Thursday, June 19, 2008

On the Eve of Draft Day

There is a lot of anticipation waiting for the Draft to commence tomorrow night. Probably not as much as the kids who are looking to be drafted, but still, it's getting to the point of anxiousness. The mock drafts are slowly seeping out of the woodwork and the comparisons are starting to be drawn. On Wednesday, I found ESPN's mock draft and the Forecaster's mock draft on for my list of comparisons. TSN will have their draft tonight and Sportsnet... who the hell knows? Don't forget, you can find my mock draft right here.

On the horizon, we may see an interesting jump in power play percentages going up with the inclusion of a couple new rules. The most beneficial rule change offensively will be the first faceoff of a power play will be in the offending team's zone. Hopefully, this will give those offensive teams an extra few seconds on a two-minute power play to work their magic. The onus on face-off winning centres may be increased in this off-season because of it.

The second rule in place for the coming year will be penalties for extra body contact on an icing call that doesn't relate to getting the puck. Theoretically, this should give the referees more flexibility on making a call on a dangerous play in regards to icings. For some players, this could be a few more minutes in the box, because of their over-aggressiveness. For others, it could hopefully save themselves from injuries, both short and long-term.

There was also an indication from an interview with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman with Sportsnet saying that the salary cap will indeed rise to the mid-$50 million level, close to the suggested $56 million mark. That would mean good things for the Anaheim Ducks, who are currently sitting at the highest returning cap hit for next season, at roughly $49.2 milllion for 17 active players.

The trade rumours continue to be rampant leading up to the Draft tomorrow night. One big deal making the rounds sees the Blue Jackets sending Nikolai Zherdev to the San Jose Sharks for Patrick Marleau straight up. What a move it would be for Marleau, to get some number one centre time and have a winger to play with in Rick Nash. Marleau's stock would certainly have to go up. Zherdev on the other hand will likely feel it to be a lateral move, since he probably wouldn't be playing with Joe Thornton.

Another rumour I was reading about today was that the Leafs are looking to move up in the Draft from their 7th spot overall to make sure they get Nikita Filatov. According to the three mock drafts done, two suggest they would have to deal with St. Louis in the fourth spot, while the Sherpa has predicted he'll be the second overall pick to the Kings. Who will the Leafs send going the other way? Bryan McCabe's name still pops up as a candidate, despite his no-trade clause. The team has plenty of players to move, theoretically, but it's going to have to be some of the bigger contracts to make it worth Toronto's while.

It's just a matter of time before the flood gates open and the moves start to be made. Whatever happens, it will all start the domino effect towards July 1st, whether it opens up space or closes some off. It's almost time for some medication to stop these anxiety attacks... just kidding. More coffee!

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