2010 NHL Entry Draft: Top 5 prospects left

Tonight’s draft was full of twists, turns and surprises. Some players made big leaps (such as Ryan Johansen, the fourth overall pick) while others plummeted (Cam Fowler at 12, Emerson Etem at 29).

The tomfoolery is far from over, though, news-famished hockey fans. It turns out that Saturday will see six more rounds of increasingly obscure prospects (devolving to the point in which I imagine general managers will break out the darts and blindfolds). Few mock drafts or top-30 rankings are the same, so there might be a few quality players out there who will struggle to sleep tonight.

Let’s take a look at the top five remaining prospects eligible for this year’s draft. If you want to be a Negative Nancy, you might call them the biggest snubs. If you want to be mean, you can disagree with our choices.

1. Jonathon Merrill – The American-born blueliner was the 21st ranked North American player according to Central Scouting and went No. 17 in our mock draft. He’s a hard-hitter with a nasty shot.

2. John McFarland – He was the #1 pick of an OHL draft and went 18th in our mock. At one point, he seemed like a blue chipper, but scouts soured on him over time. He might smell a little like Angelo Esposito in that way, but he could also be a great buy-low candidate.

3. Tyler Pitlick – Besides having a funny last name, Pitlick seemed to be a worthy first-rounder. Brandon said he has the size and power to be a special player, in the right situation.

4. Calvin Pickard – A shoo-in for me to nickname him Calvin “Captain” Pickard. Goalies are mysterious, so you never know, but despite shaky numbers he shows a lot of potential.

5. Stanislav Galiev – He’s a Russian prospect but comes with the benefit of having some seasoning in North American hockey. I’m also very tempted to give him a “Galileo”-influenced nickname. I think I have a pun problem.

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    Video: Price takes out his frustration, as the Habs were crushed again

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    It’s gone from bad, to worse, to an absolute nightmare for the Montreal Canadiens.

    A three-game trip through California is never fun for opposing teams, but this was misery for the Habs. They were outscored a combined 16-5 in three games against the Sharks, Kings and Ducks, with few, if any positives beyond the second period in a 6-2 loss in Anaheim on Friday.

    Montreal hasn’t won since its season opener on Oct. 5, and is now on a seven-game losing skid, unable to generate much offensively with a league worst 10 goals scored through seven games before tonight, while giving up plenty of goals at the other end.

    That is a recipe for disaster and even though it’s still early in the season, this has to be a major concern for coach Claude Julien and general manager Marc Bergevin.

    Read more: Is there a trade to be made between the Penguins and Canadiens?

    Down by three after the first period, Montreal had 30 shots on goal during the middle frame and managed to trim Anaheim’s lead down to one heading into the third period. And then, just when it seemed like maybe they were on a path toward an inspirational comeback on the road, it all fell apart.

    Three straight goals for Anaheim, with journeyman forward Derek Grant scoring the first two goals of his NHL career — in game No. 93.

    As you can probably tell from the clip below, Carey Price was visibly irritated, as he whacked his goalie stick against the post after the sixth Anaheim goal.

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    Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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    Canucks defeat the Sabres, as the losing continues in Buffalo

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    The Buffalo Sabres remain stuck on just a single win to begin the season. Jack Eichel is sick of losing, but the losing continues.

    Returning home from a four-game road trip out west, the Sabres had an opportunity ahead of them to get back into the win column. The Vancouver Canucks, hardly a powerhouse in any way, were in town. They had played — and lost — the night before in Boston. And then the Sabres went out and were thoroughly outplayed in a 4-2 loss that, one could argue, flattered the hosts.

    They weren’t able to take advantage of an early lead after Justin Bailey was allowed access to the net off the rush. They couldn’t hold the lead after Eichel dangled Ben Hutton and then scored on a shot Jacob Markstrom should’ve stopped. They gave up yet another short-handed goal, putting that number at six for the Sabres just eight games into the season.

    Instead, Buffalo spent most of the night in its own end, giving up 37 shots through two periods. Hard to pin this, in any way, on goalie Chad Johnson.

    “First of all, I thought we didn’t defend well and close quick enough in our defensive zone. We were a little bit slow there tonight. We need to be more aggressive and on the puck,” said head coach Phil Housley after the game.

    While the Sabres were badly outplayed, one of the deciding moments in this game was a controversial video review in the second period. Vancouver took the lead on a goal from Daniel Sedin, although Housley challenged for a potential offside after it looked like Jake Virtanen didn’t have control of the puck as he entered the zone.

    The linesmen looked over the play for a lengthy review before officials came to the conclusion that Virtanen did have control of the puck as he broke in over the blue line. The goal stood and the Canucks controlled the remainder of the game.

    “I disagree with the call, totally,” said Housley. “In my opinion, he knocks the puck out of the air. He never has possession.

    “But I call that 10 out of 10 times offside and I would continue to challenge that again.”

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    Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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    Roberto Luongo leaves game with apparent injury, as Panthers fall to Penguins

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    The Florida Panthers lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. Making matters worse was the fact their goalie Roberto Luongo left the game in the third period with an apparent hand injury.

    The injury occurred after a collision in the crease with Penguins forward Conor Sheary.

    Luongo immediately went down to the ice in pain. A replay from above the net showed Luongo’s right hand getting caught in an awkward position against the post after coming into contact with Sheary as he cut through in front of the crease in pursuit of the puck.

    The injury forced James Reimer off the bench and into the game with the Panthers trailing by a goal. MacKenzie Weegar tied the game for Florida before Sheary scored the eventual winner about eight minutes later, on a night when the Penguins fired 48 shots on the two Panthers goalies.

    Luongo gave up three goals on 36 shots before leaving the game. The Panthers now head out on the road. They’ll visit the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

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    Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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    Video: More offside drama had Sabres coach Phil Housley up in arms

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    Just hours after the NHL admitted to an offside challenge error, there was another controversy during the Sabres-Canucks game on Friday.

    Vancouver appeared to take the lead on a Daniel Sedin goal. However, Buffalo coach Phil Housley challenged the play for offside, after replays showed Jake Virtanen may not have had complete control of the puck as he broke in over the blue line.

    The following challenge resulted in a brutally long review. For Buffalo, it was also unsuccessful as, surprisingly, officials deemed Virtanen did have control of the puck as he entered the zone. The goal counted, Vancouver took the lead.

    Housley was not happy about it.

    Not only was the challenge unsuccessful, but the Sabres were penalized for delay of game as a result.

    From the NHL:

    After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Linesman, NHL Hockey Operations staff confirmed that Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had possession and control of the puck as he entered the attacking zone prior to the goal. According to Rule 83.1, “a player actually controlling the puck who shall cross the line ahead of the puck shall not be considered ‘off-side,’ provided he had possession and control of the puck prior to his skates crossing the blue line.”

    Therefore the original call stands – good goal Vancouver Canucks.

    It took 4:27 to come to a decision, too.

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    Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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