The first round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft is in the books here at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. As we look forward to (a long) Day 2 tomorrow, rounds two through seven, let’s first look at a couple of highlights from the first round:
Not a shocker: Philadelphia fans booed NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman tonight, a lot. When Bettman was giving his introduction speech, Philly fans in attendance gave him a solid three minutes of boos. It was tough to hear what Bettman was saying from our spot on the riser, as the fans behind us were extra boisterous.
An example of their verbosity and creativity, when Florida was onstage to announce its pick, Aaron Ekblad, team General Manager Dale Tallon paused momentarily for dramatic effect. During the ever-so-brief pause, I heard Philly fans yell: Johnny Manziel, no one cares, and your mom. I don’t think any of those people are draft eligible, but it’s just a pleasure to be at the Draft in Philly.
I could tell you about a trade…
The first time Philly fans stopped booing Bettman was for the announcement of the first trade of the draft. However, the commish threw a bit of a curveball, instead of going with his traditional, “We have a trade to announce,” he gave a little teaser, “I could tell you about a trade.” Great way to muzzle the Philly faithful, who were quiet for a nanosecond because Bettman announced that the trade involved the city’s arch nemesis, Pittsburgh Penguins…
Draft Day Deals
Coming into this weekend, trade speculation was flying around the League like snowballs at Santa Claus in the City of Brotherly Love. Both Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher and Assistant GM Brent Flahr hinted that there would be major movement. However, things were pretty quiet at the Draft with only one move involving current players. The Nashville Predators acquired James Neal from Pittsburgh in exchange for forwards Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.
Of course earlier in the day, the Anaheim Ducks made a big splash by picking up Ryan Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks. The Ducks sent center Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa and Anaheim’s first round (No. 24, Jared McCann) and third round (85 overall) picks. Anaheim acquired Vancouver’s third-round pick in 2015.
All week, the Wild brain trust hinted at trading the Wild’s pick to move down the board. However, the club couldn’t pass on its 18th pick, Alex Tuch, who played with the United States National Team Development Program last season. The Baldwinsville, N.Y. native has prototypical power-forward size at 6-foot-3, 218-pounds. He’s set to begin his freshman season at Boston College in the fall, joining another Wild prospect, Adam Gilmour.
Central Scouting had Tuch ranked as the 12th-best North American Prospect and top ranked American skater. However, teammates at the US U-18 Team, Dylan Larkin and Sonny Milano, who were ranked lower than Tuch, were drafted ahead of the power forward. That allowed the Wild to stay at 18 and pick up Tuch.
“I know everyone says we can’t believe he fell to us, but we really can’t believe he fell to us,” Fletcher joked after the Draft.
The YouTube vids for Tuch are pretty slim pickings, but the Lighthouse did find this cool feature on the youngster from CNYHomepage.com.
According to WildTV’s Dusty Peterson, Tuch said that he had about 100 people in attendance. The Wild.com photo gallery captured pretty tender moment: his mom’s reaction to her son’s name being called by the Wild. It’s our favorite shot of the night.
Sights and Stanley
The Draft is a great fan experience because there are a number of activities fans can take part in. For the Lighthouse, checking out hardware has become an annual Draft event. The Stanley Cup was in the house tonight, and fans wrapped around the concourse to take a photo with the chalice. The NHL’s individual awards were also on display going on a bender in Las Vegas for the NHL Awards. No word on how much the Hart Trophy dropped at the blackjack table, but we hear that dude likes to party.
More Cheese Please
The Draft media meal was Philly Cheesesteaks for anyone interested in that type of stuff, because, of course it was. That brings the Lighthouse’s Cheesesteak count to three on the week. Hopefully we fit into our trousers tomorrow.