- Gare Joyce
MINNEAPOLIS -- The New York Rangers had super-skilled D-man Ryan Murphy in for testing and an interview last week. I hope he made the most of his time in the Big Apple and caught a couple of shows, because it's unlikely he'll land on Broadway during Friday's first round.
All reports here indicate he will not get past the Boston Bruins at No. 9. Murphy also made a trip to test and interview with the Bruins, and the word is Peter Chiarelli & Co. came away with everything they wanted to see and hear to not only draft him -- as we suggested in our final mock draft -- but also expect him to be in the lineup at 18 years old.
My gut is that it might be a good pick but a rush into the Bruins' lineup risks the development of an elite prospect. While the combine mostly confirmed opinions about Murphy not being physically ready, his emotional readiness might be more problematic.
The Bruins might think Murphy can follow the example of former Kitchener teammate Jeff Skinner in making the jump to the NHL at 18, but it's easier to "hide" a forward in tough times than a defenseman. And if Murphy is brought in to be a sixth defenseman and power-play specialist, the danger is the casting of the dye. He could be forever destined for that role instead of getting the opportunity to fully develop the other necessary skills to be a top-four defenseman.
Where Landeskog lands
Murphy's junior team, Kitchener, came to the draft operating on the presumption that the team is going to lose left winger Gabriel Landeskog. The buzz here is Landeskog won't get past No. 3 pick, held by the Florida Panthers, but there's been talk that the Colorado Avalanche will snap him up at No. 2, if there are no trades and the draft order holds. Landeskog went up to Ottawa for an interview but it was basically a goodwill tour. There's a better chance of an unexpected full solar eclipse this weekend than Landeskog donning a Senators sweater Friday night.
The Kitchener brass will drop their rights to Landeskog to take an import in the Central Hockey League import draft. In the unlikely event Landeskog doesn't play in the NHL next season (the only imaginable reason being a failure to reach contract agreement), Landeskog's option would be to return to Sweden to play in the Swedish Elite League.
A good measure of how much Ryan Strome's stock has risen: Hockey Canada didn't invite the Niagara center to the tryouts for its Under-18 team last summer. It was a bit of a blow and a motivator for Strome, who had played for Ontario in the Under-17 World Challenge the previous season. Now he'll be taken before all the players who went to the Ivan Hlinka, with the exception of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jonathan Huberdeau.
It's an indication of how much drag a poor team can put on a talented player's stock. "I was real lucky to go to a good team in Niagara," Strome said Thursday. "We really struggled in Barrie [the team that had selected him in the OHL draft]. I like to think that I'd be able to show enough to be here but it's easier to show what you can do with a good club or in the playoffs than it is with a team that doesn't make it."
You can be sure Ottawa is hoping Strome slides to No. 6, given question marks attached to Sean Couturier, who has slipped back from his early-season perch atop our prospect rankings.
Most misbegotten move by an agent this year: Agent Gilles Lupien imposed a media embargo on Couturier last fall on the presumption that he might be distracted by reporters hanging around. Said one NHL scout: "It just sends the wrong message about the player. [Lupien] has a rep as a problem agent but if the player doesn't want to do that, he won't." That's to say, in the eyes of scouts, Couturier shares some of the responsibility for that move.
The Columbus Blue Jackets' selection of Portland Winterhawks center Ryan Johansen looked to be a sure winner last year, but the trade for Jeff Carter got very mixed reviews in Minneapolis Thursday. 1) Industry opinion of Carter is he was a very poor second -- at best -- to Mike Richards and a bad contract. 2) Columbus traded for a player who will use a bad situation with the Blue Jackets as an excuse for underachievement. 3) The Blue Jackets in their desperation overpaid with Jakub Voracek (a young player with lots of upside left) and the No. 8 overall pick Friday night. The extra third-rounder they threw in? Complete overkill.
Those who are defending the Jackets' move say the team identified No. 8 as the fall-off mark, the point in which the second tier of prospects kicks in. If Mika Zibanejad and/or Mark Scheifele are still on the board for Philadelphia, Columbus guessed wrong. The Blue Jackets' Scott Howson's decision has the whiff of desperation, and masterstrokes are rarely made when a GM is worried about his job or a franchise fears losing its place in its market.
Gare Joyce reports on the draft rumors and buzz circulating in Minneapolis, where it seems the Boston Bruins are targeting super-skilled D-man Ryan Murphy. Plus, a possible surprise at the No. 2 spot.