Usually there is as much dealing as there is drafting at the NHL Entry Draft.
The rain was coming down most of the day Thursday in Ottawa, Ontario, the site of the NHL Entry Draft. That was all right with David Poile, president of hockey operations/general manager for the Nashville Predators. He was in his hotel room all day fielding potential offers for draft picks and players.
“I’ve got my cell phone plugged in to charge because the battery is pretty low,” said Poile Thursday night. “We are kicking tires. We have a couple of deals we are looking at like everybody else.
“It is all across the map. Some teams are interested in some of our players and a lot of people are interested in our draft picks. We will run everything through the organization and see if a deal would make us better. If not, we are in a great position with our draft picks.”
The first round of the draft starts tonight at 6 at the Scotiabank Center. The second through seventh rounds are scheduled to begin Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
Poile got the dealing started for the Predators on Thursday as they traded left wing Darcy Hordichuk to the Carolina Hurricanes for a fifth-round pick in the 2009 draft. Hordichuk played in 45 regular season games for the Predators with one goal and two assists and 60 penalty minutes in 2007-2008. He also played in five playoff games against Detroit.
“We were talking with Darcy and we were fairly close to a deal,” said Poile. “Philosophically, he wanted two years and we wanted to just go with one year.
“He has really done a good job for us. He has filled his role well. But we felt it was probably time to make a change in that area.”
Poile added that he wanted to evaluate whether or not the Predators need another enforcer on the level of a Hordichuk.
“That’s something I am going to talk to the coaches about around July 1 as we get closer to free agency,” Poile said.
Hordichuk will become an unrestricted free agent July 1. If he does not sign with Carolina, the Predators will give the Hurricanes a fifth-round pick in the 2010 Entry Draft.
This move may be just an appetizer course for the Predators. They come to the table with four picks in the first two rounds of what has been classified as a deep draft in terms of talent. They have two picks in the first round (No. 9 and No. 15).
The Predators also have the No. 40 and No. 46 picks in the second round as well as No. 76 in the third, No. 106 in the fourth, No. 136 in the fifth and No. 166 in the sixth. The Predators have a total of eight picks.
“There is certainly a premium on our draft picks and this is going to be a very good draft,” Poile said. “The offers may go up as we get closer.
“I think everybody would be happy if the first round was completed without a trade. But I think there are a lot of teams putting pressure on other teams. Someone is going to come up with an offer that entices a team to do something.”
The No. 9 pick will be watched closely. It was part of the deal that sent All-Star goaltender Tomas Vokoun from the Predators to the Florida Panthers about an hour before the start of last year’s draft in Columbus, Ohio.
“We are going to be looking for the guys who can be winners,” said Poile. “We are going to be looking for players that we think can go the extra mile. We want to pick guys that we think can be successful in the playoffs.”
“On balance we would probably take a forward. But we are going with the list our scouts have given us. This draft could rank right up there with the best ever.”
Some of the players that could be available for the Predators at the No. 9 spot are center Colin Wilson from Boston University, the top-rated collegiate player in the draft; forward Cody Hodgson, who scored 85 points (40 goals) in 68 games for the Brampton Battalion; center Joshua Bailey, who scored 73 points (24 goals) in 56 games for the Windsor Spitfires; or center Kyle Beach, who scored 55 points (20 goals) in 55 games for Everett.
Defenseman Tyler Myers, 6-foot-7, was also considered a possibility but some projections have moved him to a top five spot in the draft.
Some players that might be available at the No. 15 spot are center Maxime Sauve (65 points, 26 goals, in 70 games for Quebec and Val-d’Or) and defenseman Colten Teubert with 12 points (five goals) and 122 penalty minutes in 52 games for Regina.
DRAFT PARTY: The Predators will host a draft party tonight starting at 5 at the Sommet Center. There will be food and drink specials at the concession stands.
Fans can watch the draft on the television screens at center ice. Forward J.P. Dumont will sign autographs. Peter Weber, Predators play-by-play announcer, will also be present.