March 25, 2005
Waiting to hear names
By CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun
The Calgary Hitmen kids don't care if the NHL draft is done via conference call, in Hawaii or on the moon. Bottom line is, the draft eligible players with the local WHL club just want to hear a big-league team call their names.
The NHL will conduct its June entry draft by phone after cancelling the made-for-TV spectacle in Ottawa because there is no CBA in place.
But Riley Merkley isn't too worried.
"It doesn't matter what the venue is as long as you're getting picked. You just want your name called," said Merkley, who was rated 79th among North American skaters in Central Scouting Service mid-term rankings.
"There's nothing you can do about it and we've just got to keep focusing on the playoffs this year knowing there will be a draft sometime."
While he likely wouldn't go in the first round, Merkley, a 6-ft. 3-in. centreman, acknowledged the top prospects might miss basking in the glory of a national TV audience and mugging for the cameras in the prospective team's sweater.
"It's kind of a negative thing, especially for the guys in the first round like Sidney Crosby and Gilbert Brule, they'd want to be there, go up and get the jersey but on the other hand, it's not that big a deal," said Merkley, who was a late addition to this year's Prospects game as an injury replacement.
His teammate, slick-skating defenceman Dustin Kohn, also played in the Prospects tilt but the 75th-ranked North American has already been to a draft, for fun, last year in Carolina.
"I got to go last year with the older guys and watch them," said Kohn.