Darnell Nurse’s smile was as wide as the New York City skyline, which, coincidentally, he and a handful of top NHL prospects were stationed across from today as they held court with various media outlets.
Nurse, Central Scouting’s No. 4 ranked North American skater, and his co-prospects fielded questions for about an hour as part of their whirlwind tour leading up to Sunday’s NHL Entry Draft. The Big Apple adventure for these young men started yesterday as Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Seth Jones and Nurse attended a Yankee game and checked out NYC from the top of the Empire State Building.
Today’s events were a little less daunting than looking over the edge of a skyscraper, and if any of them felt pressure from the hounding media questions, they sure didn’t show any nerves. Everyone we asked about the experience leading up to the draft said that this was the fun part of the process. The NHL combine and interviews with various teams was the challenge, and now they are just trying to enjoy their time in the city that never sleeps. The sleepless night for many of the prospects will be Saturday as the butterflies leading up to Sunday’s Draft start swirling like tourists in Times Square.
WildTV will have a recap of today’s interviews with the prospects posted later this afternoon.
With the Wild not owning a first-round pick (the team dealt its pick to Buffalo as part of the Jason Pominville trade), it is unlikely that any of the prospects we spoke to today will land in the organization on Sunday. But be sure that Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher will be working the meeting rooms and phone lines in an attempt to better the club’s outlook for next season and the future.
The Wild first pick comes in the second round (46 overall) and WildTV spoke to NHL.com Draft expert Mike Morreale about the importance of second round. All you have to do is look at this year’s Stanley Cup Final to see the impact of players taken in Round 2 (Chicago: Bryan Bickell, Dave Bolland, Brandon Saad, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford; Boston: Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Johnny Boychuk). With Minnesota’s ability to find quality players in the draft in recent years, my guess is that Assistant General Manager Brent Flahr and the scouting staff have penciled in a few quality players to choose from.
Wild.com will be your home for all things draft this weekend. Like I said earlier, we’ll have a few videos on WildTV later today. Fans can find coverage leading up to Sunday on the Wild.com Draft Central page, which includes a story from today about Tyler Graovac, Minnesota’s seventh-round pick in 2011, who has developed from project to legitimate prospect. And as always, the Lighthouse will provide updates through the weekend, which includes breaking news.
Finally, this has nothing to do with hockey and everything to do with New York, it didn’t take long for WildTV auteur, Dusty Peterson, and me to get our first NYC cab story. We arrived at Laguardia Airport today, short on time and sleep. We hopped into a cab at the airport bound for our hotel in Times Square before jetting to the prospect media availability. Of course, our cabbie wasn’t 100 percent sure of where our hotel was and continued to ask us which cross streets it was on. Lucky we have iPhones so finding our way in the forest of buildings wasn’t too big of a problem. No, the problem came when another cab driver cut us off like a large hungry man in a buffet line. At the next stop light, our cabbie got out of the car, approached the offending driver, knocked on the window and proceeded to drop profanities that would make Bobby Knight blush. I ❤ NY.