June 26, 2010
LOS ANGELES -- Are any of us ready to live in a world where the NHL Awards were more exciting than the first round of the NHL Entry Draft?
If you're a draft nerd, Friday night's first round undoubtedly had its intriguing moments, with some surprise picks and players plummeting. If you're a hockey fan that watches this annual orgy of potential for trade drama and blockbuster transactions ... well, it could have benefitted from Jay Mohr's Tracy Morgan impression in the entertainment category.
That said, the Draft had its moments.
Here are some of the best and worst from inside Staples Center:
Best Taylor Hall Moment: When asked if he had a message for the fans in Edmonton, Hall said, "I know that some of them are pulling for me. Hope they're excited for the next season." So we asked if he had a message to the fans who were pulling for the Oilers to draft Tyler Seguin, Hall said: "No. Hopefully I can do well. I don't want to be a guy who falters and doesn't meet expectations."
Best Tyler Seguin Moment: Saying he looks forward to playing with Mark Recchi(notes), and learning from the Boston Bruins veteran. And then saying he ran into Recchi on a few occasions in the hotel, and calling them "elevator buddies."
Worst Monday-Morning Quarterbacking: How defensemen Cam Fowler went from being a Top 3 pick with great offensive upside to a potential bust who can't take the body.
Best Alyssa Milano: Alyssa Milano.
Best Unexpected Pick: Montreal Canadiens trade up for Jarred Tinordi, former NHLer Mark Tinordi's nearly 6-foot-6 defenseman son. He's one of the best bangers in the draft and this was a smart, aggressive move for the Habs. Plus, their average player height just inched up to 4-foot-2.
Worst Unexpected Pick: Ryan Johansen, No. 4 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. "Worst" is a strong term, because Johansen was projected to be around a top 10 pick. But No. 4 is a reach, and it's a reach because Scott Howson was unable to trade down and still get his man. Again, he's a versatile forward that Howson said keeps improving. But No. 4 overall, ahead of some quality defensemen that could help the Jackets' blue line someday, it's a reach.
Best Cameo: "Entourage" star Kevin Connolly appearing twice for the New York Islanders, and announcing their No. 30 pick. Who cares about these GMs? Find 30 celebrity fans for the first round.
Worst Chant: The not-all-that thunderous "USA" chant that rose from the cheap seats when goalie Jack Campbell was selected by the Dallas Stars at No. 11. This is because all the people in the arena who actually cared about world juniors were on the draft floor.
Best Dressed: Derek Forbort rocking the old school Los Angeles Kings sweater after being taken at No. 15. Marcel Dionne approves, sir.
Worst Dressed: The Oilers fans who celebrated Taylor Hall's selection like it was Lloyd Christmas morning.
Best Fightin' Words: Defenseman Dylan McIlrath, drafted No. 10 overall by the New York Rangers, said his father played rugby, which is "where I get my nasty streak from." He's become more of a fighter as his career progressed. Does it have a place in the NHL? "Absolutely. If it's not fighting, it's the intimidation factor. I can do it well, and it's something I look forward to doing in the NHL."
Worst Sympathy: Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray, when asked about the lack of trades at the draft, told the media "I really feel bad for you guys. It's a hard job, and you guys have to create stories." We believe that's called "give'em the gears" in hockey parlance.
Best Battle of California Moment: When the Kings fans lustily booed the Ducks when their No. 29 pick came up, the Ducks fans chanted 'Let's Go Ducks' in response, and then they all cheered when local boy Emerson Etem was finally taken after a first-round drop.
Worst Tease: The Los Angeles Kings trading up to No. 15, causing the local fans to roar with anticipation that it would be Etem's pick. Until they snagged Forbort instead.
Best Omen: We really liked the New York Islanders taking Nino Niederreiter at No. 5, for nothing else than the YouTube highlights. But Puck Buddy Wayne C. sent this image from outside Nassau Coliseum's draft party. "It's actually for some show tomorrow, but funny nonetheless." So it's not a relic from the Milbury administration.