Author: NBC Sports

2010 NHL Entry Draft: Festivities underway in Los Angeles

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IMAG0055.jpgThe NHL Entry Draft is hours from going down, and amidst a flurry of trade and contracts talk the hockey crowds are starting to gather outside Staples Center.

For those that haven’t been out here to Los Angeles before, I can’t imagine an odder choice for a place to hold the NHL draft but that one that is perfect for building up the spectacle of the festivities.

The climate is perfect, there’s the Pacific Ocean just a few miles away, there are buxom ladies parading around and the area is abuzz with hockey fever. Well, at least within a 5-square block radius at least.

I spent the morning chatting with some prospects and their families, getting an obvious sense of nerves and excitement. For every player, this is going to be the biggest day of their life up until this point.

We’ll have plenty of news and tidbits on all the rumors floating around out there, so stick with us.

Flyers not ready to trade Hamhuis just yet

The Philadelphia Flyers traded for defenseman Dan Hamhuis with the intention of signing him to a contract before the NHL Draft.

Well, the draft is tonight and it doesn’t appear the two sides are anywhere closer on a deal. With both sides saying they’d like contract in place before the draft, there’s been recent speculation that the Flyers would be open to trading away his rights for some draft picks tonight.

That doesn’t appear to be the case.

The Flyers made the trade with every intention of Hamhuis being on the team next season, and they have until July 1 to reach a deal before he becomes a free agent. As we approach that deadline, expect for the team to then trade Hamhuis’ rights if it appears a deal won’t be reached then.

2010 NHL Entry Draft: Gudbranson poised for #3 pick, Isles trading down?

I’m getting ready to head over to the Staples Center for tonight’s
draft, but wanted to pass along a few more notes.

First, it’s
almost an absolute certainly that I’m confident in the order of the
first three picks tonight. Taylor Hall will go 1st overall to Edmonton
and then Tyler Seguin to Boston with the 2nd pick. But what about 3rd?

up to the draft Cam Fowler seemed to be the consistent #3 pick, but
lately that opinion has been changing. I’ve maintained that Fowler was
the best defenseman in the draft (and have him going third to Florida)
but it seems that Florida is getting ready to draft Eric Gudbranson in
that spot.

Gudbranson is a physical specimen, and is primed to
step into the NHL immediately. Generally, these young prospects who are
this tall need time to fill out and build muscle, but Gudbranson is
already a very stocky and well-built player. He’s also extremely
charismatic, well-spoken and (I can admit this) a good looking guy. He
would be the perfect player for Florida to build around and market in
the area.

Now after the third pick, that is likely to be
Gudbranson, you’d think that Fowler would be very next pick. That’s
likely, although with Columbus shopping their 4th overall pick anything
can happen. I highly doubt, however, that a team would trade up to #4
and not take the next best player on the board, which would be Fowler in
that position.

What follows could get interesting. The Islanders
aren’t looking to take any risks and despite the amount of talent at #5,
the Isles could trade down if they feel they would get better value in
the 10-15 range (hypothetically). That could certainly see some waves
sent across draft boards, as the player the Isles would nab at #5 is
likely a bit different than a team trading up.

Tonight could be
interesting, considering the amount of picks up for sale. Every team’s
draft board is completely different and tonight is shaping up for us to
see some teams grab players a bit higher than we might have expected.

Visit NBC’s Draft
for our complete coverage of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

2010 NHL Entry Draft: Columbus shopping 4th pick, Ribeiro trade still likely

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With news that Tim Thomas and Jason Spezza are looking less likely to
be traded, the number of big moves we were expecting before (or after)
the draft is dwindling. Teams are locking up their potential free agents
and the big names that might have been traded appear to be staying put
— for now.

So what is left out there that we could see happen
before, and during, tonight’s draft?

– It appears that Kris
Versteeg is still being made available for trade by the Blackhawks, but
that Chicago doesn’t appear in dire need of trading the winger. With the
blockbuster trade with Atlanta, the Hawks gave themselves some needed
space under the cap — although that’s just $6 million under with just
13 players under contract. We’re still expecting some sort of move by
the Hawks to further alleviate their salary issues, but it doesn’t seem
that Versteeg will be the one to go.

There’s also been talk that
Patrick Sharp isn’t going anywhere either. So who knows exactly what the
Blackhawks have planned as far as their roster goes, but for now it
seems this team is going to look just a bit different a few months after
winning the Stanley Cup.

– There are a number of first round
picks being made available to be traded, which is either a sign that
team’s aren’t happy with the first round depth this year or are more
concerned with getting maximum value out of the draft. It’s been known
for a while that Columbus is shopping the 4th overall pick, while
Atlanta (#8) and Florida (#15) are also looking to trade down as well.
Columbus will want a high caliber, NHL-ready player for that fourth pick
as whichever team slides into that spot will have a choice at a prime
defensive prospect.

– I’m still getting word that a Mike Riberio
trade is very likely, although there have yet to be any rumblings of
anything resembling a legitimate offer for the center. With Spezza and
Marleau off the market, Ribeiro’s value via trade has significantly
risen and the Stars could be poised to get a handsome return, although
GM Joe Nieuwendyk won’t hesitate to keep the center if the offers aren’t
as high as he’d like.

Bryan Murray: Jason Spezza not going anywhere


Spezza.jpgIt sounds like you can take one more center off the market, as
Senators GM Bryan Murray is saying that he has not reached out to
actively trade Jason Spezza. Speculation has soared as we neared the
draft that the Senators would be sending the star center elsewhere in a
trade, and according to Murray that just isn’t the case.

has reached out and spoken with Spezza and reassured him that he is part
of the future plans for the team and that he is not planning on trading
him, despite fielding a couple of calls from other teams about Spezza’
availablity. From
the Ottawa Sun:

“There’s nothing going on with Jason. There are so many people
concerned about my job that I couldn’t dare make a trade if I wanted to
make one,” Murray said Thursday .

“There’s nothing going on with him right now and there’s very little
in any conversations with any teams at any rate. This has gotten bigger
than it should have and it’s a nonexistent thing at this point.”

This sounds like a case of internet rumor and speculation running so
out of control that the GM is having to do damage control with his own
player just to calm things down. You can’t exactly blame folks for
thinking a trade was on it’s way, especially when Spezza stated after
the season to Murray he wouldn’t object to a trade. Murray says that was
just frustration coming through after a disappointing end to the season
and that he hasn’t considered the possibility since then.

So now we have another top-line center no longer on the market,
making the value of players like Mike Ribeiro and Marc Savard soar. The
Bruins are gearing up for the possibility of adding Tyler Seguin to the
roster next season and have too many centers, while the Dallas Stars are
in dire need of some defensive help. With Spezza appearing to be
staying in Ottawa, the return for the centers that are available could
be increasingly substantial.