JUST SAYIN'

* A top NHL executive says this of Barry Trotz: "He'll collect $4 million from the Islanders this next year. Next summer he'll have his pick of six or seven jobs."

* Story That Most Interests Me: The Fate of Johnny Gaudreau. I see him coming East to Philly.

* Second Favorite. What next for Fil Forsberg. Personally, i'm hoping he stays in Nashville. Purely personal.

* If I'm a Bruins fan -- not! -- I'd have no argument with Don Sweeney returning as B's GM. He gets his guys in the playoffs. Good enough!

* Having seen a sketch of Tempe's proposed Coyotes arena, I assure you that it's attractive and well worth the wait of Arizona fans.

* Good News! Maple Leafs hired a goalie coach.

* Bad News! Now they have to find a goalie.

* What can make Pierre-Luc Dubois happy? Another trade.

* That will make him overjoyed for a week. Kind of pleased for a month. Then, "Trade me!"

* We all know that Paul Maurice can coach. But I highly doubt he can steer the pussycat Panthers to another Presidents' Trophy.

* Whatever happens in Sunrise, I suggest that Bill Zito go for it and trade Sergei Bobrovsky to a goalie-hardup team and gamble on Spencer Knight.

* If you're wonderin' why Mike Babcock still is smiling, consider this: he's still owed another year at $5.8 million from Toronto.

* Babcock's deal runs out on June 30, 2023 and then he can go looking for a gig or just count his simoleans.

* I'll get excited over the Casey DeSmith signing in Pittsburgh when he helps the Pens get to the second round.

* Before I'd sign Geno Malkin to a multi-deal, I'd check his gas tank.

---

WHO SAID IT? "Once you feel in your gut a deal will help your team and you don't act on it, it's time to look for a new job. (ANSWER BELOW)

---

WINNING THE PRESIDENTS' TROPHY AS TOUGH AS STANLEY

Gritting through an 82-game marathon and being the only one of 32 teams to finish first is as tough as winning The Stanley Cup.

The problem is that nobody else in hockey believes it -- or cares about it -- but me.

That explains why consummate critic Allan (Call Me Al) Greenberg can get away with saying that all the Panthers' 2021-22 bests all have "gone for naught." Greenberg goes on with savvy thoughts:

"It was a rude awakening that playoff hockey is not he same as the regular season and the slick skating speed game will not work without a healthier dose of grit. It was like the Bolts put up a wall at the blue line which the Cats could not penetrate."

The onus for improvement is where Bill Zito sits."He's got to add additional toughness without losing his effective core players; and with precious little Cap space," adds Pal Al.

New coach Paul Maurice will bolster the mid-pack defense. His big challenge is fixing the special teams. "They were horrific in the playoffs," notes Greenberg.

By the time that happens, everyone within a 10,000 mile radius of Sunrise will have forgotten that Florida won the Presidents' prize and that the Bolts did not.

---

UPON FURTHER REVIEW:

Auston Matthews had nothing to prove. Therefore, instead of going tie-less with a sloppy open shirt at the Awards event, he should have done right and worn a tuxedo with tie. It's called class over brass!

---

A FINAL EXPLANATION OF HOW COLORADO WON THE CUP

Stanley Cup-winner with the Islanders in 1980 and currently Devils radio "color" analyst, Glenn (Chico) Resch tersely told me why the Avs beat the Bolts:

"When it comes to the Stanley Cup Final," says Resch, "you can't underestimate the 'hunger' that the Avs had. They also had the 'depth of talent' to push the motivation to be productive. Colorado had that when it counted. Attrition on the part of Tampa Bay also was a factor.

"But, in the end, having your name on the Cup was more of a driving force than having the name on a million-dollar contract. P.S. I hope that that's still the case."

---

A BRAND NEW TEAM CANADA IN A BRAND NEW PLAYOFF

There have been a seemingly endless number of Team Canada's over the years and will continue to be so.

But this spring a brand new version has sprung forth in a most unlikely place -- the State of Israel.

It's called Women's Team Canada for the Maccabi Games (Jewish Olympics) and will be making its debut on July 14 in Jerusalem at a big basketball arena with a portable hockey rink donated by NHL owners for the previous games in 2017.

This marks the first time that Women's Hockey has been included in the Maccabi games after years of Canadians and Americans lobbying for it to take place.

Ottawa's Mitch Miller -- manager of the Canadian women's team -- has been among those behind the movement that's finally reaching fruition.

"Just over a year ago I was approached by some female hockey players who asked - what do we need to do to add women's hockey to the Maccabiah? The answer was easy - find enough Jewish female hockey players to fill the rosters for at least three teams. They called everyone whose name sounded even remotely Jewish...and now we have a tournament. They made it happen."

Canada's gals team will be facing off against sextets from both the United States and Israel. According to Miller, his club will feature some of the best female stick handlers in the Dominion.

Leading Canada's team will be captain Melissa Wronzberg (Toronto) who played for Ryerson University and then professionally in the CWHL. On Defence, Shelby Calof (Ottawa) recently graduated from the University of Syracuse, and in nets we have Molly Tissenbaum who played between the pipes at Harvard. This will be Molly's 2nd MaccabiGames as there was no women's hockey in 2017 she represented Canada in Women's Softball.

Over the years, Team Canada's male quads have been Maccabi gold medal winners. In 2013 current Edmonton Oilers star forward Zach Hyman skated for the Canadians on a team coached by former NHL ace Guy Carbonneau.

Honing their game to sharpness, Canada's lady stickhandlers have been working out In Toronto. It was difficult to get together as a team due to the pandemic and the costs of travel. They held a practice in October '21 and recently a weekend practice with their coach in May.

Their coach Peter Smith has handled the McGill women's hockey team for over 20 years and coached the Canadian Women's Olympic hockey team in 2006 and 2010. "I am really proud to be part of the inaugural women's hockey tournament at the Maccabi Games. I know how hard people have worked to make this happen. It's a wonderful opportunity, for not only great competition but also, to grow the game"

Although Vegas doesn't have a betting line on this inaugural event, Miller figures Uncle Sam has the favorite.

"Actually, If Vegas did have a line," Miller concludes, "It would be team USA They have a very strong team and more skaters than Team Canada. But, it's not a seven-game series - we have to make sure that we are in the Championship Game playing for the Gold...then we have to play our game and leave everything on the ice."

---

OBITUARY: The death of Brian Marchment is one that's not easy to accept. Robust, respected and seemingly decent health, the former defenseman went all too soon at 53. Likewise, I was saddened to hear that my old pal from Original Six Rangers days, Guy Gendron, passed away at 87. The French-Canadian forward was the footsoldier's footsoldier and a wonderful fellow to boot. R.I.P. Brian and Guy.

---

ANSWER TO WHO SAID IT: Bruins GM Harry Sinden.

TOP HEADLINES

CA1_5399

World Junior Roundup: Sweden Crushes Austria, Slovakia Scores Important Win

Sweden had no issue handling Austria, while Slovakia got the extra point in a big contest against Latvia on a quieter day at the World Junior Championship.

Ivan Fedotov

Screen Shots: Vegas' Goalie Problem, Hockey Quebec and Flyers Prospects Stuck in Russia

Adam Proteau returns with Screen Shots to talk about where the Vegas Golden Knights go now to address their goalie situation, Hockey Quebec's investigation into racism accusations and the latest surrounding two Flyers prospects in Russia.

Colorado Avalanche
Play

NHL Hot Seat Radar: Colorado Avalanche

There's always pressure to repeat as champions in the NHL, but the Colorado Avalanche will have to do it with a shakeup in the crease.