Tag: Colton Gillies

Alexa Rexha, Dean Kukan, Zemgus Girgensons

Get to know a draft pick — Zemgus Girgensons

All week leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.

Zemgus Girgensons (C)

Height: 6’2 Weight: 198 Shoots: Left

Team: Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

Country: Latvia

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 18 among North American skaters

What kind of player is he?

By many accounts, Zemgus Girgensons is a “safe” pick projected to go mid-first round. He brings little bit of everything — some snarl, some offensive skill and defensive aptitude — but questions revolve around how much. Scouts are divided on his upside with some comparing him to Ryan Kesler…and others comparing him to Colton Gillies.

Girgensons possesses the size, skill and nastiness to survive at the NHL-level. The question is if he can thrive.

Of note, he has a sweet nickname (“The Latvian Locomotive”) and could be the first Latvian-born player drafted in the first round.


“Girgensons is the type of player you would love to have on your team, but hate to play against. His physical brand of hockey, work ethic and hunger for the puck is unrivalled by any player in the USHL and arguably his draft class.

“Girgensons plays the game the only way he knows how – in your face and full throttle – as he goes through players rather than around them… The opposition has to constantly be alert when he is on the ice, as he will hit with authority and can also burn a team on the scoresheet with his hands.”

McKeen’s Hockey

More draft profiles:

Nail Yakupov

Filip Forsberg

Malcolm Subban

Ryan Murray

Pontus Aberg

Oscar Dansk

Griffin Reinhart

Alex Galchenyuk

Cristoval ‘Boo’ Nieves

Jacob Trouba

Olli Maatta

Derrick Pouliot

Slater Koekkoek

Wild prospect Granlund expected to be signed soon

Finland's Mikael Granlund (C) celebrates

Minnesota Wild fans have reason to be excited about skilled forward Mikael Granlund, the club’s ninth overall selection in 2010 that the StarTribune reports should be locked up shortly.

Granlund led HIFK Helsinki of the Finnish Elite League with 51 points in 45 games — a fair accomplishment for a player that just turned 20 in February.

From the StarTribune:

The Wild must sign Granlund by June 1, or it loses his rights and the 20-year-old can re-enter the draft.

But the Wild and Granlund’s agent say discussions have been positive and there’s no reason to sound the alarm bells. Granlund has said over and over that he is ready for a new challenge and that his intent is to sign with the Wild.

So while it might take a few days to finalize paperwork, all indications are the Wild will very soon announce the signing of Granlund to a three-year, $2.7 million contract — the maximum for a 2010 draft pick — along with potentially lucrative performance bonuses.

The list of first-round picks that haven’t panned out for the Minnesota Wild is a depressingly lengthy one. In fact, the last pick that turned into an impact player in the NHL was Brent Burns, the 20th overall selection all the way back in 2004.

Since then? Well, let’s see here. A.J. Thelen. Benoit Pouliot. James Sheppard. Colton Gillies. Tyler Cuma. Nick Leddy.

From the Wild’s perspective, the only positive you can say is that Pouliot was flipped for Guillaume Latendresse, and the latter hasn’t played more than 16 games since 2009-10 and may well be cut loose by the club.

On second thought, that’s not very positive.

Columbus columnist: Blue Jackets are “the biggest mess in the NHL”

Rick Nash

Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch has posted a lengthy, insightful and scathing first-half review of the Blue Jackets.

Titled “It’s Never Been Worse,” Portzline conducts a thorough investigation of the franchise from top to bottom, trying to identify areas for improvement that would change the culture of the struggling club. That he chose now to write this piece speaks volumes — the Blue Jackets are in their 11th year of existence, but have just 13 wins in 49 games and in real danger of breaking the franchise-low for wins in a season (22, in 2001-02…the current BJs are on pace for 21.)

This despite the fact they’re spending over $62 million in player salaries, 1oth-most in the NHL.

More, from the Dispatch:

What’s more unappealing in sports than a club with a bloated payroll and the worst record in the league? What’s more disheartening for fans than a club that opened the season with such high expectations only to fizzle quickly into the worst season in franchise history? What could be more maddening for onlookers than to see a collection of players perform so far below their abilities, their track records?

It’s painfully obvious that something significant must be done to salvage what has become the biggest mess in the NHL. Minor moves won’t cut it. It can’t be player in, player out. Can’t be just pending UFA for future draft pick. It’s not about having enough speed, strength, skill or smarts … it’s about culture. The numbers don’t add up because the math is all wrong.

Portzline then goes on to address various areas of concern:

— The club has a lack of winning pedigree throughout, from players to the front office. Only Sammy Pahlsson and Brett Lebda have won Stanley Cups while “under [GM Scott] Howson, a significant level of expertise has been chased from the building. [Ken] Hitchcock, Don Boyd and Bob Strumm were all gone from the organization in the span of months.”

— The lack of moves given this year’s disastrous results. The only trades/player acquisitions were for Lebda, Nikita Nikitin, Mark Letestu and Colton Gillies. The club also took a long time before turfing head coach Scott Arniel.

— Mike Priest, the club president, has little hockey background (he was owner JP McConnell’s financial guy) and a less-than-stellar reputation throughout the league.

Under Priest, the front office has lost its share of employees who were a credit to the organization, well-respected in the community. Priest dabbles in hockey decisions, too, which many find problematic. A handful of coaches who have interviewed for jobs with the Blue Jackets often refer to Priest’s ‘PI” test — which measures a candidates ability to fit in an office environment — with either incredulous humor (what the?) or a resentful scorn.

Coaching in the NHL is not an office job, they note.

For more, check out the full piece at Dispatch’s Puck Rakers blog.