The 2000 NHL Entry Draft holds several options for the up start Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning hold 15 picks in this years draft, including two picks in the top ten. The Bolts pick at numbers five and eight in the first round. These picks have led to a lot of speculation as to what GM Rick Dudley has planned. Dudley has acknowledged that several teams have called in interest of the picks, and Dudley has made no secret that he is willing to trade the picks for immediate help on the team. If Dudley were to trade the picks look for a goaltender, veteran defenseman, and/or scoring winger to come back in return.
In the later rounds look for the Lightning to stock up on wingers and goaltenders, but don’t be surprised if a few more defensemen are added to the already talented corp.
As the draft draws near, the question most asked about the Lightning’s draft is not who they’ll take in the first round, but if they’ll be picking at all. With the 5th and 8th overall picks and the need for immediate help, General Manager Rick Dudley should probably stock up on extra cell phone batteries. All indications show that he has already fielded numerous calls about trading one or both of the picks. He has said publicly that he will trade them if it will improve the team. He looks at draft picks very much as he does players. They are assets. Although every team needs to have a strong system, one cannot dismiss the fact that from time to time immediate help for a team outweighs the need to bolster their youth.
THE BAD NEWS:
As the Avs head into the 2000 draft, barring any surprise draft day trades, the Avs likely will not end up with a first round pick, any bluechip prospects, or anyone ready to fill holes immediately. The Avs have also lost a good chunk of their depth in the recent trades of Marc Denis and Robyn Reghyr. Other such notable prospects lost (or unsigned) in the last couple of seasons include Peter Ratchuk, Kevin Grimes, Mark Parrish, Martin Grenier, Ramzi Abid, Sami Pahlsson, and most notably, Marc Denis.
THE GOOD NEWS:
The prospect cabinet, though not as impressive as it used to be, is still pretty stocked, and the future is still looking pretty good, despite the loss of some key prospects. The Avs have had great luck finding diamonds in the rough, with such players as David Aebischer, Alex Ryazantsev, Dan Hinote, and Dan Smith. Such players may lack the hype of the players lost in trades or free agency, but they possess a combined work ethic that has made teams like Hershey the envy of the rest of the NHL.
Decisions, decisions, with only a few days left until the draft in Calgary the Flames have some BIG decisions to make. If the Flames opt to stay put at the ninth position, they must fill one of two of their long term needs, a goaltender or a strong impact forward capable of scoring 30+ goals. The players most likely to be around at the ninth pick are the three Russians, “C” Mikhail Yakubov, “RW” Pavel Vorobiev, “LW” Alexei Smirnov, a Czech “C” Vaclav Nedorost, and Canadian “G” Brett Krahn. With Calgary having 3 picks in the first two rounds they will be able to satisfy both needs whether they pick a goalie first or a scoring forward, there are a few solid players in the second round, “G” J.F Racine,”G” Peter Hamerlik, “LW” Max Birbraer,”C” Shane Endicott. And a host of other solid centermen.
However, the Flames may also want to trade up in the draft. 1st overall seems to be up for grabs according to Mike Milbury. With the draft here in Calgary, the Flames might want to make a little noise, giving up some youth and a pick for the Calgary man Dany Heatly. Giving up their ninth pick, possibly a second round pick, as well as Rico Fata, or Oleg Saprykin for the right to choose first overall. Fata would be the most likely to be traded, he is a right-winger and Calgary is very solid on that side of the ice.
It is more or less official now. The John McMullen years are over for the Devils and new owners will be taking over shortly. However, the change in ownership does not mean there will be any changes at New Jersey’s draft table in Calgary on June 24.
Although still riding high after a second Stanley Cup victory in the last six seasons, you can be sure General Manager Lou Lamoriello will be more than ready for this year’s draft. With no assurance that the mysterious Lamoriello will return for next season, this could be his last hurrah.
Lamoriello and his staff, which includes unheralded chief scout David Conte, surely will be looking to continue the success of the past several years. There is no reason to expect the Devils will operate any differently from past years.
With a Stanley Cup winning team, there are usually not too many holes to fill. Therefore you can expect New Jersey will go after that proverbial best player available regardless of position. The Devils, with one of the NHL’s finest goaltenders in Martin Brodeur, still used first round picks to draft goalies in 1997 and 1999 (J.F. Damphousse and Ari Ahonen) despite the perception the club needed offensive players.
Lamoriello also will not be afraid to make a trade on draft day. The Devils had success moving down to draft Brodeur in 1990, as well as moving up to take Scott Gomez in 1998.
Naming Kevin Lowe is a breath of fresh air to Edmonton, even though it came down to the last minute the best man for the job was ready and willing to take the franchise to the level of success they are accustomed to. Several attributes of the new General Manager will hopefully spill over onto the team. With his fiery temperament, competitiveness and unwillingness to say die he may mentally be the shot in the arm the players need to give them a gritty edge.
Winning six Stanley Cups, 5 from Edmonton and one in New York, and a couple years of coaching was enough of a criteria to the ownership group to name him the second General Manager in franchise history and it didn’t hurt that he was the pupil of Glen Sather for the better part of twenty years. Players were ecstatic and relieved when the announcement came in and ther was a resounding sigh in the locker room knowing that a big shakeup won’t happen. The Oilers respect and are confident in his abilities to guide the team.
Former teammate and CTV sports analyst Craig Simpson felt that this was the opportunity he has been waiting for and Kevin had his heart strings pulled by his ties to the city of Edmonton and the team. Since being the first draft pick in team history back in 1979, and being the player to score the first goal, Kevin has come full circle from prospect defenseman, to assistant coach, to head coach, and finally general manager.