2010 NHL Entry Draft: Brandon Gormley confident; Jack Campbell a Stars pick?

IMAG0049.jpgAs is customary every year the media had a nice session with a number
of the top NHL prospects here in Los Angeles, on a terrace that
overlooks downtown. Way off in the distance you could barely make out
the “Hollywood” sign through the smog, but it was still a fitting
backdrop for these players to discuss their future on the eve of the
draft.

It’s tough to really get a whole lot of information from
these question and answer sessions, but it is nice to be able to talk to
the players in a semi-informal environment. Some are very confident and
ready for the draft to start, others are starting to feel that
nervousness start to kick in as they wait to find out which organization
they’re headed to.

Here are some of the highlights from the
afternoon:

– Taylor Hall says that he’d be content with whatever
team picks him, saying that both Boston and Edmonton are great
organizations and he’d be proud to play for either one. He said that he
has no clue which way either team is leaning, and that he’s working on
really building up his strength this summer to gear up for what should
be his first NHL season.

“We’ve been fighting all the time,
it’s such a bitter rivalry,” Hall said with a sly grin when asked about
spending the past few weeks with Tyler Seguin. He said he hopes they can
build a great competitive rivalry against each other and that this
draft will link them together for the rest of their careers.


Brandon Gormley is very confident, and says that he’s ready for the
draft after spending the past few months under the microscope. He says
he’s most proud of his ability to stay composed, and that he thinks
that’s something teams would like to have in a young player.

“I’m
composed in all situations, something I’m proud of. I don’t make the
rushed decisions, and I can bring a strong sense of leadership to the
team.”

– Cam Fowler (who was a bit smaller than I expected) is
also confident, and says that he’s not really worried about where he
might fall. With Fowler, Gudbranson and Brett Connelly all right there
in the mix, Fowler says that he’s expecting to go anywhere from #3 to #5
and he’d be happy with whatever happens.

“I’m just trying to do
well in these interviews and show that I’m a good person, too. They’re
not just looking for good hockey players, they’re looking for good
people as well. You gotta be confident in yourself and know that it’s
going to work out in the end and you’re going to fall into the right
situation.”

Fowler has been shown a lot of interest by Florida and
said that he had another interview with them later this afternoon.

IMAG0050.jpg– Perhaps
the most interesting ‘development’ came while talking to Jack Campbell.
This was my first time meeting the American goaltender, and I have to
say that while some may be put off by his on-ice cockiness, he is one
great guy and really easy to talk. I had fun just chatting with him
about the World Juniors (“Best experience of my life, the American crowd
was great.”) as well as some talk about American junior hockey hero
Jerry D’Amigo.

What was eyebrow-raising about it though was when
he mentioned which teams had shown a lot of interest in him. Now, this
doesn’t necessarily give away a team’s intentions because anything can
happen on the draft floor, but Campbell said that the teams that have
shown him the most interest were Phoenix and Dallas.

He
specifically pointed out Dallas as a team that’s talked to him a couple
of times, and he mentioned how GM Joe Nieuwendyk had spoken with him
this morning. The Stars pick at #11, and while they are most likely to
take a defenseman like Derek Forbort, the organization is certainly
hurting for a blue-chip goaltending prospect like Campbell.

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    Eaves to stick with Benn, Seguin on Dallas’ top line

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    Patrick Eaves‘ cameo alongside the dynamic duo of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin looks like it’ll continue at least one more game.

    Eaves, who along with Benn assisted on Seguin’s goal in Saturday’s loss to Chicago, practiced on Dallas’ top line today and should be there tomorrow when the Stars take on the Wild.

    “Seguin, Benn and Eaves were in on 11 chances [Saturday against Chicago],” head coach Lindy Ruff explained, per the Stars’ website. They could have three or four [goals]. They should have had three or four. We missed too many good opportunities.”

    This latest development is a positive in what’s been a tough year for Eaves. He was hurt early in the season after an awkward fall against the Oilers — a game in which he opened on the club’s top line, next to Benn and Seguin.

    All told, he has just three goals and six points in 33 games.

    Last year, Eaves was plagued with concussion issues but still managed to produce well, scoring 14 goals and 27 points in just 47 games.

    After re-upping in Winnipeg, Byfuglien says leaving ‘never really crossed my mind’

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    There was some speculation Dustin Byfuglien would be out of Winnipeg by the Feb. 29 trade deadline or, failing that, when free agency hit on July 1.

    But according to him, leaving was never really an option.

    “I’ve been here five years and from where we’ve started and where we’re at now, I don’t feel as an organization or a group that we’re far off,” Byfuglien told TSN 1290 on Monday, after inking a big five-year, $38 million extension with the Jets. “My family and I have found Winnipeg nice, and we’re very happy to stay here.

    “It never really crossed my mind of going anywhere, and I’m excited to be a Jet.”

    Prior to this extension, though, some thought leaving had definitely crossed Byfuglien’s mind.

    Back in mid-December, the Free Press reported his initial ask was a whopping eight-year, $55 million deal. Some viewed that as his first potential step out the door.

    It would’ve been big money and a lot of term for the Jets to commit, especially given 1) Byfuglien is 30, 2) the team still hasn’t signed captain Andrew Ladd, and 3) the club has some prized youngsters that need new deals this summer, specifically Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba. (In that same Free Press report, Trouba’s ask was $56 million over eight years.)

    Then, there was Byfuglien at All-Star weekend.

    When asked about his future — sign, trade or head to free agency? — Byfuglien said he had “no problem” with Winnipeg, adding “I just want to put on a jersey, to be honest with you.”

    Some, like TSN’s Frank Seravalli, who was in attendance for the Byfuglien media scrum, noted the response “did not exactly sound like a ringing endorsement.”

    Of course, Byfuglien later clarified his remarks following the All-Star Game.

    “Yeah, I’d love to,” he told reporters when asked about re-signing in Winnipeg. “I’ve met a lot of good people and now some really good friends. I’ve been here for a long time. You never want to leave home. I’ve been here long enough; my family has been here and I’ve had two kids here.

    “It’s somewhere you don’t want to leave.”

    And now — well, for the next five years anyway — Byfuglien won’t have to.

    Video: Jets’ Stafford suspended one game for ‘forceful, reckless’ high-stick

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    The NHL has dinged Winnipeg forward Drew Stafford one game for his ugly high stick on Colorado’s Nick Holden over the weekend.

    “While we accept Stafford’s assertion that he did not intentionally strike Holden in the face, he is responsible for the consequences of swinging his stick in such a forceful and reckless fashion,” the Department of Player Safety explained.

    Stafford, who wasn’t penalized on the play, will now miss Winnipeg’s next game — tonight, in St. Louis — and will be eligible to return on Thursday when the Jets host the Bruins.

    Stafford will also forfeit $23,387.10 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

    Big Buff, Big Bucks: Jets ink Byfuglien to five-year, $38 million extension

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    One of the most prized trade deadline targets is no longer.

    On Monday, Winnipeg locked in pending UFA d-man Dustin Byfuglien to a five-year, $38 million extension, one that carries a $7.6M cap hit and makes him the highest-paid player on the team.

    Byfuglien, 30, was in the last of a five-year, $26 million deal with a $5.2M average annual cap hit. One of the league’s most unique players — a 6-foot-5, 265 pounder that’s played forward and defense, and participated in this year’s fastest skater All-Star skills competition — his bio from the Jets’ release pretty much sums up how much he means to the club:

    [Byfuglien] has recorded 32 points (15G, 17A) so far this season while appearing in all 52 games and sits in a tie for second amongst all NHL defencemen with his 15 goals.

    Byfuglien leads the Jets so far this season in shots (163), penalty minutes (78) and ice time (24:14 per game).

    The native of Roseau, MN, was named to the 2016 NHL All-Star Game in Nashville, TN where he recorded a goal and an assist for the Central Division team.

    Byfuglien has been named to the All-Star Game in each of the last four seasons that the game has taken place (2011, 2012, 2015, 2016).

    The deal keeps Byfuglien in Winnipeg through 2022 and is the latest long-term deal on the blueline: Tobias Enstrom is at $5.75M per through 2018, and Tyler Myers is at $5.5M per through ’19. Byfuglien’s deal also comes after some questioned how badly he wanted to stay in Winnipeg — at All-Star weekend, he raised eyebrows by responding “I just want to put on a jersey, to be honest with you,” when asked about his playing future.

    The five-year term is also down from Byfuglien’s reported original ask, which was $55 million over eight years.

    With this move done, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff can now turn his attention to another prized pending UFA: Andrew Ladd, the club’s captain and another player that’s believed to have high interest around the league as a trade deadline rental.