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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

On location: NHL Entry Draft

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Checking in from inside Xcel Energy Center, site of the NHL Entry Draft. I’ll be sharing stuff from here as the evening goes along, whether it’s draft-related or otherwise.

Snapped a couple quick pics for you outside …

Here’s the floor, with executives already beginning to move toward their tables. If you see the Caps’ logo down there on the left, the Penguins have the first table just beyond that, closer to the front.

Always best to be in the back of this room, by the way.

Seriously, there are more of these people walking around outside than anyone else. I’m sure that will change when the Minnesotans arrive, but it’s neat to see.

For those who don’t know, the Winnipeg franchise will officially re-christen itself the Jets with the No. 7 overall selection tonight. Very cool.

UPDATE 5:23 p.m.: I just asked Steve Yzerman, the Lightning GM who played until he was 41, if Jaromir Jagr could still handle the rigors of the NHL, based on what he and his scouts have seen: “Sure, he can. I think people make too big a deal out of age. If guys are healthy and they train hard and have desire, age is irrelevant. It comes to an end for every player sometime. But if Jagr is healthy and ready to play, I don’t think anybody should doubt that.”

7:15: The Oilers, as expected, make Ryan Nugent-Hopkins the No. 1 overall pick. And all you need to know about the quality of the upper part of this class is that Nugent-Hopkins is a 6-foot, 164-pound playmaking center. Yikes. He’d better be Adam Oates or Nicklas Backstrom.

8:05: Dan Bylsma told me an hour ago that the Penguins will have multiple formations on power play next season to avoid being predictable. Even an umbrella.

8:11: The Jets are officially back, announced at the podium with the seventh overall pick while hundreds of traveling Winnipeggers leaped and cheered like they’d won the Cup. Neat scene.

There was no jersey, though. They made the kid put on a generic black NHL shirt. There will be an official unveiling some other time, I guess.

9:28: J.T. Miller of Coraopolis goes 15th overall to the Rangers, making him the highest pick in Pittsburgh history, one notch ahead of R.J. Umberger, who went 16th overall.

9:36: Only four teams pick before the Penguins at No. 23, and Gibsonia’s Brandon Saad is still on the board. If I were betting — and I’m not — I’d say the Pittsburgh table hopes he makes it that far.

10:15: The Penguins take defenseman Joe Morrow from Portland of the WHL. Can’t say I saw them going for an offensive defenseman, but that’s what he is.

11:14: Some odds and ends here before we get chased out: Ray Shero explained to me that bypassing Saad wasn’t really an issue, in the sense that they don’t look at positional needs in the draft or at local angles. They go for assets. Seeing that Saad has dropped out of the first round now, it’s a hard position to dispute, at least on the Saad front. Clearly, he dropped by all 30 teams for a reason. … Shero did not have talks with Petr Svoboda today and didn’t sound certain any would happen this weekend. Depends on Svoboda, who might not have arrived here yet. … Morrow reminds me of just about every WHL kid I’ve ever interviewed. Super humble. Pond in the back yard. Hockey family. Skilled but tough. Struck me as having a little bit of an edge to him, though. We’ll see.


  1. Drew71 says:

    Those are two of the coolest pictures ever put up. I have become, by the way, a Winnipeg fan.

    On a much sadder note, did you see the story about the Gateway High School football players shot, one one of them dead? Not in a ‘club’ at 3 AM. (Not that that would justify it.) 10PM in the parking lot of an Outback. On a legitimate football trip, I think between a college visit and a 7-on-7 football camp.

    Just terrible. Same age as my youngest, who leaves himself for college tomorrow.

    You just never know what’s out there, and you can’t protect them forever. But we can worry forever. Seems that’s all that is left for parents.

    At least we still have the opportunity to worry about our sons. I can’t imagine what that kid’s family is going through. Or maybe why it is upsetting me so much…maybe I can.


  2. There are 32 banners on the rafters, two of them being the NHL’s. I assume Winnipeg’s is the bottom first, occupying the alphabetical place of Atlanta. But what logo is in there? I can’t see from the picture. I can only see it’s red.

  3. Bizrow says:

    Drew, yes its been on the news, what a terrible tragedy. Just nothiing but pure chance. The classic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    They were checking out ACC schools while going to a camp in Florida.

    Worries? Wait till there are grandkids ; }

    Random senseless violence over a few words.

    Thank goodness none of the other five kids were killed, one got shot in the leg though.

    As I read from your note, anything like this is very sobering

  4. JAL says:

    Very sobering, and much too much senseless violence in our country.

  5. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Any names surfacing as possible Pens picks?

    I don’t know anybody but perhaps a quick outlook of potential picks.

  6. Bizrow says:

    I read Saad a Burgh fellow, but that was on NBC so……

  7. Eric says:

    RNH has a very good shot DK. I think you’re underestimating him a bit. Very comparable to Stamkos at that age.

  8. Eric says:

    I read that the NHL has yet to approve the Jets colors, logo, uniforms, etc. Leads me to believe they are making some kind of changes, or it would have been done already. I just hope they don’t ditch that awesome royal blue for a dark navy like Buffalo did.

  9. Bizrow says:

    A defenseman, ok, Shero knows what he is doing

  10. Drew71 says:

    Well. I’d rather them take the best talent available – if that’s what they thought he was – than force a need with the first pick.

    I loved the sound of Biggs, the guy who Toronto jumped up to take in front of the Pens. No idea what the Pens thought of him.

    In fact, no idea about ANY of these guys. I like pro hockey well enough but I don’t follow college or junior hockey. At all. So the NHL draft is kind of a blur to me.

    My favorite part of this draft, in fact the only part i really focused on, was just seeing the Winnipeggers. At least I understood THAT.

  11. Drew71 says:

    And a BIG congratulations to the Pirates taking the first game against one of the best teams in baseball with one of the hottest pitchers in baseball. I hope all 39,330 in attendance liked that as much as we did. My guess is that those not dressed in red probably liked it plenty.

  12. Drew71 says:

    Good morning.

    “(T)hey don’t look at positional needs in the draft or at local angles. They go for assets.”


    If Shero and his team of evaluators thought that this kid was the best “asset” available at that point, I’m all for it.

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