NHL Draft Notebook
Name is Luca
Swiss star, Tampa Bay pick will choose
between Clarkson, St. Cloud State
By Joe Gladziszewski
and Mike Eidelbes
|Tampa Bay draft pick Luca Cunti, a native of Zurich, Switzerland, will land at either Clarkson or St. Cloud State this fall.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Luca Cunti isn't a
college hockey player. Yet.
He was the 75th overall pick in the draft
by the Tampa Bay Lightning and hopes to play college hockey
this fall. Cunti, a native of Zurich, Switzerland is having
his academic paperwork processed by the NCAA Clearinghouse
and if he is eligible to play, he plans to enroll at Clarkson
or St. Cloud State.
Cunti played with Dubendorf of the Swiss League
last season. The 6-foot, 190-pound center was rated by the
Central Scouting Service as the 12th-best available European
skater in both the mid-term and final CSS rankings. He played
for Switzerland in the IIHF Under-18 World Championship
and led the the team with three goals.
Central Scouting described Cunti as "a
skilled forward with an excellent stride and speed …
has very good on ice awareness and soft hands … controls
the puck well and scores highlight reel goals." Those
are attributes that would obviously be welcome at Clarkson
or St. Cloud State, but two decisions remain – one
by the NCAA, and another by Cunti.
|Boston College recruit Tommy
Cross, a Connecticut native chosen by the Bruins in
Saturday's second round.
||Colorado College forward Bill
Sweatt, a Chicagoland native chosen by the Blackhawks
in Saturday's second round.
The early part of Saturday's second round
included two teams swapping picks and making a pair of college
players very happy to be selected by their regional favorites.
The Boston Bruins moved up from 38th to 35th and selected
Tommy Cross, a native of Connecticut and childhood fan of
the Boston Bruins. Cross will enroll at Boston College in
the fall of 2008 after heading back to Westminster Prep
for the upcoming season.
"I grew up watching the Bruins, watching
NESN, and I'm going to BC in a couple of years," Cross
said. "It's great to have the Boston connection and
it's a great day."
The team that Boston exchanged picks with,
the Chicago Blackhawks, went three spots later and selected
Colorado College forward Billy Sweatt with the 38th overall
pick. Sweatt was born in Lombard, Ill. and raised in Elburn,
Ill. Like Cross with the Bruins, Sweatt was a fan of the
Blackhawks as a youngster.
"I was really happy the Blackhawks took
me. It's a hometown team. I love the city of Chicago, so
it's a great day," Sweatt said. "It's definitely
an honor and it's definitely a dream come true to play in
the greatest city alive."
Waiting until the second day of the draft
was not a problem for these players, who now have the opportunity
to pursue a professional career with franchises and in cities
that they've admired throughout their lives.
SEEN AND HEARD AT NATIONWIDE ARENA
|Michigan Tech recruit Casey Pierro-Zabotel
• Michigan Tech fans
are naturally excited about forward Casey Pierro-Zabotel,
the program's most highly anticipated recruit in ... well,
in a long, long time. There's a stumbling block that could
keep him from donning a Huskies sweater, however.
Earlier this week, INCH learned that Pierro-Zabotel,
who played for the British Columbia Hockey League's Merritt
Centennials and was selected by Pittsburgh Penguins in Saturday's
third round with the 80th overall pick, has yet to achieve
a qualifying score on his SAT.
"I think I'm just going through the [NCAA]
Clearinghouse right now, and I should be fine," Pierro-Zabotel
said. "I got my ACT and SAT scores in last week."
If Pierro-Zabotel fails to qualify academically,
he'd have to wait until October to retake both the ACT and/or
• While most of the
cheers from the crowd attending the draft were reserved
for picks made by the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Calgary
Flames drew a nice round of applause after announcing the
organization was taking "future Ohio State forward
C.J. Severyn" with the sixth pick in the seventh round
(186th overall). The Nationwide Arena deejay, picking up
on the Buckeye connection, quickly flipped the McCoys classic
"Hang On Sloopy" onto the rink's public address
system. "Sloopy," the state of Ohio's official
rock song — this is not a joke — is a favorite
at OSU athletic events when performed by the Bucks' bands.
• And speaking of Columbus residents
… Former Buckeye David Steckel, a likely NHLer for
the Washington Capitals for the 2007-08 season, was on hand
Friday night for the first round at Nationwide Arena and
hung out at the Caps' suite, greeting first-round pick Karl
Alzner and socializing with team officials. Steckel was
a first-round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2001.
• T.J. Galiardi enjoyed a successful
freshman year at Dartmouth, finishing second on the Big
Green in scoring only behind Hobey Baker finalist David
Jones. Galiardi will not return to Dartmouth next year,
and expects that he'll sign a pro contract and play in the
American Hockey League for the Avalanche's affiliate in
Cleveland, the Lake Erie Monsters. "My plan is to play
next year in the AHL and if that doesn't work out I'll go
wherever they want me," Galiardi said.
• Back in the day, the NHL granted the
Montreal Canadiens exclusive rights to players within a
50-mile radius of the city, allowing Les Habitants to stockpile
Francophones such as Maurice and Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau
and the like. Toronto had a similar arrangement. One must
wonder if Dallas has such rights to skaters from Virginia,
a small town on Minnesota's Iron Range. Two years after
taking Matt Niskanen, the former Minnesota Duluth defenseman
who hails from the city, in the first round, the Stars tabbed
Nico Sacchetti, a Minnesota-bound forward from Virginia,
in Saturday's second round.
• Fans attending this year's draft could
sound off on just about any topic via instant messaging.
Texts sent to a special number scrolled continuously along
the bottom of the Nationwide Arena scoreboard. Among the
more memorable college-themed notes were "Hey Darcy,
don't trade Drury" and "Hey Darcy, sign Jason
Blake," directed at Buffalo Sabres general manager
Darcy Regier and referring to Chris Drury, the ex-Boston
University star, and Blake, the former North Dakota standout
and New York Islanders free agent.
The best, however, was a message that read
"Congratulations Chris McAlpine on being selected by
the NJ Devils." McAlpine was drafted by the Devils
... in the seventh round of the 1990 NHL Draft. The former
Minnesota Golden Gopher played in 289 NHL games with nine
different teams over the course of his 10-year professional
career. He currently runs a Twin Cities-based strength and