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Victor Hedman today became the third of The Big Three prospects for the 2009 NHL Draft to visit Long Island and meet with Islanders management.
Hedman, his father Olle and his agent Peter Wallen were picked up at their hotel this morning by Islanders general manager Garth Snow and given a tour of Nassau County that went from the North Shore to the southern beaches. The trip ended at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where Snow presented his vision for the franchise and listened to Hedman’s thoughts on where he fits with the Islanders.
During the visit, the group was joined by Islanders owner Charles Wang, scouting director Ryan Jankowski and legendary goal scorer Mike Bossy.
“First class in every way,” Wallen said early this evening from Pittsburgh, where Hedman was invited by the NHL to make a few appearances, meet the media and watch Tuesday night’s Cup Final Game 3 at the Igloo. “We wish we could have stayed longer, but the Islanders understood the NHL needed Victor in Pittsburgh. Long Island is such a beautiful place. I know Victor was really impressed by Garth’s presentation and that Mr. Wang took the time to meet with him. Victor’s father thought the Island would be more like a city. He thinks this is a great place for his son.”
The Islanders, who knew about Wallen’s stay with Mike Bossy’s family 30 years ago as a youth hockey player, added the touch of having Bossy stop by to say hello to the Hedmans. Bossy presented autographed prints from the famed photo shoot he did three decades ago with a hockey stick on fire.
“I’m there for Victor, who’s 18 years old, but I’m meeting Bossy for the second time and I turned into a kid again,” said Wallen. “That was amazing.”
I asked the agent if he has a better feel today for what the Islanders might do with the first overall draft selection.
“The only thing I know for sure is that the Islanders like Victor a lot,” said Wallen. “But I still don’t think we’ll know anything until the night of the draft. I’m sure the Islanders would love to have Victor, but there are at least two other great players in the mix. The Islanders have a tough decision to make, but they are in a very fortunate position. The way I see it, the race is wide-open and anything – including a trade – could happen.
“Just let everyone know that we enjoyed the trip and can’t thank the Islanders enough for the hospitality they showed us today.”
Note: In anticipation of the question, there are reasons why this blog was able to provide more inside coverage of Hedman’s visit – as opposed to previous trips by John Tavares and Matt Duchene. Thanks to some personal contacts, I was able to get Hedman on the phone last week at the Draft Combine. The last two days, Wallen was gracious enough to speak to me on-the-record.
Tavares and Duchene share an agent. Their agent has chosen to this point to stay more low-key. Different methods, that’s all. This doesn’t mean Tavares and Duchene are less-than-sterling young men. They are. I still hope to interview them in the near future.