Players Playing the Press
After the history-making simulcast of Friday night’s first round, Saturday’s pickings felt a little bit like the day after Christmas — anticlimactic, but with many good deals left.
Incoming Minnesota freshman forward Mike Hoeffel was ranked 22nd by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau, but became the property of the New Jersey Devils in the second round as the 57th pick overall.
Boston University-bound Colby Cohen, ranked 25th by CSB, also waited until Round 2 to be selected No. 45 overall by the Colorado Avalanche. Cohen took the wait in stride when a reporter noted that he was wearing the same suit as he had Friday evening. “I switched up the shirt,” he said.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Draft weekend is the way in which these very young players deal with enormous media pressure. Cohen, a Philadelphia native, didn’t disappoint, displaying an aptitude for handling tough questions from the press, displaying a sincerity and poise admirable for his young age.
He gushed about his immediate destination, but knew how to balance his answer. “I really like the [BU] coaching staff, the facilities were great, it’s four hours from home.
“Boston’s the best city in the world — well, it’s right there with Denver.”
Another youngster who knew how to make an impression on press that’s closer to home was defenseman Ted Ruth, picked No. 46 in the second round by the Washington Capitals. Ruth, a product of the National Development Program, was the second player in this year’s draft who will play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish next year.
In response to the obligatory comment about the excitement of the draft, Ruth concurred enthusiastically, “Yes, Ma’am, it is.”
Ma’am. With a cordial nod of the head. That’s one way to woo the press.
Ruth will join first-rounder Ian Cole on defense in South Bend, where he admitted that “the pressure’s on” for the Irish after last season, but added, “It’s a matter of showing what we can do and play it out this year.”
A Bull Durham moment, but he shows real promise.
Colorado College forward Bill Sweatt, who grew up in Elburn, Ill., said he was “excited” to be picked the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round, and was completely unrehearsed about the hometown connection.
“Growing up, I watched them a little bit,” said Sweatt. “Obviously, it’s the hometown team, one of your favorite teams. It’s really fitting that I’m going to the hometown team.”
And he was quick with his opinion about another Chicago team. “I love the city, big-time Cubs fan. They’re doing a little bit better than they usually do, but not as good as they should be [since] they spent 300 million dollars in the offseason.”
He was less sure about whether he’ll be returning to CC for his sophomore season. “We haven’t talked too much or anything, but hopefully soon. I haven’t talked to the [Blackhawks] staff … so as of right now, I don’t know.”
Perhaps the kid who most sounded like a pro was the collegian who’s definitely going pro, Dartmouth forward T.J. Galiardi. Ranked No. 31 but selected No. 55 overall by the Avalanche, Galiardi said his decision to leave Dartmouth is “kind of personal,” but “mainly to pursue [pro] hockey.”
And, oh, to have his problems.
“I have to put on some weight. It wasn’t too much of an issue at the college level … but if I have a future in the NHL I’m going to have to weigh a little bit more than I do now. It comes with time. My brother’s a big guy, and my dad’s a pretty big guy, so I’ll just mature into it.”
He knows himself well, too. When asked about what he can bring to the Avalanche organization, his demeanor was all-pro. “I think that one of my major assets is my skating. It helped a lot in the college level and it’s going to help me in whatever level I play at.”
The most honest reaction to the entire event, though, may have come from incoming Wolverine freshman defender Matt Rust, picked No. 101 overall in the fourth round by the Florida Panthers.
“Just an exciting day, a lot of ups and downs. My heart’s been thumping for as long as I can remember, but I’m definitely honored, and I’m just excited to see where things go.”
Playing the Local Crowd
The Calgary PR department earned its keep in the seventh round when the Flames chose Ohio State incoming freshman forward C.J. Severyn, announced — to the delight of the few remaining locals — as “a future Buckeye.”
Further pandering to the crowd, the PA system played “Hang on Sloopy” after the pick, the song adopted by the Buckeye faithful as an unofficial fight song.
Local Guy Finishes Last, Nicely
With the final pick in the 2007 Entry Draft, the host team chose one of its own.
At No. 211 overall, the Columbus Blue Jackets chose Trent Vogelhuber — whose last name was misspelled on the big board, with a “v” in place of the “b” — a native of the Columbus suburb of Dublin, Ohio.
This is the second draft of the year for Vogelhuber, who was chosen by the Des Moines Buccaneers as the fifth pick overall in this year’s USHL draft.
Vogelhuber, a forward who was unranked by CSB this year, is committed to the Miami RedHawks for the 2008-09 season, played two years with the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets Under-18 Midget Major team while attending Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, and spent 2006-07 with the St. Louis Bandits of the NAHL, where he had 10 goals and 16 assists in 31 games.