In some ways, this day has been more anticipated than the last Draft Day. Although Garth kept it close to the vest, everyone really knew who he was going to draft with the first pick. He did pull some surprises with subsequent picks.
Even before the 2009-10 season began...in fact, even before the 2009 draft took place, many of us were looking forward to this one. Taylor Hall and Cam Fowler were the big names on everybody's lips. Now, between our draft position and our perceptions, the choice for many of us is between Erik Gudbranson and Nino Niederreiter, two players we had not even heard of a year ago.
Some things have not changed. Burkie tried to dominate the headlines last year by threatening to huff and puff and blow Garth's doors down to get the #1 pick. This year, he is trying to convince his fanbase that the rest of the NHL GMs are desperate to give away their franchises to rent Tomas Kaberle for a year. Burkie is always Burkie.
There is, of course, the Edmonton-Boston, Hall-Seguin storyline. Will Jason Spezza be traded (probably not)? Are the Bowmans done dealing (ditto)? Will Florida and / or Columbus move their picks (maybe)?
Then there are the Islanders. Will Erik be on the board when Garth first steps up to the podium? Will he trade down and try to get Nino + McIlrath or whoever? Will he try to move the #35 up and have at least two picks today? What will he do with the second and subsequent round picks? Will there be any Anders Lee type surprises?
And will Garth make any trades? The one gamechanger Garth could make would be to move Mark Streit. He could send him to Anaheim for Bobby Ryan or to Columbus for the #4 pick. It would be risky, but if he could also sign Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek, this team would become an instant contender.
Assuming Garth doesn't pull off such a blockbuster, he really needs to bolster the second line if he is going to make good on his playoff pledge. I am confident that he will improve the defense between draft and free agency. The second line is another matter. I am just not impressed with Schremp-Bailey-Comeau.
There are two trades he could make. He could send Bergy along with maybe a pick in 2011 for Kris Versteeg. And he could send Schremp to Columbus for Nikita Filatov. Versteeg is not a Q guy and the Hawks still need to make cap space. If THN is right, the Jackets will be anxious to move Filatov and they need a second line center. One or both of those moves could work. Or Garth could just rely on that old Moulson magic. We'll see. Should be interesting.