2:20 pm PT, LOS ANGELES: You want to bottle these kids up and hope they never change. Most of them don’t; only the occasional one loses sight of what he was.
The NHL just brought out nine of the draft’s top prospects for a little show-and-tell with the media atop the Target rooftop lounge at LA LIVE, across from the Staples Center. To a young man, they were cordial, open and charming.
The attendees: Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Brett Connolly, Erik Gudbranson, Cam Fowler, Brandon Gormley, Mark Pysyk, Emerson Etem and Jack Campbell.
Some random notes:
Erik Gudbranson has a meeting in two hours with the Florida Panthers.
Cam Fowler has a meeting with GM Dale Tallon and Co. in 30 minutes.
Brett Connolly said he has spent some time with Panthers management and expects to again.
I asked goalie Jack Campbell about the teams he has met with. This is where the hockey charm comes in. He said to me, “It is usual for the prospects to talk about that”? He said it in the nicest way, probably because I’m old enough to be his father. I mentioned to him how Gudbranson, Fowler and some of the others have been open about their fly-outs. Campbell, “Okay, then. Just wanted to make sure. Thanks for that. I have met with Dallas, Phoenix and the Blackhawks.”
Brandon Gormley said the next level of his game is to add more muscle and to increase his physicality. I thought that was cool. This is not meant to be cynical by any stretch, but it seemed pretty obvious Brandon is well aware of what is said about him in draft reports. He came across as a very determined, very smart kid.
Back around the horn on some of the prospects relevant to Islanders Country…
Fowler: “Taking batting practice at the Angels stadium was a highlight. I’m a big baseball fan. The In-n-Out Burger was great.” Fowler said he had a great meeting with the Islanders and appreciated all the interest they showed in him. His only meetings were with Columbus and the NYI.
On the eve of the draft, I asked Brett Connolly directly if he was confident he, his agent and his doctors did everything possible to explain the condition of his hip to prospective teams. “No doubt in my mind,” said Connolly. “We did everything we could have and should have.” I asked if they only sent medical information to teams upon request. Connolly said they did to five teams that requested, and he and his agent were proactive in distributing information to a few additional teams.
Gudbranson: “I was laying in bed last night, thinking that it took something like the last 15 years to get to this point and it’s finally here.”
“I plan on going to training camp with the idea that I’m a seventh round pick.”
On his trip to Long Island: “Everyone lays on the (car) horn pretty good,” he said with a smile, adding that he loved his visit with Garth Snow and to the Coliseum. “You walk in the arena, people say it’s a dump, but you see all the banners and see all the history. I was really blown away by that. That had an effect on me.”