June 21, 2008
Karlsson's 'a garbage pick,'
By DON BRENNAN
As far as making a splash, Bryan Murray tossed a pebble into the lake that was Round 1 of the NHL draft last night.
Not to be outdone by his wheeling-and-dealing counterparts, the Senators GM traded up three steps so he could take ... Erik Karlsson?
"Nice way to show your thanks to the fans for their support," said Brian Samuel, a regular ticket-buying customer at Scotiabank Place who was sitting in Level 2 wearing a Senators jersey and surrounded by his buddies in Leafs and Blackhawks colours.
"That's a garbage pick. They could have had him in the second round."
Thing is, we really don't know how good Karlsson can and will be. The 43rd player ever drafted into the NHL from the Frolunda hockey team in Sweden, he is advertised as a great skating defenceman with a big shot.
But he's also tiny, listed at 5-foot-10 and 157 lbs.
"I like big strong guys," said Murray, noting Karlsson has some work to do in the gym. "But I also like high-end skilled people."
Karlsson won't play in the NHL for a year or two or three, if he ever does. Real tough to get excited about him now.
STARTS AND STOPS
He was one of the five players the Senators had on their list, but apparently not the top one still available when it was their turn to pick. So 67's defenceman Tyler Cuma wound up going to the Minnesota Wild as the 23th player selected ... Daniel Alfredsson needs to learn how to work a crowd like the Great Ones. Like Wayne Gretzky. Stepping up to the podium to announce the Senators' first pick, the captain drew the loudest ovation of the night, but he cut the crowd short by insisting on getting down to business. In the same spot moments earlier to call the Coyotes' first choice, Gretzky stood back and let those in the house give him the standing ovation he'll always deserve in his native land ... A Commissioner's Luncheon held at Scotiabank Place yesterday afternoon was emceed by broadcasters Dean Brown and Ken Daniels and featured a rather entertaining panel that included, from left, Alfredsson, St. Louis Blues president John Davidson, Bryan Murray and Gary Bettman. Murray was asked about the possibility of improving his draft position later that day. "The people with the first eight or nine picks appear to be keeping them, unless you give them your team," Murray said. At that point, Davidson reached over, put his arm around Alfredsson and smiled broadly. The audience roared ... Expect to hear the announcement this weekend that Vincent Lecavalier has signed a 10-year contract extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning that will pay him $8.5 million US per season ... In the "It Must Have Snuck Up On Them" department, there was widespread panic among reporters covering the draft as the Internet was down in the hours leading up to the first pick and well after it. Tough to file stories without it, these days. Guess the NHL didn't expect to have such media coverage. Also, other than something about Ottawa being the "greatest hockey town in the world," nobody heard much of Eugene Melnyk's welcoming speech. Clearly, the roadies forgot to do a sound check ... Things don't always appear as they seem. Said one team executive: "There are a few GMs, and we all know who they are, who will notice the TV cameras on them, get up, go to another table looking intent on talking trade, then just say, 'so, how are they wife and kids?' ... First loud and sustained boo of the night came about when the video board zoomed on Cliff Fletcher. "Where are all those Senators fans when the Leafs are here for a game?" wondered a Toronto reporter. The answer: They're here, just dressed in blue.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMM...
Wouldn't you expect the Florida Panthers to get more for Olli Jokinen than Keith Ballard, Nick Boynton and a draft pick? "You need people (on defence) that can find the open man," explained Panthers GM Jacques Martin. "When you have that, you get more production from your forwards." Still like the deal from Coyotes' side best ... Words you'll never hear from certain members of the media: "No thanks, I've had enough." Ottawa Tourism graciously hosted a three-hour reception with free booze and food for visiting and local reporters at the Heart and Crown Thursday. One fun-loving, out-of-town radio guy familiar to these parts was asked to leave before it was over, because the bouncers didn't like the way he was walking ... Remember how former Senators GM Pierre Gauthier used to have his "pocket pick" for his final-round draft choice? President and CEO Roy Mlakar attended the Commissioner's Luncheon with his "pocket condiments." RAM had a bottle of Cleveland's Famous Bertman Original Ballpark Mustard that he was all-too happy to share ... A former first pick himself, Lecavalier is expected to be an aide to Steven Stamkos in Tampa. "He's very mindful of what he went through, to the extent he'll be able to spare a teammate," said Bolts GM Jay Feaster. "I know he's going to help him." Unlike Vinny, the kid will miss out on having John Tortorella kick his butt ... If Alfredsson had to make the first pick, he'd probably be like the rest of the world and take Stamkos. But second. "I know Zach (Bogosian), he works out with me," Alfredsson said. "I'd take him."