Draft: Hedman powered by BBQ; Duchene talks beards

It's draft week in the NHL, which means the New York Islanders are the most important team in hockey for the first time since 2000 ... or more realistically, since 1983.

They're the first domino to fall -- keeping quiet about it , too -- and the rest of the dominoes could lead to everything from Brian Burke welcoming John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Tampa Bay Lightning being forced to make a fateful decision for the future of the franchise. Which is never a good thing, based on their track record.

(Best domino-falling scene ever in a movie? Richard Pryor in "The Toy.")

The Islanders have their choice of London Knights phenom Tavares, 6-foot-6 Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman or Brampton center Matt Duchene, who has earned comparisons to Steve Yzerman only a year after Steven Stamkos did.

Those rookies were among the six that met the media during the Stanley Cup Finals; taking questions, meeting players from the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings, and taking the awkwardly posed photos that are a requirement for draftees:

Poor bastards. This is actually a scene from the long-lost children's television pilot "Capt. Grapes and the Well-Tailored Hitchhikers."

Coming up, some words from Hedman and Duchene, whose interview is featured in a video clip. Plus, Hedman's father reveals the secrets of Swedish BBQ.

In our brief chat during the Final, Hedman denied ever having inquired about the quality of women on Long Island when he visited the Islanders, which is a shame. At that point he had never been to Florida, so he offered no comment on its female population.

We also met Hedman's father, Olle, who didn't have a preference for where Victor plays in the NHL. "I said it before: The team who picks him ... it doesn't matter [where they're located] as long as the team takes good care of him and lets him play," he said.

(So Colorado then?)

Olle was good people, answering questions from the media as he did when his elder son, Oscar, was drafted by the Washington Capitals in 2004. He said Oscar's journey through the draft process, though not as high-profile as Victor's, has helped the young defenseman handle the pressure.

"[Victor is] very down to Earth. I admire him. His older brother Oscar is also very calm and down to Earth. I'm very proud of them."

Being that Victor Hedman is a tall glass of lingonberry juice at 6-6 and nearly 230 pounds, Olle was asked what, exactly, he was feeding the lad during his formative years.

The answer: His father's BBQ.

"Spare ribs. Pork," he said.

"Propane gas."

Secret spices, slow cooking, all that good stuff. Swedish BBQ and nary a meatball or smoked fish in sight. Who knew?

Duchene seems like a decent guy, too. At the brief media session, Tavares and Hedman were mobbed, which left Duchene sort of alone on the side with other potential lottery picks. That was nearly two weeks ago, before Duchene started gaining moment as the better "long term" forward prospect than Tavares and getting chatted up as a potential first overall pick.

Here's Duchene on nerves, playoff beards and, briefly, his musical tastes:

We've got plenty of coverage planned for the draft this week, from spotlighting the picks to coverage on-site in Montreal beginning on Thursday. If you're going to be up there for the festivities as a blogger or a fan, please do drop a line; we'd love to slam a few brews engage in a philosophical conversation about draft strategies.

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