Hockey Notes

Picking a GM’s brain on the draft process

By Kevin Paul Dupont
May 9, 2010

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

  • E-mail|
  • Print|
  • Reprints|
  • |
Text size +

In about six weeks, the Bruins will select either Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall with the No. 2 pick in the NHL draft, a pick that no doubt will have a profound impact on the franchise for the remainder of the decade, perhaps longer.

The Oilers, selecting No. 1 overall, ultimately will make the call, unless Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli gets creative and puts together a trade package with Edmonton that moves the Bruins into the top slot or guarantees that they get the forward they prefer (Hall?) at No. 2.

Word out of Alberta was that the 11 Oilers scouts are voting 6-5 in favor of making Hall, the hard-nosed winger, the top pick. If so, that would leave the Bruins with Seguin, a center, which might dictate that he breaks into the NHL along the wall, or require a repositioning of Boston’s current stable of centers.

Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi, who has guided the Kings through an impressive revival in just three years, was in a similar 1-2 situation leading up to the 2008 draft. Tampa had the first selection, LA the second. But there was a significant difference between that draft and what Chiarelli faces: The 1-2 slots weren’t as clearly defined.

“[Steven] Stamkos ended up going No. 1, and we followed with [Drew] Doughty,’’ recalled Lombardi. “But look at some of the others in the mix at the time. [Alex] Pietrangelo, some thought for quite a while that he was the best player in the entire draft. [Zach] Bogosian, a man-child. I mean, he was just off the charts — way off the charts — at the combine. And [Nikita] Filatov, a guy with a skill package that would make you think he could be another [Teemu] Selanne.

“You can look at how it’s played out, with Stamkos catching fire this year and Doughty turning into a legitimate Norris Trophy candidate, and figure it was a slam-dunk. But it was more complicated.’’

The combine that year, recalled Lombardi, actually had the potential to cloud his opinion of Doughty.

“Bogosian got on the bike, and he blew it away,’’ recalled Lombardi. “I mean, the whole room stopped to watch. So here you’ve got a kid, and people are thinking this might be the next Scott Stevens — and that just might be the case — and here’s Drew at the combine, struggling to do push-ups and he’s maybe 30 pounds overweight.’’

Nonetheless, Lombardi and his scouts put their bet on the pudgy 18-year-old who averaged 62 points in his last two years of junior hockey. In the end, it wasn’t the workouts at the combine or the numbers the kid posted with the OHL’s Guelph Storm.

So, what was it?

“You know, the slam-dunk ended up the trip to the kid’s house,’’ recalled Lombardi, who spent 13 years, seven as GM, in the Sharks front office. “Just solid, solid parents. You could tell in a second, these were people who lived for their son, but not through their son.

“They got the message through loud and clear: ‘Get out there and be confident, Drew, but always remember, it’s not about you.’ I walked out of that house and I told out scouts, ‘OK, we got our guy.’ ’’

Of note, too, said Lombardi, was Doughty reaching for the stock line, “I’ve always wanted to be an LA King.’’

“You hear that and you think, ‘Yeah, right, and if I were with the Flyers, or the Blackhawks, the kid would be telling me the same thing with those teams plugged in,’ ’’ Lombardi said. “But here’s this kid from Guelph, Ontario, and he’s got Kelly Hrudey and Wayne Gretzky sweaters hanging up on his wall. Pretty impressive.

“And then — and I loved this — he had two of his Team Canada sweaters hanging up the wall. One of them was his World Juniors sweater. A kid’s going to have those on the wall, right? But here’s the thing. They’re hanging on the wall, but they’ve got the Team Canada logo facing out. Most kids, you figure they’ll have them flipped around, so their name is showing. Uh-uh. Team first.’’

Lombardi said the key is getting scouts in for looks at the player in the season(s) leading up to the draft, and getting to know the player as a person, including his family life.

“This isn’t like cramming for an exam in college,’’ he said. “If you’re cramming, I’d say you’re too late.

“The true person, the true player, comes out over time. It’s all about investing time, the time it takes to watch him, and the time it takes to learn what kind of person he is — not the stuff that comes out in an interview on a day when the kid talks to 10-15 teams, answers the same questions, gives the same answers over and over.’’

Pavelski hot at right time
The Big Pavelski. That’s what they’re calling Joe Pavelski (left), the former Wisconsin standout who is these days in San Jose. The 5-foot-11-inch, 195-pound pivot, whose versatility had Team USA GM Brian Burke calling him “a Swiss Army knife’’ at the Olympics, is reason No. 1 the Sharks are on the verge of making it to the Western Conference finals.

“He’s hungry right now,’’ an admiring Joe Thornton told the San Jose Mercury News. “He always seems to be on the puck.’’

“Pretty inspirational,’’ added coach Todd McLellan.

Pavelski, who turns 26 July 11, is on target to be a restricted free agent July 1. Which brings us to an interesting comparison.

Last summer, both Pavelski and Phil Kessel wrapped up their third NHL seasons. The numbers:

Kessel: 226 games, 66-60—126.

Pavelski: 208 games, 58-69—127.

Kessel, Boston fans might recall, ended up getting dealt as a restricted free agent to Toronto, where he agreed to a five-year pact worth an average $5.4 million.

Now it’s Pavelski’s turn. Through four seasons, he has 178 points, compared with Kessel’s 181. But the sweetener is that Pavelski, headed into weekend play, had 9 goals and 15 points in 10 playoff games.

No telling what agent Dan Plante is going to demand for Pavelski, but he realistically can point to Kessel’s deal as the base. If the Sharks win the Cup, and Pavelski remains hot, he could demand Kessel-plus cash.

The good news for the Sharks is that they have only some $36 million committed to 2010-11 payroll.

Silver screen for Red Wing
Howard Baldwin, back living in West Hartford, keeps the light on for the Whalers to live again as an NHL franchise in Hartford. “If the NHL happens here, great,’’ Baldwin said. “But my primary focus right now, at this stage of my life, is to keep the franchise fresh in everyone’s mind and do good things under its name, keep merchandising it.’’ Meanwhile, the ex-Spectrum box office manager remains in the movie-making business and hopes soon to be filming the Gordie Howe story. The script is complete, focusing on Mr. Hockey’s first year in Houston (WHA), when he came out of retirement to play alongside sons Marty and Mark. Ideally, said Baldwin, a director will be selected imminently and filming will begin in September or October.

Mr. Popularity
No decision yet on the new CEO of the Lightning. Meanwhile, the rumor mill keeps churning with the usual suspects as potential GMs: Doug Risebrough, Dave Nonis, Paul Fenton, even Steve Yzerman. Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, appearing on a Detroit radio station, said he asked longtime GM Ken Holland to move up to team president, making room for Stevie Y to become GM of the Winged Wheels. But Holland wants to stay put and is expected to sign a contract extension. Yzerman? Lots of calls from other clubs to talk to him. “He’s pretty much in demand right now,’’ noted Ilitch.

He will be missed
Local hockey lost one of its finest April 23 with the passing of ex-Arlington High star Bill Corkery at 60, following a two-year battle with a brain tumor. Corkery scored the winning goal in the 1967 state championship game and another the following year in the EMass championship. During his Harvard days, he played on the “Local Line’’ with David Haynes (Cambridge) and Bob McManama (Belmont). He also had a brief twirl with the AHL’s Boston Braves. We sometimes forget the riches that public school hockey delivered to our colleges and the pros. Corkery was truly one of the gems.

Show time?
Actress Stefanie Lemelin, the 30-year-old daughter of former Bruins goalie Reggie Lemelin, could be on the verge of landing her largest TV role yet, if CBS picks up a pilot that has the august William Shatner playing the lead. The working title: “[Expletive] My Dad Says.’’ It’s based on a blog by the same name in which a college grad posts comments made by his father, who was a Vietnam medic in the ’70s. “The blog has 1.5 million followers,’’ said the actress’s proud dad, “and the writing is hilarious. Obviously, I’m biased, but this one looks like it has a great shot.’’ Networks decide on their fall lineup later this month. This is Lemelin’s 11th pilot in 11 years.

Loose pucks
A perturbed Thornton got tagged with 14 minutes in penalties (4 roughing, 10 misconduct) in the third period of Thursday’s 7-1 thumping by the Red Wings. Tired of chasing Henrik Zetterberg around the ice, Jumbo Joe got into it a little with Tomas Holmstrom and tried to goad Nicklas Lidstrom into a dustup. Rarely do we see an agitated Thornton. Too bad . . . Good to see ex-Boston defenseman Aaron Ward on the Versus desk Friday night. Wardo should have a long career at the mike, if that’s where his post-career plans lead him . . . Burlington good guy Jay Pandolfo underwent shoulder surgery last week to clean up a torn labrum, suffered in October when he locked up with ex-teammate Mike Rupp. The 35-year-old former Boston University star has a year left on his deal with the Devils, worth $2.5 million . . . A call to Bob Waterman at the Elias Sports Bureau found that not a single butt-ending penalty was whistled this season. Not a single one last season, either. These guys are too busy clobbering each other over the head to bother with sticking the top of the shaft into someone’s ribs.

Material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.

Bruins player search

Find the latest stats and news on:

Bruins Video

Bruins Twitter

    Waiting for Twitter...