The 2017 NHL Draft Lottery show begins tonight at 6:30 p.m. Central time on NBC. Dallas Stars fans have a vested interest in learning the results this year: The organization has an outside chance at a top three spot, including the golden ticket of first overall. (The Stars haven’t drafted at the No. 1 spot since they were the Minnesota North Stars; you may remember that guy they got in 1988.)
The knock on this year’s class is that it’s merely “average” in terms of franchise-level talent. Michael Traikos of the Toronto Sun offers some perspective:
In some ways, this year’s draft resembles the 2012 draft, where Nail Yakupov went first overall and many players were coming off a season where they had missed time with significant injury. There was plenty of talent available — including Morgan Rielly (5th overall), Hampus Lindholm (6th) and Filip Forsberg (11th) — but no slam dunks.
You had to do your homework, while also crossing your fingers. This year is more of the same. [Toronto Sun]
Yet there really is some intrigue afoot – namely, a close race between centers Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier in what Bob McKenzie calls “the most legitimate draft battle for No. 1 we've seen since Taylor (Hall) versus Tyler (Seguin) in 2010”:
For TSN's Draft Lottery edition, five scouts ranked the 6-foot-2, 198-pound Patrick No. 1; five scouts ranked the 6-foot-1, 176-pound Hischier No. 1. The Swiss pivot has closed the gap with his dynamic play, which came at a time when Patrick's injury-riddled season was ended prematurely by an upper-body ailment that wasn’t related to the groin/abdominal issues that plagued him for the first half of the season.
In order to break the Nolan-Nico dead heat, TSN decided to survey another 10 scouts representing another 10 teams and – yup, you guessed it – five named Patrick as No. 1 and five put Hischier at No. 1. [TSN]
What about Patrick, who for nearly a year has been the presumptive No. 1? Brandon Wheat Kings GM Grant Armstrong has had a front-row view of the young center’s career to date and says he can have a big impact – if his future team doesn’t expect a teenage phenom who will challenge for NHL trophies next season:
“I’m hoping that the team will take their time and not rush Nolan Patrick and to let him come along slow and develop. When he’s ready to do more, the team will know it."...
"I think there are people who believe he’s going to walk in and save a team. That’s not what he is right now," Armstrong said.
“He’s a solid, two-way guy who takes as much pride in his defensive play as making a play offensively. He’s a guy who eventually you’re going to put out in all situations. To me, he’s going to be like a Bo Horvat. He’s going to have that type of impact to your lineup when he’s suitably ready.” [Sportsnet]
Meanwhile, Hischier racked up 38 goals and 48 assists in 57 games – good for Rookie of the Year honors – with the Halifax Mooseheads. He’s also coming off an authentically thrilling performance with Team Switzerland at the 2017 World Juniors:
At the world juniors ... Hischier had a team-leading four goals and three assists. In the quarterfinals, Switzerland nearly upset the American team, with Hischier scoring twice in a 3-2 loss. The United States went on to win the tournament. United States Coach Bob Motzko said Hischier was the best player the team saw at the tournament. ...
If there is an area where Hischier could improve, it is his play in his own zone, said Tommy Albelin, a former Devils defenseman and a member of Switzerland’s coaching staff at the world juniors.
“It’s just more the defensive things: stick positioning, battles around the net,” he said. “You’ve got to just have the effort and pay attention in practice as well, and it’s going to come in games.” [The New York Times]
Here’s where the top skaters and netminders from North America and Europe are ranked – at least until this evening:
Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Adam Cracknell, who welcomed their new daughter yesterday.
Welcome to the world Lynde Christina Marie. Your mom and I are already your biggest fans. pic.twitter.com/K5D0GoQtRv— Adam Cracknell (@ACracknell24) April 29, 2017
Mike Heika grades the Stars’ defenders and finds some reasons to be cheerful after the Lost Season.
Sean Shapiro talks Segs’ health, the ESPN layoffs, free-agent goalies and more in his latest Mailbag.
STARS MAILBAG: Seguin, Darling, free agents, journalism, and summer movies https://t.co/4RQmoQMRO9— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) April 28, 2017
Meanwhile, 6-7 Stars blueline prospect
Manmountain Miro Karjalainen will go from the ECHL back to the Liiga in 2017-18.
And the Stars share a day in the life of Victor E. Green and his Mini-Me: Jaxon Green of Leander, Texas, who’s inspired by hockey in his fight against cystic fibrosis.
Last night, in the Stanley Cup playoffs:
- Vladimir Tarasenko and the St. Louis Blues took advantage of Nashville Predators penalties – including a five-minute major against Vernon Fiddler – to even the series with a 3-2 win. [St. Louis Game Time]
- Cam Talbot provided the heroics as the Edmonton Oilers took a 2-0 series lead over the Anaheim Ducks, 2-1. [Copper & Blue]
There were several scary minutes for Colton Parayko after taking that (probably accidental) knee-on-knee contact from Fidds, but he came back to the game and even assisted on Jori Lehtera ’s equalizer. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
Real-life pals Kevin Shattenkirk and Nick Bonino are now bitter rivals for Lord Stanley’s cup, which sounds like a summer movie waiting to happen. [NHL]
If you don’t already feel some kind of way about Mike Milbury, you might after hearing him call P.K. Subban a “clown” for dancing during warmups. [Puck Daddy]
You can cross Scott Darling off your goalie wish list. (Sorry about that.) [NHL on NBC]
In 2017 Kelly Cup action, the Allen Americans (San Jose Sharks) lost Game 1 of the Mountain Division finals to the Colorado Eagles (Colorado Avalanche). The series continues today at Allen Events Center, and tickets are still available.
Finally: The Parade of Playoffs Songs begins here! Rap duo Young Planet embraces the legend of Alex Ovechkin with a track called, simply, “Ovi.” Enjoy responsibly – contains a sprinkling of salty language. [Russian Machine Never Breaks]