June 21, 2008
NHL Draft Notebook
Montreal's Bell Centre: Pep Bands and Cheerleaders?
Storied franchise turns to American-born college players again in 2008

By Joe Gladziszewski and Mike Eidelbes

Danny Kristo fits Montreal's style of play, and the Canadiens used their first pick of the draft on a college-bound player for the third straight year.

OTTAWA, Ontario – The Montreal Canadiens, the most successful NHL franchise of all time, have turned toward the college route and American players in recent years and they obviously like what they're seeing.

The Canadiens continued to place high value on American-born players by selecting Danny Kristo in the second round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft with the 56th overall pick. It marked the third consecutive year that the Canadiens organization took an American-born college-bound player with their first pick, following David Fischer (Minnesota) in 2006 and Ryan McDonagh (Wisconsin) in 2007. Also in 2007, the Canadiens used a first-round pick on Max Pacioretty (Michigan).

This year, Montreal traded their first round pick to Calgary for Alex Tanguay, but were thrilled to welcome Kristo when they selected on Saturday morning. Montreal's Director of Player Recruitment and Development, Trevor Timmins, was enamored with Kristo immediately.

"The first time I saw him I fell in love with his game because he plays the type of game the Montreal Canadiens play, and have played in the past," Timmins said. "He's a great skater, great quickness, he plays a very high-tempo game and is on the puck right away. He competes, he's a warrior, he's on the puck all the time."

Montreal's second pick of the day, a third-round selection, tabbed Steve Quailer from the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL. Quailer has committed to play at Northeastern this fall. With the addition of Quailer, the Canadiens have now selected a total of eight college players in the first three rounds of the draft since 2001, a string that started with first-round selections of Michigan's Mike Komisarek in 2001 and Yale's Chris Higgins in 2002.

Last year's first round tandem of McDonagh and Pacioretty have impressed Montreal thus far following their freshman college campaigns.

"We thought they had great development seasons," Timmins said. "They were go-to guys on their teams. Pacioretty played on the number one line for the number one team in the country and McDonagh was a horse on the back end. They're only going to get better."

Burlon expects to fit in at Michigan

Throughout the week and early on Saturday morning, Brandon Burlon talked with some of the other highly-rated prospects who were either selected in Friday night's first round or projected as possible first-rounders. Burlon heard their tales about nervousness and difficulty in getting good sleep as thoughts of their hockey futures raced through their minds.

That wasn't a problem for Burlon, who will play on the blue line for the Michigan Wolverines beginning this fall. Burlon was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the second round with the 52nd overall pick. He carries a calm, relaxed demeanor in everything he does.

"I don't really panic on the ice, and it all carries over from on the street to hockey. In the dressing room before the game I'm loosey-goosey, not fretting much. I'm not the kind of guy who sits in the corner with his head between his legs listening to his iPod or anything. I'm up and about, talking to guys, not to psyche myself up, just to keep myself calm. That's the way I am," Burlon said.

Since that's the case, it sounds like he'll fit in just right with his teammates in Ann Arbor this fall. During last season's outstanding campaign for the Wolverines, veteran players like Chad Kolarik and Kevin Porter often remarked about how the freshmen and sophomores on the Wolverines kept things light during practices and games. Welcome to Yost Ice Arena, Brandon Burlon, who saw those traits during recruiting visits.

"They were the same kind of guys, loosey-goosey, and want to have fun. I think I'll fit in there because that's how I am," Burlon said.

2008 NHL Draft Coverage
INCH Draft Central
Friday's First Round: Picks | Notebook
Saturday's Rounds 2-7: Picks | Notebook


• Shattuck-St. Mary's (Minn.) defenseman David Carle was expected be selected in the first three rounds of this year's draft. But the Anchorage native lasted until seventh round, when Tampa Bay took him with the ninth-to-last pick. Turns out there's a very good reason Carle was still on the board.

According to Doyle Woody of the Anchorage Daily News, Carle withdrew from the draft after doctors at the Mayo Clinic Thursday diagnosed him with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. HCM is a thickening of the heart that has been linked to sudden death of young athletes, most notably Reggie Lewis of the Boston Celtics and Loyola Marymount All-American basketball player Hank Gathers. The defect was first discovered at the NHL scouting combine in Toronto earlier this month.

"It's really not the end of the world,'' Carle, who was set to play for Denver coach George Gwozdecky this fall, told Woody. "I'm really quite fortunate they were able to find it."

Gwozdecky told Woody that the Pioneers will honor Carle's scholarship, and that the coaching staff will find "an important position" for Carle in the DU program.

The full article can be found in Saturday's Anchorage Daily News.

• U.S. National Team Development Program forward Danny Kristo, who'll don a North Dakota sweater in the fall of 2009, was taken by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round with the 56th overall pick. The NTDP, which has seen its players go very early in recent years, hasn't waited this long to see its first player selected since 2004, when Edmonton used the 57th overall pick on Geoff Paukovich, who then went on to a three-year career at the University of Denver.

• Of all the NHL organizations, few — if any — have a poorer track record of drafting college players than Toronto. How bad? When the Maple Leafs used its second-round pick, the 60th overall selection, to grab Boston College-bound forward Jimmy Hayes, it marked just the third time in the last 15 years that the franchise used a first- or second-round pick on a player with college ties. The others: Boston College forward Jeff Farkas (57th overall in 1997) and defenseman John Doherty (57th overall in 2003), who spent two seasons at New Hampshire, then transferred to Quinnipiac for one season.

On second thought, maybe that's a good thing, given the Leafs' history of developing home-grown talent.

• Danny Kristo answered questions in front of a crowd of approximately 30 media covering the Montreal Canadiens, and the same fate befell Boston College-bound Jimmy Hayes, who was selected in the second round by the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the draft being held in Canada's capital city within reasonable driving distance between both Montreal and Toronto, there was great interest in both Kristo and Hayes by the assembled masses.

One thought that came to mind was that these young players now have a much brighter spotlight upon them than any night they've ever played, past or future, in the United States Hockey League. A second thought … we wonder if we'll see any of these newspapers, radio and television stations at upcoming Frozen Fours or Beanpots. Probably not.

• If you cocked your head ever so slightly and pointed your ear skyward about 11 a.m. EDT, you may have been able to hear Minnesota coach Don Lucia's hair turning just a touch grayer. That's about the time the New York Islanders used the second of its three second-round picks on Gopher defenseman-to-be Aaron Ness.

As you may recall, tensions between Minnesota and the Isles boiled over last December when general manager Garth Snow lured forward Kyle Okposo to the pros midway through the 2007-08. Snow, the former Maine goalie, cited Okposo's lack of development with the Gophers as a reason for the move.

• For some teenagers, sorting out their future plans can be a seemingly endless process. For Derek Grant, a high-scoring forward for the British Columbia Junior Hockey League's Langley Chiefs, it took about four days.

Just this past week, the Abbotsford, B.C., native gave a verbal commitment to Michigan State, where he'll be a freshman in 2009-2010. On Saturday, Grant was taken by Ottawa in the draft's fourth round with the 119th overall pick.

Grant scored 24 goals and added 39 assists for 63 points in 57 games for Langley in 2007-08. The Chiefs are coached by former Spartan Harvey Smyl.

• U.S. NTDP forward Robbie Czarnik had a little bit of the drama sucked out of his draft moment Saturday.

Just as the Los Angeles Kings were about to announce it was taking the Michigan freshman-to-be in the third round in the third round with the 63rd overall pick, the selection was cut short by NHL vice president Jim Gregory, who moderates the second day of the draft.

"Hold it, hold it," Gregory shouted from the main stage, cutting off the Kings rep making the pick in mid-Czarnik. Turns out a glitch in the league's computer system was the reason for the brief delay.

• The New York Islanders had a total of 13 picks in this year's entry draft, and used four of them early Saturday on college-bound prospects. Corey Trivino (Boston University) was the 36th overall pick and Aaron Ness (Minnesota) was taken 40th overall. North Dakota-bound David Toews (66th) and future Denver Pioneer Matt Donovan (96th) were also tabbed by Islanders' GM Garth Snow and his management team.

• North Dakota-bound forward Brett Hextall, who played for the BCHL's Penticton Vees last season, was chosen in the sixth round by the Phoneix Coyotes with the 159th overall pick. Brett is the son of former NHL goalie Ron Hextall, winner of the 1987 Vezina and Conn Smythe trophies. The elder Hextall is now the assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Kings, the Coyotes' Pacific Divison rival.

• Somewhere deep in the NHL rulebook, there must be a statute that requires franchises selecting one hockey-playing twin brother to also select the other. San Jose did just that Saturday, using the first pick in the third round to take Kent (Conn.) Prep forward Justin Daniels, a 2009 Northeastern recruit. The Sharks then nabbed Drew Daniels, who also played at Kent and is headed to Northeastern in 2009, in the seventh round with the 194th overall selection.

We didn't ask, but we presume Sharks brass hope the Daniels duo are closer to the Sedins (selected by Vancouver with the second and third overall picks in the 1999 draft) than erstwhile Maine forwards Peter and Chris Ferraro (tabbed by the New York Rangers with overall picks no. 24 and no. 86 in 1992.)

• The Columbus Blue Jackets used a seventh-round pick (187th overall) to take Sean Collins. No, not Sean Collins, the former New Hampshire forward. He was picked by Colorado in the ninth round of the 2002 NHL Draft. Nor is it ex-Ohio State defenseman Sean Collins. He was an undrafted free agent who spent 2007-08, his first professional season, in the Washington system.

This Sean Collins is a 6-3, 187-pound forward who spent last season with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League's Waywayseecappo Wolverines. Collins, a Saskatoon native who's headed for Cornell this fall, scored 89 points in 70 games for his club in 2007-08.

• Tampa Bay has already launched a marketing blitz around first overall pick Steve Stamkos. The Carolina Hurricanes, who ply their trade smack dab in the epicenter of college basketball fandom, might be able to boost RBC Center ticket sales with a similar campaign starring its fourth-round selection, forward Michal Jordan.

Yeah, they're pronounced the same. But while the tongue-wagging Jordan is a North Carolina native, Basketball Hall of Famer, six-time NBA champion, and Olympic gold medalist, the skating Jordan is from the Czech Republic and played for the Ontario Hockey League's Plymouth Whalers this past season.

And in case you were wondering — and we know you are — the hockey Jordan wears no. 32 on his Plymouth sweater.