We are covering tonight's first round of the NHL Draft in Philadelphia (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Our updated pick-by-pick tracker is below. I'll be adding my thoughts and observations as the festivities move along.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have traded James Neal to the Nashville Predators for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. No picks changing hands. This is all about adding some depth, some much needed net-front presence and saving a few bucks for the Penguins. Pens had to free up cap space since they were so tight with the surprisingly low $69 million ceiling. Great deal for the Preds who haven't developed a scoring forward on their own since taking Alex Radulov back in 2004.
Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon said he'd make his decision to use or swap the No. 1 pick by 5 pm today. That self-imposed deadline came and went as negotiations with the Philadelphia Flyers--who reportedly were dangling Vincent Lecavalier along with Brayden Schenn and their first pick (17)--heated up. Now, sources close to the Panthers say those talks are dead and the Panthers will be using the pick themselves. Another source says he believes that Florida has settled on Aaron Ekblad, although Sam Reinhart remains an option. Panthers also passed on Vancouver's offer of #6, #24 and Hunter Shinkaruk for No. 1 overall.
Lots of talk that the St. Louis Blues are moving on from Jason Spezza. Price (player/prospect/pick) was too rich for Doug Armstrong's blood. Expect them to focus now on unrestricted free agent Paul Stastny. Blues are about $17 million under the cap, so they have plenty of room to make something happen.
Interesting note from Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area that the Dallas Stars inquired about the availability of Joe Thornton. The Stars have the young talent to catch the eye of Doug Wilson, but Jumbo Joe has shown no willingness to waive his no-trade clause...yet. Gotta love Philly fans. As every team name is announced for the pre-draft roll call, they yell out "SUCKS!" Good effort, guys. Gave the Commissioner an equally warm welcome, but that guy welcomes the scorn of crowds like a lover's gentle caress.