'The Golden Brett' will get the statue treatment as the Blues honor Hull

bretthullstl.jpgIt seems pretty clear that the St. Louis Blues like to honor their past heroes with statues. (Either that, or John Davidson is a descendant of Jabba the Hutt.)

Jeremy Rutherford of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the team will make Brett Hull their third player to receive such an honor, joining Bernie Federko and Al MacInnis.

The club announced today that a third statue, honoring legendary Blues goal-scorer Brett Hull, will be unveiled prior to the team’s season opener Oct. 9.

Last season, the Blues unveiled MacInnis’ statue in front of Scottrade Center and also moved Federko’s statue outdoors, after it had been on display inside the arena for several years.

The Blues announced last season that Hull would receive the honor during the 2010-11, and now the date has been set – before the season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Hull enjoyed the greatest seasons of his fantastic goal-scoring career during his 10 years in St. Louis, hitting now-absurd totals of 72, 86 and 70 goals between the 89-90 and 91-92 seasons. In those many of those Blues years he made great music with Adam Oates, a pass-shoot-score combo that warmed the hearts of pun makers everywhere as “Hull and Oates.”

Perhaps this my age showing, but when I think of the St. Louis Blues, the first player who pops into my head his Hull. He was an incredible goal scorer there and during Stanley Cup winning runs with the Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars. Congratulations to the former(?) Ambassador of Fun on another great achievement.

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    Plenty of drama in 2018 NHL Draft starting with No. 3 pick

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    The first two picks of the 2018 NHL Draft stuck to the script. Many expected that script to be flipped from the third selection and on, and NHL teams didn’t disappoint.

    For a running tally of the first round picks, check PHT’s Draft Tracker.

    Montreal Canadiens walk to the beat of their own drum

    Time will tell if Jesperi Kotkaniemi ends up being a “reach” or not.

    Some wonder about Kotkaniemi’s ceiling, but he’s a center who was rising up many mock drafts as Friday approached. This isn’t a wild reach, yet it’s a move that will inspire more than a little bit of debate.

    And, yes, a lot of them stems from the fact that Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin seems to be a magnet for debate.

    Two other interesting picks

    If you want to leave your head spinning, just go through every mock draft to see how wide the range of opinions have been about Brady Tkachuk. His potential as a prospect has been, at times, as controversial as the chirp-tastic forward likely will be on the ice.

    (He’ll definitely chirp his brother Matthew Tkachuk, being that Brady went quite a bit earlier in his draft as No. 4 with Ottawa.)

    The Senators have experienced a turbulent summer, to put things mildly, and Tkachuk stands as an interesting choice. On the bright side, he could be NHL-ready soon (maybe not right away like his brother, but who knows … especially with a modestly talented team like the Sens?). Still, some wonder if that brand name that comes with being Matthew’s brother and Keith’s son might have inflated his draft stock.

    Arizona raised more than a few eyebrows when they selected Barrett Hayton, a center some expected to go in the teens.

    Grabbing some really nice value

    To wrap up the earliest picks, NHL teams took advantage of certain mild surprises to land some layups.

    Filip Zadina was, at one point, the consensus third pick of the 2018 NHL Draft. At worst, the useful winger was expected to go fourth in Montreal went with a center, as they did. Instead, he fell to the Detroit Red Wings.

    Instead of over-thinking things (the Red Wings haven’t been shy about stating their desire to improve on defense), Detroit took the “W,” whether you consider that “the win” or “a winger.” Detroit hasn’t always been keen to take the best player available, but they did it here.

    The Vancouver Canucks also must have been delighted to see speedster Quinn Hughes fall to them at seventh overall. Many believe that he was the second-best defenseman available, and a true game-breaker (even if he’s on the small side).

    Stay tuned for more analysis from the 2018 NHL Draft …

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    2018 NHL Draft Tracker

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    Friday features the first 31 selections of the 2018 NHL Draft, with the rest rolling out on Saturday. Take a look at each pick, along with some trades and other notes.

    [Before the selections started rolling in, the Capitals sent Brooks Orpik and Philipp Grubauer to the Avalanche for the 47th pick.]

    Round 1

    1. Buffalo Sabres – Rasmus Dahlin, Defenseman, Frolunda (Sweden)

    “He is a terrific skater and stick handler who can rush the puck, or join the attack in a hurry. Impressive agility makes him a good one-on-one defender. He has fine passing ability, and although not a big-time bomber, he has an accurate shot from the point.” – Elite Prospects.

    Dahlin is the most hyped defensive prospect in years, if not decades. Some say we haven’t seen this kind of excitement for a defenseman since Denis Potvin. Yeah.

    2. Carolina Hurricanes – Andrei Svechnikov, Winger, Barrie (OHL)

    “Svechnikov has size, speed and skill. He can play a power game or a finesse game, make plays or score goals any way they can be scored – off the rush, one timers from far out, getting his nose dirty in front of the net or off the cycle.” – Bob McKenzie, TSN.

    3. Montreal Canadiens – Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Center, Assat (Finland)

    “A smart forward with a dangerous shot, Kotkaniemi possesses a high hockey IQ and determination with the skills to back it up. Positions himself well and often seems to be a step ahead of plays.” -Matias Strozyk, Elite Prospects.

    4. Ottawa Senators – Brady TkachukW, Boston University (NCAA)

    “Tkachuk is a lot less refined and less polished than the other elite picks but the big raw-boned winger plays a hard driving, aggravating power and agitation game.” McKenzie, TSN.

    5. Arizona Coyotes – Barrett Hayton, C, S.S. Marie (OHL)

    “Very smart two-way centre who contributes in all areas of the game and has potential to be a very key player.” TSN.

    6. Detroit Red Wings – Filip ZadinaW, Halifax (QMJHL)

    “Filip Zadina is a dynamic offensive forward that plays a complete game. A deft and agile skater, he exhibits explosive mobility both up and down the ice. In all three zones, he proactively looks to create problems for the opposition.” – Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects.

    7. Vancouver Canucks – Quinn Hughes, D, Michigan (NCAA)

    “He plays a go-go-go offensive game, at times more like a rover than a defenceman. He’s fearless, not afraid to make high risk, high reward but also high danger plays.” TSN.

    8. Chicago Blackhawks – Adam BoqvistD (Sweden)

    “A dynamic offensive defenceman that can carry plays with the puck on his stick. A highly mobile and nimble skater that moves with fluidity, balance, and confidence. Utilizes an active stick and creates turnovers frequently. Could be more proactive in his own end …” Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects.

    9. New York Rangers –  Vitali Kravtsov, W, Chelyabinsk (KHL)

    “A big, skilled winger that can play up and down the lineup and provide scoring in a number of roles. He brings grit and physical size, but could be more assertive in throwing his weight around more.” Elite Prospects.

    10. Edmonton Oilers – Evan BouchardD, London (OHL)

    “A highly intelligent all-around defenceman that plays with poise and can shift the pace of play in a multitude of ways. Showcases smooth four-way skating ability and loves to get involved in all situations – especially when that situation happens to be an up-ice rush.” – Curtis Joe, Elite Prospects.

    11. New York Islanders
    12. New York Islanders (from Flames)
    13. Dallas Stars
    14. Philadelphia Flyers (from Blues)
    15. Florida Panthers
    16. Colorado Avalanche
    17. New Jersey Devils
    18. Columbus Blue Jackets
    19. Philadelphia Flyers
    20. Los Angeles Kings
    21. San Jose Sharks
    22. Ottawa Senators (from Penguins)
    23. Anaheim Ducks
    24. Minnesota Wild
    25. Toronto Maple Leafs
    26. New York Rangers (from Bruins)
    27. Chicago Blackhawks (from Predators)
    28. New York Rangers (from Lightning)
    29. St. Louis Blues (from Jets)
    30. Detroit Red Wings (from Golden Knights)
    31. Washington Capitals

     

    MORE:
    • Rasmus Dahlin addition can be a franchise changer for Sabres
    • NHL draft action likely to begin with Montreal at No. 3
    • Noah Dobson and his unique road to the 2018 NHL Draft

    Sabres pick Dahlin first, Hurricanes get Svechnikov second in NHL Draft

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    No one reasonably expected the Buffalo Sabres to pass on Rasmus Dahlin for the first pick of the 2018 NHL Draft. The Carolina Hurricanes selecting Andrei Svechnikov second overall was very predictable, too, although some wondered if new management might set the stage for a swerve.

    Nope.

    The top two teams went with slam-dunk choices, so now the best defenseman (Dahlin) and best forward (Svechnikov) are off the board.

    A generational defenseman?

    Dahlin stands as the first Swedish player to be selected first overall since Mats Sundin. He’s the most hyped defensive prospect since at least Victor Hedman, while some argue that we haven’t seen this level of excitement for a blueliner since Denis Potvin. Yes, he’s a big deal.

    The Sabres might have more big moves coming soon. There are some rumbling about Ryan O'Reilly being traded, while they opted not to qualify RFA goalie Robin Lehner.

    Adding Dahlin to the mix – he’s likely to make an immediate jump into the NHL, and instantly become one of the best Buffallo blueliners – makes everything run more smoothly.

    What the Hurricanes needed

    For all the justifiable worries about Carolina’s goaltending, the Hurricanes struggled to score goals in 2017-18.

    It’s unclear where exactly Svechnikov will fit into the lineup next season, but he’ll probably provide an upgrade right away. Barring surprises, the Russian winger should slide in somewhere in the team’s top three forward lines.

    The floor is pretty high for Svechnikov. Ultimately, the biggest question is: “How high is his ceiling?”

    More to come on both players …

    Avalanche acquire Grubauer, Orpik as Capitals open cap space for Carlson

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    The Colorado Avalanche kicked the 2018 NHL Draft off by making the first move of the weekend in acquiring Brooks Orpik and Philipp Grubauer from the Washington Capitals. The Stanley Cup champions received the 47th overall pick  in exchange.

    “We would like to thank Brooks and Philipp for all of their contributions to our organization,” said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. “Philipp has been a consummate professional and a great teammate and we wish him all the best. Brooks was a great leader and a tremendous role model for our young players in his four years with our organization. This was a difficult move, but the one we felt we needed to make in order to give some flexibility moving forward.”

    The move is an eye to the future for the Avalanche. Starting goalie Semyon Varlamov only has one year remaining on his contract and Grubauer, who is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1, has been tabbed a future No. 1 in the NHL. He certainly had interest around the league with teams like the New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres in the market for a goalie.

    As for the Capitals, including Orpik and his $5.5 million cap hit in the trade is a huge move toward attempting to re-sign defenseman John Carlson, who will earn a long-term, very rich contract from someone this summer. According to Cap Friendly, Washington now has a little over $21 million in cap space heading into July 1. Plenty of space to bring back Carlson and maybe even Michal Kempny.

    The 37-year-old Orpik only has one year left on his deal and becomes one of two Avalanche defenseman over the age of 30. That is, if he remains in Colorado. According to Pierre LeBrun, GM Joe Sakic is looking to flip Orpik and if he can’t do that, a buyout will likely happen.

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.