NHL Draft on Friday/Saturday

The 2011 NHL Entry Draft will take place this weekend in St. Paul, MN, at the Xcel Energy Center, the home of the Minnesota Wild.

The first round will be held on Friday night, starting at 4:00 PM Pacific time with rounds 2 through 7 to be held on Satuday, beginning at 8:00 AM Pacific.   The first round can be seen on Versus locally with the NHL Network carrying the second day broadcast.

Just like last year, the Portland Winterhawks will be hosting a draft party, actually two draft parties, on Friday at the Big Al’s Sports Bar locations in Beaverton and Vancouver.  I will be hosting the party in Beaverton with Todd Vrooman while Dean Vrooman and John Kirby will be hosting the gathering in Vancouver.  There will be prizes at each location as well as good conversation and a chance to watch the draft with other hockey fans.

Portland had eight players drafted last year, including two in the first round, and while it will be very hard to match the total number of drafter players, the Hawks could see three players selected on Friday night in the first 30 picks as Sven Bartschi, Ty Rattie and Joe Morrow are all on the short list of those that could be drafted in the opening round.

One of the interesting things to do is read all of the mock drafts put out there by the “experts” and just where they think the players will wind up.  The commentary on each player is interesting and it kind of bugs me sometimes when I read stuff like “Bartschi (or Rattie) put up big numbers last year in the WHL, but those numbers may have been inflated by playing along players like Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter”.

If they consider that the numbers were inflated by sitting on the bench next to, or riding the bus with those two it would make sense.  Neither Rattie nor Bartschi spent much time playing on the same line with Johansen or Nino and if anything their numbers were inflated because they played together virtually all season long.

The interesting player to watch for me is Morrow…I’ve seen him predicted to being a top 15 pick to out of the first round.  He will be, IMO, a solid mid-first round pick after his play in the second half of the regular season and in the playoffs as well as his strong showing at the NHL combine.  Players with his skating ability and strength don’t fall far down the list and if he goes later than 22 or 23 in the draft, I’d be very surprised.

While he won’t hear his name (most likely) on Friday night, I don’t think Tyler Wotherspoon will have to wait long on Saturday to hear his name called.  I think he could be a late second, early third round pick (much like Taylor Aronson last year).  Wotherspoon really played well in the playoffs where the scouts were watching closely.

It should be a fun time at Big Al’s…hope to see a lot of you there on Friday afternoon.

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