|Colton Gillies, nephew of Clark Gillies, became the Wild's eighth first round pick on Friday night. |Live In-Draft Commentary9:15 -
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The final three picks are made and that includes Gopher Jimmy O'Brien, who was taken by Ottawa at 29th overall. The Coyotes finish up the first round by taking Nick Ross. That's going to do it from the Fishing Lodge. There won't be a live commentary tomorrow during rounds two through seven, but we will report on any news surrounding the Wild tomorrow, including the final selections.
Steve Yzerman steps to the stage to make the Detroit Red Wings pick, and there are some boos in the crowd. No matter what you think of the Wings, you don't boo Gretzky. You don't boo Bobby Orr. And, you don't boo Stevie Y. It's hockey blasphemy.
There goes Patrick White of Grand Rapids to the hated Vancouver Canucks. It's a shame to see a good Northern Minnesota boy end up in Canuck country.
Mikael Backlund, a top-ranked Swedish player is taken by Calgary Flames. In his interview, the interviewer says he was a little surprised by who Backlund claims is the best player in the National Hockey League. He then asks Backlund to tell the audience who he thinks is the best player in the NHL. Backlund responds by saying, "Sidney Crosby." Wow! Shocking!
A couple of uneventful picks brings us to number 22 with Montreal now on the clock. We're working on getting in touch with Colton Gillies so we can get some quotes and material for the Wild PONDcast.
The Pittsburgh Penguins might score 800 goals in the 2009-2010 season. Crosby, Malkin, Staal and now Esposito. That's some firepower right there.
The Blues take another American defenseman in Ian Cole, the third USNTP member to get picked tonight.
The Blues make another trade for picks and take Calgary's place in the first round.
The wait ends for Cherepanov. He is snatched up by the New York Rangers.
7:55 - And Tom Thompson doesn't listen to me. It's Colton Gillies of Saskatoon in the WHL.
7:54 - The Wild swings a deal with Anaheim to move up to 16th overall in exchange for the 19th pick and the 42nd overall pick. I have to think it's going to be Cherepanov or Esposito. Here come the boys! Esposito! Esposito! Esposito!
The Oilers are up again, and they take a guy ranked 72nd among North American skaters - Alex Plante. Wow! The Wild could get a very good player at 19.
The Avalanche go with Kevin Shattenkirk from the USNTP. I am giddy right now. Of course, this is exactly how I felt during past Wild drafts when I thought Joffrey Lupul would fall to us, as well as Zach Parise. They were both snatched up just before the Wild picked. Not that I don't love Pierre-Marc Bouchard
and Brent Burns. They're awesome. And, they'll both be on the Wells Fargo Wild Road Tour, which kicks off on Monday. Check it out in a town near you.
McGuire breaks out "unconscionable" once again. If a riot breaks out in Columbus tonight, McGuire will be the primary suspect. He is seriously angry at this point.
With the 13th overall pick, the Blues take Denmark-native Lars Eller, the third-ranked European skater. Cherepanov and Mikael Backlund are one and two and both available. Voracek is actually considered a North American skater because he played in Canadian Juniors last year. The countdown continues.
The Canadiens take McDonagh, marking the second consecutive year that the Habs have taken Minnesota's Mr. Hockey. David Fischer went there last year. Now, McDonagh is off the board. Six more picks before the Wild are up. Cherepanov has now officially become the NHL's version of Brady Quinn.
In his interview with TSN, Sutter is asked about the best and worst thing about being a Sutter. I was waiting for him to say, "well, there are a lot of bad things about being a Sutter. I really don't like my family all that much." He does not. He says they are all great.
Russo is reporting that the Wild are talking with the Ducks, who have the 16th overall pick, and apparently "papers are being signed." This can't have anything to do with Fernandez as the Ducks locked up Jean-Sebastien Giguere last night. Falness is speculating that the Wild is moving up to take McDonagh. Meanwhile, the Carolina Hurricanes take Brandon Sutter, the ninth member of the Sutter family to get drafted.
Cherepanov, Esposito, McDonagh. Could one of them fall to 19?
McGuire uses the word "unconscionable" when talking about why Alexei Cherepanov has not been picked yet.
Mike Russo's favorite team, the Florida Panthers, are up with 10th overall pick. The mountain lions select Keaton Ellerby, the big defender from Kamloops. Ellerby is the cousin of Shane Doan. I didn't see any of this on "Russo's Rants." Where was he on that one?
The Sharks go with Logan Couture and this is just fine with me. I watched a highlight clip of him today and he came across as, oh...shall we say...a bit cocky. He also threatened to not play when he wasn't the first overall selection in the OHL Draft due to John Tavares being granted "exceptional player" status. The TSN crew claims he could wear a "C" on his jersey one day. Apparently, they didn't consult with me on this.
The first trade of the draft does not involve the Wild. It involves the Blues and Sharks, who exchange a bunch of picks, but no players. The Sharks are now on the clock.
The Bruins unveil their new sweaters, which hearken back to the Bobby Orr days. The circled "B" on the chest, but a block of yellow running down the sleeves. Very nice!
The always uncomfortable sight of a top prospect who still hasn't been picked is now upon us. Alexei Cherepanov is that player. Here come the Bruins. No trade so far. The Bruins GM just congratulated the Anaheim "Mighty" Ducks on winning the Stanley Cup. Cam Neely relieves him to select Zach Hamill from Everett of the WHL. Esposito is still out there!
McLean says the BlueJackets are high on McDonagh, but he now things that the pick will be Jakub Voracek, who wasn't expected to drop this far to number seven. The new Columbus GM is happy to delay things and offer an annoying smirk as the Columbus fans chant, "Let's Go Jackets!" Let's get the show on the road!
He finally takes Voracek. McDonagh is still on the board.
Things could get interesting very soon. Columbus is up next, followed by Boston. The Bruins are the most talked about team in rumors centering on Manny Fernandez. Will the Wild try to jump up by dangling its goaltender out there to those chowderheads? We shall see.
The first Northwest Division team is now on the clock in the Edmonton Oilers. Pierre McGuire is thinking it will be Sam Gagner, and he's dead on. The former North Star's son was on a line with Kane with London last year.
Before making their pick, the Washington Capitals are unveiling their new sweaters, which look much like the old-school red jerseys. Color me very happy with the decision because I owned a Don Beaupre old Caps sweater in high school. Anyway, Alzner is the first player to try it on. I have to say I'm not a fan of the weird striping on the sleeves, but at least there is one less team with teal on their sweaters.
Thomas Hickey, the 26th-ranked North American
skater is taken in a surprising move by the Los Angeles Kings. Wild draft expert Tom Thompson just jumped up from his chair and started doing jumping jacks. Just kidding.
A red-faced Doug MacLean, former GM for the BlueJackets before getting axed this year, talks about how Turris is can't miss and he picked him first overall in the mock draft. That's the kiss of death for Mr. Turris.
The Great One accepts his obligatory standing "O" and then announces the selection of Turris. The TSN guys then talk about how he always wears #19 because he idolizes Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic. That's followed by a string of highlights in which he is wearing #8.
I think we could see a run on defensemen at this point. Keaton Ellerby and Karl Alzner are both top blueline prospects. It's also possible that Cretin's Ryan McDonagh could be one of the next few picks. By the way, I know many of you are hoping that McDonagh falls all the way down to number 19. That'd be nice, but the guy you're really going to want to fall down to there is Angelo Esposito. I saw highlights of this guy today, and his speed was incredible. Plus, his junior team - the Quebec Remparts - had some sweet jerseys very similar to the Wild third jerseys.
The Flyers go with James Van Riemsdyk from the USNTP, and that means Americans have now gone 1-2. Take that Canada! This paves the way for Kyle Turris to fall into the laps of Phoenix Coyotes.
Well, being the genius that I am, I nailed the first prediction. Kane goes to Chicago and the good ol' U.S. of A. has produced the top pick in each of the past two drafts. Kane is a little guy, but he was incredible to watch in the World Junior Tournament.
Prediction time for me: Patrick Kane will go first overall (Chicago seems to love American-born players. My heart says the Wild will take Patrick White of Grand Rapids, but my head is going to go with Maxim Goncharov, a defenseman from Russia. Finally, I'm going to say that Manny Fernandez stays put with the Wild. That's just a gut feeling.
Live In-Draft commentary fans may remember last year's event, when I was actually in attendance. Well, no such luck this year. Last year's draft was in beautiful Vancouver. This year's is taking place in Columbus, Ohio. Now, I'm not saying Columbus is not beautiful, but let's be real here. If you had the choice of going to Columbus for a weekend, or sitting inside the Fishing Lodge with Kevin Falness, what would you choose? Exactly.
6:09 PM -
I should mention that I spoke with Bob Naegele, Jr. just a few minutes ago over the phone. He and I are tight. Anyway, he is very excited and mentioned that Doug Risebrough has been busy on the phone today, but we'll see what that means exactly, if anything.
6:06 PM -
TSN is now reporting that Jim Balsillie is withdrawing his name from consideration to own the Nashville Predators. This is rather large news, considering that this is the second time that Balsillie has tried to own a team, and he's now 0-for-2. He should play third base for the Twins.
6:02 PM -
Welcome State of Hockey legion to the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. It is I, your live in-game commentary writer, coming to you live from the Xcel Energy Center Fishing Lodge for tonight's coverage of the Entry Draft. With me is Kevin Falness, who is getting his radio studio primed to interview the important folks associated with tonight's events. Together, we'll be watching TSN's live coverage of the Draft. We probably should watch the Versus broadcast to bump up the ratings a bit, but hey, when it comes to hockey coverage, it's tough to beat the neighbors to the North.
Draft Day is upon the Minnesota Wild and 29 other NHL teams today. The festivities kick off tonight at 6:00 PM central time in Columbus, Ohio. Tonight's first round will be broadcast live on Versus. Rounds two through seven will take place on Saturday morning beginning at 9:00 AM and will not be televised.
Wild.com will be updating this page through the Draft with live in-draft commentary in the first round, as well as feature interviews with picks and management.
Follow the entire draft pick-by-pick by clicking here
The NHL Entry Draft normally offers a glimpse into the future as each team selects players who generally make an impact two to four years down the road.
The Wild has always used the draft to build for the future, but tonight could offer a peek at the team's present. While an immediate impact player will not be scooped up by Minnesota with the 19th overall pick, a trade could shake up the team looking to build on a record-breaking season in 2006-2007.
Rumors have swirled in the media that goaltender Manny Fernandez could be shopped to several teams looking to bolster their presence in the crease. Will the Wild trade him to acquire more picks (the club owns a franchise-record low of six picks this year)? Or, will it look to gain a proven center with the likes of Wes Walz, Todd White and Wyatt Smith just one week away from free agency?
The excitement is building, but there is also the strong possibility that nobody moves in the next two days, and the Wild simply leaves Columbus with six young properties who will be playing somewhere in Canada, in college or in Europe.
Things will begin to round into shape tonight and through tomorrow. Stay tuned!