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The Feel At The Draft

Erin Nicks and Patrick Williams are blogging for KK live from the draft.

We will be adding their comments to this post throughout the night.

added 11:38pm, from Erin,

We’re winding down here for the night, with a good portion of the crowd hitting the doors after the Habs made their pick for LeBlanc. 

After all the initial speculation regarding potential movement within the top spots, there weren’t a lot of surprises, with Tavares, Hedman and Duchene going in the top 3 respectively. 

The biggest splash thus far appears to be the Pronger-to-Philly deal.  Behind-the-scenes reaction from the media seems to be that the Flyers overpaid for the bruising blueliner.  TSN’s Darren Dreger has reported via Twitter that Pronger may be asking for a 5-year extensions worth $6-million (all terms US) or more.

added 10:11pm, from Patrick,

Though the crowd and the energy both are fading inside the Bell Centre, Hometown superstar Roberto Luongo represented Vancouver at the podium and drew cheers from the local faithful.

added 10:03pm, from Patrick,

Louis Leblanc is the first French-Canadian player taken in the first round by the Canadiens since Eric Chouinard in 1998.

added 9:57pm, from Erin,

The 300 level of the Bell Centre is hopping tonight, with worthy reactions for nearly every event.  If GM Bob Gainey picks up the phone, sections cheer wildly and chant his name.  And when New York Islanders owner Charles Wang made an appearance, calls of “Petit Wang” were heard more than once.  These things happen when a crowd is well-lubricated, and the beer continues to flow quickly high above us.

added 9:51pm, from Patrick,

As anyone watching on television could surmise, the hometown Montreal crowd was delighted when the Canadiens selected Louis Leblanc. The provided the requisite “Ole!” and “Go Habs Go!” chants. A rush for the Bell Centre puexits followed Montreal’s selection.

added 8:59pm, from Erin,

Bit of a funny moment:  Calvin de Haan was congratulated by his apparent significant other after being drafted No. 12 overall by the Islanders.  Apparently the Bell Centre crowd found the woman to be quite attractive, because a fair amount of hooting and whistling ensued.

added 8:49pm, from Patrick,

Edmonton has made a habit of defensemen in the first round, and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson is no exception this year.

Only 2007 first-round Alex Plante has been a defender taken in the first round by the Oilers this decade. Other than Plante, the only defensemen the Oilers have taken in the first round since 1989 have been Matthieu Descoteaux (1996), Nick Stajduhar (1993) and Alexander Legault (1990). Descoteaux assembled a solid minor-league career, but Stajduhar (two NHL games) and Legault (zero NHL games) struggled to find their respective paths in the pro game.

The 1989 pick was Jason Soules, a name remembered by Oilers fans to this day for his extremely brief career that consisted of 52 pro games, none of them in the NHL.

added 8:44pm, from Erin,

Ottawa’s selection of Spokane Chiefs rearguard Jared Cowen should not come as too much of a shock to Senators fans.  Despite their recent drama ahead of the blueline, GM Bryan Murray has been trying to put the attention back on grooming young defence (Ottawa drafted American D Brian Lee in 2005, as well as pint-sized Swedish rocket Erik Karlsson in 2008). 

The size of Cowen should please Ottawa supporters immensely.  Currently at 6’5” and 220 lbs., Cowen will bring some of the bulk back that Sens fans have been craving since their loss to the Anaheim Ducks in the 2006-07 Stanley Cup Finals.  Cowen is also a stay-at-home defenceman with very good skating skills.  If successful, Cowen may eventually be able to take on some of the duties currently held by 31-year-old Chris Phillips.

added 8:25pm, from Patrick,

One very respected Canadian Hockey League observer mused yesterday as to whether there might be jockeying by teams in order to try to land both Brayden Schenn and Scott Glennie, who formed a terrific duo with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Alas, that did not happen when Dallas took Glennie three picks after Los Angeles selected Schenn.

added 8:19pm, from Erin,

Sens GM Bryan Murray on the phone.  Making a last-minute play, perhaps?

added 8:13pm, from Erin,

Brian Burke’s face is looking redder than usual tonight.  Word has it he’s had a hell of a time finding a dance partner for trades in the past few hours.  The crowd loves to taunt him, but if they get even the slightest acknowledgment from the Toronto GM, they go crazy.

added 8:12pm, from Patrick,

Chants of “‘67!” taunted the Toronto brass when they took the stage. Burke acknowledged the boos when a smirk that was displayed on the massive center-ice videoboard.

added 8:09, from Erin,

Thunderous boos have rained down from the Bell Centre whenever the Leafs are mentioned, but a small, proud contingent of Toronto faithful are ensconced behind our riser.  So far, they remain uncovered in beer, but who knows how long that will last?

added 8:05pm, from Patrick,

Over the past two NHL Drafts, the Los Angeles Kings used first-round picks to stock their blue line. Drew Doughty, Colton Teubert went in the first round in 2008, and Thomas Hickey was taken in 2007’s first round. Center Brayden Schenn is a departure from the blue-line trend this year. The last time that the Kings took a centerman in the first round, they took Trevor Lewis, who is progressing nicely in the AHL with Manchester.

Chants of “Hamilton! Hamilton! Hamilton!” rose from the Bell Centre crowd when the Phoenix Coyotes went on the clock.

Also, don’t foget SENShobo is blogging live from the draft too.

added 7:55pm, from Patrick,

The crowd at the Bell Centre has filled in nicely and is far more rambunctious than in the past two Drafts in Ottawa (2008) and Columbus (2007). Some of the initial bedlam dissipated after the first two picks.

added 7:44pm, from Erin,

Best crowd outburst so far:  “Hey (Claude) Julien!  Nice binoculars!”

added 7:41pm, from Erin,

At yesterday’s prospects luncheon, Matt Duchene admitted to having only two visits with Avalanche, prior to tonight’s draft.  Apparently the two encounters were enough.

added 7:37pm, from Patrick,

In taking Hedman, the Lightning are making a defenseman their first-round pick for the first time since 2005, when they selected Vladimir Mihalik. Big blueliners are something of a Tampa Bay tradition in recent years, though they have enjoyed very little luck. The Lightning also took another big defender, Andy Rogers, in 2004. Given that Mihalik has struggled in his first two pro seasons in the AHL with Norfolk and that Rogers was cast off to Toronto this past season, the pressure is most definitely on the Bolts to produce a better return with Hedman.

from Erin,

John Tavares looked happy and comfortable while receiving his jersey, but some of the most interesting media talk at the prospects luncheon yesterday revolved around Tavares’ ability to cope with the NHL spotlight.  Some media got the impression that Tavares is ultimately a shy character at heart and isn’t completely at ease with the idea of oppressive press.  No offense to the Isle, but Tavares’ concerns—if any—should be tempered somewhat, now that he’ll be wearing the blue and orange.

from Patrick,

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman opened his remarks in French. He struggled to give his remarks over a thunderous downpour of boos. The boos gave way to some cheers as Bettman lauded the Canadiens’ fabled history.

from Erin,

The crowd has truly showed appreciation for anyone who makes their comments in French first.  Crowds behind us are asking Bettman to wind up his comments, but they aren’t wording it quite as politely as that.

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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