Greetings from the Empire City, where the NHL’s annual meat
market devoted to diverting children to unhappy new homes is set for tomorrow
evening. As an addition to Jets Nation’s
extensive coverage of the picks themselves, I’m on site to add fan perspective
of the proceedings themselves, as well as maybe a few nuggets picked up from
the mass of insiders, bloggers, hockey ops people, and other casual drunkards
that populate this weekend every season.
This is the 6th draft since the Jets moved to
Winnipeg, and my 5th in that time. Misgivings about how the NHL conducts its
business aside, it’s an interesting experience, even for us unwashed types,
because it’s the one time of the year when the entire clan gathers in place to
conduct business. My first go-round was in St. Paul in 2011, where Kent Wilson
and I covered affairs from the club seats for Flames Nation, and I had to ask
him to repeat who the Jets had picked just to make sure I hadn’t misheard.
Things have progressed since then for the Nations, and the Jets, thankfully.
Of course, the Jets are a player on a different scale this time,
a happy occurrence driven by the bounce of four ping pong balls two months ago.
In a draft with a few top end talents, it’s nice to have access to one of them,
whoever that might be. I’m not exactly a booster of Chevy, but Scheifele over Coots
and not whiffing on Ehlers when Nik Ritchie seemed to fit their template does suggest
he might be a more heterodox thinker than he gets credit for. Because of that,
I’m inclined to actually hear the pick before blowing a gasket. Novel approach,
I know, but here we are.
This iteration also has the spectacle of the Blue and White
behemoth holding pick number one. The proximity to the actual draft location of
that fan base will almost certainly mean an influx starting pretty much any
time now, which will be good for Buffalo’s hospitality industry if nothing
else. I suspect the Leaf fans in attendance will make more noise than they
usually do at the ACC, although fairness compels me to note that they rarely
have much to get excited about there. As an aside, having the draft in a city near
a large fan base whose team holds the 1 OV really will give things a bit of extra
spice. You wouldn’t want this to happen every time, obviously, because we’d all
get pretty tired of going to Calgary, but every now and then is OK.
That’s mostly all for now, but I do want to address the tizzy that Jets’
Twitter got into last night after the Bobfather hinted that all was not settled
in Winnipeg’s camp re: the 2 OV. Thomas Drance covered this earlier today, and he, like I, was immediately reminded of 2012. The
fan discomfort that Friday afternoon was intense, and we now know that the Oil did have a bit of a schism occurring. In the end, though, they went with the consensus pick, for better or worse, and that seems like the best bet for tomorrow as well.
Enjoy the draft, and I’ll be back with a few notes from the
scene after night one.