Price is steep for top picks in NHL draft | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaPrice is steep for top picks in NHL draft

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013 | 10:34 AM

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Seth Jones, middle, Nathan MacKinnon, left, and Jonathan Drouin have been ranked 1-2-3 respectively by NHL Central Scouting. (Liam Richards/Canadian Press) Seth Jones, middle, Nathan MacKinnon, left, and Jonathan Drouin have been ranked 1-2-3 respectively by NHL Central Scouting. (Liam Richards/Canadian Press)

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Any general manager trying to tempt teams to part with a high pick in the upcoming NHL draft better be prepared to offer a Kate Upton, not a Meg Griffin, in return.

So this is what we are learning about the upcoming NHL draft: If you want to move into the Top 4, prepare to give up your first-born child.

The Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche refuse to confirm it, but the source is excellent: Flames general manager Jay Feaster recently made a bold move, offering his three first-round draft picks (sixth, 22nd, 28th) to Colorado for the No. 1 overall selection. The Avalanche said no. And the rebuff came fast.

This is consistent with what Patrick Roy has said, that if his team is going to move out of the Top 3, it will take a magnificent offer. Calgary's fell short because it did not include anyone ready to play in the NHL right now. And we're not talking about just anybody. We're talking a significant force.

The other question (and I doubt I'm going to get an answer at this time): did Calgary make a similar offer to anyone else?

Colorado, Florida, Tampa Bay and Nashville have the first four picks. The players available in those spots are highly regarded. Roy, Colorado's new head coach and vice-president of hockey operations, is on record as saying he is not going below No. 3.  Teams believe the Panthers are not going below No. 4, if they are going anywhere at all. The Lightning and Predators are similarly stubborn.

I don't blame them. The salary cap is going down, at least for one year. Your chances of winning are greater with competitive players on entry-level contracts. The Predators, in particular, could be getting the most skilled offensive talent in franchise history. So if you are going to try and tempt those teams, come at them with a Kate Upton, not a Meg Griffin.

The one caveat I'll offer here is, as three GMs surmised last weekend, "History shows the best offers always come right before your pick." That's a quote from one, but there were two similar comments.

As we get closer, the offers may get better, but they've got to be great if three first-rounders isn't enough.

That brings us to Carolina, which have the No. 5 spot. Other execs believe Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford is ready to deal (he was unavailable for comment). The bar is raised for Carolina. There is no more Southeast Division and, under re-alignment, the Tar Heel State is dealing with four teams that made the playoffs this season as well as the 2012 Stanley Cup finalist, the vastly improved Columbus Blue Jackets and the cash-rich Philadelphia Flyers.

It is no secret that the Hurricanes were disappointed by their lockout-shortened season. They expected to be better than 19-25-4. There will be a very good player available in the No. 5 spot, but would a Top 4 defenceman with experience and term remaining be better for Carolina?

If you have one and a first-round pick, there is a belief you can get to that spot. Edmonton, selecting seventh overall, had discussions with the Hurricanes, but it sounds like those talks cooled.

Things can -- and probably will -- change over the next couple of weeks, but if you're outside the Top 5, Carolina is your most realistic target for now.

30 THOUGHTS

1. Another note about the Hurricanes. Word is that "some players who were previously untouchable may no longer be untouchable," according to one source. Apparently, this does not include anyone with the last name Staal. It is going to be a wild summer across the NHL.

2. Hockey Night in Canada analyst Kelly Hrudey said on Hotstove Tonight that if he was running the Avalanche, he would not take the Calgary offer. I ran the idea past a few executives and most agreed, simply because the highest pick (sixth) was too low. Most of them thought Feaster was smart to try it, saying it was a worthwhile gamble, although he probably knew it would be rejected. There was one who didn't like the idea because the Flames need youth and he felt it would be better to stock the system with all of those picks. 

3. As for the Flames' potential restructuring, it's not unusual for teams to make changes this late. For example, then-interim GM Jeff Gorton ran the 2006 draft for the Boston Bruins while Peter Chiarelli was trapped in limbo. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman took the job a month before the 2010 draft, but relied heavily on the organization's list for those picks. When Feaster was hired, Calgary was interested in Brendan Shanahan, so this is a legitimate pursuit.

4. The biggest question at this time is "Do Shanahan or Colin Campbell want to move West?" Both have been tied to the East for family reasons. Also, what would this mean for Feaster, who has prepared to run this draft for months, or Craig Conroy, who, other teams believe, is being groomed for a major position in the future? The other issue will be transition. The Flames may be hiring someone who was not with a team, which means they haven't been a part of draft planning or professional scouting meetings. Therefore, it will be essential to have people around them that have been. The Flames cannot afford to make mistakes this summer.

5. In case you missed it on Hotstove Tonight, Glenn Healy reported that if Glendale city council does not make a deal to keep the Phoenix Coyotes, the team will be moved to Seattle. On Sunday, Mayor Michael McGinn admitted to discussions with the NHL. The reported purchase price is $220 million US and the prospective owners are one-time New York Mets bidders Ray Bartoszek and Anthony Lanza. After that bid failed, Bartoszek bought a piece of the New York Yankees.

6. When NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says his first priority is to keep the Coyotes in Glendale, he is telling the truth. That has always been the plan. It's easy to assume this whole Seattle story is a bluff, but it is too far along to be just that. It is an admission that he and deputy commissioner Bill Daly legitimately believe there is a chance that this will not work and the team will not stay. If the Coyotes stay, would Bettman allow $220 million to just disappear? Would he put a team in Seattle anyway?

7. The obvious drawback to Seattle is that Key Arena is far from an ideal NHL facility. There is a plan to build a brand-new facility, but that's contingent on a new basketball team. It is questionable a hockey team would be enough to start construction. There is a rumour that NBA commissioner David Stern, who will retire on Feb. 1, 2014, wants to bring basketball back to Seattle as one of his final acts. With apologies to Ron MacLean, that is the "Key" to all of this.

8. Healy also reported that Jeremy Roenick would run hockey operations for this new group. If it inherits Coyotes GM Don Maloney, hopefully everyone realizes his importance. You won't want to marginalize one of your biggest assets if you go to a new market.

9. In the end, Alain Vigneault had two choices: Dallas Stars or New York Rangers. Both offered him head coaching jobs and he has great respect for Stars GM Jim Nill, briefly a teammate in St. Louis. It sounds like there was a time during the last week when Vigneault was leaning towards the Stars. In the end, though, people who know Vigneault said memories of 2011 directed him to New York. To get that close to the Stanley Cup hurts, especially if you've never won it. His best chance to win comes in Manhattan.

10. It couldn't have been easy for Rangers GM Glen Sather to say no to Mark Messier. It doesn't sound like Messier will join Vigneault's staff for an apprenticeship, either. Now the discussion moves to his future. Is he interested in coaching at the AHL level? Does this also mean that, once Sather decides to retire, Messier won't be his replacement? It can't be ideal for Vigneault to report to the man who wanted his job. 

11. Nill will be watching the Roenick/Seattle/Phoenix smorgasbord closely because it could affect Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett's situation. Other teams believe Sergei Gonchar is just the first aggressive move by Nill, who wants more upgrades, particularly at centre. One exec pointed out that, on paper, Dallas' division under re-alignment is probably the least terrifying. Chicago is a powerhouse and St. Louis is very good. After that, it's pretty wide-open. A playoff berth would be huge in Texas.

12. Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis has a saying: "You better draft centres because it's impossible to get them." Well, it goes something like that. I don't have it written down, but he's said it before. One centre Nill is eyeing is Stephen Weiss, who earned $4.1 million last season ($3.1 million salary-cap hit). He's probably going to come in around one-and-a-half times that or close to it. The Panthers are taking one final run at this.

13. The Stars, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs have contacted Panthers GM Dale Tallon about getting Weiss' negotiating rights should he fail to re-sign him. After Hotstove Tonight, another source pointed to New Jersey as a possible destination since Devils head coach Peter DeBoer coached Weiss in Florida.

14. There is a lot of speculation that Dallas will target Jarome Iginla because of his friendship and business relationship with Stars owner Tom Gagliardi. Another popular pick is the Los Angeles Kings with the Darryl Sutter connection. Here's one more thought: Phoenix/Seattle with Shane Doan. They are close and that team, wherever it is, craves offence and its style is more conducive to Iginla's game than the Pittsburgh Penguins.

15. Former Rangers head coach John Tortorella is going to Vancouver this week for a second interview. Information about his first one is not exactly flowing across the atmosphere, but it sounds like a lot of time was spent discussing media interaction. The Canucks don't want daily craziness and Tortorella apparently understands he will have to be different. Vancouver is the hardest English market in the NHL. There is no doubt the man can coach, but Gillis' toughest decision may be whether or not he truly believes Tortorella can handle it.

16. The Canucks will be doing at least one additional second interview this week. No confirmation, but the belief is it is Kings assistant John Stevens.

17. Another former head coach who may have decisions to make is Glen Gulutzan. He is considered a strong candidate for Toronto's AHL job, but some NHL teams are looking at him as an assistant. I wouldn't be surprised if Vigneault considers him.

18. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren is talking to Mark Streit and Claude Giroux, but he can't officially close anything until after the Flyers do their buyouts or make moves to clear cap room. Even with the 10 per cent cushion allowed now above next year's max, Philadelphia doesn't have the space to sign those players. They can verbally agree to terms (just like Pittsburgh with Evgeni Malkin), but no ink will be dry until changes are made.

19. The San Jose Sharks have plenty of room. No one would be surprised if, in the next little while, Logan Couture is eating up more of it. Talks are underway on an extension and word is there is will on both sides to make this as painless as possible. I'm not as certain about Joe Pavelski, but there is no doubt one of Sharks GM Doug Wilson's strategies in clearing space was to get both of them locked up long-term.

20. Dennis Seidenberg was unimpressed when told he led the Bruins with 48:36 of ice-time in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final. "I was on the ice for the winning goal," he said.

21. Broadcaster Billy Jaffe asked Corey Crawford about the most significant adjustment he made this season, only to have the goalie reply his biggest change came last year. Goaltending coach Stephane Waite didn't like how much Crawford moved as other teams approached on the rush, so he showed tape of Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist picks a spot and generally stays in it. Crawford now does that too and it's been a big factor in his improvement.

22. The less said about the NHL Awards the better. But credit to Sergei Bobrovsky, who came all the way from Russia because he was so excited to receive the Vezina Trophy as top goaltender. Bobrovsky knew he won, but didn't tell his wife Olga. She made the trip, but didn't find out until just before the official announcement. To see the two of them just beaming together was a nice moment amidst the fiasco.

23. Bobrovsky wouldn't discuss his contract, but watching him in that moment fortified a theory of mine that the best Russian players want to be in the NHL. Nothing against the KHL, but North America has the best competition, better amenities and the Stanley Cup. They've all grown up watching it and they want to win it. You will get a wildcard like Alexander Radulov, but the other top-end guys are here. Yes, they will use the Russian league as leverage, which is aggravating, but they want to come over and stay.

24. You could consider Leo Komarov an exception to that rule, too, but he's not as significant a player. Leafs GM Dave Nonis took a hard line with Komarov and word is the Tyler Bozak negotiations are not going much better. Mikhail Grabovski's five-year, $27.5-million contract did not start well and Nonis does not want a repeat. He's saving his space for something, whether it be Weiss or someone else. 

25. The Kings, who are about to sign Slava Voynov, are looking to free Jonathan Bernier. One interesting wrinkle is that, at one point, they were concerned that anyone they traded him to might flip Bernier to Edmonton or Calgary. Los Angeles was not thrilled about seeing him in their new division. Curious to see if that is still a concern. I could definitely see both having interest, although I freely admit I have no proof.

26. The best news for the future of the Penguins is that GM Ray Shero was allowed to fight for his vision. Mario Lemieux has more hockey knowledge in his toenail than most of us in our entire bodies, but unless he wants to run the hockey operations, owners have to let their GMs make the decisions. There were a lot of rumours that Lemieux wanted a coaching change. Shero did not. He fought to keep and extend head coach Dan Bylsma. Lemieux allowed it. That is the way successful organizations work.

27. I'm also not surprised the Penguins won't buy out Marc-Andre Fleury. Malkin's eight-year, $76-million extension (and Kris Letang's potential deal) doesn't kick in until next season. You have another year to see if a new goalie whisperer will revive Fleury's game. If it doesn't work, the buyout is less. And Tomas Vokoun proved he can carry the load.

28. Adam Rogowin is the Blackhawks director of public relations. When he was a kid playing hockey, he was unhappy with having to wear No. 52. Back then, a number that high was a bad sign. His mood changed when his parents brought home an issue of The Hockey News and, on the cover, was an NHLer wearing No. 52. The player? Dallas Eakins.

29. I mentioned a few weeks ago that Buffalo  might be interested in Manchester Monarchs head coach Mark Morris for an assistant's job since he and Sabres head coach Ron Rolston have a connection. It appears Morris will stay in the AHL, so here's another possibility: Kurt Kleinendorst. He led the Binghamton Senators to the 2011 Calder Cup and just resigned as head coach at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

30. I just celebrated my second Father's Day. Thought a lot about Kristians Pelss's dad. And Scott Winkler's. So sorry for your losses; strength to your families. Hopefully, over time, your pain will ease.

Follow Elliotte Friedman on Twitter @FriedgeHNIC

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