My friends are always texting me about it. I don’t try to worry about it. When it’s all said and done, you don’t really know what’s going to happen until [Friday]. - Jake Virtanen
PHILADELPHIA, PA -- National Hockey League general managers have phones glued to their ears.
And the top prospects eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft have taken notice.
“My friends are always texting me about it,” Calgary Hitmen forward Jake Virtanen said. "I don’t try to worry about it. When it’s all said and done, you don’t really know what’s going to happen until [Friday]. There’s really nothing you can look at. We’ll see [Friday] what happens and I’m looking for it.”
With just 24 hours leading up to the first pick in the draft -- currently owned by the Florida Panthers but said to be in play -- Virtanen has been linked to a half-dozen teams.
Several teams have been said to have interest in Prince Albert Raiders centre Leon Draisaitl, too, who is ranked fourth by Central Scouting.
He hasn’t been able to escape the rumours either.
“I don’t think you can stay away from it because it’s the most exciting time of the year,” Draisaitl said. “You just want to do good, obviously, but at the same time you can’t put too much thought into that kind of stuff. Whatever happens, happens. I’m going to be really thankful and happy.”
With no consensus on the first overall selection determined and plenty of candidates vying to take that title, there have been plenty of whispers on potential selections and picks in play.
Teams, it seems, each have a different prospect in mind.
Michael Dal Colle, ranked fifth among North American skaters by Central Scouting, believes the dynamics of the draft are fueling trade talks.
“I think in this draft particularly its kind of a weird draft because there’s not a consensus No. 1,” he said. “If you look at mocks, they have about four different guys going No. 1. I think there’s a lot of speculation that Florida is going to trade the pick or teams way back want to trade up. It’s a weird draft. We could see a lot of moves tomorrow.
“That’s what makes it a bit more nerve-wracking for us.”
Not all are sweating it out, though.
Some, like Nick Ritchie, are playing the waiting game.
“I don’t really read into it too much,” he said. “There’s nothing really I can do. If someone traded up to get me that’d be cool or if I get picked by anyone, that’ll be a cool feeling. It wouldn’t matter by who. Teams are fighting over the name. At the end of the day, I just want to go to a team that really likes me. I haven’t made anything yet and it’d take a big summer and training camp but it’d definitely be a good start.”
“You don’t worry about it too much and you just try to ride it out. We’re one day away now. It’s going to be pretty cool [Friday] night.”
Others, like Virtanen, are flattered to hear their names bandied about in NHL trade rumours.
“When you look at it it’s pretty cool,” said Virtanen, ranked fifth. “You look at some guys who have been in the NHL for some time and you could be part of that trade or something with draft picks and trades. It’s something I don’t really look at. I just look at it and say ‘whatever’. It depends on what the team wants and what they need.
“We’ll find out [Friday].”