Several big events on the day. Seth Ambroz sliding nearly out of the draft has to be considered one of them. Filatov getting ousted from the Columbus organization.  The second round of the draft was dominated by Americans with nine, followed by eight Canadians and then then the rest of the world. Another member of the Sutter family has been drafted, and he too is Carolina Hurricanes property.

The least surprising surprise to me was the trade of Nikita Filatov out of the Columbus organization. How well he handled himself with the coaches and staff, and potentially other players is no longer relevant. How well the organization treated him is also meaningless. The choice of Nikita Filatov was the wrong one from the organizational standpoint. Just watching or reading one of his interviews from his draft year tells you he’s one of those larger personalities with a bit more swagger and edge than a lot of players. He’s got plenty of skill and silly speed, but was the round peg to a very square organization.  Filatov going to the Senators where they’ve coddled the odd fragile ego or two, one or more of whom may of course still be in the organization is a much better fit. The Senators are possibly the only team in Canada who had a quiet building last year most nights. The team on the ice was hard for any hockey team to watch, and adding a potential game breaker to Alfredsson, Spezza, Karlsson could go a long way towards energizing the  fanbase. Good move for all three parties if the Senators and Filatov mesh.

In a deal that was rumored before the start of the draft, Calgary shipped out Robyn Regehr, Alex Kotalix and a second round pick to Buffalo for $7,000,000 in cap space, Chris Butler, and Paul Byron. Butler has had two productive seasons in the AHL, and may be ready for the NHL full time. Byron was part of the defense off and on for the last three seasons in Buffalo, even seeing playoff time.  For the Sabres it looks like they are trying for a defensive mentor for Tyler Myers and someone to take some of the pressure off Ryan Miller. Regehr led the Flames in both hits and blocked shots last season.

Seth Ambroz a pugnacious power forward fell much further than I think anyone could have imagined. He says his favorite player is former Vancouver Giant, and Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins left winger Milan Lucic. Ranked at #31 by Central Scouting I was surprised he was still on the board when the Bruins picked in the third round, and surprised even more when he was passed over again the fourth round. He has committed to the University of Minnesota for this fall, and that may have played a part in team choices, I’d also heard some small whispers about maturity, which generally surprise me not at all in 18 year olds and worry me less.

Despite some highly amusing internet speculation that Grimaldi’s strength of faith was preventing him from being drafted he did manage to get selected. The 5’6 center will have another smaller player to mentor him should he make it into the NHL in the next couple years. Brian Campbell is now a member of the Florida Panthers, and the two could be a hellacious one-two punch for the Panthers powerplay units at some point.  If Sergei Samsonov is resigned they could form one of the shortest lines in the NHL.

The five most interesting stories to watch from now until the the trade deadline.

  • How far will the dismantlement of the Colorado Avalanche go? I was shocked to see Calder Trophy candidate Kevin Shattenkirk shipped out.  Stuffed into the wagon along with him was 23 year old power-forward Chris Stewart, and a conditional pick. Going the other was was Erik Johnson a defensemen with a great pedigree, who has lost his luster.  Paul Statsny is rumored to be available,
  • What will the NHL’s newest owner do with his team? He stated on NHLLive today he was more likely to make future moves than put band-aids on this season, but with players like Statsny, Brad Richards, and who knows who else coming or potentially coming on the market, will he say I want that one! Brad Richards, Ed Jovonovski, and others could contribute to the team for a while.
  • Who blinks first? The Western conference is so tight you can probably get almost anything from those who are determined to succeed now. We’ve see the Avalanche run up the white flag while the Kings have been really quiet. With Carolina having played two more games than the Sabres they have to be looking over their shoulders. If they decide to keep restocking via the draft Cole, Samsanov, Pitkanen, and Jokienen could fetch some decent picks or prospects.
  • What Will Lou Do? The New Jersey Devils general manager has perhaps the hardest calls to make this silly season. He’s got a team that’s playing world beating hockey and is following teams down dark alleys and going through their pockets for loose points, but the odds of getting to the playoffs are really stacked against them. Purely from the cap management point of view, shaking the team loose of Rolston’s contract or one of the other larger contracts on the books for next year could keep them from being an embarrassment to the NHL again next year as they were when they were icing understrength rosters thanks to injuries and cap issues.
  • Hands down the most interesting issue of the off season is what happens to the big name UFAs. As we saw with Bouwmesster recently they are the players that will have reverberations on and off the ice for years to come no matter what call is made. Brad Richards, Shea Weber, Ilya Bryzgalov, Simon Gagne, are all the type of player that when healthy can push an organization from bubble to playoff team and playoff team to contender or cup favorite. If not signed, all four of these guys will be free to sign anywhere they please July 1st. There are lost of people who think Richards would look great in a Sabre’s uniform so would Weber for that matter either of the two when added to Miller, Vanek and Myers gives you a hell of core. The Predators and Lightning are pretty firmly in the playoffs, but an offer too good to refuse is always possible.

Bonus story: How many more times will someone at Versus make the histerical statement that the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins have the hottest rivalry in the NHL?