Eeny, meeny miny ...Hey Moe!
Since there are a lot of you who don't have access to Altitude - and there's a good chance the video of it won't become available in its entirety - I thought I'd do a post about the pre-draft special they're airing this month. However, instead of doing a summary which might be colored with my interpretation of what was said, I decided to simply transcribe the show. After the jump are the three major parts to it: a portion of an interview with Joe Sakic (not included were bits about his new job), the actual scouts' meeting, and an interview with Greg Sherman.
Please forgive any typos or misspellings or what have you. I don't think I'd make the best court reporter. I did make some changes to account for grammar that would otherwise make things unclear and such. I kept speech patterns as they were so that I didn't affect the commentary
UPDATE: The Avalanche website now has a link to the show in its entirety.
Interview with Joe Sakic by Kyle Keefe
Sakic: We’re going to have a scouts meeting and go over who the players are going to be there at the draft that you think might be available and you go over what they might be able to bring to your team and their character. It’s one of the things we want in this organization is a group of character guys that care about your teammates and your organization and your city and want to be a part of all of that.
Rick Pracey: The goal of the next couple of days is as always. This first meeting is probably to get the framework kind of 60% along our way. Our North American staff is here; our European staff will join us at the Combine. We will integrate our lists at that point in time.
The key is, especially at this point and time, is to stick to our strengths, stick to what we believe in. Fullest will be on the philosophy of best player available. Key is always, from our mandate, it's skill; it’s compete; it’s character. So when we’re putting these players in order, that is the primary focus. I guess the best way to start is to start looking at number two.
The OHL and WHL were represented very well in both our top pick and the 11th pick. The Europeans, we still need to keep that on the side. We know we still have a lot of interest in Adam Larsson. But for the discussion in this meeting let’s concentrate on North America, but make no mistake about it: Adam Larsson is a player that is someone we have a great deal of interest in.
I would like to start by talking about the top player in Ontario, Gabriel Landeskog.
Brad Smith: Well, we’ve talked before. He’s a character guy. He’s also a guy that has character and skill which is a rare combination. And he’s a power forward, so he brings all the three things to the table we’re looking for, no question about it.
Guy Perron: One other thing that he does well is get around in the blue paint. His size definitely helps us. I like him.
Pracey: He certainly does have some power in his game.
Smith: And I mean a character character character guy. He’s obviously Swedish born so they made him captain. He’s the first captain in Kitchener that is a 17-year-old and is a European. So this guy does it at both ends of the ice. He fights hard; he’ll fight, fight, stick up for his teammates. Not that fighting is a big part of it, he only had three all year, but they were all for sticking up for teammates. And he can score. He’s got a heavy shot. He takes the puck to the net. This guy is just an all-around player. There’s so much upside to this guy it’s scary.
Pracey: Okay, the top player in the West was Hopkins. Donny? With all your years of experience, talk to us about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Don Paarup: Well right now there’s as much interest in him among all of the scouts as there was, say, in Dany Heatley when he was playing…up there. This kid offensively sees the ice as well as anybody I’ve seen in 20 years. His puck reaction, his creativity, and his mechanics are just outstanding, and as far as I’m concerned, I haven’t seen a kid like this in many years, as far as offense is concerned.
Pracey: Is there anybody in this room that thinks that Nugent-Hopkins’ offense won’t translate?
Pracey: I’ll take that as a no. Hopkins will be up against Larsson. Hopkins will be up against Landeskog. Our top player in Quebec was Couturier. You want to speak to Couturier, Guy?
Perron: Yes, he, last year, he led the league in scoring as an underage. He’s a big forward, centerman. This year was pretty close to his numbers as last year with ten less games. He had mono and a slow start. Definitely is a big forward that draws, protects the puck well down low. Definitely MVP of the league this year in the Q. Definitely the top part of the draft.
Pracey: Quickly around the room, any concerns on Couturier?
Smith: The problem is he plays so much. It’s every second shift. There is a little bit of standing around, but I’m not too sure if that’s basically because he plays so much.
Rick Lanz: (unable to hear question)
Smith: Just tired. He plays thirty minutes a night because he’s on every second shift. And he’s holding people off, he’s down low, he’s got people on his back, and he’s so big and strong - or so big and he can hold people off, but then they get it. It doesn’t translate sometimes into pushing the pace all the time. He’s kind of the guy that slows it down and draws people to him to make the play. It’s not push the pace. That would be a concern, but I think it will improve as he gets stronger. These kids are 18-years-old, so he will get stronger. But it would be some little bit of concern there.
Pracey: In terms of body type and game, I know you hate this sometimes, but we’ve been drawing some comparisons to Corey Perry or Bobby Ryan because the size and the skill is evident, but the skating was a knock on both kids in their years. Do we see Couturier’s offense as high end as Perry’s and Ryan’s?
Perron: I would say yes.
Pracey: You would say yes? Well one question I want to bring up is that we talked about Couturier at length. There’s been a lot of momentum generated by Huberdeau in St. John. Guy, real quick on Huberdeau and how do you compare him to Couturier?
Perron: Well I think that this guy has been very good throughout the year. Hockey sense, creativity with the puck, down-in-low guy who will get in tough areas and who will get the big goals. St. Johns (is) probably going to have a lot of traffic this year. They have a good team and probably will end up in the Memorial Cup, so…and he’s a big part of it.
Smith: I guess the way you look at it, too, is for Couturier, it’s his third year in the league; that’s where he’s getting back. He’s older. It’s his third year in the league cuz he was (born) in ‘92. This is only (Huberdeau’s) second year in the league. So if he tracks the same way Couturier does at that next level, and he takes it to that next level, maybe he--
(unnamed scout): That’s more of the point. Is Couturier kind of tired of doing this, too?
Smith: Well it’s his NHL draft year. I mean, if you want to be that player, you better come to perform every night.
(unnamed scout): A good point.
Smith: I’d understand that if this isn’t his NHL draft year, and he’s been there five years cuz he’s underage, and this and that, then maybe, but that to me doesn’t hold water because it’s his NHL draft year. Couturier went to play at the World Junior, and he did all this stuff. There’s got to be some kind of excitement; you can’t be bored. You’ve got to come and play.
Interview with Greg Sherman by Peter
McNab: Here with Avalanche general manager Greg Sherman. Right now we’re looking back at the Pepsi Center, nobody here, but I’ll tell ya, it’s an exciting time with this franchise, with what’s coming up and the draft picks and all the things that are going to lead to filling this place up.
Sherman: That’s right. That’s certainly the goal, Peter. I mean, when you look at this time of year, I’ll echo what you just said; this is a time of year where we take in a breath. We’ve looked at ourselves in the mirror. We have some challenges ahead of us, but you know, starting with myself and on throughout the staff, we’ve identified the priorities we need to address. And it starts with this draft that’s coming up. You know, we’re very enthusiastic about having the number two pick overall, as well as the number 11 pick overall, as we enter into this draft. I think that as far as the entire plan and where it fits that this is a good time of year for us.
McNab: As you and I are talking here, the scouts are actually in going over the lists, going over the second pick, and they were saying "best player available." That’s the number one mantra they’re going with.
How many phone calls, or what kind of phone calls, do you get for the number two pick? I mean, is there any consideration of trading that, and also the one that I think is going to get a lot of play is (the) number 11 pick in a very interesting draft.
Sherman: Yeah, there’s, that’s absolutely the case. You know, when you, when you, right now, just as we start to get towards the end of May, you get into the early part of June, this is when things start to heat up. This is where the phones, where you start to get a little more cuz the reality is you’ve got 26 teams looking to build their roster for next year at this time of year. You know, historically speaking, I can tell you when, not too long ago, when we were fortunate enough to get Matt Duchene, we had some significant interest in that number three pick. I anticipate that could be a possibility, but, you know, given our plan and what we have in place right now, what we’re continuing to look to build around the Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Erik Johnson. These players, it’s gonna, it would have to be something beyond significant. But that being said, we will wait to see when we get in that atmosphere.
McNab: Yeah, and then, now the 11th pick. Obviously a different type of player. If I think, I don’t think I’m speaking out of line here, the number two pick overall has to be a home run. You can’t miss on that, and it certainly doesn’t look like that with the players available. But the number 11, now you get into trusting the scouts, and the scouts have to-- and other people are saying, you know, all of a sudden the 8th pick comes, the 9th pick comes. Somebody gets antsy to get it. It must be an interesting time to field all of those phone calls.
Sherman: It is, and where that particular situation, in the experience I’ve had on the draft floor, as the number six and number seven pick goes, the phone starts ringing more and more and more for those teams that are behind us who might want to move up, or in a situation as a team we might want to move up. But right now, the number 11 pick, we’re excited with that positioning. We’re excited what that could turn into. And quite frankly, it’s not fair to say where that one will end up in regards to training camp this fall, but then again Ryan O’Reilly at number 33. Our scouts have a history there of being able to identify a pretty good player in that draft, so we’ll see how that process plays itself out.
(My first thought at the end of this...If you think Ryan O'Reilly is going to be traded any time soon, you might want to reconsider that position.)