- Only a few days removed from the NHL Scouting Combine, hockey's brightest young stars appeared thankful to be soaking in all the excitment that is the Stanley Cup Final.
On hand in Pittsburgh to take in Game 3 Tuesday (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio) are John Tavares
, Matt Duchene
, Evander Kane
and Brayden Schenn
, plus top European defenseman Victor Hedman
Tavares, who scored 58 goals and 104 points in 56 games with London of the Ontario Hockey League this season, is expected by many to be the Islanders' first overall selection at the Entry Draft.
"It'll be neat to really get to see what it's all about to play for the Stanley Cup and to be there and have that opportunity and be that close to it," Tavares told NHL.com. "You get to learn a lot from being in the building and watching than from just watching on television at home, so I'm excited to see the intensity and the pace. I heard it's pretty loud at Mellon, so I'm pumped to be a part of it all."
Hedman arrived in Pittsburgh on Monday afternoon with his father, Olle.
"It's really exciting to be here in Pittsburgh," Hedman said. "I've never seen an NHL gamr live in person so I'm really looking forward to the excitment of it all. I'm excited to meet Nicklas Lidstrom
of the Red Wings. I watch him as much as I can and he's certainly on another level."
In addition to watching the game together, the five players attended the morning skates for each club Tuesday.
"They're in the middle of a war here and I know what it's like coming off a playoff run so I don't want to bug them or anything so I won't take much of their time," said Duchene, ranked second by the Central Scouting Service among North American skaters. "I know they'll want to make us feel welcome, but at the same time it's business and I understand that so I'm not going to be looking for too much from them."
Kane and Schenn, ranked third and fourth, respectively, among North American skaters, said they were looking forward to the crowd noise and excitement. The Penguins are calling for a “whiteout” for Games 3 and 4. Each fan passing through the turnstile will receive a white t-shirt and rally towel.
"I think when you play with and against the top guys in the draft, it's nice to do something like this together and get to know each other off the ice. To come to an event like this at the Cup Final is something that will leave lasting memories and it's definitely going to be a tremendous experience for me." -- Evander Kane
"Detroit is hard to beat and that's why they're champions," said Schenn, the younger brother of Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn
. "They've reached the Cup final in back-to-back years and they know how to shut down the top guys and they play a team game. I did feel Pittsburgh played well (in Game 2), but a couple bad breaks here and there and you're down 2-1. But the thing is, you have to win four games to win a series, so they'll still have some time to do that."
Kane has attended a few Vancouver Canucks
playoff games, but never a Stanley Cup Final match.
"I think when you play with and against the top guys in the draft, it's nice to do something like this together and get to know each other off the ice," Kane said. "To come to an event like this at the Cup Final is something that will leave lasting memories and it's definitely going to be a tremendous experience for me since I've never been to Pittsburgh. Being a part of that atmosphere at Mellon is going to be great."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.