MONTREAL -- There are probably reasons why the NHL Draft is important besides creepy photos of rookies, but we're just not sure what they are.
In any event, the first round of the Draft commences tonight beginning at 7 p.m. EST, and we'll be at Bell Centre to watch the carnage. We'll be Twittering away with random thoughts, rumors and general goofy fun, so be sure to also follow the Tweets.
This post will serve as the "live blog," as we'll have news, analysis, interviews and coverage from all over the draft updated throughout the night, followed by a wrap-up post at the end of the evening.
The top sports headlines of the day
In lieu of a live chat, feel free to use the comments section to discuss the happenings, ask us anything or curse the day your general manager was born.
7:01 p.m. - Met a New York Islanders fan outside in a John Tavares jersey and asked him, "OK, so what if it's not Tavares?"
His answer: "I can change a 91 to a 4 for Hedman." Well, hope that works out.
One bit of news already: Scott Niedermayer of the Anaheim Ducks tells TSN that he'll be back for another season. Chris Pronger elbows wall, locates suitcase. If this Pronger to the Philadelphia Flyers chatter reported by Anthony Sanfilippo happens, it will basically be the Hockey Gods' gift to bloggers.
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7:27 p.m. - Islanders GM Garth Snow had a moment of hesitation before announcing John Tavares as the No. 1 pick in the draft that indicates the Islanders have enjoyed the constant speculation and prognostication that's surrounded this pick. Wonder how much of the Duchene talk they floated themselves.
It was Tavares, it had to be Tavares and the Islanders fans have a right to be happy. At least until Tampa Bay wins their next Cup with Victor Hedman.
Hedman's choice with the second pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning was obvious. He'll no doubt look forward to being paired with 60,000 defensemen over the next three years.
But a hearty boo for Bettman; he should have orchestrated a unity hug between the Lightning brass on stage.
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8:18 p.m. EST - The reactions to the Leafs and Brian Burke in this building are hilarious. Burke's face is shown on the Jumbotron, there's a huge boo, he looks up and smirks. Fabulous interplay between these fans bases and their teams. And one hell of a "sixty-seven!" chant.
The Phoenix Coyotes taking
forward defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson with the No. 6 pick set some strange things in motion. (Ekman-Larsson, by the way, is a great skater the people of Hamilton are going to ... oh, nevermind.) The Leafs selected Nazem Kadri, a center that quite frankly many people had pegged as a player who'd drop down the draft board in the first round. So Brian Burke doesn't get Tavares, doesn't get Brayden Schenn (who went to the Los Angeles Kings with the No. 5 pick) and ends up with Kadri. Stunning.
Kadri, by the way, shared a laugh with Bettman as the crowd jeered the Leafs contingent while he was putting on his sweater.
The Schenn pick for the Kings is that kind of pick you look back on when a young team becomes a champion.
Matt Duchene went to the Colorado Avalance at No.3, and Evander Kane went at No. 4 to the Atlanta Thrashers. Neither was a surprise, obviously. Well, Duchene might have been a surprise to NY Newsday.
Duchene had no idea where he was going to fall until Tavares was selected. He also said that he checked team Web sites periodically to see where the winds were blowing.
Hedman's press conference was short and uneventful, because no one had the stones to really pepper him with questions about Koules and Barrie.
Tavares took forever to get to the mic after his post-No. 1 pick interviews, but was enthusiastic and compelling when he spoke to the media.
He's got the "restore the glory of the Islanders" stuff down, and the NY press will eat that up.
But Johnny - stop slipping and calling them the "Long Island Islanders." Doesn't really make your case for wanting to be there.
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8:51 p.m. - Try not to giggle: Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said he traded for Chris Pronger in part because he liked "his character and his willingness as a leader."
Of course, Pronger is usually a popular guy with his teammates, because he has a willingness to use his size to exact revenge on opponents with cheap shots behind the play. Every team needs that guy, right?
Holmgren said he didn't get any assurances from Pronger's agent that there would be a contract extension coming, as Pronger has a year left before unrestricted free agency.
The conventional wisdom is that the addition of Pronger's salary means the end of Mike Knubel in Philly, but Holmgren didn't agree: "We've been talking to Mike all along. We'd like to sign Mike and we think Mike would like to come back to the Flyers."
The full trade, by the way: Pronger and forward Ryan Dingle to the Philadelphia Flyers for defenceman Luca Sbisa, forward Joffrey Lupul, two first-round picks and a conditional third-round pick in 2010 or 2011. The condition on that pick has to do with whether or not the Flyers win the Stanley Cup, Holmgren said.
Big (6-6) defensive defenseman Jacob Cowen goes to the goes to the Ottawa Senators at No. 9; the epically named Magnus Svensson-Paajarvigoes to Edmonton at No. 10, and remember that pick if he finds a scoring touch. Defenseman Ryan Ellis goes to the Nashville Predators. Is there ever a point at which you don't keep adding good young defensemen if you're the Nashville Predators?