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Superlatives

A look at the Day 1 of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft

Posted: Saturday June 24, 2000 11:18 PM

  Raffi Torres and Mike Milbury Raffi Torres (left) was taken with the fifth overall pick by Islanders' GM Mike Milbury. AP

By Eric Duhatschek, CNNSI.com

New York Islanders' general manager Mike Milbury took care of most of the big news during Saturday's NHL entry draft, wheeling and dealing his way into two top-five picks, plus three players -- defenseman Roman Hamrlik from Edmonton, forwards Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha from Florida -- who can make an impact on his team right away.

In the end, it usually takes three or more years to accurately identify the winners and losers in the draft, but at first blush, here's how we assess it:

Best Draft

The Islanders. A gimme really. New York chose Boston University's Rick DiPietro first overall, making him the highest goaltender ever selected in the draft. Then they turned around and grabbed the best feel-good story of the year, Brampton Battalion left winger Raffi Torres, with the fifth overall selection, a pick they acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning for goaltender Kevin Weekes and prospect Kristian Kudroc.

In DiPietro, the Islanders believe they may have the second coming of Tom Barrasso. In Torres -- who has a Mexican father and a Peruvian mother -- they hope to have the second coming of Scott Gomez. If the Islanders can sign a free-agent goaltender to bridge the gap until DiPietro is ready to play, they can perhaps make a quantum step forward in the next year or so.

Sleeper Picks

Lars Jonsson, Leksand Jrs. Choosing seventh overall, the Boston Bruins could have made the easy move and selected Boston College defenseman Brooks Orpik. Instead, they grabbed the talented Jonsson -- rated 23rd overall by The Hockey News, a player they believe can eventually fill the offensive void created by last March's loss of Ray Bourque. The Bruins grabbed a second Swede, left winger Martin Samuelsson, with the 27th pick.

Surprise Pick

Nikita Alexeev, Erie Otters. Alexeev, selected eighth overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning, was the most appealing physical package in the draft, a player with all the tools. In February testing against all his draft-eligible peers in major junior, the 6-5, 215-pound Alexeev won two skating competitions, showing extraordinary footspeed for a player of his size. A project, Alexeev may have the highest upside in the draft, but through two junior seasons, has been something less than the sum of his parts.

Trending Up

Russian players. By now, the doomsayers were sure that the Russian development system would collapse because of crumbling infrastructure. Instead, eight of the top 21 picks were from Russia, compared to only five from Canada and four from the United States.

Sinking Like a Stone

Kootenay Ice center Jarrett Stoll, ranked 14th overall by Central Scouting, dropped to 46th, where he was finally selected by the Calgary Flames. One person who figured the Flames got a steal was Dean Clark, coach of Calgary Hitmen, whose junior team was upset in the Western Hockey League playoffs by Stoll and the Ice.

Oh Brother!

Marcel Hossa, brother of the Ottawa Senators' Marian Hossa, went 16th overall to the Montreal Canadiens -- or four picks lower than his brother did in the 1997 entry draft. The younger Hossa boasts the same puckhandling skills as his brother, but perhaps not the same commitment.

Getting Even

Two years ago, the Senators selected goaltender Mathieu Chouinard with the 15th overall pick in the draft, but couldn't sign him to a contract. Accordingly, Chouinard went back into the draft as a re-entry -- and this year, lasted until the 45th pick overall when ... guess what? The Senators drafted him again. Chouinard, who was looking for the NHL entry-level salary cap in May, can expect to sign for considerably less than that now.

Trade of the Day

The Carolina Hurricanes filled a need for an offensive defenseman, adding Sandis Ozolinsh from the Colorado Avalanche for first- and second-round draft choices, plus defenseman Nolan Pratt. In Ozolinsh, the Hurricanes solve their need for a power-play quarterback as both Paul Coffey and Sean Hill approach unrestricted free agency. For the Avs, the move represents both a salary dump (Ozolinsh was set to make $4.8 million next year) and a chance to replenish their supply of young talent, which took a major hit in the past two years in the deals for Ray Bourque and Theo Fleury.


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