Thursday, June 25, 2009


It's crystal ball time, or as us Vancouver Canucks fans say, the time of year where optimism meets its match.
For many years now, I've looked at the NHL draft as the start of the hockey season - or at least when the true chase for Lord Stanley's silver bowl gets underway.
Back in 1990 and the draft ventured west to BC Place, I took up a seat far afield from the big stage and watched in anticipation when Vancouver looked to end its endless search for a tall, talented centre. Petr Nedved was the consensus choice with the second pick overall, although at the time I was equally enamored with Mike Ricci. The Canucks had two first round choices that year and I followed it eagerly with a dog-eared copy of the Hockey News draft preview. As their pick approached I was certain who they should pick.
As much as I studied it, my expertise was purely paper-deep. Still, that burning, boiling pit of my stomach kept telling me that I was right. So when it came time to make the 18th pick of that first round, I shouted as loud as I could - "Take Tkachuk!" My friend beside me laughed.
The Canucks might as well have, too, just after they called out Shawn Antoski's name. Tkachuk was picked 19th overall by the Winnipeg Jets, and the rest they say, is history. The strapping Medford, Mass. native is still looking for his taste of Lord Stanley's filthy cup; the Canucks continue their search, like Homer, for something half illusion, half haunted. I don't live and die by the score anymore, but I do follow them still.
So tonight, when the draft comes up and the Canucks honchos approach the podium, I'll half-yell, with a wince, 'Take Tkachuk!'
In the meantime, here's my predictions for the Draft's first round...
1 - John Tavares, NYI
2 - Victor Hedman, TB
3 - Matt Duchene, COL
4 - Brayden Schenn, TOR * (acquiring the pick in a draft-day trade with Atlanta)
5 - Evander Kane, LA
6 - Oliver Ekman-Larsson, PHO
7 - Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, ATL * (acquired from Toronto)
8 - Jared Cowen, DAL
9 - Nazem Kadri, OTT
10- Zach Kassian, EDM
11- Jordan Schroeder, NAS
12- Chris Kreider, MIN
13- David Rundblad, BUF
14- John Moore, FLO
15- Scott Glennie, ANA
16- Ryan Ellis, CLB
17- Jeremy Morin, STL
18- Jacob Josefson, MTL
19- Drew Shore, NYR
20- Carter Ashton, CAL
21- Zach Budish, PHI
22- Dmitri Kulikov, VAN
23- Simon Despres, NJ
24- Nick Leddy, WAS
25- Tim Erixon, BOS
26- Landon Ferraro, NYI
27- Stefan Elliott, CAR
28- Jordan Caron, CHI
29- Ethan Werek, DET
30- Calvin De Haan, PIT

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