The day of the NHL Draft is finally upon us, and I’ll post what I wrote for the paper today. There will be a ton of speculation, and Clark gives a few clues as to what the Rangers can expect tonight.
Gordie Clark’s work has been pretty much done for weeks.
The Rangers’ director of player personnel has been listening to nine scouts – three in Canada, three in the U.S. and one each in Sweden, Slovakia and Russia – debate the relative merits of hockey talent at every amateur level all over the world.
He has watched hours of film, talked to agents and held spirited meetings with his staff. Yet, when the NHL draft begins tonight at 7 and is shown live from Montreal on Versus, Clark (left) does not know who the Rangers will take with the No. 19 pick in the first round.
“This draft is more like waiting to see if someone we really like slips,” Clark said.
First off, the wish list. The Rangers have been looking for a playmaker since last year’s free agency. The team scored 200 goals last season, with only the Islanders (198) and Avalanche (190) getting fewer. The Rangers were seventh in the league with 2,658 shots on goal, but had the worst percentage (7.5), which means a lot of pucks missed their targets.
“There’s no question that we would love to have someone who could be a potential goal-scorer,” Clark said. “That would be our No. 1 priority.”
However, at No. 19, the Rangers don’t have a lot of control over the situation. If they chose to use the pick rather than trade it away, Clark’s options are completely dependent on what the first 18 teams decide.
So as Clark watches the draft board evolve tonight, Rangers general manager Glen Sather will be talking to other team executives about possible trades.
“Glen will come in and work the other GMs while he’s here,” Clark said. “He’ll say there’s a possibility of moving up, or even say there’s an existing player we’d like, and maybe we’ll make a trade.”
What makes that a little more realistic is the relative quality of the draft this year. Clark said the 2003 draft was a pretty rare event with its quality players, but this draft won’t have that kind of depth.
“There is no real Crosby in this draft,” he said.
Teams with the top 10 picks are pretty unlikely to trade, so what happens in the second hour of the draft could get interesting. It’s happened before. In 2005, the Rangers traded up to get Marc Staal, then a teenager.
“There’s so much more to go on in their lives, and our job is to project what they’ll be like when they are a man,” Clark said.
The draft is expected to last about three hours, and if all goes well, Clark estimates the Rangers need to be ready about 9 p.m.
But that is all beyond the research that Clark puts into approaching the draft.
“By Friday, it’s pretty much over,” Clark said.
UPDATE: This release just put out by the NHL.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / JUNE 26, 2009
NHL, NHLPA ANNOUNCE TEAM PAYROLL RANGE FOR 2009-10
TORONTO/NEW YORK (June 26, 2009) — The National Hockey League Players’ Association and the National Hockey League announced today that the Team Payroll Range established for the 2009-10 League Year, pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, provides for a Lower Limit of $40.8 million, an Adjusted Midpoint of $48.8 million and an Upper Limit of $56.8 million.