Gross Misconduct Hockey Thoughts from a drifter on the hockey landscape

06/22/2016

Noted Jerk’s guide to Buffalo during the 2016 NHL Draft

Filed under: NHL Draft — Tags: , — Joe Yerdon @ 1:01 PM

The 2016 NHL Draft is upon us and plenty of you are looking ahead to traveling to Buffalo and looking ahead to next season and beyond with the annual selection meeting.

Of course, the trick to going to a new city (or one you haven’t been to in some time) is knowing where the best places to visit to eat, drink, and be merry are located and just what they are in the first place.

Lots of people will tell you the old standards, but after being a Buffalo native for three years some things have changed and you can do well in New York’s Queen City if you just listen to your pal Joe. Here’s my guide of where to go in Buffalo:

WINGS

Let’s just get this out of the way first. Buffalo is world-renowned for its chicken wings and, honestly, there’s not really a bad place in the city and surrounding neighborhoods to get wings, but people will have lots of opinions on where to go to get the best.

Where people will tell you to go: Anchor Bar (1047 Main Street) or Duff’s (multiple locations)

If you want to go to the home of the Buffalo wing, it’s OK to go to Anchor Bar once. Have them at the source and take a few pictures and say you did it. After all, if you’re a tourist and new to the city, you’ll want to hit that and Niagara Falls on your visit to the area. Go wild. But, you’re going to pay tourist prices there, so just know that up front. Duff’s is fine for wings and a local chain to the Buffalo area. There’s nothing wrong with hitting Duff’s, but they don’t have a location downtown, so if that’s where you’re staying during the draft and you don’t have a car to get around in, you’re going to want to test out the numerous other awesome bars that do wings their way. Such as…

Where else you should go: Gabriel’s Gate (145 Allen St.); Bar Bill Tavern (Cash Only — 185 Main St. East Aurora); Elmo’s Tavern (2349 Millersport Highway, Getzville); The Nine-Eleven Tavern (Cash Only — 11 Bloomfield Avenue, Buffalo)

If you wanted to do a “Tour of Great Wings” this list is what I’d call a good start. The Gate is where most Buffalonians will tell you to go and it’s location on Allen Street will make it very popular. The wings are great and so is the rest of the food. If you’re into beer, order the house brown ale to go with it.

If you’ve got a car at your disposal, I’d say Bar Bill is a must-visit place and worth the 30-40 minute drive to East Aurora to have their wings. They’re the crispiest and sauciest wings in the area. If you’re going alone or with one friend, you’ll have a fighting chance of being served right away at the bar. Going with a big group and in need of a table? You could be in for a long wait because it’s always busy and it’s not a big place. Lucky for you and your group, Aurora Brew Works is right next door.

Elmo’s in Getzville does stupendous wings and they do things a little different in that you can get your wings double-dipped in any of their sauces. The wings are big and meaty and adding two sauce flavors to them totally works.

While “The Gate” will get all the attention (rightfully so) from people, the new under-the-radar place locals get their wings is The Nine-Eleven Tavern. This small South Buffalo bar and restaurant with a sturdy shuffleboard table splits the difference in style between what Gabriel’s Gate and Bar Bill does. It’s saucy and just the right amount of crispy, but what makes them stand out the most is the sauce because it appears it adds a bit of chopped garlic to it for a hint of sweetness and a lot of flavor. Even though I’m not exactly a foodie, that review makes it seem like I am. That said, you go to any of these places and you’ll be eating well.

BEER

Hockey fans demand beer and fortunately for anyone coming to the NHL Draft, Buffalo is awash in beer and in the middle of a brewing renaissance. To give you a proper idea of how to go about getting your suds in the Queen City, I’ll give you both breweries and bars to find. Sadly, the No. 1 place I would’ve wanted you all to see closed its doors in April after a dispute amongst former business partners. The rest of these picks may not quite compare, but there are plenty of gems to be found.

Where people will tell you to go: Pearl Street Grill & Brewery (76 Pearl St., Buffalo); Liberty Hound (1 Naval Park Cove, Buffalo); Pizza Plant (125 Main St. #110, Buffalo); Ballyhoo (211 South Park Ave., Buffalo); Swannie House (170 Ohio St., Buffalo)

People will tell you to go to these places because they’re all within walking distance of the First Niagara Center and they all cover the bases for the kind of beer you want.

You want a place that makes their own beer? Pearl St. is the place. You want a great craft beer selection with craft cocktails and sausages? Ballyhoo is where it’s at. All the best new beers to go with great pizza? Pizza Plant is across the street from HarborCenter. Good beer and a view of the water? The Liberty Hound will take care of that. A dive bar with all the perfect dive bar beer and prices? Swannie House will do. If you want to hang at the arena and not explore more than that, you’re golden and will do quite well with food and drink. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping it close to the arena if you’re not into exploring more of the city.

Where else you should go: Big Ditch Brewing Company (55 E. Huron St., Buffalo); Resurgence Brewing (1250 Niagara St., Buffalo); Flying Bison Brewery (840 Seneca St., Buffalo); Community Beer Works (15 Lafayette Ave., Buffalo); Gene McCarthy’s/Old First Ward Brewing (73 Hamburg St., Buffalo); Amherst Pizza & Ale House (55 Crosspoint Parkway, Amherst); Lenox Grill (140 North St., Buffalo); Cole’s Restaurant (1104 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo); Mr. Goodbar (1110 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo); Thin Man Brewery (492 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo); The Old Pink (223 Allen St., Buffalo)

Breweries, beer bars, and the best dive bar in the city: That’s what makes up this list. For the most part, these could all go on the list below for “Food That Isn’t Wings” as well as you’ll find some great places to eat here as well.

If you’re a craft beer fan, consider this your hit list on where to go. There are a lot of new breweries popping up across the city and nearby areas and, let’s face it, you’ve only got so much time. Big Ditch, Old First Ward, and Flying Bison are all reasonably close to First Niagara Center with Big Ditch located right downtown. Big Ditch and OFW have full dining menus, but Flying Bison does not. Resurgence and Community Beer Works can be found on the west side within a block of each other. Resurgence offers some snacks to order.

Thin Man Brewery just opened within the past week on Elmwood Avenue, but their beer won’t be ready to flow until after the NHL Draft. Lucky for you their tap list is solid with local craft and other high-end craft beers. Their kitchen is fully up and rolling with great food. If you venture further up Elmwood near Buffalo State College you’ll find Cole’s and Mr. Goodbar next door to each other. Both have great beer selections with Mr. Goodbar’s having a bit more variety. You can dine in at Cole’s and there’s an outdoor patio to go with it.

Lenox Grill may not have much beer on tap, but it has hands-down the best and most vast bottled beer selection in the city. On top of that, the dining menu is stellar.

A trip to the suburbs should mean a visit to Amherst Pizza & Ale House. Their draft menu has a lot to offer when it comes to craft beers and their wings are excellent especially the Crown Royal BBQ wings. That said, if you go and you have a pile of friends with you, make sure to get the pizza fries for a full gluttonous adventure.

Last, and certainly not least, is The Old Pink. Think of a dive bar you’ve been to and think about how much you enjoyed it for all that it had (or didn’t have at all) and that’s The Pink. You’re not likely to find any fine craft beers, but you will find the finest steak sandwich in Buffalo to go with all the fine music and ambiance you’d expect from a place that has all the looks of being a grungy road house but the best cross-section of humanity Buffalo has to offer.

FOOD THAT ISN’T WINGS

Since I’m not much of a foodie, I’ll just lay it out for you easier here since people are going to tell you about 1,000 different places to check out. I’ll break them down by style to make it slightly easier. Just trust me when I say this: If you don’t eat well in Buffalo, that’s your own fault and I shame you greatly for failure.

Family Italian: Chef’s Restaurant (291 Seneca St., Buffalo) – It’s probably the most famous Italian place in Buffalo and if you’ve got kids with you, it’ll make everyone happy. Make sure to put on your apron bib because the sauce and cheese explosion will be waiting.

Rooftop seating Italian: Tappo (338 Ellicott St., Buffalo) – It’s a more recent addition to downtown, but Tappo offers a more fashionable way of dining out. The food is great (I’ll vouch for the meatballs and lasagna) and it’s an ideal place for friends and a few bottles of wine. It’s going to be sunny and hot and you’re going to want to bask in the glory of great Buffalo weather, RIGHT? Head for the roof for a drink or to eat.

Good-ass pizza: Casa di Pizza (11 E. Mohawk St., Buffalo) – There’s always a chance you’ll run into me here grabbing slices to go or watching a game, but don’t let that deter you, this place has the best pizza in the city as far as I’m concerned. They also offer some Italian staples, subs, appetizers, wings and sandwiches too. Everything comes big so you’re getting your money’s worth.

Southern Eating: Toutant (437 Ellicott St., Buffalo) – Yes, you can find Southern food in Buffalo and yes you can get it better than you can in most places down South. Blasphemy?! Nope. Biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, shrimp and grits, poboys, muffaletta, greens, barbecue… Just make a reservation and get there if you can.

Seafood fine and fried: Oshun (5 E. Huron St., Buffalo); Liberty Hound (1 Naval Park Cove, Buffalo)

If oysters and a layout that would make Aquaman proud sounds like something you’d like, head to Oshun. You can find just about every other kind of seafood delight as well from fish tacos and sandwiches to lobster rolls to cod, ahi tuna, salmon, and trout.

If you’re feeling more like a basket of fried calamari, clams, scallops, or ahi tuna nachos, Liberty Hound in the Naval Park near HarborCenter will satisfy your desires. Some seating has a nice view of the water and the boats that will surely be cruising all throughout the weekend so this place will get busy. But if you get in, get one of your beers shandy-fied and relax by the water.

Taco Party: Lloyd Taco Factory (1503 Hertel Ave., Buffalo); Deep South Taco (291 Ellicott St., Buffalo); Cantina Loco (191 Allen St., Buffalo); Valle of Mexico (1586 South Park Ave., Buffalo)

People will debate over who has the best wings or pizza in Buffalo for days, but the new battle is about who offers the best Mexican-inspired food. The early favorite, and perhaps they should be called “The People’s Tacos,” are Lloyd. The long-time food truck operators opened a proper restaurant in North Buffalo and yes the hype is real and deserved. The newcomers are Deep South Taco downtown and their selections are good (a luchadore style taco is quite good) and they offer an outdoor patio to soak in the sunshine. My one wish for them was that their tacos had a bit more to them considering the price point.

Cantina Loco is a hip tequila bar that also happens to serve really good food that’s modernized a bit. You’ll find some great new stuff on the specials and the standards are always pleasing. If you want the truly authentic Mexican restaurant, however, Valle of Mexico is worth the trip down South Park Avenue but call ahead to make sure they’re open.

Burgers and Beers: Allen Burger Venture (175 Allen St., Buffalo); Vizzi’s (967 Kenmore Ave., Buffalo)

I’ll be plain about this: You’re going to pay a good amount of money for a burger at ABV on Allen, but it will be completely worthwhile to do so. Made to order with a metric ton of flavor in whatever it is you choose. You cannot go wrong with a burger there and the fantastic fries on the side are just a bonus. They also sport an outstanding tap list and have many whiskeys and bourbons to take down if you’re feeling that way.

Vizzi’s will catch your eye in Kenmore with the bright yellow and black signage, but the massive Monster Burger as well as all of their hearty sandwiches will send you home feeling fat and happy and you won’t pay a lot to do so either.

Vegan and veggieAmy’s Place (3234 Main St., Buffalo); merge (439 Delaware Ave., Buffalo); Betty’s (370 Virginia St., Buffalo); Newbury Street (470 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo)

All right, so I’ve choked you with enough burgers, tacos, pizza, and wings and now you have to cleanse your system of all that and eat healthy. Being decidedly not vegan or vegetarian myself, I had to consult a few friends who are. While many places around Buffalo will offer vegan or veggie options, these restaurants specialize in them.

Amy’s Place is another place where people would know of them from their food truck and the food truck craze that’s gone wild. But they’ve been established for a while with its own restaurant and branched out with a truck for a good reason: The food is great. You can get a lot of the regular fare there, but they also offer Middle Eastern food and a great breakfast menu. Cannot recommend highly enough.

With merge and Betty’s you have a couple places that are a bit closer to downtown and do things distinctly their own. Betty’s may be most famous for their brunch and their vegan offerings are among the best in the city. At merge, things are done a bit more organically in that a lot of what they make is locally farm grown and produced.

Newbury Street on Elmwood gives you the chance to get that shake or smoothie as well as fresher versions of salads and rice bowls than you might find at chain-like locations. They also offer Crush Juicery and Public Espresso Coffee. Speaking of coffee…

Coffee housing: Perks Cafe (448 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo); Spot Coffee (numerous locations in Buffalo); Public Espresso + Coffee (Hotel at Lafayette 391 Washington St., Buffalo); Paula’s Donuts (2319 Sheridan Ave., Tonawanda)

Listen, I know you can get Tim Hortons or Starbucks all over the place and that’s all well and good, but if you want the good beans go to any of these places.

Perks is new to Elmwood Village and has a host of coffee choices both hot and iced as well as sandwiches, breakfast noshing, and baked goods. The staff are lovely and it’s my neighborhood go-to caffeine hook up. I may be playing favorites here.

Spot and Public are both a bit closer to downtown and will feed your need for coffee and snacking as well. Most coffee places will take care of you that way and Spot offers up quite a few options.

Paula’s Donuts gets a mention here because, damn it, you need a good doughnut with your coffee. Lucky for you, their coffee is sneaky good if not just your regular cup of Joe. Be sure to grab a taillight to go with that coffee to really do the trick.

Breakfast of champions: Sophia’s Restaurant (749 Military Rd., Buffalo); Lake Effect Diner (3165 Main St., Buffalo)

When it comes to breakfast eats, there are two places I will always and forever recommend in Buffalo and it just so happens they were both featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.”

Sophia’s only does breakfast and lunch and is open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. and you’ll occasionally need to wait a bit at the small diner-sized place, but it’s worth the wait. Pancakes are dinner plate-sized, the omelets are bountiful and filling, and by all means order the home fries and get the toast with homemade bread. Tons of food at inexpensive prices and you’ll be immensely satisfied.

Lake Effect Diner on Main Street has a bit more flexible hours if you’re feeling like breakfast in the late afternoon, but the food will make you want breakfast all the time. Again, I recommend strongly getting home fries with your bacon and eggs or French toast. If you’re not there for breakfast, that’s fine too because the rest of the menu is great. Get a milkshake if you can.

****

There’s a lot to digest here and you’ve only got a few days to make the most of everything. Obviously there are a LOT more than just these places around the city to wine and dine and have a good time, but I want you all to leave town believing this won’t be the last time you’ll see Buffalo. After all, this is the City of Good Neighbors.

06/09/2014

2014 NHL Mocked Draft

Filed under: NHL Draft — Tags: — Joe Yerdon @ 1:01 PM

2014 draft logoEvery year, picking the NHL Draft is like a semi-educated game of darts after a few pitchers of your favorite beer. You have an idea of what you’re aiming for but whatever you hit you have to own it whether you like it or not.

This year’s draft is almost certainly like that. After feebly throwing together a mock draft in the past (in which I think I missed on all 30 picks) I figured I’d give it another go to see how terrible I could do again.

Here are my semi-educated guesses as to how this year’s draft will shake out, trades be damned. If you want my reasoning behind any of the picks here it is: “Why not? Get a life, nerd.”

1. Florida Panthers: Aaron Ekblad – D – Barrie (OHL)
2. Buffalo Sabres: Sam Reinhart – C – Kootenay (WHL)
3. Edmonton Oilers: Leon Draisaitl – F – Prince Albert (WHL)
4. Calgary Flames: Sam Bennett – C – Kingston (OHL)
5. New York Islanders: Kasperi Kapanen – RW – Kalpa (SM-liiga)
6. Vancouver Canucks: Michael Dal Colle – LW – Oshawa (OHL)
7. Carolina Hurricanes: William Nylander – RW – MODO (SHL)
8. Toronto Maple Leafs: Nikolaj Ehlers – LW – Halifax (QMJHL)
9. Winnipeg Jets: Brendan Perlini – LW – Niagara (OHL)
10. Anaheim Ducks (via Ottawa): Nick Ritchie – LW – Peterborough (OHL)
11. Nashville Predators: Sonny Milano – LW – USA U-18 (USHL)
12. Arizona Coyotes: Jared McCann – C – Sault Ste-Marie (OHL)
13. Washington Capitals: Haydn Fleury – D – Red Deer (WHL)
14. Dallas Stars: Jake Virtanen – RW – Calgary (WHL)
15. Detroit Red Wings: Kevin Fiala – LW – HV71 (SHL)
16. Columbus Blue Jackets: Dylan Larkin – C – USA U-18 (USHL)
17. Philadelphia Flyers: Alex Tuch – RW – USA U-18 (USHL)
18. Minnesota Wild: David Pastrnak – C – Sodertalje (SHL)
19. Tampa Bay Lightning: Julius Honka – D – Swift Current (WHL)
20. San Jose Sharks: Thatcher Demko – G – Boston College (Hockey East)
21. St. Louis Blues: Josh Ho-Sang – F – Windsor (OHL)
22. Pittsburgh Penguins: Jakub Vrana – RW – Linkoping (SHL)
23. Colorado Avalanche: Robby Fabbri – C – Guelph (OHL)
24. Anaheim Ducks: Adrian Kempe – LW – MODO (SHL)
25. Boston Bruins: Ivan Barbashev – LW – Moncton (QMJHL)
26. Montreal Canadiens: Roland McKeown – D – Kingston (OHL)
27. Chicago Blackhawks: Conner Bleackley – C – Red Deer (WHL)
28. Tampa Bay Lightning (via NY Rangers): Travis Sanheim – D – Calgary (WHL)
29. Los Angeles Kings: Nick Schmaltz – C – Green Bay (USHL)
30. New Jersey Devils: Nikita Scherbak – RW – Saskatoon (WHL)

06/25/2010

2010 NHL Draft: The worst mock draft in history

Are you ready for the NHL Draft?! Come on! GET EXCITED! There might be four or five guys that play in the NHL next season taken in the first round!

Yes, the NHL Draft is a different beast than the NFL and even the NBA drafts in that the vast majority of guys taken won’t see any action in the NHL next year. Hell, most of them you won’t be able to see unless you’re an avid watcher of the CHL or NCAA hockey. Yeah, there’ll be a handful of Europeans taken as well, some even play in the KHL but there’s no one in North America really paying attention to that.

In the spirit of keeping up with the fun and games on the Internet I managed to come up with the world’s worst mock draft ever conceived. When I wrote this up on Saturday night/Sunday morning for part of our thought process over at Pro Hockey Talk, I really didn’t read up on a lot of these guys. As the week wore on I learned more about the players and the teams and what they need so I’m already really embarrassed by a few of these picks and that’s while I’ll share them with you as they are.  I’m here for the LOLZ after all.

I’ll add my comments with the selections as well to help spice this up a bit for you. Just reading names is weak sauce, this isn’t a police blotter after all. I already made it clear this wasn’t like the NFL Draft.

1. Edmonton Oilers – Tyler Seguin – C – Plymouth (OHL)
Everyone else is saying that Hall will be the man here, and I like to live a contrarian lifestyle

2. Boston Bruins-  Taylor Hall – C – Windsor (OHL)
This is the guy the Bruins want to get and they’ll get him because, apparently, the Oilers are dumb. Hint: You can’t lose with either guy.

3. Florida Panthers – Cam Fowler – D – Windsor (OHL)
He’s an American defenseman with all the skills. You could see any one of Fowler, Gudbranson or Gormley go here. It’ll probably be Gudbranson just because I picked someone else.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets – Erik Gudbranson – D – Kingston (OHL)
Same deal here although there’s an outside chance Columbus trades this pick for a veteran player and picks. Gudbranson is the guy they’d like to get.

5. New York Islanders – Brandon Gormley – D – Moncton (QMJHL)
Given how things are shaking out, I’ll be stunned if the Isles stay at this spot. They could stand to get a scoring forward prospect but if they stay here Gormley or Connolly could be it.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning – Nino Niederreiter – LW – Portland (WHL)
His nickname is “El Nino” and he’s Swiss. He could end up on the Lightning. Write your own nonsensical weather joke for this one.

7. Carolina Hurricanes – Brett Connolly – RW – Prince George (WHL)
He likely could’ve been a top 5 pick had he not suffered a tough leg injury. As it is, he’ll have to settle for being just outside the top 5. Tough life. If he falls this far, Carolina will be thankful.

8. Atlanta Thrashers – Jeff Skinner – C – Kitchener (OHL)
He’s a goal scoring freak although some folks worry about his skating speed. Given the numbers he put up in Kitchener this past season (64 games, 50 goals, 40 assists) it’s really tough to argue. Atlanta will be happy to have him.

9. Minnesota Wild – Nick Bjugstad – C – Blaine HS (MN)
He was Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey and the Wild could stand to do something good to make the home fans not want to start a lynch mob, especially after dealing last year’s first round pick (Minnesota Golden Gopher Nick Leddy) to the Blackhawks for Cam Barker.

10. New York Rangers – Alex Burmistrov – C – Barrie (WHL)
The Rangers sure could use a skilled center in their system, couldn’t they? If Burmistrov falls this far even Glen Sather can’t screw this one up.

11. Dallas Stars – Derek Forbort – D – USA Under-18
This is almost a unanimous selection across all drafts and from what I’ve heard from folks on the inside (I do have SOME connections) Forbort is the guy they really want to get at 11. I figure they’ll get their man.

12.  Anaheim Ducks – Austin Watson – RW – Peterborough (OHL)
So here’s the first pick where I really screwed the pooch. The Ducks could stand to use some centers in their system. Badly. If Watson gets picked by Anaheim I’ll fall on the floor. Twice.

13.  Phoenix Coyotes – Mikael Granlund – LW – Helsinki
The Coyotes love them some Scandinavian players (Sami Lepisto, Mikkel Boedker) and Granlund would help fill the team coffers at left wing. It also helps that the kid has some slick skills on offense. Done and done.

14.  St. Louis Blues – Emerson Etem – C – Medicine Hat (WHL)
He’s a California kid and the fans will go nuts for him. The Blues could use some more solid talent up the middle and Etem is capable of fulfilling those hopes as he’s impressed people quite a bit lately. The Blues would do well to get him.

15.  Boston Bruins – Dylan McIlrath – D – Moose Jaw (WHL)
So this pick now belongs to the Florida Panthers thanks to the Nathan Horton trade and if they take Gudbranson early, they’re not taking a defenseman here. If they hang on to the pick at all that is. Rumors are swirling that they’ll deal this pick to collect more goodies. Still McIlrath has an awesome name, is a huge physical defenseman and he played in Moose Jaw. What else could you possibly need?

16.  Ottawa Senators – Jack Campbell – G – USNTDP
He’s America’s hero in goal. He won the gold medal for the WJC team over Canada. That’s good. He turned down a commitment to Michigan to play in the OHL. That’s bad. Still, he’s the best goalie in the draft and Ottawa could really use a prospect in goal at this point. Brian Elliott and Mike Brodeur won’t be around forever, nor should they be.

17.  Colorado Avalanche – Jon Merrill – D – USNTDP
So the Avs could use some defensemen after hitting the jackpot on Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly in last year’s draft. Merrill’s talent is outstanding but he’s got a bit of an attitude problem. Locking him up for five minutes in the room with Adam Foote should straighten him out.

18.  Nashville Predators – Ryan Johansen – C – Portland (WHL)
If Johansen falls this far in the draft, I’ll eat my hat. This was a total mistake on my part. Nashville, however, is praying that I am a psychic as Johansen is ranked behind Tyler Seguin as the best true center prospect in the draft (Taylor Hall is viewed more as a winger than not).

19.  Los Angeles Kings – Vladimir Tasarenko – RW – Novosibirsk
A very talented Russian winger playing in Los Angeles. Where have I heard this one before and is it something we’ll see again during free agency? Alexander Frolov has had a nice career in LA and perhaps Ilya Kovalchuk could be headed there next. Tasarenko, however, is KHL committed so a team picking him has to be content to wait a bit before having him, maybe, come to the NHL.

20.  Pitttsburgh Penguins – Quinton Howden – LW – Moose Jaw (WHL)
A quick, two-way winger that can score goals. The question is: What could the Penguins really make great use of while they’ve got Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin? Well then, glad I settled that. The Pens could go for a winger or defense at this pick here though. Going defenseman wouldn’t be shocking in any way at all. In other words, I probably punted this choice.

21.  Detroit Red Wings – Tyler Pitlick – C – MSU-Mankato (NCAA)
All right, so he’s listed as being a Mankato State player as that’s where he was this past season. Truth is, he’s headed to the WHL next year to “better prepare for the rigors of professional hockey.”  What the fuck ever, Tyler.  Still, kid is talented. He’s probably not getting picked by Detroit though. Oops to me.

22.  Phoenix Coyotes – Mark Pysyk – D – Edmonton (WHL)
He’s a steady two-way defenseman. Nothing mind-blowing, but also doesn’t have many deficiencies. Sounds perfect for the Coyotes system doesn’t it? I thought so too. Obvious pick is obvious.

23.  Buffalo Sabres – Riley Sheahan – C – Notre Dame (NCAA)
Given how other things are likely to shake out, I can’t see Sheahan lasting this long but in my pool of madness, the Fighting Irish forward will get to do his thing someday for the Sabres and he’d make for a nice fit there.

24.  Atlanta Thrashers – Jarred Tinordi – D – USNTDP
This pick now belongs to the Chicago Blackhawks thanks to the Dustin Byfuglien trade. He’s big, he’s bruising, he’s former NHL defenseman Mark Tinordi’s son and he’ll (likely) be playing at Notre Dame next season. If he’s anything like his old man, he’ll have a long and serviceable career. Fun side note: His brother Matt is going to be a freshman at RPI this year so expect to hear about him here.

25.  Vancouver Canucks – Brock Nelson – C – Warroad HS (MN)
Consider this one a failure on my part. The Canucks are more than likely aiming for a defenseman here, but Brock Nelson, who is headed to the University of North Dakota next season, is a big and bad mofo. 6’3″ 205 and he’s 17. Yikes. He’s been moving up on draft boards of late so if he does end up being this far down in the first I’ll be surprised. Also, how great is the name Brock Nelson? It’s a modern day Big McLargehuge.

26.  Washington Capitals – John McFarland – LW – Sudbury (OHL)
The Caps have a wealth of riches and adding fast winger with a nice wrist shot that occasionally fights sounds ideal for a team that lacks that kind of edge up front. The Caps can draft a guy like this and be content to have him develop as their minor leagues are rather full at the moment. Nice problem to have.

27.  Montreal Canadiens – Jaden Schwartz – C – Tri-City (USHL)
He was the USHL’s leading scorer and he’s 5’10” so he doesn’t break the Habs’ height barrier for forwards. It’s a match made in Munchkin Land. Also, he’s committed to playing at Colorado College next year. He’s already won me over for wanting to play in college.

28.  San Jose Sharks – Calvin Pickard – G – Seattle (WHL)
The Sharks don’t need a whole lot of stuff in their organization but goaltending is a severe deficiency throughout and Pickard is one of the best you can get. Seems like a no-brainer to me but Doug Wilson is one shifty mofo as a GM.

29.  Anaheim Ducks – Beau Bennett – RW – Penticton (BCHL)
You don’t really see a lot of BCHL kids go so early but Bennett is pretty impressive and moving up lists late. He’s also another California kid so expect a huge ovation should he fall to the Ducks… Which he may not do as the Kings could be a landing spot for him earlier in the round.

30.  Chicago Blackhawks – Evgeny Kuznetsov – C – Chelyabinsk
What does a team that just won the Stanley Cup need more of? Great talent. Kuznetsov won’t be in North America this year but word from Yahoo’s Dmitri Chesnokov is that he’s set to come to North America next year to compete for a job be it in the NHL or AHL. That’s the right attitude to have as it seems there’s a great fear of Russians throughout the draft worried that they’ll stay in Russia and never come over. Jeez guys, didn’t the wall come down 20 years ago? Let’s chill out.

06/30/2009

Montréal: Surréal and Unréal

Picture if you will a place where hockey is talked about day in and day out.

A place where newly drafted soon-to-be superstars high-five you for being hockey fans going into a bar.

A place where an NHL head coach could charm the pants off of just about any woman he wants to in the bar while he’s just as hammered as you are and you’re stuck standing around in awe of the whole scenario unfolding in front of you.

A place where 10 year-olds have no fear, ignore their grandparents and approach a group of hockey-centric strangers just to heckle a Bruins fan.

A place where out amongst the late night drunken revelers, loud and animated discussions about John Tavares erupt out of the blue.

A place where an inebriated 4:30 AM trip to McDonalds turns into a mind-blowing experience when you realize said McDonalds is across the street from what used to be the Montréal Forum.

A place where running into everyone you’ve ever cited or made fun of in the hockey blog world convenes to share a beer or twelve together.

This is what Montréal was during NHL Draft weekend. Part surreal, part unreal, completely incredible.

I’ll say this about Montréal:

It’s a city I loved before making this trip. I’d been there a few times before and had some incredible times up there and the city has always left an indelible mark on my memory for about a thousand different reasons.

This time will go down as one of the most incredible experiences for me because not only was this about being somewhat immersed in the middle of the madness that is the NHL Draft, but it also helped that it doubled as an end of the year convention for those of us in the “alternative” hockey media.

Oh sure, most of us may not have press passes and we may be playing the role of angry columnist at times (OK all the time over here), but anywhere you went in downtown Montreal this past weekend had hockey going on with it.

If you were out to grab a beer at a local tavern, you might run into some front office guys from an NHL team.

Need to get some dinner in Old Montreal? You might see folks from the Penguins stroll down the street with the Stanley Cup, much the way some of the other NHL Tweet Up folks did on Saturday night.

Going to Peel Pub to soak in the frat boy type of nightlife? Downstairs you might get high-fived by a celebrating Kyle Palmieri or you could head upstairs and see Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski among others.

That’s just a sample of how things went down and, even still, there was more going on than all of that. I don’t need to break down how the picks went or the backroom nonsense that was going on or any of that, you’ll find enough about all of that elsewhere.

What I can say is that I’m glad I’m NOT in Montréal now after the announcement of the Christopher Higgins trade to the Rangers for Scott Gomez that also, seemingly, included the Canadiens top defensive prospect Ryan McDonagh.

The reaction to this deal, for Montréal fans has been, to put it lightly, hysterical. Not the funny kind of hysterical but the manic, crazed and angry kind of hysterical. For a good example of what it’s like to be a dyed in the wool fan of Les Habitents, check this thread at Hockey’s Future that reads like an Internet car crash turned into rally with pitchforks and torches. As of this writing, the thread based on this deal alone was up to 35 pages.

Now take folks like that and put them all in one city and have them dialed into what goes on with the hometown team 24/7. That’s Montréal. Hockey all day, every day.

Heaven… I just don’t speak the language in heaven is all. Well, the main language anyhow.

This kind of seemingly moronic deal sets the table quite nicely for the NHLs National Day of Insanity: The start of free agency.

We’ve already seen one highly-dubious contract handed out to Dave Bolland of the Blackhawks for five years and $3.375 million per year. He’s on the young side, but he also notched a mere 47 points last year. The Blackhawks are banking on Bolland improving and making this deal into a bargain in future seasons.

Yeah, good luck on that.

Adding this to the dubious Rangers-Habs trade today you can see why I look forward to this each year, it’s just funny that Glen Sather is on the positive end of the spectrum this time around. Perhaps he’ll give an asinine contract to Christopher Higgins (a restricted free agent) to make up for it and we can mock him endlessly once again.

Bizarre part about this deal for Montreal is that they had oodles of cap space to work with and instead lock themselves into having Gomez as their top centerman, essentially kiss captain Saku Koivu goodbye and take themselves out of the running for the Sedin twins since Gomez is due over $7 million a year on the cap until forever.

Like I said: Seemingly and most likely a terrible development for the Habs.

For the Rangers, it’s an interesting start and one that’s rumored to continue into a deal for Senators winger Dany Heatley sooner than later. Should that happen, well, perhaps the Rangers will realize that they dealt the wrong centerman to Montreal as Gomez would work quite well dishing off to Heatley.

Chris Drury? Not so much…

All of this though is just the appetizer for July 1st. I’ll be doing a lot of snap judgments through the day tomorrow on Twitter, so follow along with me as idiocy runs wild.

06/26/2009

Bienvenue à Montréal

The Gross Misconduct Hockey Road Trip extravaganza gets to close out the 2008-2009 season as well as get you prepared for the 2009-2010 season all at once by visiting one of my most favorite cities in the world:

Montréal, Québec, Canada

Those accents are very important.

Tomorrow morning I’ll hit the road, the illustrious I-87, to attend the NHL Entry Draft. No, I won’t be giving you a mock draft since that would be amateurish of me to do and would likely end up sounding really freaking stupid because, honestly, what am I going to tell you that you’re not going to find more well informed elsewhere? Hell, just hit up the links on the sidebar and you’ll find something you’ll enjoy – it’s out there and other folks are busting their ass a lot more on this than yours truly.

That’s just how I roll. I guess.

The one bit of insight I’ll give you is this, and these are the things I’ll be keeping an eye out for.

Thankfully, one of them focuses in on the first two picks. I’m curious to see if Garth Snow and the Islanders have just been jerking all of us around for weeks and he’s going to run to the podium and make it official that the Islanders give a crap about the team’s future and select John Tavares first.

Not selecting Tavares would be damn near criminal and that’s not a slight on Victor Hedman or Matt Duchene but Tavares was virtually NHL-ready last year. Hell, they tried to bend the rules to allow him to be drafted last year.

Tavares is the real deal and he’ll be the guy to resurrect the Islanders back into relevancy, which is good since both Hedman and Duchene are pretty fantastic booby prizes for the Lightning and Avalanche who select after the Isles.

Provided the Lightning don’t do something thoroughly insane they should take Hedman and have him starting on the blueline for the Lightning come September. He’s big, he’s Swedish, he plays defense. That’s a pretty good pedigree to have coming to the NHL.

Then again, this is the Tampa Bay Lightning. The team owned by the wackiest pair of terrible owners in the league, a couple of guys in Oren Koules and Len Barrie who were brought into Little Gary’s office this week to get their problems figured out. Of course Gary sided with Oren Koules and hey, why not, he deals in real estate that’s a really solid industry lately. No problems there at all.

Oh and Koules wants to pare down the payroll and get rid of Vincent Lecavalier. That ought to go over really well for the fans in Tampa who have already had these two jackals ruin what was once the crown jewel of how to be a non-traditional market and thrive.

This is also the team with the general manager Brian Lawton who said in an e-mail to other teams that if you want to talk about the Lightning that you talk to him and him alone.


“Please be advised that in order to avoid any confusion over the next couple of weeks, as GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning Organization I am the only person authorized to speak on behalf of the team with regard to player transactions,” the email read.

“No other person is authorized to negotiate player transactions. Any questions, feel free to call.”

Oh good.

Of course with the flux in Tampa Bay and not knowing just what they’ll do, Lawton has felt it necessary that Tampa will hang on to their pick which would be pretty wise considering a guy like Hedman would help sure up their defense for a good long while.

Then again, if Koules is getting the bigger share of the decisions on what to do, perhaps trading out of the spot will seem more appealing.

Sure it would. Then again, if the Islanders do go against the grain and do something unbelievably foolish like skipping over Tavares in favor Hedman then the power is in Tampa’s hands. And if that happens? Hang on to your freakin’ pants because Toronto general manager Brian Burke might actually start table dancing like the fine ladies at Club Super Sexe, full-frontal and everything.

Go ahead, go puke. I’ll wait.

Feel better? Good.

If Tampa gets themselves into a position where they can use their #2 spot to leverage whatever they want to out of anyone, then perhaps even Burke might feel compelled to give up his BFF defenseman Luke Schenn in order to land John Tavares. Then again, who knows what other teams might want to throw at Tampa in order to get a crack at Tavares.

If, and these are HUGE ifs, the Islanders take Hedman or anyone else not named John Tavares the NHL Draft officially becomes a circus and the time allotted to Tampa at pick #2 becomes the most exciting time of the Draft as the Lightning phones will not stop ringing the whole time and with Lawton having to handle things with Koules and Barrie also calling to get their say in…

Well for chaos purposes alone I pray for this to happen. Then again, for the Islanders to become a relevant franchise again sometime before I’m dead, I hope they take Tavares. The Isles lack a lot but Tavares gives them the guy to build the franchise around and gives Kyle Okposo someone to have fun with out there.

The other things I’ll be looking for this weekend come from a sheerly selfish standpoint in being an RPI Engineers hockey watcher and there’s as many as four players with RPI connections who may get their names called this Saturday during the 2nd through 7th rounds.

Three of these players haven’t suited up for the Engineers yet but two of them will in the 09-10 season in Jerry D’Amigo and Brandon Pirri. D’Amigo is getting a lot of press of late and could find himself getting called late in the second round or early in the third.

Christopher Ralph at HockeySpy has this scouting report on D’Amigo who he lists at #50 on his Top 60 list which includes some pretty high praise:


Scouting Combine Performance: Eug Sorokin observed: “Good looking guy, heard some chatter amongst the GMs and some teams like him a lot.” Sorokin was reminded of Zach Parise with respect to D’Amigo.

If RPI can bring in a guy who is anything like Zach Parise, head coach Seth Appert will do back-flips to celebrate because RPI will improve instantly from his presence.

Brandon Pirri comes into the draft having some questions over his defensive skills, but his offensive talents are unquestionably noticeable. His stats from this season playing for two different junior squads in Streetsville and Georgetown:

44 GP 46 G 48 A 94 PTS

For an RPI team that severely lacked scoring, Pirri will be a God-send for the program and any defensive shortcomings he may have will be picked up by his teammates. After all, when you’re showing up as a sniper, worrying about backchecking probably doesn’t rank out too high. Pirri also claims to have added 20 pounds of muscle to his frame bringing him up to 180 pounds, he’ll need that to deal with some of the bruisers he’ll line up against in the NCAA, most notably those at Cornell.

Pirri projects to be potentially anywhere from late third round to early fifth round for the 2009 NHL Draft.

The other players on the potential draft radar are 2010 recruit Jacob Laliberté and current Engineer forward Patrick Cullen. If either or both of them are selected, count on it being in the sixth or seventh round. Laliberté is a small sized forward but worked as a power play maven in the CJHL last year putting up astounding point totals. Cullen was a rookie sensation for the low-scoring Engineers and figures to build strongly on his freshman success getting teammates like D’Amigo and Pirri (among others) to join him in Troy this season.

One other quick note on this weekend. I’ll be reaching out from the basement with a host of other tremendous bloggers from across the Internet this weekend at the official NHL Draft Tweet Up.

Yeah, I know, the Twitter name makes it sound sort of lame – deal with it, Twitter has taken over the world.

Nearly 100 folks from across the NHL blogging spectrum are taking part in this in some ways and even some of the big shots (Wyshynski from Puck Daddy, the folks from Pension Plan Puppets, even Eklund) are going to be there. I’d tell folks in Montreal to hide the beer and their daughters but it’s too late to hide the beer and, well, who knows who’s going to think it’s a good idea to hit the “fun” parts of St. Catherine’s Street on Saturday.

I kid.

I think.

Either way, this event, something as simple and kind of under the radar like the NHL Entry Draft has evolved into a blogger summit, and even the folks at All Habs have extended a special invitation to everyone’s favorite diminutive analyst, Pierre McGuire, to make an appearance and shake hands with some of the folks who enjoy needling him the most.

If he shows up somehow, this turns into an epic gathering of MONSTER proportions.

As if it wasn’t going to be already.

Stay tuned to my own page at Twitter
for draft observations, pictures, and other assorted nonsense. Hell, there’s even a chance you’ll get to see me suited up in my own zebra stripes.

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