NHL Entry Draft Notebook
at Salmon Arm
Two talented teammates head different directions
in the WCHA
Nate Ewell and Mike Eidelbes
– Travis Zajac and Kris Chucko, linemates with the Salmon
Arm Silverbacks of the BCHL and first-round selections of New
Jersey and Calgary, respectively, know that having each other
as teammates helped their standing in the NHL Draft. Not only
did their skills complement each other, but having two top prospects
on one team helped lure scouts to Salmon Arm.
a very good thing," Chucko said. "Both of us helped
each other. And if either of us were playing on our own, I don't
think we would have done as well."
The pair were
inseperable in many scouts' minds – with independent skills,
obviously, but each was hard to consider without looking at the
other. That was further evidenced by their draft positions, with
just three players separating the two of them. Zajac, in fact,
was answering a question about Chucko when Calgary called his
left wing to the podium.
are about to be severed, however, and in a big way. They'll play
for rivals in the WCHA this season, with Zajac headed to North
Dakota and Chucko going to Minnesota.
going to be a lot of fun," Chucko said. "The rivalry
has already started with lots of talk. It'll be a good battle
next year for sure, and we play them right at the beginning of
At that, Zajac,
who was within earshot in the interview room, turned and jabbed
his former linemate. "And North Dakota will win," he
consensus was that North Dakota's program won't miss a beat with
the departure of head coach Dean Blais to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
No less of
an authority than former Providence coach and current New Jersey
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello showed his support for the
Sioux by trading up to take a North Dakota player for the second
year in a row. Last year he moved up to grab Zach Parise at 17;
this year he nabbed Zajac at 20.
a great program," Lamoriello said, "and that's not going
to change. They have a lot of great supporting players who can
help [Zajac] grow."
was recruited primarily by Sioux interim head coach Dave Hakstol,
reaffirmed his commitment to the Sioux despite Blais' departure.
make a big difference to me," he said. "I don't think
the coach matters. They've got two capable guys there."
Drew Stafford, while shocked by the news, agreed with Zajac's
definitely a surprise," he said. "I got a call from
Dave Hakstol…he told me about it before the media knew about
it. The type of team that we have and the tradition that we have…it’s
just really, really successful.
have him and Brad Berry there…they’re two great coaches.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the year goes.”
As for Stafford's
future with the Sioux, he said he's in no rush to leave.
taking it on a season-by-season basis," he said. "If
I’m not ready to step in and play right away, there’s
no way I’m going to be leaving because I’d rather
be playing for North Dakota.”
AND HEARD AT THE RBC CENTER
New York media can't get enough of a good story, as Irene
Silva, Al Montoya's mother, discovered.
did a former Cornell Big Red goalie have to do with a Minnesota
guy getting taken ahead of a Wolverine? Plenty, according to Phoenix
Coyotes managing partner Wayne Gretzky.
our best young prospect is a goaltender in [David] LeNeveu,"
Gretzky explained, when asked why his team didn't take Al Montoya
instead of Blake Wheeler. "We feel very comfortable that
he'll be the goaltender of the future for the Phoenix Coyotes.
the prominent college players who are still waiting to hear their
names called (with their rankings among North American skaters
by Central Scouting): Notre Dame's Wes O'Neill (23rd), Ferris
State's Chris Zarb (37th), Brown's Brian Ihnacak (44th), Yale's
Blair Yaworski (47th) and Maine's Mike Lundin (54th).
Michigan's Darin Olver, depite being ranked 120th among North
American skaters in the final Central Scouting list, was taken
in the second round, 36th overall, by the New York Rangers. Olver's
coach and longtime family friend, Walt Kyle – who Olver
says "may even be my godfather" – is a former
assistant coach with the Rangers.
have a great year, but I felt, and Walt felt that [my ranking]
was a bit far-fetched," Olver said.
the Rangers' assistant general manager, agreed.
that kid," Maloney said. "He’s very, very competitive,
he’s smart…a playmaking center is hard to find. This
guy is a very good hockey player.”
wondered what Michigan State's A.J. Thelen would have done had
the NCAA not passed an opt-in waiver for the 2004 draft. In the
end, the waiver appears to have saved the Spartans their top defenseman.
Thelen said, when asked if he would have opted in regardless of
the ruling. "Just the way my family felt and I felt and the
situation I was in and how well I did over the year, it just felt
like the right time to do it.”
Stafford, a Buffalo draft pick, said he may have to be nicer to
fellow Sabres selection Thomas Vanek – at least in the future.
see him now, I’ll have to talk to him a little more. But
if he’s playing with the Gophers, he’s still a Gopher.”
Button, the director of amateur scouting for Calgary, was thrilled
to pick up Chucko in the first round: "He can score, he's
gritty, and after watching him in the playoffs, you need the type
of player who can score in the paint while he's being tugged on,
and he can do that."
Ottawa Senators, who had been shopping center Radek Bonk on the
trade market, sent him to the Los Angeles Kings for the third-round
pick that they used to select Clarkson-bound left wing Shawn Weller.
advisor said to me and my parents, 'This guy must be pretty good,
they just traded Radek Bonk for him,'" Weller said. "Then
they called my name."
Hurricanes center Eric Staal, the team's first round pick a year
ago, was in town for the proceedings. "My stomach feels a
lot better now than it did a year ago," Staal said.
spotted a St. Lawrence jersey in the crowd, but extra credit to
the three Michigan State jerseys worn by Scott Kingsley and his
family in section 128. Kingsley is a Spartan grad now living in
Raleigh; his son Robbie had an MSU sweater on, while sons Will
and Drew wore Canes jerseys. Their favorite players, of course,
are Rod Brind'Amour and Cane prospect Brad Fast.
of sweaters in the crowd, it's safe to say that Carolina fans
appreciate the work of Clarkson alum Erik Cole, whose No. 26 was
we're in the home of the franchise formerly known as the Whale,
would it be too much to ask to hear a few bars of "Brass
nasty weather outside reminded us of, well, a hurricane. If it
wasn't for breakfast at Waffle House and a steady stream of NASCAR
commercials, we might have forgotten that we were in the South