SCARBOROUGH, Ont. -- Not only is the NHL Draft a time to stockpile the cupboard with future prospects, but also conduct a little wheeling and dealing for the immediate future.
Last year, 18 trades were completed on June 24-25 at the NHL Draft held at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. That doesn't even include the two blockbusters on the eve of the opening round (June 24) when Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren dealt both Jeff Carter and Mike Richards in separate deals. To put last year's trading frenzy in perspective, keep in mind there were only five deals made at the 2010 Draft.
So what does 2012 have in store?
|2012 NHL Draft Order|
|2||Columbus Blue Jackets|
|4||New York Islanders|
|5||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|10||Tampa Bay Lightning|
"There's always so much talk on draft day of trading, but I feel, this year, there will be some significant movement," Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini said. "I do feel that."
The Oilers won the 2012 Scotiabank NHL Draft Lottery on Tuesday at TSN headquarters, supplanting the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jackets entered the lottery with the fewest points during the regular season. The Oilers, meanwhile, had only an 18.8 percent chance of winning the No. 1 overall choice. This will mark the third straight year the Oilers will be selecting first overall.
This year's group of prospects is loaded with quality defensemen, something not easily obtained without paying the price in free agency. NHL Central Scouting had eight defensemen ranked among the top 12 on its final list of North American skaters on Monday -- all high caliber and projected to become future standouts.
Many of the scouts feel this year's overall top 20 is very solid. That could result in yet another two days of negotiating draft slots or current players, come June.
"There usually are trades made at the Draft … the teams try hard at doing it and you examine each team and what their needs are and what yours' are," Montreal assistant GM Larry Carriere said. "At the end of the day, if you can pull off a deal on draft day, that's as good a place as any to do it in the summer."
Last year, NHL Central Scouting rated two players a perfect '10' with regard to having the best pro potential -- a rating system that included puck skills, hockey sense, physicality, competitiveness and skating. Both those players, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Oilers, and Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche, are considered good candidates for the Calder Trophy this spring.
"As a group, we feel really good about our top five [for the 2012 Draft] and how they've shaken out and, below them, you see the depth that is there," Central Scouting's David Gregory told NHL.com. "Certainly, the top 20 players ranked in the first round, I believe, will be a solid NHL players down the road."
Toronto general manager Brian Burke informed the media during a season wrap-up press conference in Toronto that he intends to re-tool his roster through trades over the summer. Whether or not that begins the weekend of the draft remains to be seen.
"I would say all options are open [with regard to trading on draft day]," Morrow told NHL.com. "I haven't heard that there's any one player that's hands-off as far as that goes, so I would say all options will be open."
Columbus GM Scott Howson doesn't really have a feel if there will be activity or not.
"It's hard to say … I don't have a good feel for that yet," Howson told NHL.com. "We'll have to wait and see what transpires in the next couple of months before we have a feeling for that."
Is it possible that Tambellini would field calls for the No. 1 pick? In particular, calls from Blue Jackets' Howson?
"Well, Columbus will get a great player, but they were also hoping to sell that by way of a No. 1 pick," Tambellini said. "But, you never know. [Columbus] could move up."
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