Duchene would be great catch

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

MONTREAL -- The Long Islanders should really draft Matt Duchene, and not just because he'd be the best fit in one of their old jerseys with the fisherman on the front.

"A 15-pound muskie," Duchene, who's ranked behind John Tavares and Victor Hedman on most charts, said at yesterday's prospects luncheon when asked his biggest catch ever. "In Grass Lake, near (his hometown) Haliburton. Fifteen pounds is a big fish, but not for a muskie. We were in three feet of water, and it almost pulled me in. It was so strong. It was fun."

In just his second season with the Brampton Battalion, Duchene won many bigger battles. He scored 31 goals (including an OHL-leading six game-winners) and 79 points in 59 games. He was voted the best playmaker and stickhandler in the annual Eastern Conference Coaches Poll. And oh yeah, he proved to be faster than a speedboat.

But the reason the Islanders should make Duchene the first pick overall in tonight's entry draft is that, like most teams winding up with this dubious distinction, they need help everywhere. Tavares is the best offensive weapon. Hedman is the best blueliner.

Duchene is the best two-way player in the draft.

He's not the only one who believes he's ready to play in the NHL.

"Obviously, speculation is that it's probably going to be Johnny," Duchene said when asked if he'd be shocked to be selected first. "But I don't think I'd be overly shocked. Everything went well (in meetings) with (the Islanders), and I had a really good year. Obviously, I've kind of entered into that talk, as maybe that guy. Whether or not that happens is not up to me, and not something I'll be disappointed with either way.

"If it ends up happening, that'll be unbelievable."

Only time will tell which of the three will prove to be the best catch. But here's a vote for the fisherman, who idolizes Sidney Crosby and is more like the captain of the Stanley Cup champions than any of the other prospects.

Starts and stops

Jacques Lemaire was listening to a conversation about Twitter in an elevator when somebody wondered what prevents people from pretending to be other people and somebody else said he remembered one Twitter-er impersonating Leafs GM Brian Burke. "You can't imitate Brian Burke," Lemaire chirped, chuckling. "You just can't." Nobody would argue ... A rumour that Jay Bouwmeester's rights may be traded by the Panthers to the Flyers was greeted with skepticism by an assistant GM, who thought that might lead to cap problems for Philly. "If they did that (the Phantoms) would be the best team in the AHL," he said, referring to how a number of NHLers would have to be demoted for salary reasons. "Or the worst." An unhappy player is rarely a good player. ... How is it the best coach in the NHL (2008-09) isn't good enough to make Team Canada as an assistant. Claude Julien understands. "There are a lot of great coaches," said Julien, the Jack Adams Award winner. "They made the right choices." ... If Central Scouting's E.J. McGuire is right, there will be at least two Jonathan Cheechoos selected in the first round. Is that a good thing?

Between periods

At the prospects luncheon, TSN's Pierre McGuire's told Scott Glennie: "I have you going to Edmonton, by the way." Said Glennie: "That's a good spot." Replied McGuire: "You'll see, maybe not." He added a "just kidding" when the crowd let out a collective gasp ... Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson remembers the world junior championship as "one of the sickest moments in my life." Said the projected top-10 pick: "What was it, 21,000 crazy Canadians screaming and just a little yellow (Swedish jerseys) spot up in the corner cheering for us? That was a great memory, great experience for sure." He also remembers fondly the stir he caused by saying the Canadians would (poop) their pants if Sweden took an early lead in the gold-medal game. "That was pretty fun," he said when asked about the reaction back home. "Everybody laughed about it. Some of the guys teased me and some of the guys just laughed about it. I think the message was mixed up. I didn't mean it in a disrespectful way. I don't regret anything." ... Lemaire, on being named an assistant coach for Team Canada. "It's my first time and I can't wait until the day it's going to start," he said. Lindy Ruff, on the same honour: "I'd like to just echo what Jacques said. I'm more excited than he is. Let's skip the season and start (the Olympics) now."


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