Friday, June 22, 2012
Tonight is the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, which is being held at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, hosted by the Penguins. The draft is set to begin at 7 PM Eastern time and the first round will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network in the United States and TSN in Canada.
Rounds 2-7 will be shown live on the NHL Network on Saturday beginning at 10 AM.
The Edmonton Oilers won the draft lottery, moving up from the second spot, and now hold the first overall pick for the third consecutive year, something that has not happened since the Quebec Nordiques picked first in 1988 (Mats Sundin), 1989 (Owen Nolan) and 1990 (their memorable soap opera selection of Eric Lindros).
In 2010 the Oilers made left winger Taylor Hall the first selection and followed that up by making center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins the opening choice in 2011.
For 2012, many experts anticipate Russian right winger Nail Yakupov, who played his junior hockey in Canada for the Sarnia Sting, to be the first overall choice. Some do raise concerns when it comes to taking Russian players so early in the draft these days, including the possibility they will be lured away by teams in the KHL, which does not appear to be the case with Yakupov owing to his playing in Canada already. In Edmonton's case, they have taken a number of forwards early in the draft, raising the possibility they will instead select Canadian defenseman Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips with the top pick.
This year's talent pool is said to lack the can't miss, elite level players along the lines of a John Tavares, Steven Stamkos or Sidney Crosby, who were considered the clear number one choices during their draft years, so once Edmonton makes their selection, it's anyone's guess as to how the rest of the opening round will progress.
John Tavares and friends
Holding the second pick is the Columbus Blue Jackets, followed in order by the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild, Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets, with the Tampa Bay Lightning rounding out the scheduled top ten picks, which could all change once any trading begins.
While all eyes will be focused on Yakupov to open the draft, it was last year's #2 selection, Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche who emerged as the Calder Trophy winner at the 2012 NHL Awards show on Wednesday. Previous winners of Rookie of the Year honors have included Jeff Skinner (#7 in 2010), Tyler Myers (#12 in 2008), Steve Mason (#69 in 2006) and you have to go back to Patrick Kane to find the last #1 overall pick who won the Rookie of the Year.
Patrick Kane, #1 0verall in 2007
Highlights of last year's draft in St. Paul, Minnesota included the selection of Nugent-Hopkins first overall, the choice of Landeskog second and the appearance en masse of the fans from Winnipeg, who were thrilled to learn their franchise would once again be called the Jets as the team picked Mark Scheifele with the seventh overall pick.
The home fans in Minnesota where pleased with Jonas Brodin was taken 10th, and thrilled with the Minnesota Wild dealt defenseman Brent Burns to the San Jose Sharks, along with a 2012 second round pick, for forward Devin Setoguchi, the rights to 2010 first round pick Charlie Coyle and the #28 pick, which they used to select Zack Phillips of the Saint John Sea Dogs. Minnesota later made the locals happy with their second round pick of Mario Lucia, the first Minnesotan taken in the draft, who just happened to be the son of Don Lucia, the coach of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Perhaps the fans in attendance in Pittsburgh will have a chance to enjoy the same excitement this year, as Pittsburgh natives John Gibson (39th) and Brandon Saad (43rd) were both taken in the second round last year, as well as Vincent Trocheck (64th) going in the third.
On the jersey front, the draft is also frequently the first public airing of several new jerseys, as was the case last season with Nugent-Hopkins kicking off last year's draft by wearing the Oilers new, white road jersey, #3 pick Jonathan Huberdeau donning the Florida Panthers new red home jersey, Christopher Gibson debuting the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings new, white road jersey, Magnus Heilberg wearing the Nashville Predators newly redesigned white jersey and Vladislav Namestnikov putting on the Tampa Bay Lightning's new blue road jersey. While the Winnipeg Jets name was announced, the arrival of their jerseys would have to wait, as Scheifele was given a generic, black NHL crested jersey at the 2011 draft.
Christopher Gibson in the Kings new road jersey
Today's featured jersey is a 2011-12 Colorado Avalanche Gabriel Landeskog jersey as worn by the second overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, who went on to be named the winner of the 2012 Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year.
The Avalanche first introduced this blue alternate in 2009, opting to make their secondary blue trim color the main color for this jersey, rather than the burgundy of their previous alternate used from 2001-2007.
Today's video section begins with Nugent-Hopkins being taken 1st overall last year.
Here is fan reaction to Columbus losing this year's "Fail for Nail" Draft Lottery.
Finally, a profile of expected #1 pick Yakupov.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Last night Evgeni Malkin picked up his second Art Ross Trophy as the 2011-12 NHL scoring champion, as his 109 points were 12 more than his next closest pursuer and made him the only player in the league to surpass 100.
His season was also recognized with the Ted Lindsay Award (previously the Lester Pearson Award) as the NHL's Most Outstanding Player as voted by his peers, the members of the NHL Players Association.
Malkin's hat trick of awards was capped off by by receiving the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player, only the third Russian to win the NHL's most prestigious award after Sergei Fedorov and Alexander Ovechkin. It was also the fourth time a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins won the award, following Mario Lemieux (1988, 1993 and 1996), Jaromir Jagr (1999) and Sidney Crosby (2007).
Malkin poses with his Lindsay, Ross and Hart trophies
His hoard of trophies last night were in addition to his participation in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game, being named to the NHL First All-Star Team, being named the Penguins MVP and the Kharlamov Trophy as the Best Russian Player in the NHL.
His memorable evening capped off a terrific month for Malkin, who won a gold medal at the 2012 IIHF World Championships exactly one month ago, where he was the tournament's leading scorer with 11 goals and 19 points in 10 games, which earned him a place on the tournament's All-Star Team and the award for both the tournament's Best Forward and Most Valuable Player. He was only the second player to lead both the NHL and World Championships in scoring in the same season after Wayne Gretzky in 1982.
Malkin celebrating Russia's 2012 world championship
Today's featured jersey is a 2011-12 Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin jersey as worn on October 13, 2011 when both the Penguins and Washington Capitals wore patches featuring the logo of the Russian team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, whose plane crashed five weeks earlier, killing 44 of the 45 people on board, including the entire team and it's staff.
The idea to raise money for the families left behind originated with Malkin, who went to Penguins general manager Ray Shero to ask for the team's help in raising money.
"We were born in Russia. We know these guys," Malkin said. "We (played) with these guys on teams, the national team. We need to help their families because those are (our) guys." The Capitals were brought into the plan thanks to their Russian captain Ovechkin. "I know Alex. We talked to him," Malkin said. "We had ideas to sell jerseys Oct. 13 and do an auction."
"We compete against each other hard on the ice, but off the ice we all are part of one big hockey family," Shero said. "Many of our players had friends on the Lokomotiv team. All of us in hockey were touched by this tragic loss. We just thought this game was a unique opportunity for our two teams to work together to raise money for the children and families of the players, coaches and staff who lost their lives."
Mario Lemieux drops the ceremonial puck between Malkin and Ovechkin prior to the game where the Penguins and Capitals wore patches honoring the Lokomotiv victims
Following the game, the jerseys were then auctioned off on NHL.com with the proceeds given to the children and families of the Lokomotiv players. Malkin's jersey sold for $4,020, slightly behind Sidney Crosby's $4,097, while Ovechkin topped the list at $5,501 with teammate and fellow Russian Alexander Semin reaching $3,124.
Today's video section begins with "Evergene" Malkin accepting his Lindsay Award from Ted Lindsay himself.
Next, "Evgani" getting a chance to show his sense of humor concerning his command of English as he accepts his Hart Trophy as league MVP.
Finally, a video segment on the efforts to raise money by the Penguins organization for the families of the Lokomotiv disaster.