So, whats everyone think of the draft? :dunno:
Host team starts draft weekend with a bang
By PIERRE LEBRUN
VANCOUVER (CP) - The host team got the ball rolling on the eve of the 2006 NHL draft with a blockbuster trade.
The Vancouver Canucks sent Todd Bertuzzi to the Florida Panthers in exchange for goaltender Roberto Luongo Thursday in a deal that sees the Canucks get the No. 1 goaltender they've long coveted, while losing a talented power forward whose off-ice problems had become a distraction.
The Panthers also acquired defenceman Bryan Allen and goaltender Alex Auld, while defenceman Lukas Krajicek heads to the Canucks along with a sixth-round pick.
"We are very excited to be making this announcement today," said Canucks GM Dave Nonis in a statement. "We believe that in Roberto we are getting a player who has represented his country at the highest level, has been nominated for the Vezina Trophy and has proven that he is among the elite goaltenders in the world.
"I would like to thank Todd, Bryan and Alex for their contributions to our hockey club over the years and wish them and their families the best of luck in the future."
Bertuzzi is one of the game's dominant power forwards, but he has been troubled by highly-publicized problems off the ice.
Bertuzzi attacked former Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore in a March 8, 2004 game.
Moore suffered three fractured vertebrae in his neck, a concussion and other injuries when Bertuzzi grabbed him from behind, punched him in the head and drove his head into the ice in a game at GM Place.
Bertuzzi was charged with assault and pleaded guilty in a Vancouver court, where he was sentenced to probation and community service.
Bertuzzi also served a 17-month suspension by the NHL, missing 13 regular-season games and the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2004 and giving up about $502,000 US in salary.
Bertuzzi returned from suspension after the 2005 lockout and put up some decent offensive numbers with 71 points in 82 games, and showed he still had a mean streak with 120 penalty minutes. However, he was suspect defensively with a minus-17 rating.
Luongo is considered one of the best goaltenders in the league, but has always been saddled with underacheiving teams. in six seasons with the New York Islanders and Florida, he has never played in the post-season.
Luongo was 35-30-9 last season with a 2.97 goals-against-average, a .914 save percentage and four shutouts. Luongo has played a total of 341 games, posting a record of 115-168-41, a 2.72 GAA and a save percentage of .919. He was also part of Canada's Olympic team in Turin.
Also grabbing headlines Friday were the stunning reports that superstar defenceman Chris Pronger wants out of Edmonton after only one season - a brilliant year where he led the team to one win shy of the Stanley Cup. Pronger still has four more years on a deal that pays him $6.25 million US a season.
"I think they're more rumblings than anything," Oilers GM Kevin Lowe responded Friday evening. "I'm pretty focused on the draft right now I don't want to get too much into player personnel stuff."
When asked if Pronger had asked to be traded, Lowe responded: "He hasn't' asked me. I'll just leave it at that."
"We just got over a seven-game series in the Stanley Cup finals and there seems to be a lot of discussion about this and I'm not sure where it's coming from," added Lowe. "Let's put it this way. Why would we want to trade Chris Pronger?"
"One thing I've learned in my five or six years as a manager is that stuff tends to out of right field for whatever reasons. It can be agendas, hidden agendas, certain motivations, so nothing surprises me."
Other goalies are in the spotlight in trade talks. San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov, Anaheim's J.S. Giguere, Buffalo's Martin Biron, Vancouver's Dan Cloutier, Boston's Andrew Raycroft and Marc Denis of Columbus are among goalies possibly available for trade.
Pascal Leclaire is ready to be a starter in Columbus so Blue Jackets GM Doug MacLean may be ready to deal Denis for the right price. The Tampa Bay Lightning are believed to be interested.
"We're still searching, having lots of conversations, but at this point nothing that looks as though it's imminent," Lightning GM Jay Feaster said of his search for a goalie. "We'll continue to talk and see. If we don't get something done we're still going to need to find a goalie and we may have to rely on free agency."
The Toronto Maple Leafs may also be looking for an upgrade in goal.
"We're exploring a number of things, as are a number of our counterparts," said Leafs GM John Ferguson.
The goalie search is also on for the Ottawa Senators.
"We're looking at everything that's available," said GM John Muckler. "And there are going to be good goalies who are UFAs so we'll look at that, too."
And in the end, the Senators may end up going back to Dominik Hasek, who missed the rest of the season after injuring a groin at the Olympics. He's an unrestricted free agency July 1.
"Yes, you look at all the options that we have, we keep going back to Dominik because he played so well last year," said Muckler. "Whether we'll make that decision, it'll be sometime down the road. I'd like to talk to Dominik, I never got a chance to talk to him before he left."
The St. Louis Blues continued to get calls for their first overall pick ahead of Saturday's draft, but odds are they won't move it and will draft American defenceman Erik Johnson. The Pittsburgh Penguins have the second overall pick and may possibly move it.
"There are 4-5 teams that actively trying to move up," new Pens GM Ray Shero said after the GMs' meeting.
The Carolina Hurricanes have made a courtesy call to Pittsburgh. With Eric Staal already a star on their team, getting his brother Jordan would be a coup.
"Any time you have a chance to move up and draft a player like Jordan Staal you have to look into it, but honestly there isn't anything serious at this point," the GM of the Stanley Cup champions, Jim Rutherford, said Friday.
On the coaching front, former Detroit Red Wings coach Dave Lewis met with the Boston Bruins here on Friday and interviewed for their vacant position. It's not officially vacant, but Mike Sullivan's days appear to be numbered. New Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli also interviewed former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn last week and it appears it's between Lewis and Quinn for the job.
Meanwhile agents and GMs are also meeting in a bid to get players re-signed before July 1. Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland met with Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom and his agent Don Meehan on Friday. The star blue-liner can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
"We've had a number of meetings and I think today was a good meeting," Meehan said. "Ken will get back to us on Monday."
Said Holland: We're going back and forth. I'll continue to work at it. Obviously he wants to get as much as he can and I want to get him as cheaply as I can."
Muckler also has his hands full with time running out before both star defencemen Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden become unrestricted free agents. Can he get it done?
"That's a hard question for me to answer," Muckler said Friday. "I met with Matt Keator (Chara's agent) yesterday, we had a good conversation. No results at this particular time. But it's going in the right direction I think."
Said Keator on Friday: "We're staying in touch. We'll see what happens."
Time is of the essence. Muckler needs an answer soon from both players.
"We want to know before the deadline (July 1)," said Muckler. "We pretty well have to know that because we have to know what path we're going to take. We can't decide that until this is settled one way or another."
The Montreal Canadiens also have a pair of pending unrestricted free agents in goalie Cristobal Huet and defenceman Francis Bouillon.
"We're in discussions with both of them and we've told them we'd like to keep both of them," said Canadiens GM Bob Gainey. "But again it comes down to the parties coming to an agreement that is going to make them feel that they didn't miss anything by not going to free agency and for the team to know that they still have enough money to do the other things still on their list to get their team together."
Star defenceman Rob Blake is hoping to join teammate Joe Sakic and re-sign with the Colorado Avalanche.
"It's where I want to play, in Denver," Blake told the Rocky Mountain News in Friday's edition, adding that he planned to talk with the Avs on Monday or Tuesday.
"I've enjoyed every bit of time I've had there and I'm pretty confident something should get done next week. I don't see why it wouldn't."
Until it's signed and everything is done, you never know what could happen, but from my side, I've enjoyed my time there and would like to continue there, for sure."