Sunday, June 21, 2009

NHL Draft Chatter / Gopher Hockey Schedule

The NHL Draft begins this Friday night, and the speculation continues who the New York Islanders will take with the top pick. Conventional wisdom states that the team cannot go wrong if it selects either John Tavares or Victor Hedman with the top pick. As an Islander fan myself, I don't see how General Manager Garth Snow can pass Tavares up, but stranger things have occurred. You may recall that Steven Stamkos was a slam-dunk #1 overall pick going into last year's draft, and he struggled his way through his rookie campaign. It's hard to expect too much from 18-year-old kids, but that's what the NHL Draft has evolved into. Guys like Sidney Crosby (2005) and Patrick Kane (2007) raised the bar for #1 overall picks, and the days of drafting a guy and letting him develop are over, especially for teams who desperately need immediate help. This is precisely why the Islanders need to look at Tavares. He'll provide some pizazz to a team struggling in the standings and at the gate.

The Minnesota Wild pick #12, and it's entirely possible that University of Minnesota forward Jordan Schroeder will be available. He's the fifth-rated North American skater in the final Central Scouting Bureau rankings and will almost certainly go among the top 15 picks. I saw Schroeder play 10-15 times this past season, and he was many nights Minnesota's best player as a freshman. That includes Ryan Stoa, who signed with Colorado this past spring. Schroeder is smallish, but player bigger than his size indicates. His skating ability is great, and he's extremely hard to knock off the puck.

The Wild need a guy like Schroeder this upcoming weekend. He would fit seemingly well in new coach Todd Richards' up-tempo style of play. He has a nice touch with the puck and would be an ideal centerman for someone like Marian Gaborik - if he re-signs. A young forward corp with Schroeder, James Sheppard, and Mikko Koivu would be fun to watch. If new GM Chuck Fletcher wants to make a splash, he should take Schroeder, provided he's on the board. This isn't just because Schroeder is a Minnesota native. He's an elite player who can help this team immediately.

Michael Russo has more on the Wild's potential draft strategy, and we'll fill in more as the week progresses.

Gopher Hockey Schedule:

Roman has the Gophers' 2009-10 schedule here. As has been the case in prior seasons, the Gophers will start tough this season, with North Dakota (on the road) and Denver providing the opposition. Non-conference opponents include Bemidji State, Harvard, and Bowling Green - in addition to Michigan and Michigan State (on the road) in the College Hockey Showcase. Interesting that the Gophers will play Wisconsin at the Target Center in March.
Funny Stuff:
You need to check out this video from YouTube. It's NSFW because of language, so tread lightly.

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