by Patrick Hoffman on 07/14/12 at 10:00 AM ET
One of my favorite people to do e-mail interviews with, Scotty Wazz of the Face-Off Hockey Show, was kind enough to take time out of his hectic schedule to give us his thoughts on the 2012 NHL Entry Draft as well as what is going on in the NHL when it comes to the free agent season.
PH: As always, you and the FOHS crew were at the NHL Entry Draft this season. What was that experience like for you?
SW: It was an interesting experience, for sure. The CONSOL Energy Center is a pretty sweet building and the new video board the NHL has for the draft board made it’s grand debut. Plus, it’s always good to see my other friends from the blogging and media world, as well as putting faces and real names to those people I interact with on Twitter. Despite the confusing roads and all the bridges in Pittsburgh, it was a good time overall.
PH: As a whole, did you enjoy the draft this year? were there any surprises or disappointments?
SW: It was definitely an interesting draft, as some thought it could be a crap-shoot after the first couple of picks. Two of the bigger surprises could be the move the Penguins made moving Jordan Staal to Carolina, which would open up some money for the Penguins in the free agency market and help Jordan bust out of the shadows of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The other surprise was the Calgary Flames picking up Mark Jankowski in the first round, as he was projected to go much later and considering he is coming out of the Quebec high school system (despite playing US prep schools)—it’s a sizeable risk when it comes to a first round pick when there could be better talent in higher skilled leagues out there.
I don’t know if there’s many disappointments, though maybe you could consider the fall down the board of Filip Forsberg and Mikhail Girgorenko to the mid-first round. Also, the fall through the year of defenseman Nick Ebert, who didn’t have the best year in Windsor; but he fell all the way until the last pick—which could help the Kings when he develops even more. Yet, on a day like draft day, I’m sure just getting drafted is a great time for them, regardless of where it is.
PH: Onto free agency. What do you make of the Wild signing both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter? Do you think the signings make the Wild a playoff hockey club? Why or why not?
SW: The signing of Parise and Suter should make the Wild a playoff team, as early as this season I believe. They may just squeak into the playoffs—but they’ll be there. Parise will add a much needed offensive dynamo who is widely recognized, giving more options to coach Mike Yeo’s arsenal and take some pressure off the shoulders of Mikko Koivu and maybe re-ignite Dany Heatley’s offensive prowess. With Suter, he becomes far and away the top defenseman on that team and could very well make the defensive system the Wild have taken to over the years and be able to hold that system from game one until game 82 without much of a hiccup. Their presence alone should be a great boost to the younger guys on the team.
PH: Why do you think it is taking so long for this Rick Nash saga to get sorted out? Is Blue Jackets’ general manager Scott Howson asking for way too much or is Nash being stubborn?
SW: You have to give credit to Scott Howson—he’s going out in a blaze of glory. Let’s be honest—Howson is going to try to get the utmost for his superstar player. And while it does look crazy for what he’s asking (because, it kind of is), he’s not going to get short-changed for the face of the Blue Jackets’ franchise. I don’t think it’s Nash being stubborn as he does have a no-movement clause in his contract and he doesn’t have to entertain any offers to move if he doesn’t want—that’s his right. I think Howson is going to be gone trade or not, so he’s going to try to get as much as he can in order to make it better for the next guy to come in or still be known as the guy who didn’t trade the top guy.
No one walks out of this deal winners or losers—it’s all shades of grey in all of this. The Blue Jackets have a guy who doesn’t want to be there because he has no one to play alongside of because no one wants to play there. The GM can’t get what he wants in return and doesn’t want to put the franchise at risk by getting the bare minimum for their superstar and a guy who could take off if player between the right people. It’s a tough spot for all parties involved and I don’t think it’ll be ending before September.
PH: You recently wrote on your blog that the writing might be on the wall for Todd McLellan with the new hirings of the assistant coaches. Why do you think this might actually be the case?
SW: The sad part about McLellan is that he’s the Sharks coach—that’s almost like being the Capitals coach. There’s so much expectation that is put onto a team that has a solid line-up from top to bottom, that those brass rings are almost unreachable. All these moves could be just to give him a boost and some more insight from guys who have won Stanley Cups before (Larry Robinson) and to help out on the defensive side and shore up the penalty kill (Jim Johnson); but the problem with bringing in experience guys is the threat these guys would take over the head coaching gig should McLellan falter—which will make him more on edge and making snap decisions he may not want to make because he’s not thinking clearly.
PH: Is there anything else you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
SW: While we all love the game of hockey, having some time off in the summer is always nice to just kick back and enjoy the vacation time we have before us. Asking “Is it October yet??” doesn’t make you any more die-hard than another fan, it could make you a little annoying to some people. If you need to get your hockey on—check out your local developmental camp and check out the Australian Ice Hockey League for some hockey from down under—where it’s winter during our summer. Wacky, I know. Other than that—tear yourself away from hockey and see the other wonderfulness the world has to offer.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.