The Director of Amateur Scouting for the Carolina Hurricanes, Tony MacDonald, is very pleased with the way the draft turned out this past weekend in Montreal. In just his second year as the man who calls the shots for the club at the draft, MacDonald is confident that the correct decisions were made.
I participated in a conference call with MacDonald and members of the media on Saturday afternoon, right after the draft was completed. Here is my transcript of a portion of that question and answer session:
The first question was one about the size of the Hurricanes picks:
Yes, we came into the draft with the intention of focusing on size. We made that a priority and I think we were able to address that pretty much right through the entire draft. Our first pick is a big kid with a hard shot who plays a very physical game. Then Demoulin from New England is about 6'3, a big strong kid who can move the puck. And our third pick, Lindstrom scores a lot of his goals from near the crease area and he punishes people on the forecheck. He's not the greatest skater yet, but those top three picks not only have size, but have some skill as well. We feel that each of them are very good prospects and fulfill a need that we previously lacked as far as depth in our organization.
Can you address why so many players have been drafted from Sweden this year?
Well, it seems to be a cyclical thing, certainly Sweden and Finland are on the upswing. Just a few years ago the Finnish program was under a lot of scrutiny. They were being scrutinized and criticized, but they have turned things around in a short period of time. They are enjoying a bit of success now. They had a very good National Junior team this year. Their mens national team is always a factor, and their 17-18 and under team is contending at the international level. You know, they seem to have more players now that play a North American style of game than ever before. Instead of just a puck possession game, players are getting more physical, more involved, and they are more prepared to play the game that we play here in North America.
You selected three defensemen in this draft. Can you talk about that decision?
It was not so much a conscious decision in that we had to take defensemen, but just a matter of when the time came up, we took the best players on our list. For instance our last pick, Tommi Kivisto, a defenseman from Finland who came over to play in Red Deer last year, inexplicably fell to the final round. Then the guy before him, Rasmus Rissanen, another guy from Finland who is big, tough, and nasty, and is just a hard guy to play against. When our selection came up and these guys were still on the board, we could not pass them up. We are very pleased that we were able to add those defensemen that late in the draft and hopefully they will add depth to that position within the organization.
Did you get any help on Rissanen from Sami Kapanen?
Well, no. We got some input from other people over there. There were several people who liked him and I know he played with Sami's team over there, so that is kind of a plus. We are kind of pleased about that. But we have watched this kid play a lot. We have not discussed this personally with Sami, but his people were very high on him. We had good feedback from people on the club.
Can you discuss your last two drafts, how you are settling in, and what you are trying to do to build the talent base in the minor leagues?
You approach each one with a different perspective, I guess. Last year coming in, we were looking to add some speed and skill. We felt we did that. We feel that we have some good young prospects coming up in that regard, with the Boychuk's and the Dalpe's and so on. This year was a little different approach. We headed into this with a different direction or game plan as we were trying to draft bigger, stronger, more physical players that can skate. You know, we did that. So from a depth perspective throughout the organization I think we have gained some ground in that regard and it should bode well in the years to come.
Are you pretty satisfied with the kids you got, or is there someone out there who did not get drafted that you liked and might want to sign as a free agent?
We are pretty confident with what we have and I don't feel we left too many people at the table. There are a couple of kids that if we had an extra pick or two in the late rounds we would have loved to have taken them, but you can't take them all. So we did have to leave a couple of kids on the table but by in large we are quite satisfied with the way it went.
Going back to last night, could you explain the difference in how you had rated Paradis versus what some of the scouting services had him rated? There seems to be some discrepancy there.
In looking at it after the fact, looking at it last night, a couple of the so-called expert opinions had him rated in the 40 area, and a couple of others might have had him later than that, maybe at about 60. But I did not give that much weight or even any consideration. We had him where we wanted him on our list, we felt that he was the best player available at that time, and we want to pick the best player on our list so we did that with full confidence. We were getting a kid that addressed the needs and criteria we were looking for coming into this draft and we think this kid is a little bit under-rated. To say that maybe he was a little off the board, that would be a fair statement, but not in our minds. We were quite confident that this is a kid who is a quality NHL prospect. and he's going to have a chance to play for the Hurricanes in the future.
Did you maybe pass on a scorer that was tempting so that you could pick a more physical player instead?
No, you know what? Not that I can think of off the top of my head. I don't think we passed anybody up. There were a couple of kids who were considered prolific scorers who we were about to draft but did not get. That always happens. 27 of the top 30 players on our list, went. So that is how closely things were aligned with our colleagues. So we did not have very many people left on our first page after the first round and part way through the second. We almost wondered if someone had snuck into our room and took a photo copy of our list, (chuckle), but no. I don't think we left too much on the table. We missed a couple of kids we would have taken who were goal scorers, but we got some kids who are proven goal scorers too, like Matt Kennedy who had 33 goals for the Guelph Storm. He's a big strong kid who should hopefully be able to go right into Albany next year. He's the captain of his team and a character player and a 33 goal scorer. So we came out of it with some goal scoring and some people who can finish as well.
Thanks again to Tony for taking the time for that.
Some folk have asked where the draft picks will end up next season. First of all, each of them will be invited and encouraged to attend the Hurricanes prospect camp in July. If any of them impress the coaches enough at that camp, they will be invited to Hurricanes training camp in September, (except for Dumoulin who is going to Boston College). But it would take a miracle for any of these guys to make the Canes in the fall.
Here is a review of the Hurricanes choices once again, along with my best guess of where they will play next year.
27th overal pick, Philippe Paradis, 6'1, 196. C or LW. Aggressive player, finishes his checks, style compared to Jarome Iginla. He will be back with his team in the Quebec League again next year.
Here is a Philippe Paradis audio file recorded by "The Falconer" from the Thrashers blog on SBN after his selection. Most of this is in French, but about 1:50 into the recording, there are a couple of questions in English, and then again near the end. (If any of our friends who can speak French want to translate, fans would appreciate it). Thanks again to the Falconer for taking the time to do that. He was one of the bloggers from our network who was granted press access and he has some interesting pictures and other information about the draft on his site.
51st overall pick, Brian Dumoulin, 6'3, 197. D. Good skater, joins the rush on offense but can play steady defense. Sometimes compared to Ryan Whitney. Brian will attend Boston College next season. (He can attend prospect camp if he pays his own way).
Brian called into the RBC for a conference call with the media after he was selected on Saturday. Here is a recording of that call. " Brian Dumoulin audio file"
88th overall pick, Mattias Lindstrom, 6'4, 203. LW. Has been labeled as a "truck on wheels". His physical game already scares some folk in the adult elite league. Been compared to Tomas Holmstrom. Lindstrom will probably play in the Swedish elite league where he finished up last season.
131st overall, Matt Kennedy, 6'2, 203. RW. Team captain and MVP for Guelph last year. Had 33 goals and plays a physical game. Will move up to Albany next season.
178th overall, Rasmus Rissinen, 6'1, 185. D. At age 17, was described as one of the most physical defensemen in Finland. Played in junior league in Finland last season. Unknown destination for next season. (Most likely will remain in Finland).
208th overall, Tommi Kivisto, 6'1, 195. D. From Finland, played at Red Deer last season. Unknown if he will return to Red Deer or play in Finland next year.