First things first. If Pierre McGuire was the general manager of an NHL team with a solid forward corps but weak defense, he would select Victor Hedman with the first overall selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
If the commentator for TSN, NBC, Sports Illustrated and just about everywhere else was the GM of a team with needs all over the roster, he would take John Tavares – and not hesitate one second to do so.
“John Tavares will score a lot of goals, help you win a lot of hockey games and sell you a lot of tickets,” McGuire told Point Blank over the phone today. “If you’re a team like the Islanders with many needs and a lot on the line, you take Tavares.”
The conversation continued…
Does Matt Duchene belong in this conversation at all, Pierre?
Hmm, probably not. Just a step below Tavares and Hedman. He’s in a different group with 2 or 3 other guys. Let me be clear: I love Matt Duchene. He just missed out on Team Canada at the World Junior Championships and my heart broke for the kid. I thought he could have made it over Angelo Esposito, but Angelo had a great tourney so you can’t criticize that move.
Duchene’s going to be a great player. He’s also an outstanding person. He has definitely moved up the ranks this season where I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes 3, and the team that gets him is going to have a wonderful hockey player leading their franchise for a long time.
I’ve heard scouts have been all over his playoffs for Brampton.
For good reason. He’s having a tremendous postseason. He’s playing with Cody Hodgson and Evgeny Gratchev. They are something to watch. You want to see how Duchene excels in pressure situations. With each game, Matt’s stock is rising. He won’t go 1 or 2. He shouldn’t go 1 or 2. He’s not in the same category as Tavares and Hedman. He doesn’t have the same pedigree.
If any team gives up the right to draft Hedman, got something big in return and grabbed Duchene at 3 or 4, would you freak out like you did when the Islanders passed on Parise to draft Nilsson?
Definitely not. I would support a move like that very much – especially if the team got something great in return. I would not flip out in the TV booth. Come out of the draft with Matty Duchene and another piece to your puzzle, and you’re one of the biggest winners of the draft. By the way, was I wrong to lose it on the Parise deal?
Every time Zach takes the ice, he makes you look smart. Okay, back to John Tavares. No. 1, hands down?
Yes – unless you’re just a brutal defensive team and your forwards are okay. Did I mention John Tavares is going to sell you tickets?
Hey, I wrote a few days ago that if the Islanders win the lottery on Tuesday night, they should just claim Tavares right on the spot.
That’s why I still return your calls! You and I think a lot alike.
What’s Hedman’s upside?
Special. Real special.
Talk to me about Evander Kane.
Should be an excellent player along the boards, a tremendous offensive weapon. Everyone talks about his weight (listed anywhere between 165-180 lately). I’m not concerned about that at all. He’s a skinny kid right now but he’s going to fill out. He has a large frame. He could easily get to 205 pounds in the NHL. Kane will not lose one-on-one battles.
Sounds a bit like Kyle Okposo.
I think Kyle has even more upside offensively. Quick story. I spoke with Okposo before the WJC last year. I said to him, “You have to stop being so unselfish, Kyle”! He was always looking to include his linemates on every play. That’s admirable, but when you have talent and power like he does, sometimes you’ve got to take over the play yourself. He looked incredible in the second half for the Isles.
For such a strong, big person, he’s as good a skater as you’ll ever find. World-class speed. My only question is whether he’ll be a pure finisher at the NHL level. I’ve said that if you took this kid’s wheels and gave him Brendan Shanahan’s hands, you’d have one of the most exciting players in the history of the game.
From our conversation so far, my take is you have Tavares and Hedman in one group and Duchene and Kane at the next level in a group of their own.
Yeah, that’s right. Paajarvi-Svensson is real close with Duchene and Kane because even if his finish isn’t the best, he’ll still be an outstanding playmaker.
Probably the second-best defenseman in the draft. If a team gets him anywhere after the 7th pick, they’ll have one of the steals of the draft. A very, very good defenseman. Time will tell about his lateral mobility, but I wouldn’t be too concerned. Cowen is so good, missing the second half of the season has not really hurt his draft status.
But you don’t have Cowan with Duchene, Kane and P-S.
No. He’s in the next grouping.
Okay, so beyond all the kids I’ve mentioned, who’s the one prospect you love that no one includes in the top 6 or 7?
Ryan Ellis, the defenseman from Windsor – Josh Bailey’s old teammate. Brian Rafalski with more offense. People say he’ll go between 12-20. He’s going to fall to someone because he’s not huge, but he’s exceptional. If I’m a team wants to make a big move to get younger, I could see a team like Detroit making a play for him. Any team would be wise to. He’s the real deal.
TSN vs. POINT BLANK TOP 10
Originally posted two months ago tonight, our top 10 rankings remain the same. Here’s how it cross-checked with TSN’s on Feb. 13. Please note, this is not Pierre McGuire’s list.
TSN Point Blank
1. John Tavares 1. Tavares
2. Victor Hedman 2. Hedman
3. Matt Duchene 3. Duchene
4. Evander Kane 4. Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi
5. Brayden Schenn 5. Kane
6. Jared Cowen 6. Schenn
7. Svensson-Paajarvi 7. Cowen
8. Nazem Kadri 8. Jordan Schroeder (TSN ranks 12)
9. Scott Glennie (PB ranks 14) 9. Kadri
10. Oliver Ekman-Larsson (PB 12) 10. Ryan Ellis (TSN 13)