It was a long day for most hockey people yesterday as the NHL finished up rounds 2 through 7 of this year's draft. Somewhat surprisingly, the Canes only drafted one defenseman with their remaining 5 picks, Brett Bellemore of the Plymouth Whalers. To Bellemore's credit, he led the entire OHL with a plus +48 rating! The kid could develop into quite the bruiser as he is 6'4" right now. Carolina also picked up another player from the OHL champion Whalers, left winger Chris Terry. Terry scored 66 points in 68 games and also accumulated 98 minutes in penalties for the year. Both of these guys look like solid choices. With the Canes first 2 selections of the day, they picked forward Drayson Bowman who was the 36th best rated skater in North America, (Brandon Sutter was 28th rated), as well as Justin McCrae, a defensive minded center. I'm surprised that Bowman made it into the 3rd round and Sheldon Ferguson seemed pleasantly surprised as well. For more information about these draft picks, check out Canes Draft Central.
Keeping up with Carolina tradition they acquired another goalie on draft day as well, but instead of drafting him they traded their 7th round pick for him. Michael Leighton former property of the Habs, is now property of the Hurricanes. Interestingly enough, Leighton was the goalie for the Norfolk Admirals a couple of years ago when the Lowell Lochmonsters came down and played them. The Canes provided buses and free tickets for season ticket holders to go watch that game. At one point though, the game turned into a bench clearing brawl which included the goalies as well as the coaches. That's right, our meek and mild Conn Smythe award winner was exchanging fist-a-cuffs with newly acquired Michael Leighton. This could make for an interesting training camp! Actually, training camp will be interesting because at least 3 or maybe 4 goalies will be fighting for the 2 positions available in Albany. While Craig Kowalski was released, Justin Peters, Kevin Nastiuk, Magnus Ackerlund, and Daniel Manzanto are all still Cane's property as of today. Maybe one of them will be traded soon? In my opinion, there's no way the Canes will trade John Grahame and count on Leighton to fill in behind Ward. Leighton just doesn't have enough NHL experience.
The news of the day wasn't actually news at all, it was just a rumor. Over on Hockeybuzz, Eklund posted an "e5" rumor, (which according to his rating system is a sure thing, just not announced in public yet), that the Oilers had made a huge trade with an Eastern Conference team and had acquired a big name power forward. The "big name" power forward was supposedly Erik Cole. I'm not going to bother to even discuss the other portions of the alleged trade because both general managers put a kabosh on that rumor almost immediately. Kevin Lowe said no one had contacted him about Erik Cole, (but he would be happy to listen), and Jim Rutherford said that Erik Cole was not and is not being shopped. The News and Observer's Luke DeCock verified such with a special blog posting of his own about it. While Eklund may look like an idiot at this point because his "sure thing" rumor was made to look no better than a "Maggie the Monkey" prediction, the responses from the general managers and the media show just how powerful his rumors and his website have become. There were over 500 messages concerning that one posting on his message board this afternoon and some of the Hurricanes fans boards were a buzz about it as well. That's a lot of clout to have when two team's general managers feel the need to take the effort to squelch a rumor! As most of you have probably noticed, I have the newsfeed to the HockeyBuzz site up on the right sidebar. I hesitated to do that because I thought someone might read a rumor headline off the feed, and think it really happened. I do like his site though and want to include it because he has several good writers over there that cover the entire NHL. He has a connection to XM radio. I think they have a lot of information there that you can't find elsewhere. (maybe because it isn't real? haha). Seriously, I am going to keep those links up for now.
Speaking of rumors, Luke did verify that something was in the works for the Canes to acquire a new defenseman. Could it be the Flyers', Joni Pitkanen? I think that would be one heck of a pickup if we could get him, but who would we have to give up? While the draft is officially over, things are heating up Caniacs! Even if JR doesn't make a trade, July 1st will be here soon and the free agent floodgates will open! I must admit, I love to watch this stuff. Have a happy!