Greetings from St. Paul, Minn., and the [fossil fuels and such] Center, home of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. As you might expect, the facility is filled with teenagers in suits, reporters in tattered polos, important men in headsets telling you where you can and can't go ... and people in Winnipeg Jets jerseys. They are playing mellow solo Sting songs through the P.A., while GMs and directors slowly filter into their table while discussing, one suspects, how the Flyers tore out their middle.
I saw a Blackhawks jersey with #9 and "WGN TV" on the back. Bobby Hull weeps. (My camera isn't talking to my computer right now, so I can't show you that foul and you're stuck with phone photos from me).
Please consider this our open thread for general draft discussion (and the usual OT stuff) as tonight's first round approaches and gets under way. Keith is attending the Islanders draft party at the Coliseum and will hopefully meet some of you and have something from that this weekend. We'll also add separate posts for specific Islanders picks (and any moves) as Draft Weekend launches with Flyers-like thunder and then putters to a halt sometime Saturday afternoon.Below, for your own inner battle between hope and anxiety, are a sampling of mock drafts' selections for the Islanders. I trust you'll love and hate them.
- NHL.com: Dougie Hamilton (Kimelman) | Hamilton (Moreales) | Larsson (Hoffner, after FLA reaches for Bealieu?)
- Kirk Luedeke (the guy behind Bruins2011DraftWatch): Hamilton
- Sportsnet.ca (Patrick King): Hamilton
- Nick Giglia (Let There Be Light(house)): Ryan Strome
- LHH (community draft, with Fabtraption taking the Isles): Dougie Hamilton
- TSN (McGuire and Button): Ryan Strome
- CBC: Hamilton
I would go on -- and I certainly have seen other mock drafts that put Sean Couturier, Gabriel Landeskog, Larsson (in a shock) or a different reach (Murphy) in the Islanders' hands. But a whole lot put Hamilton there, and some recent ones put Strome there.
The best part of all this? No one really has a clue -- except for the handful of Islanders management people who won't tip their hand. So just sit back, party if you like, wait until the news hits, and enjoy...