Here at Raw Charge, we've made it pretty clear who we want in the draft. Our Mock Draft selection was preceded the last few months with posts about Lukas Krajicek having to serve as a top pair D-man, how bad things had gotten on the blue-line last season, etc. Yeah, we want Hedman.
But I got me a what-if?...
Bramption Battalion center Matt Duchene via www.thehockeynews.com
You might recall earlier this month, I wrote up three scenarios that pop up if Victor Hedman actually goes first overall to the New York Islanders. The anarchy that would ensue if that happens seemed pretty clear with a take'im-or-trade'im result on John Tavares. Real neat and clean, really...
What isn't quite so straight-forward is if Matt Duchene were to go first overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
You've probably gotten the impression by now how much Duchene's stock has climbed in the last few weeks... Especially after he showed up with Hedman and Tavares for a workout for the Bolts at Times Palace earlier this month. He's seen as better two-way player than Tavares and also had a great showing during the CHL playoffs (26 points in 21 playoff games will do that for you). That effectively helped balloon his stock.
Then throw in the Red Line Report scouting service's ranking Duchene ahead of Tavares and you have to wonder if Garth Snow's interest hasn't been piqued by the guy more-so than Tavares? More-so than Hedman?
So what if the first pick overall is Matt Duchene? Besides shocking the entire hockey world, it puts the Lightning in a bit of a bind at the 2nd overall selection.
Potential trade-up partners will still come calling in that situation (as with a Tavares-falls-to-Two), but in this case both of the consensus-before-May top-2 picks have fallen into the Lightning's lap. And if these calls are not going directly to the Bolts, they are going to the Colorado Avalanche's table at Bell Centre -- because the Avs have the #3 overall pick in the draft and have just won the jackpot.
And the potential for Brian Burke scheming goes further and further...
Before I get to that, lets state the less-scheming scenario: the Avs should be content to take the left-over and bank on the Lightning selecting Hedman (which means the Avs select Tavares at #3). They also may swing a deal to assure the Bolts take Hedman (giving up a draft pick somewhere else as compensation to make sure they get to draft Tavares).
But that's pretty straight as well... Which brings me back to Brian Burke. Burke, the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been salivating over the possibility of grabbing John Tavares since the conclusion of the Leafs season. He could attempt to orchestrate a pair of deals in thiis scenario with both Colorado and the Lightning (if, that is, Colorado finds something it wants from the Maple Leafs in a deal).
The first leg of that trade would be for the Leafs to trade the #7 selection and more (but far less than what would be demanded to move up to #2 outright) to the Avalanche for the #3 pick. That puts Burke in prime position to select John Tavares, should the Lightning not choose him.
And, lets face it, Tavares and Hedman being available at #2 poses all the potential of a firey internal debate at the Lightning table: need versus want; offense and ticket sales versus defense and contention. Duchene going first over all puts the Lightning in a clutch situation that erases the certainty of the pick, and gives the team only so many minutes to decide on which player and conclude on the why.
The Bolts could, however, wipe away that uncertainty by making a deal with Burke and allow him to move up one spot to #2. The Bolts know how much Burke wants to take John Tavares, the Lightning need Victor Hedman... Get the assurance that Burke is going to take Tavares and get what you can in a deal to swap places with the Maple Leafs and then grab Victor Hedman with the #3 selection.
At least, that's one way it could go down.
There's another scenario entirely that I don't want to think about, but it's something to contemplate none-the-less: What if the Lightning were the ones to pass on Hedman at #2 (or Tavares, if he fell to #2) and select Duchene instead?
I'm not thrilled with that prospect but it's been pondered before in at least one mock draft I've crossed on the web. It's noteworthy that Brad Holland believes a Duchene pick would sooner result in the Bolts moving Matt to wing than displacing Vincent Lecavalier (who is all but assured to be dumped in a draft-Tavares scenario)
There may be issues with the Lightning's depth at center, but they are not going to pick up another (projected) high-caliber center and keep Vincent Lecavalier on the roster as well. It's part of why I don't jump at the idea of drafting Tavares either.
I just can't anticipate the Lightning pondering a move like this... My imagination can't even begin to draw the picture of the down-board effects of this move and different scenarios that play out with the #3 selection. It turns into theoretical equations ("IF Hedman and Duchene = selected, then Tavares+Colorado=(Keep=/=trade?)" ].
It's a scenario that's best played out through comments to this post and through idle speculation on other blogs/forums (hey, it beats more trade rumors that will kick up immediately following the draft). The one thing that is clear is that Matt Duchene's potential to throw a monkey in the works of the draft has grown in the last few months. Will anarchy ensue next Friday, or will things fall as previously projected?
We're waiting on Garth Snow to shed some light on that...