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Panthers Draft Preview

Because of a strong 2011-2012 season the Florida Panthers find themselves in unfamiliar territory at this year’s National Hockey League entry draft, at the back of the room. The Panthers will select 23rd overall in round one when the draft begins tonight from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, unless GM Dale Tallon decides to make a trade between now and then. No matter what happens Tallon and Co. must choose carefully when using their picks, especially in a draft that is not considered “deep” in terms of NHL ready talent. With that in mind let’s take a look at some of the best players available for the Cats later in the first round as well as other important information for tonight in our Panthers draft preview.

Watch Parties:

The Florida Panthers are hosting official watch parties for the 2012 NHL entry draft at the Duffy’s in Fort. Lauderdale and the Duffy’s in Coconut Creek. Erik Gudbranson will be making an appearance at the watch party in Fort. Lauderdale. The addresses for both locations are:

Duffy’s Fort. Lauderdale
1804 Harbor Shops Road
Fort. Lauderdale, FL, 33316

Duffy’s Coconut Creek
4800 W. Hillsboro Blvd.
Coconut Creek, FL, 33073

Be sure to arrive early to get a good seat.

Picks:

Florida currently holds a total of five picks for this weekend’s entry draft. We expect Tallon to secure a few more but for now here is what the Panthers have to work with.

Round 1: 23rd overall
Round 2: 53rd overall
Round 3: 84th overall
Round 4: 114th overall
Round 6: 174th overall

Available Players:

Walking up the the podium to make a top 5 selection at an entry draft is easy. It takes a skilled general manager and scouting staff to find a good player later in the first round and beyond. The Panthers will need Tallon and his group of scouts to be at their best when deciding on who to choose with the draft picks listed above. Here are a couple of names that Cats fans might hear called by their team during round one tonight.

1. Brady Skjei, D, USHL
2. Martin Frk, RW, QMJHL
3. Mike Winther, C, WHL
4. Phillip Di Giuseppe, LW, CCHA
5. Slater Koekkoek, D, OHL
6. Scott Kosmachuk, RW, OHL
7. Tanner Pearson, LW, OHL

Rumors:

Trades are a huge part of the NHL entry draft, especially since all 30 general managers are in one room. The only major rumor involving the Florida Panthers thus far has to do with a former goaltender possibly looking to come “home”. TSN reported yesterday that there are two known teams involved in trade talks with the Vancouver Canucks for netminder Roberto Luongo, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Panthers. Darren Dreger, TSN’s hockey insider, thinks that Florida is a “long shot” as a destination for Luongo, but only time will tell for sure. Either way it is always interesting to hear the trade rumors on draft day, especially those that include the Florida Panthers.

Links:

For even more great coverage of the 2012 National Hockey League entry draft click through the following links.

Prospect Rankings, North American Skaters

Prospect Rankings, European Skaters

Prospect Rankings, North American Goalies

Prospect Rankings, European Goalies

TSN Draft Ranking

TSN Mock Draft

SouthEast Division Draft Preview

Be sure to tune in to the 2012 NHL entry draft tonight beginning at 7 PM EST on the NBC Sports Network to see who the Florida Panthers select with their 23rd overall pick.

Source(s): NHL, TSN

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Oilers Win Third Straight Draft Lottery

The Edmonton Oilers may have issues winning on the ice but they certainly know how to win when it comes to the draft lottery. The NHL held their annual draft lottery earlier this evening and the Oilers came out on top for the third year in a row, even though the Columbus Blue Jackets had the best chance of winning. After tonight’s lottery the draft order for the bottom 14 teams shapes up like this:

2012 NHL Draft Order

1. Edmonton Oilers
2. Columbus Blue Jackets
3. Montreal Canadiens
4. New York Islanders
5. Toronto Maple Leafs
6. Anaheim Ducks
7. Minnesota Wild
8. Carolina Hurricanes
9. Winnipeg Jets
10. Tampa Bay Lightning
11. Washington Capitals (From Colorado)
12. Buffalo Sabres
13. Dallas Stars
14. Calgary Flames

The remaining draft order of the first round will be determined after the playoffs are finished.

NHL Trade Deadline 2012 – Live!

Welcome to Sunshine State Hockey’s live coverage of the 2012 National Hockey League trade deadline. There are so many big questions to be answered today. Will the Columbus Blue Jackets trade Rick Nash? Will Toronto get their goaltender? How will Florida react to being buyers for the first time in years? All of these questions and more will be answered by 3:00 PM EST, so keep checking back.

10:30 AM – Good morning everyone. It is time to get our live coverage of the 2012 NHL trade deadline started. There hasn’t been any moves yet but we are sure the action will pick up soon.

10:35 AM – Rumors right now have Andrei Kostitsyn being dealt to Nashville, stay tuned.

10:45 AM – Who are some players that could find a new home today? Rick Nash – CBJ, Jonathan Bernier – LAK, Josh Harding – MIN, Jaroslav Spacek – CAR, Paul Gaustad – BUF.

10:45 AM – The first trade of the day: Nashville trades a 2nd round pick and a conditional 5th round pick in 2013 to Montreal for Andrei Kostitsyn.

10:50 AM – Some bad news for the Capitals as Nicklas Backstrom has been placed on long-term IR.

10:52 AM – Here’s a picture of the Panthers trade “war room” tweeted earlier by Florida’s official Twitter account. http://ow.ly/i/tPNJ

11:02 AM – The word out of Florida right now is that a lot of teams are interested in Jason Garrison. Tallon will not move him though unless he get’s a very good return.

11:25 AM – Here are some good twitter accounts to follow for all of your trade deadline day needs: @SSH_Marc, @OnFrozenPond, @DarrenDreger, @Real_ESPNLeBrun, @TSNBobMcKenzie

11:30 AM – Very slow start to the day. We all can only hope for more deals soon or else this is going to be a long day.

11:50 AM – Here is TSN’s list of trade bait for today’s deadline: Trade Bait.

12:00 PM – It is now noon which means that there are only three hours left before the deadline. There has still been only one trade made today, so let’s hope that changes.

12:05 PM – The Jets have claimed Grant Clitsome off of waivers from Columbus.

12:45 PM – Everyone still awake?

12:46 PM – We have our second trade of the day. The Red Wings trade Mike Commodore to Tampa for a conditional 7th round pick.

1:00 PM – Oilers trade Tom Gilbert to the Wild for Nick Schultz.

1:01 PM – This deadline is so slow that TSN’s live trade tracker has died.

1:10 PM – Minnesota Star Tribune writer Michael Russo just tweeted that “Nick Schultz wasn’t even told by #mnwild that he was traded before #oilers tweeted it. Pretty ticked off organization here”. Yikes.

1:15 PM – Time to make some lunch. Our live coverage will be back at 1:30 PM unless a trade breaks in the next 15 minutes.

1:35 PM – We are back and haven’t missed anything.

1:37 PM – Toronto has dealt Keith Aulie to the Lightning for Carter Ashton.

1:57 PM – The Avalanche trade Daniel Winnik, TJ Galiardi, and a 7th round pick to San Jose for Jamie McGinn, Mike Connolly, and Michael Sgarbossa.

2:00 PM – Ottawa trades Brian Lee to the Lightning for Matt Gilroy.

2:04 PM – The Blue Jackets trade Sami Pahlsson to the Vancouver Canucks for two 4th round picks (years TBA).

2:08 PM – Johnny Oduya has been traded by the Jets to Chicago for a 2nd and 3rd round pick in 2013.

2:10 PM – Things are starting to heat up with 50 minutes left before the 3:00 PM deadline, including talks about Rick Nash.

2:30 PM – 30 minutes left before the deadline.

2:50 PM – 10 minutes remaining…

2:58 PM – Brian Rolston and Mike Motteau have been traded from the Islanders to Boston for Yannick Riendeau and Marc Cantin.

3:00 PM – The deadline has passed.

3:01 PM – Paul Gaustad and a 4th round pick sent to Nashville from Buffalo for a 1st round pick.

3:10 PM – Panthers GM Dale Tallon says that he made a lot of phone calls but didn’t do anything. Dale is satisfied with the team he has.

3:11 PM – Bruins acquire Greg Zanon from Minnesota for Steve Kampfer.

3:17 PM – Confirmed: Rangers get John Scott from the Hawks for a 5th round pick.

3:24 PM – Toronto makes a minor league deal by trading Dale Mitchell to Anaheim for Mark Fraser.

3:30 PM – Brian Burke does not like phones going off during his press conference.

3:35 PM – Buffalo acquires Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer from Vancouver for Zack Kassian and MA Gragnani. There still might be more.

4:00 PM – Canucks get Andrew Gordon from the Ducks for Sebastian Erixon.

4:20 PM – Well folks we are going to cut our coverage of the 2012 NHL trade deadline ten minutes short. Today was something, that’s for sure. Check back with Sunshine State Hockey over the next couple of days for more coverage of this seasons trade deadline.

Top 10 Tonight – NHL Trade Deadline

Welcome to Sunshine State Hockey’s newest late night article, Top 10 Tonight. This new feature will give the night owls something to read involving a current headline topic in the National Hockey League. In tonight’s inaugural post we will examine the NHL trade deadline by looking at the top 10 teams that will be buyers.

Top 10 teams that will be buyers

1. New York Rangers – This has been too good of a year for New York not to make the biggest splash before the deadline. Even if the Rangers cannot land Rick Nash before 3:00 PM it has to be expected that GM Glen Sather will bring in some help for what fans in NYC hope is a long playoff push.

2. Los Angeles Kings – The Kings have already been a part of the biggest trade before the deadline so far by acquiring Jeff Carter from Columbus but one has to think that they are not done yet. Expectations are too high for LA to be this low in the standings this late in the season, so they could make some more moves to help right the ship.

3. Nashville Predators – With Shea Weber and Ryan Suter set to become free agents on July 1st (Weber RFA, Suter UFA) it has to be an all or nothing mentality for Nashville. Some individuals even expect the Predators to be among the teams with serious interest in Nash, even though the Blue Jackets captain holds all the cards in that situation.

4. San Jose Sharks – San Jose is a high caliber team that just cannot get it done in the post season. Yes the Sharks have made some good runs in recent years but the ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup, or in SJ’s case at least make it to the cup finals. This team may want to try and do that this season because their big named players (Thornton and Marleau) are not getting any younger. Bringing in some outside help, big or small, may be the answer.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs – The Leafs are right in the mix of the playoff race but without extra help they may not be able to get in. Toronto’s goaltending situation is anything but ideal so don’t be surprised if they give a team like Los Angeles a call. Let’s also not forget to toss the Leafs name into the Rick Nash sweepstakes, even though no one is sure what they could offer for that high level of talent.

6. Washington Capitals – The Caps are having a very tough year and currently sit three points behind the SouthEast division leading Florida Panthers. Washington is a team without an identity, but that could easily change before 3:00 PM today if George McPhee wants to make it so. They have plenty of pieces to work with so we definitely expect the Capitals to do something.

7. Ottawa Senators – The surprising Senators currently sit 7th in the Eastern Conference with 74 points but may have an issue staying there after starting goaltender Craig Anderson injured himself while cutting frozen chicken (seriously). After acquiring Ben Bishop from St. Louis yesterday Ottawa is not expected to go out and grab another netminder, but they could very well plug some other holes in their lineup via trade.

8. Florida Panthers – After acquiring Jerred Smithson from Nashville on Friday and Wojtek Wolski from the Rangers on Saturday Panthers GM Dale Tallon stated that he is not done. While we do not expect Florida to go after any big names they could upgrade their talent level with some two for one trades, especially with all of the extra players on the roster. The Panthers have a very realistic shot at winning the SouthEast Division this year and Dale Tallon will do his best to make sure they do so.

9. Chicago Blackhawks – Chicago is a team that’s very tough to judge this season. They win three in a row then drop nine straight, then they follow that up with a four game winning streak only to drop three more games after that. The Hawks cannot expect to make it far in the playoffs with that kind of up and down play, so it may be time for them to shake things up a bit and bring in some new faces.

10. Phoenix Coyotes – While the NHL currently owns the Coyotes that hasn’t stopped management from trying to keep the teams winning ways alive. Phoenix has already made a pretty significant move by adding Antoine Vermette from Columbus earlier this week. While that may have been the biggest trade they make before the deadline we expect the Yotes to do something else to help them stay in the post-season picture.

Be sure to check back at 10:30 AM for Sunshine State Hockey’s live coverage of the NHL trade deadline. We will be live blogging until 4:30 PM to make sure we get all of the trades that come through, even after the deadline has passed.

All Star Game Mock Draft

This year the National Hockey League’s best will be in Ottawa for the 59th annual NHL All Star Game. The entire weekend is a fun time for everyone involved, especially the fans. Before the Skills Competition and the actual All Star game the captains from both sides have to build their teams in the newly added fantasy draft, which takes place tonight at 8 PM EST.

This year the players voted to the All Star festivities elected hometown hero Daniel Alfredsson and Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara as the captains, while Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs will serve as assistants (Lundqvist with Alfredsson, Lupul with Chara). When the draft begins both sides will have to follow a set of rules to keep it fair for the goaltenders and the D-men. All goalies must be selected by the end of round 10 while all defensemen must be chosen by round 15.

In the spirit of All Star Weekend yours truly, along with Sunshine State Hockey writer Rob McMahon, decided to fill the shoes of the two captains and participate in our own mock draft. Rob decided to take on the role of Daniel Alfredsson, leaving me with team Chara. After I won a coin toss to see who would draft first the fun began. Below are the complete results of our draft.

Team Chara

Zdeno Chara (C) – D, Boston
Joffrey Lupul (A) – RW, Toronto

1. Steven Stamkos – C, Tampa
2. Tim Thomas – G, Boston
3. Phil Kessel – RW, Toronto
4. Dion Phaneuf – D, Toronto
5. Tyler Seguin – C, Boston
6. Jonathan Quick – G, Los Angeles
7. Shea Weber – D, Nashville
8. Marian Hossa – RW, Chicago
9. Jason Spezza – C, Ottawa
10. Brian Elliott – G, St. Louis
11. Dennis Wideman – D, Washington
12. Pavel Datsyuk – C, Detroit
13. Kimmo Timonen – D, Philadelphia
14. Keith Yandle – D, Phoenix
15. Corey Perry – RW, Anaheim
16. Jarome Iginla – RW, Calgary
17. John Tavares – C, NY Islanders
18. Jordan Eberle – RW, Edmonton
19. Jason Pominville – RW, Buffalo

Team Alfredsson

Daniel Alfredsson (C) – RW, Ottawa
Henrik Lundqvist (A) – G, NY Rangers

1. Evgeni Malkin – C, Pittsburgh
2. Claude Giroux – C, Philadelphia
3. Jimmy Howard – G, Detroit
4. Kris Letang – D, Pittsburgh
5. Daniel Sedin – LW, Vancouver
6. Henrik Sedin – C, Vancouver
7. Ryan Suter – D, Nashville
8. Patrick Kane – RW, Chicago
9. Carey Price – G, Montreal
10. Brian Campbell – D, Florida
11. Marian Gaborik – RW, NY Rangers
12. Alexander Edler – D, Vancouver
13. Erik Karlsson – D, Ottawa
14. Dan Girardi – D, NY Rangers
15. James Neal – LW, Pittsburgh
16. Milan Michalek – LW, Ottawa
17. Scott Hartnell – LW, Philadelphia
18. Jamie Benn – LW, Dallas
19. Logan Couture – C, San Jose

The strategy for team Chara was to first select one of the best natural scorers in the league then grab all of the fellow teammates of big Z and Lupul. It was a tough choice between Stamkos and Malkin but I had to go with the Tampa Bay superstar. As the draft got deeper and Spezza hung around I had to pick him up to get the crowd on my side in Ottawa. Not to mention reuniting Jason Spezza with Marian Hossa in front of the Senators fans was something I couldn’t pass up.

Rob’s strategy for team Alfredsson was to grab players who currently play, or have played together. It seems that during the draft he forgot about Alfy’s good buddy Jason Spezza, letting him fall to team Chara. One big positive of Rob’s strategy was keeping the Sedin’s together, which is something that didn’t happen in last years All Star game draft.

We also want to give a nod to Logan Couture for being the final pick of our mock draft. We know fellow SSH staff member Bre Philley won’t be happy about that.

To see how close we got to the actual teams, or how bad we failed, be sure to watch the 2012 NHL All Star Player Fantasy Draft at 8:00 PM EST tonight on the NBC Sports Network (formally Versus).