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.
The Vancouver Canucks have finally settled on a head coach for their AHL affiliate.
Today, Trent Cull was named new bench boss of the Utica Comets.
Cull replaces Travis Green, the new head coach of the Canucks.
“Trent is a passionate head coach with significant AHL experience,” Canucks GM Jim Benning said in a release. “He understands the development path of a young player, including the challenges they face, and has been a part of many successful organizations. Trent is a teacher with a positive, energetic work ethic. We’re excited to welcome him and his family to our organization.”
The past four seasons, Cull has been an assistant coach for AHL Syracuse. The Crunch made it all the way to the 2017 Calder Cup Final, where they lost to Grand Rapids.
Cull, 43, has never been a head coach in the AHL, though he did hold that role for three years with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves from 2010-13.
It’s believed the Canucks’ first choice for the Utica job was Rocky Thompson. However, Thompson chose instead to become head coach of Vegas’ AHL affiliate in Chicago.
DETROIT (AP) A worker has died after falling 75 feet at the Little Caesars Arena worksite north of downtown Detroit.
Deputy Detroit Fire Commissioner David Fornell says the 46-year-old man was in cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived about 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Other workers had started cardiopulmonary resuscitation which first responders continued. The man was taken to a Detroit hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Fornell says officials were told the man was an electrical worker and may have fallen from a catwalk. He says the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration likely will investigate.
The arena will be home to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and the NBA’s Pistons. It is scheduled to open this fall.
More on the story from the Detroit Free Press.
Montreal secured some forward depth on Wednesday, agreeing to terms with Jacob De La Rose.
De La Rose, 22, was taken 34th overall at the 2013 draft and has appeared in 64 games for Montreal over the last three seasons. He had a nice debut for the club in ’14-15 — appearing in 33 regular-season contests, and 12 playoff games — but has since spent the majority of his time in AHL St. John’s.
That might not be the case moving forward, however.
De La Rose’s deal is worth $725,000 (per TSN) and, importantly, is of the one-way variety. There could be more opportunities at forward next season. Montreal has already said it’ll pass on bringing back UFAs Brian Flynn and Dwight King, and it’s unclear if the club will get a deal done with Alexander Radulov.
It’s also unclear what GM Marc Bergevin plans to do with Alex Galchenyuk, who’s been the subject of numerous trade rumors.
Dmitry Kulikov had a bad season in Buffalo. There’s no debating that.
Not only did the defenseman struggle statistically, finishing minus-26 with just two goals and three assists, he also had trouble staying healthy, appearing in just 47 games for the Sabres.
But despite all that, Kulikov seems to be generating plenty of interest as an unrestricted free agent. Presumably, the hope among his many suitors is that he can bounce back, so long as he’s put in a better situation.
Kulikov is still just 26. And before he was traded to Buffalo a year ago, he’d had a number of respectable seasons with the Florida Panthers.
It’s why the Sabres were so happy to get him.
“He’s a good player,” then-GM Tim Murray said last June, per NHL.com. “I like guys that are honest, I like guys that are hard to play against, I certainly like guys that can make a tape-to-tape pass, and with our forwards, I think if he can make a tape-to-tape pass, good things are going to happen in transition with the skill and speed we already have here, so he’s just a great fit.”
Of course, it wasn’t a great fit, and Murray is no longer the GM.
As for Kulikov, there’s “about a dozen” interested teams, according to his agent. Ottawa and Winnipeg are believed to be among them.