It was also an opportunity for the media to get to know some of the top guns available at the draft, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Consol Energy Center. Of course, one of the most discussed topics leading into Friday's opening round has been the possibility of NHL teams trading up or down in an attempt to improve their rosters.
"We've been talking about it a little bit [among ourselves] about what might happen," Everett Silvertips defenseman Ryan Murray said. "Some of the guys might have a clue and other guys don't. It's pretty tough to say what's going to happen. There are so many rumors out there about trades and moving and down, and the whole draft could just flip-flop and guys could anywhere.
"We're all keeping an open mind. We don't really want to anticipate anything."
Murray was joined on the cruise by forwards Filip Forsberg of Sweden's Leksand, Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Remparts, Alex Galchenyuk and Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting and Radek Faksa of the Kitchener Rangers, defensemen Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors, Cody Ceci of the Ottawa 67's, Olli Maatta of the London Knights, Jacob Trouba of the U.S. National Team Development Program, Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings and Mathew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels, and goalie Malcolm Subban of the Belleville Bulls.
As the player ranked No. 1 among North American skaters in the final ratings by NHL Central Scouting, Yakupov said he's eager to get started with the his NHL career -- and he's not fussy about which team it will be with.
"I don't feel any pressure, I'm not nervous," Yakupov said. "I just wait for tomorrow and see what happens. Everyone wants to be first … it was my dream to make the NHL and make the team that drafts me, so I want to be the top player drafted."
Dumba said he expects the unexpected when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman officially puts the Edmonton Oilers on the clock with the No. 1 selection.
"I don't think anyone really knows what's going to happen," he said.
While predicting what will happen at the start of this year's draft might be impossible, NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr is certain of one thing.
"What is predictable is that all these players are good players who will play one day," Marr told NHL.com. "But unpredictability is part of the excitement of the Draft. I think there's going to be a lot of discussion about trades and maybe some teams may say, 'No, we're good'. More may entertain trade thoughts because they're going to be in a position where they could move down and still get that player, so they might make that type of a move."
When asked what he might do upon hearing his name announced at the podium, Rielly was rather blunt.
"I don't know, I might black out," he said.
"I'm not too sure what to expect just yet with the Draft, and as a prospect, I don't have any expectations as too how high I'm going to go," Rielly said. "You head in there and don't really know what to think just yet, so it's almost a good thing. I'm not too sure what is going to happen with the teams and the trades, so I'm going to try to keep concentrated and just enjoy it."
So what happens if the Oilers have a sudden change in heart and decide to trade down in the draft?
"That's their choice and it's up to them," said Murray, the top-rated North American defenseman and No. 2-ranked skater. "Obviously, Edmonton would be a great place to play for any prospect, and I'd be happy to go there. At the same time, it's not in my hands, so whatever they do is up to them."
Forsberg, NHL Central Scouting's No. 1-ranked European skater, has been compared to Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks. While Forsberg admitted he will likely spend at least one more year in Sweden with Leksand, there's always a chance some team might look to move up in the order to gain a future NHL star.
"It's hard to say, because a trade could be good for you and it could be bad, so you just try to enjoy the time at the draft," Forsberg said. "You never know what's going to happen. It's a bad idea just worrying about it."
Subban, the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, didn't seem too concerned about trade rumors.
"I'm not thinking about it too much, I'm just trying to enjoy the whole thing and whatever happens, happens," he said. "Wherever I'm picked, I'd be happy, so you'll have to ask the general managers about [trades]. I don't know too much."
Does Subban anticipate a goalie, or two, to be selected in the first round on Friday?
The first goalie off the board last year at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., was Sweden's Magnus Hellberg, who went to the Nashville Predators in the second round (No. 38). That marked the third time in five years that a goalie was not chosen in the opening round.
"You never know. I hope so," Subban said of seeing a goaltender taken on the opening night of the draft. "I've heard we have some really good goalies in this draft. [Andrei] Vasilevski and [Oscar] Dansk are very good. I watched them a couple of times, so we'll see."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer