- On the eve of the biggest night of their hockey lives -- so far -- 12 of the 2009 Entry Draft's top prospects all appeared calm, cool and collected while making their media rounds Thursday.
Forwards John Tavares
, Matt Duchene
, Evander Kane
, Brayden Schenn
, Jordan Schroeder
, Scott Glennie
, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson
and Jacob Josefson
and defensemen Victor Hedman
, John Moore
, Jared Cowen
and Simon Despres
all met with the media and then skated at an afternoon clinic, killing time until Friday night's first round (7 p.m. ET, TSN, VERSUS).
Hockey analyst Pierre McGuire was the designated master of ceremonies for the afternoon, introducing each player before strolling over and asking a few questions.
"So, Victor, are you mean?" McGuire asked of Hedman, all 6-foot-6 of him. Hedman is projected to go no lower than No. 2 in Friday's opening round.
Without hesitation, Hedman, who's been compared to Chris Pronger
, Scott Stevens
and Zdeno Chara
, replied, "I am," to the delight of those in attendance.
The first round of the 2009 Entry Draft will offer lasting memories for each prospect and his family. Glennie, who is ranked seventh among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, is looking forward to his moment in the spotlight in the company of his entire family, including several aunts and uncles making the trip from Oakville, Ontario.
"I'm a little bit nervous, but there's a lot of excitement," Glennie said. "I think every guy in here can say that he's been looking forward to Friday for a long time. It's going to be a great time."
"It's been pretty hectic around here the last day or so," said 6-foot-5 defenseman Jared Cowen
. "I can't wait for it to be over but I'm sure we're all going to enjoy this."
In addition to the media, family members were stationed by the seat of their favorite prospect, listening to every word.
"It's great to listen to my older brother," said 13-year-old Mac Moore, younger brother of United States Hockey League defenseman John Moore. "He gives me tips on what to do better, and it's actually pretty cool to have an older brother that's about to go at the top of the NHL draft. It gets me going as well because now I have an older brother to look up to and he can tell me how to get there and predict my future."
John Moore smiled when he overhead his little brother, who told NHL.com that he'd be in the same position as his brother by the time the 2014 Entry Draft rolls around.
"He's a big kid -- a big power forward who likes to brag about his hands all the time," John Moore said of his younger brother. "He was probably molded in our backyard playing hockey. He keeps everyone on their toes because he's full of energy."
Moore, who also perfected his game in his yard, is eager and delighted to be a part of the 2009 Entry Draft.
"My friend put it the best when he said it's like being a little kid again waiting for Christmas morning," Moore said. "You can't really wait. I'm just glad my family can be here to share this moment."
The gathering of future NHL stars was actually the second go-round for Tavares, Duchene, Kane, Schenn and Hedman, all of whom were invited by the NHL to attend Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins
and Detroit Red Wings
at Mellon Arena. There, the prospects were given an opportunity to meet several Wings and Pens following their morning skates before joining their families to witness their first Stanley Cup Final game.
"It's really an exciting time in my life and I'm really looking forward to see what happens," Schenn said. "There's been speculation of some trades and, really, you don't even know who the first overall pick will actually be. There's a lot of mystery involved and I'm looking forward to see what happens."
Kane, who admitted the Atlanta Thrashers
and Los Angeles Kings
have conducted multiple interviews with him, exhibited nerves of steel when McGuire posed a series of questions related to his replacing injured forward Dana Tyrell
on the gold medal-winning Canadian team at the 2009 World Junior Championships.
"I think coming here last year and seeing what the other guys went through and had to say really helped me entering this year," Kane said. "I knew the entire routine that was going to happen at the luncheon and prepared for it. It's part of my job description and it's part of what you have to do and I enjoy doing it.
"I'm really looking forward to (Friday), getting into the Bell Centre and sitting down with family," he continued. "I think the biggest thing for me is just getting to know what team I'm going to; it's going to be really exciting."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com