Well Sens fans, it’s finally here! The cause of both doe-eyed optimism and that nauseous feeling in the pit of your stomach that somehow something will go wrong is upon us. The 2020 NHL Entry Draft will be a franchise-altering 48hrs for the Senators, and will either be remembered as the moment that Pierre Dorion finally made good on his promise of rebuilding the team, or when the cries for him to be relieved of GM duties began. No pressure Pierre, just another day at the office.
But that’s not the only big news that broke on Tuesday. The worst kept secret in Ottawa sports finally became official as the Sens announced that what’s old is new again and that the 2D logo would once more be gracing the fronts of jerseys for the upcoming season.
And while the general public will have to wait to get their hands on these bad boys, yours truly already has one in his possession. In fact I’ve had one for 20+ years now. While it may be a bit snug, fashion is all about setting trends, and I can say I wore it first. Keen eyed observers will also notice amongst other autographs, that inexplicably Randy Cunneyworth signed it in three separate places making this relic worth 3x more than the average jersey (just basic economics folks, I don’t make the rules).
So with my suddenly in vogue retro jersey painted on my body, and a beer in hand I sat down to see what the fruits of 3 years worth of trades, and draft pick accumulation would net the Senators. Welcome to my NHL Draft Diary v 1.0.
*Note: I watched the NBC telecast so any comments on the proceedings will be based off that.
7:13pm Gary Bettman enters with no boos for the first time in his career. Evidently relishing the moment, he proceeds to wax poetic about everything and nothing simultaneously for minutes on end. Sens fans continue to squirm in their seats like first graders waiting for their parents to load the car for Disneyland.
7:17pm Inexplicably, Bettman is still speaking. The one nugget of information we’re able to learn from this process is that the NHL plans on a Jan 1st 2021 start to the next season. Wonder how this will affect player participation in the Olympics…
7:21pm We’re finally off and running. To the surprise of no one, the Rangers take Lafreniere 1st overall. Viewers are however left wondering why the Lafreniere household’s living room is staged like the set from the Maury Show.
7:25pm Byfield with the best outfit of the night thus far. He goes #2 to LA, and then continues on to host the Emmy’s with the second half of his evening. Byfield also becomes the highest drafted black hockey player in the process.
7:31pm Well, we’ve had the NYR war room, and LA’s professionally staged locker room thus far as backdrops. Always ones to make a splash, Ottawa has countered by holding their draft party at a decommissioned Chuck E. Cheese! Dorion may also be getting a letter from the local Health & Safety rep about all the loose wire tripping hazards everywhere. Off to a good start.
7:33pm Out of nowhere Alex Trebek appears to make the Sens 3rd overall announcement! Who had “Jeopardy Host Cameo” on their draft night bingo cards? Sens fans have to be thrilled to be getting Stutzle here. May not have as high of a ceiling as Byfield, but his floor is immensely higher. Ottawa will be getting an NHL ready player ready to make an immediate impact when he arrives. Speaking of which, we need to get clarification on the spelling of Tim’s last name. Are we going with Stützle with the umlaut over the “U” or Stuetzle with an “E”? Because even within the telecast last night there were different graphics with different spellings. Can’t lead the team in jersey sales if people don’t know what to put on the back of their jerseys Tim. Also a big night for bowties going 2/3 in the draft.
7:41pm Kris Draper appears and quickly crushes Sens fans’ hopes of also drafting Lucas Raymond tonight.
7:47pm Well it’s evident that Dorion is making a full scale push to have North Dakota University replace the B-Sens as the club’s primary affiliate selecting Jake Sanderson at number 5. He joins Jacob Bernard-Docker and Shane Pinto as members of the Sens currently playing for the Fighting Hawks. Let’s hope they follow more closely along the lines of alum Jonathan Toews than fellow UND player Brian Lee when they make the jump.
7:54pm Anaheim drops the most cringeworthy intro of the evening thus far with a fan video that lasted about 25 more “the pick is in!” comments than necessary. They take Drydale and won’t be disappointed with the selection.
8:01pm New Jersey takes Hischier/Hughes’ winger of the future in Holtz. Two things from this pick. Number one: when choosing a location to shoot your draft day moment, maybe don’t pick somewhere with a low hanging light fixture? That chandelier nearly decapitated Holtz’s family member on the left. And number two: who checked Holtz’s birth certificate? Are we sure this isn’t the face of a 15 year old? Did his ID say he was an organ donor from Hawaii by any chance?
8:09pm The first 67 is off the board with Quinn going to Buffalo.
8:16pm Not to be outdone Rossi goes immediately afterwards to the Wild. Back to back Ottawa 67’s products.
8:23pm Perfetti, who in any other draft year would have been a lock to go top 5 is finally selected at number 10 to Winnipeg. A touching moment as Hawerchuk’s widow assists with the pick.
8:28pm Don’t do it Nashville, you don’t need a goalie, you’re going to be fineeeeeeee, and dammit. Well there goes Askarov (and my dreams of seeing a blue chip prospect in nets for the Sens). *Sigh* maybe one day.
8:35pm Lundell goes to Florida. And thus concludes my reporting on the Florida Panthers for the 2020-21 season.
8:40pm Carolina (selecting where Toronto would have been picking had they not shipped this pick along with Marleau in a salary dump move to the Canes last year) has an average age of 23yrs old amongst their top 3 scorers from last year. That is terrifying. So what do they do? They go out and get Seth Jarvis who is probably the one of the most offensively gifted forwards remaining in the draft at this point. I hope he torches the Leafs everytime he plays them for years to come.
8:45pm No surprises so far in the draft, all the top prospects have pretty well gone in a similar order to how they were projected. This is usually the part of the draft where we might start to see some reaches or head scratchers. The Alberta kid Holloway gets selected by the Oilers here which puts the Maple Leafs on the clock.
Perhaps someone should have notified Dubas he was up as he gets a warning from Bettman that their time has expired. Did he set the Leafs to “auto draft” and leave the room? What is going on here. This franchise is in shambles. The Leafs select Rodion Amirov but it’s hard to know for sure whether that’s who they wanted or if Mitch Marner just panicked with no adult supervision and announced the first name he saw alphabetically.
8:55pm In the shocker of the draft, the Montreal Canadiens do NOT take a French Canadian player. Someone better alert the equipment manager to burn the Hendrix Lapierre jersey he was prepping. The Habs go instead with Kaiden Guhle who is actually a very solid, gritty defenseman who won’t be fun to play against for other teams.
9:02pm The Blackhawks bring on a special guest announcer who is doing wonderful work in the community, great move. Unfortunately, no one showed him how to hold a jersey before throwing him onto national television.
You had one job! Behind that sleeve it says Reichel, welcome to the Windy City Lukas.
9:11pm New Jersey is about to announce their 2nd pick of the night. We’ve officially reached the point of the draft where the “sexy” draft picks are gone and you’ll start to hear words like “flexible, two-way player, penalty kill, and character pick” thrown around a lot. Per Bob McKenzie “there’s not much separation between the guys ranked here and the 35-40 range”.
Here’s where the NHL needs to get creative. Bring in a special guest, a “Ringer Host” if you will, who can inject some much needed energy and enthusiasm to the broadcast. Bring out a Stephen A. Smith type personality. “But he doesn’t know hockey” you might say. Well he knows next to nothing about MMA either and that doesn’t stop the UFC from trotting him out there to give hot takes and talk over the hosts. Even if you don’t like the guy, are you really telling me you wouldn’t stick around to watch Pierre McGuire lose his mind on air trying to explain the value of a puck moving defenseman to Stephen? You’re lying if you say you’d tune out. While I’m mulling these scenarios over, the Devils select Mercer.
9:17pm We’ve got our first trade of the draft! The Flames flip their pick to the Rangers who scoop up defenseman Braden Schneider. The Devils (now making their 3rd selection of the first round) immediately follow this up by taking an early candidate for name most likely to be mispronounced by everyone but the home team announcers Shakir Mukhamudullin.
9:30pm Which brings us to Columbus. Dear sweet Columbus. If you like a player, by all means do all you can to make sure that guy ends up on your team. But that doesn’t mean that you draft a Kicker in the first round! I’m sure Yegor Chinakhov is a fine hockey player. I’m also sure he would have been there in the 3rd round or beyond. When even Bob McKenzie isn’t prepared to talk about the player, probably a good indication it’s a reach.
9:35pm Craig Button still hasn’t figured out that he doesn’t need to yell his opinions at the camera, his microphone is working just fine.
9:40pm Calgary has made another trade. Does Dorion not have Brad Treliving’s phone number? You’ve got 13 picks, is there really no one you like still on the board? Why not take a gamble on Hendrix Lapierre who is only still available due to possible injury concerns, not lack of talent.
9:41pm Aaaaaaand Lapierre goes to Washington with the Flames pick.
9:48pm Philly takes Foerster. Craig Button is yelling again.
9:55pm Calgary brings out Lanny McDonald to help with the selection of Connor Zary from Kamloops. Feels like a missed opportunity here. McDonald has the personality to have come out full heel role and pulled a David Akers while throwing some shade at Edmonton. Talk about a soundbite. A guy can dream….
10:05pm Colorado takes Barron, St. Louis takes Neighbours and Anaheim takes Perreault.
10:22pm Dorion clearly has a type. He’s a big fan of bloodlines. Apparently Ridly Greig’s father and Sanderson’s dad were buddies back in their Hartford days which should make for some extremely raucous Father’s trips in the near future. Sprinkle in some Tkachuk Sr. and that’s a group likely to paint the town red wherever they end up. A part of me is disappointed that the Sens didn’t take Peterka and form a German line. I miss the days of the “nicknamed linemates”. The Legion of Doom (Philly), The Mafia Line (Rangers), The French Connection (Buffalo). I’ll get over it pretty quickly if Greig pans out as the productive agitator he’s projected as though.
10:29pm Brendan Brisson becomes the 2nd American skater taken tonight going to the Golden Knights. NBC proceeds to air a super awkward “Craig’s Man Crush” segment with Button shouting why he loves Brisson’s skill set at the camera while romantic music plays in the background. Meanwhile, Brisson proceeds to celebrate his draft status with his family in what appears to be an entire ballroom? Bit of a flex on his part, but hey you only get drafted once!
10:35pm Dallas’ announcer looks like he’s testifying before Congress as opposed to making a kid’s dream come true. Perhaps he’s feeling the pressure of not having a 2nd or 3rd round pick this year and knows he needs to hit with this selection. Luckily they make a smart decision and take the best hockey name in the draft (and likely top remaining talent) in Mavrik Bourque.
10:41pm The Sharks end the broadcast in classy fashion by taking Ozzy Wiesblatt and “signing” it on television for Ozzy’s mother who happens to be deaf. Everyone goes home feeling warm and fuzzy.
Congratulations to all the players selected tonight. Years of sacrifice and hard work have finally paid off with this life changing moment. I’m heading to bed, and can only assume Craig Button is going to take a cold shower to calm himself down.