Saturday June 27th, 2009

Notes from day two of the NHL Draft: • There were no goalies taken in the first round (just the second time that's happened since 1992) but the Isles used the initial pick of the second round on Mikko Koskinen. After being passed over in the previous two drafts, the massive (6-foot-5, 187 pounds) Finn would have been a long-odds choice as the first goalie taken but he caught the eye of the Islanders after posting some impressive numbers with Espoo of the Finnish SM-Liiga (1.91 GAA, .931 save percentage). He'll be 21 next month, suggesting he's a little bit closer to being NHL-ready than the average draftee, but still has one more year on his Espoo contract. Look for Koskinen to make the transition to the AHL in 2010 with an eye on replacing the old-before-his-time Rick DiPietro soon afterward.

• Koskinen was the first of four consecutive jumbo-sized European netminders taken on the day. The Sens tabbed Swede Robin Lehner with the 46th pick and the Islanders followed with overager Anders Nilsson at 62. Igor Bobkov (76, Anaheim) concluded the run. The top keeper at last year's World Under-18 tournament, Bobkov was seen by at least one team as the top goalie available-if not for the ongoing concerns that come with drafting Russian players, he likely would have come off the board earlier.

• The Wings -- no shock here -- got great value with their first pick, gritty winger Landon Ferraro (32). The son of former NHLer Ray Ferraro is a character player with agile wheels and above-average hands in tight. He's not the biggest kid, though, and that's what makes Detroit the ideal situation for him. He'll be brought along slowly in the league's most productive developmental system, giving him plenty of time to bulk up. The Wings also chose Tomas Tatar (60th overall), a slick Slovakian forward who some had pegged as a potential first rounder. He's small, but wildly creative with the puck and has the courage to drive hard to the net. Give him time to fill out and he'll eventually replace Jiri Hudler. • The Avs surprised observers by passing on a goalie with their second rounder, but they probably weren't expecting to see Ryan O'Reilly still on the board. It's hard to point to any one element of his game that's truly outstanding, but scouts rave about his character. He was born with that competitive gene that forces him to find a way to win games. Goaltending-challenged Colorado eventually took a pair of promising stoppers in Kieran Millan (124th) and Brandon Maxwell (154th). Millan will be at Boston University next year. Maxwell is transferring from the USNTDP to a powerhouse Kitchener Rangers squad. Both could be part of the team in three to five years.

• Nashville made significant hay in the second round, grabbing Zach Budish at 41 and Charles Roussel at 42. According to one scout, Budish slid out of the first round based more on concerns over his skating than the knee injury that cost him the entire season, but I think he's going to be a special player. A prototypical power forward, he'll be a force along the boards and a fearless presence in front of the net. He'll suit up for the Minnesota Gophers next year. Roussel, the youngest player selected in the draft, may also emerge as the biggest surprise. One scout told me that if he'd played in the OHL he'd have been a lock as a first rounder-suggesting that a bias against QMJHL defenders was all that held him back. Decent size (6-1, 203), tremendous awareness, great skater, a confident puck mover-Roussel is the complete package. He could be this year's Shea Weber, a guy whose fall into the second round is completely inexplicable down the road.

• Half the USNTDP finally earned their pro assignments in the second and third rounds. Phoenix tabbed high-scoring center Chris Brown at 36. Playmaking blueliner William Wrenn went to the Sharks at 43. Big center Drew Shore went to Florida at 44, followed by Dave Andreychuk-clone Jeremy Morin going to the Thrashers at 45. Toronto called on right wing Kenny Ryan at 50 and Kevin Lynch went to the Blue Jackets at 56. Blood and guts forward Kyle Palmieri was the first member of the team selected (26th overall, Anaheim). Ryan Bourque, the pint-sized son of Boston great Ray Bourque, went 80th overall to the Rangers.

• Along with Bourque and Ferraro, there were plenty of recognizable names called on the day. Pittsburgh took Ulf Samuelsson's son, Philip. The defensive-minded blueliner went 61st. Tyson Barrie, the son of Lightning owner Len Barrie, went to Colorado at 64. Jeff Hackett's nephew, Matthew, was taken at 77 by the Wild. Other bloodline picks: Mac Bennett (nephew of Curt and Harvey, Montreal, 79); Marcus Foligno (son of Mike, brother of Nick, Buffalo, 104); Lane MacDermid (son of Paul, Boston, 112); Alex Velischek (son of Randy, Pittsburgh, 123); Andy Bathgate (grandson of Andy, Pittsburgh, 151); Eric Wellwood (brother of Kyle, Philadelphia, 172); Jordan Nolan (son of Ted, Los Angeles, 186) and Ben Sexton (son of Randy, Boston, 206).

Petteri Simila, a 6-6 goalie out of the Finnish juniors, earned the title of Mr. Irrelevant when the Habs took him with the 211th and final pick of the draft.

• Toronto forfeited the 118th pick of the draft as a penalty for the Jonas Frogren contract signed last summer.

• Remember the name Ethan Werek. The gritty center from the Kingston Frontenacs was the player selected by the Rangers with the compensatory pick (47th overall) that they were awarded in the wake of the death of former first rounder Alexei Cherepanov.

•A couple picks that caught my eye: Taylor Doherty (San Jose, 57). Massive (6-7, 218) blueliner was considered a likely first rounder earlier in the year, but the hoped for progress in his offensive game never materialized. Still, could emerge as a reliable second pairing guy who utilizes that condor-like wingspan to take care of his own zone first.

Mike Lee (Phoenix, 91). After backstopping the expansion Fargo Force to the USHL finals, Lee is expected to be the starter for the Americans at the next World Juniors.

Gabriel Dumont (Montreal, 139). Heart-and-soul winger impressed with a gritty performance in the Memorial Cup for Drummondville. Lack of size and natural touch hinder his high-end potential, but his work ethic suggests he could develop into a Max Talbot-type energy player for the Habs.

Jaroslav Janus (Tampa Bay, 162). Undersized netminder stole the show at the World Juniors, eliminating a vastly superior American squad in the quarter-final with a memorable 44-stop performance. Also drafted by Lokomotiv of the KHL so it wouldn't surprise if he chose to matriculate in Russia before making his mark with the Lightning.

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