The Magic of Draft Day


The opening round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft is almost here. The Edmonton Oilers will soon call upon Connor McDavid to join them on stage where they have a hat and a sweater ready and waiting with #15 and Connor’s family name on the back. Aside from those details, the sweater most importantly features the historic logo of the Edmonton Oilers. In that moment, what goes through the heads of those on stage? What about the Edmonton Oilers fans, who have drafted in the number one position three times out of a previous 5? How about Tim Murray and the rest of the Buffalo Sabres fans who thought they had the number one draft position locked up? Finally, all other hockey fans across the league, what do they see?

Is it flashes of Wayne Gretzky with that same Oilers logo on his chest, effortlessly gliding past defenders to set up Jari Kurri or sending a backhander top shelf?

How about Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov , who were all in the same position as Connor McDavid, putting both arms through the jersey sleeves and tossing it on over their freshly ironed dress shirts?

Or is it illuminations of Sidney Crosby, the kid from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, who helped save the Pittsburgh Penguins from moving out of town and delivered Pittsburgh their first Stanley Cup since 1992 in 2009, just four seasons after being taken 1st overall?

Whatever it is, the moment where Connor McDavid finally adorns the Edmonton Oilers logo on his chest is a special moment for the Oilers and also the game of hockey. It’s become cliché to say, but the new face of the NHL will finally arrive in Sunrise, Florida on June 26th, 2015.

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Outside of the first selection of the draft, every single draft pick from 1 to 210, the first round through seventh round brings a little hope to their respective fanbase on draft day.

Not all first round picks are going to immediately make an impact in the NHL. Some guys will be able to make an immediate impact, like Aaron Ekblad did for the hosts of the draft in his rookie season. Others may never even make it to the show.

For prospects drafted in the later rounds of the draft, will they become the next Jamie Benn or Pavel Datsyuk? “Okay, we’ll settle for a Patric Hornqvist” is what some fans may say. As always, a couple steals in the later rounds but these guys are difficult for scouts to find. Scouts will try to uncover them similar to a white truffle in the forests of Italy. Carefully grasped and held close to the chest. In contrast to a white truffle which expires rather quickly, these prospects may take a lot of time and nurture to develop.

For all prospects in attendance, they will receive the chance to show off the crest of the team who drafts them proudly on their chest. Okay, well maybe not all- Eric Lindros, but I digress. Whether you like the prospect your team drafts or not, he’s now a part of your favourite organization. The first time he puts on the crest of your favourite team, you’ll wonder to yourself something around the lines of, “Where will this kid be three years from now?” You don’t have to be a realist on draft day. There are 364 other days in the year to do that. Dream a little, it won’t hurt you.

Draft Day brings many great moments. How about when the Montreal Canadiens took Carey Price 5th overall in 2005? This decision was immediately panned by analyst Pierre McGuire on TSN. “This is not a fit for the Montreal Canadiens, they have so many other needs”.

How about Mike Modano’s post draft interview from 1988? Every second word the kid from Livonia, Michigan spat out was “y’know”.  Eventually Modano learned how to speak infront of a dozen or so cameras and microphones shoved into his face, y’know.

The draft also brings the excitement of trades, this year especially. With rumors of big names who are likely to be traded such as Phil Kessel and Patrick Sharp, there’s a ton of buzz around this year’s draft.

“We have a trade to announce”, every fan’s favorite words on draft day. These are virtually the only words that leave Bettman’s mouth and receive cheers and applause. It doesn’t really matter who is dealt where. Fans love trades, and this draft is going to bring a truck-full of them.

Whether you agree, disagree or are indifferent about your favorite team’s draft selections, there is somebody out there who believes that the player who just had his name called by one of the 30 NHL teams has the potential to be a future contributor at the NHL level. Your favorite team may also find themselves engaged in trade talk that could change the path of the organization forever. That itself is the magic of draft day.

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