All week long, the Colorado Avalanche kept everybody guessing as to who they’d pick first overall at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
On Sunday, the guessing was over.
Colorado selected Nathan MacKinnon with the No. 1 pick, making the Halifax forward the first overall selection from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League since Sidney Crosby in 2005.
MacKinnon, 17, dominated the Quebec league last season before leading Halifax to its first-ever Memorial Cup this year.
The high-scoring center notched 13 points in four games, scored a hat-trick in the final against WHL Portland, and was selected as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and named to the All-Star Team.
As mentioned, the pick was a bit of crapshoot heading into Sunday. Colorado had sent a number of mixed signals about their plans for the pick, as new head coach Patrick Roy and president Joe Sakic seemed to be throwing up smokescreens.
They publicly cooled on the idea of taking Seth Jones — the Portland defenseman ranked No. 1 by NHL Central Scouting — and also opened up the possibility of trading the pick.
But in the end, MacKinnon proved too special to pass up.
In addition to the Crosby connection from the QMJHL, MacKinnon is also from the same town as Crosby — Coal Harbour, Nova Scotia — and has drawn many comparisons to No. 87 in terms of playing style and scoring ability.
Roy was quite familiar with MacKinnon’s scoring exploits from their time together in Quebec. The new Avs bench boss had previous been behind the bench of the Quebec Remparts, who were knocked out of the 2011-12 QMHJL playoffs by MacKinnon and the Mooseheads.
Christian Ehrhoff has cleared waivers, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
The Kings made the 33-year-old defenseman available yesterday. It’s expected he’ll be assigned to AHL Ontario, with 23-year-old d-man Kevin Gravel getting called up.
“Nothing wrong with Christian Ehrhoff,” coach Darryl Sutter told reporters Wednesday. “We’re not exactly world beaters here. We don’t have the best defense in the league or the best team in the league. We’re trying to get better in a hurry.”
In addition to the Ehrhoff news, goalie Peter Budaj has been added to the Kings’ roster on the NHL’s media website, meaning Jonathan Quick (reportedly “day-to-day” with an injury sustained Tuesday in Boston) could miss some time.
Plenty of smoke coming from the Canadian capital this week.
After landing Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf in a shock blockbuster on Tuesday, there are now reports that Ottawa’s in the mix for disgruntled Bolts forward Jonathan Drouin.
Two separate TVA reports — one from Louis Jean, one from Renaud Lavoie — suggest that Sens GM Bryan Murray is working to get Drouin out of Tampa Bay. Drouin, the third overall pick in ’13, hasn’t played hockey at all since late January, when he was suspended without pay for failing to report to games for the club’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse.
The Drouin-to-Ottawa move makes sense on a number of fronts:
— As Lavoie notes, Murray is always looking to “find those players who quote-unquote ‘nobody wants anymore.'” Such was the case with Kyle Turris, who was acquired by the Sens after a falling out with the Coyotes in 2011. Recently, Turris was asked about the similarities between his situation and Drouin’s, saying the time after his trade request was made public was a “tough, tough go,” but that the opportunity he received with the Sens “saved” him.
— The rumored asking price for Drouin is believed to be defenseman Cody Ceci, the former first-round pick that partnered with Phaneuf in last night’s loss to Detroit. This, too, would make sense — Ceci, 22, is in his third professional season and progressing nicely, having already matched his career-best in goals. In several ways, he’s like another rumored target in Drouin trade talks:
— Dumba, like Ceci, is a pending RFA still on his entry-level deal. That club controlled contract would be important for the Bolts’ financial situation. Ceci could also be a capable replacement for Lightning d-man Jason Garrison, who on Thursday was ruled out for 3-5 weeks with a lower-body injury.
And remember, Murray isn’t afraid to make splashy deals. Prior to the Phaneuf trade, he orchestrated the Bobby Ryan move with Anaheim and, a year later, traded then-captain Jason Spezza to Dallas.
Murray and Yzerman have also connected on a trade once before. In ’13, the Sens sent Ben Bishop to Tampa in exchange for Cory Conacher.
The Tampa Bay Lightning expect defenseman Jason Garrison to miss 3-5 weeks with a lower-body injury.
Garrison was hurt in Monday’s 5-1 loss to Ottawa. The 31-year-old played just 4:10 of that game, missing the final two periods.
“That’s a tough one too, because he’s a big minute-munching defenseman for us,” coach Jon Cooper told reporters. “A big body and size.”
Garrison has just four goals and three assists in 52 games, but he’s third on the Bolts in average ice time (18:23), second in blocked shots (76), and third in hits (69).
Matt Carle replaced Garrison for Tuesday’s 4-2 loss in Montreal.
Nazem Kadri‘s “inappropriate gestures” on Tuesday night have left him lighter in the wallet.
On Thursday, the NHL announced that Kadri has been fined $5,000 — the maximum allowable under the CBA — for making a throat slash gesture at Mark Giordano during Calgary’s 4-3 win over the Leafs two nights ago.
The incident occurred after Kadri took exception to a heavy Giordano check. While on the bench, the Leafs forward made the gesture, one the NHL has been cracking down on since 2000.
Former NHLer Nick Boyton was suspended twice for making the gesture, first in 2006 then again in 2010. He was banned one game for each incident.