OTTAWA — To say that Colin Wilson was excited when he was selected seventh overall in Friday’s opening round of the NHL Entry Draft is probably an understatement. But it was possible that it was later in the first round when Wilson really got excited.
Nashville selected Wilson with the seventh pick but also had a second opening-round selection to make, the 17th overall pick after trading the 15th pick with host city Ottawa. The Predators decided to take goaltender Chet Pickard from Tri-City in the WHL.
Pickard just happens to be Wilson’s best friend from his childhood growing up in Winnipeg; the pair have played together since they were nine years old, competed against one another at rival high schools and even were there to console one another when both were cut from a travel team at age 14 (any chance that coach is scratching his head after cutting two first-round draft picks?)
“I’m so excited,” said Wilson about heading to Nashville with Pickard. “We both have the same personalities. We were sitting at an NHLPA meeting this morning and things that no one else was laughing at, we were dying laughing. We just were feeding off of one another. So right now, when I heard his name was called, I ran out [to the draft floor] to give him a hug.”
Trade Winds Blow Over Opening Round
Before the first pick was ever made on Friday evening, there were plenty of trade rumors going around Scotiabank Place. By the time the opening round ended, the trade winds had turned to a full-scale tropical storm.
A total of 13 trades were made during Friday’s first round, many by teams jockeying for the exact slot needed to obtain the player they most desired in a talent-heavy field. Four trades involved actual players and two will impact the careers of two college hockey standouts.
Former Michigan Wolverine Mike Cammalleri was part of a of a three-way trade deal that opened the Draft as he was shipped to Calgary. The Flames gave their first-round selection (17th overall) to the Los Angeles Kings, who then sent that pick and the 28th overall pick to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for the 12th pick overall.
Former Ohio State Buckeye R.J. Umberger will be heading back to Columbus as the Blue Jackets picked him up in deal that sent Umberger and a late-round draft choice to Philadelphia in exchange for the Blue Jackets’ first- and third-round picks (19th and 67th overall).
It took little time for the Blue Jackets to play up Umberger’s OSU connections. Within hours of the deal, the Blue Jackets’ website opened to a page announcing Umberger’s return to Columbus, accompanying an ad for ticket sales.
When In Rome …
If anyone has concerns as to how well Wilson will fit into Nashville’s scene, he answered that question emphatically on Friday.
“I love country music, actually,” said Wilson, demonstrating that he’ll adjust just fine to the home of country music and the Grand Ole Opry. “I listen to a variety of music, but I generally still go with Johnny Cash, Tim McGraw and Garth Brooks. Maybe that will help out the fans liking me a bit.”
Marketing to Best
After winning the NHL Draft Lottery and retaining the top overall selection, the marketing gurus of the Tampa Bay Lightning launched a brilliant campaign to promote consensus number-one Steven Stamkos.
The campaign pasted bulletin boards, print ads and bumper stickers around town with a simple question: “Seen Stamkos?”
The campaign pointed interested onlookers to a website that listed biographical information, expert analysis and even a video clip of one of the most impressive goals ever scored, a behind-the-back, two-handed backhander that Stamkos scored during the OHL All-Star skills competition this past season.
Tampa fans won’t have to wait long to get a glimpse at Stamkos. He’s expected to step right into the lineup in Tampa Bay next season.
Timing is Everything
American-born Thomas McCollum, who plays for Guelph of the OHL, must feel like he has pretty decent timing considering how Friday’s first round proceeded.
McCollum was the top-ranked North American-born goaltender heading into the Draft; thought by many to be a top 15 pick, McCollum was still waiting to hear his name called as the Detroit Red Wings made the final selection of the evening.
McCollum had to stomach watching Pickard, the number two-ranked goaltender, selected before him and worried that after everything was said and done, he’d be heading home for yet another sleepless night wondering what his hockey fate would be.
The Stanley Cup champion Red Wings, though, put McCollum at ease, selecting him with the 30th and final pick of the opening round, allowing the 18-year-old to breathe a sigh of relief.
“It takes a load off my mind tonight,” said McCollum. “You start to wonder after a while if anyone is going to call your name, but my patience paid off. Hopefully this works out well.”