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Lightning unsure if Sakic is bluffing

Jun 24, 2013, 2:27 PM EDT

yzerman tampa

The Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t sure whether Joe Sakic is bluffing or not when he says the Avalanche will be taking a forward, not defenseman Seth Jones, with the first overall pick at the June 30 NHL draft.

“Who knows what they’re thinking?” Darryl Plandowski, the Lightning’s head amateur scout, told the Tampa Bay Times. “I think it’s smart of (Sakic) putting up a little controversy to get conversation going and people thinking. I saw one comment where someone said, ‘That’s a big smokescreen,’ and that might be. But he’s got the No. 1 pick. He can do what he wants.”

What the Lightning do know is that their third overall selection — right after Florida picks second — should nab them a pretty good player regardless.

Certainly, Tampa Bay could use an upgrade on defense if Jones is still available. If not, with Martin St. Louis getting up there in years, winger Jonathan Drouin could make a nice future linemate for Steven Stamkos.

It seems unlikely Nathan MacKinnon will still be available at No. 3, though you never know.

  1. canucks30 - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman still going at it after all this years.

    Except this time, it’s in the boardroom.

    • 19to77 - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:09 PM

      I read that wrong the first time.

      • ntvd7 - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        Pervert :)

      • canucks30 - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:04 PM

        Don’t worry, I almost made that mistake as I was posting the comment.

        Thank God for spell check eh? Although, it still changed these to this, so it ain’t foolproof.

    • brainoflindros - Jun 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM

      Too bad it’s now for one of the worst 3 teams in the league…
      But you have to start somewhere.

  2. jaredphi - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    I will be shocked if Colorado doesn’t take Jones at #1.

    I’m not saying Sakic is fibbing or anything….or that Drouin or MacKinnon aren’t blue-chips and worth getting drafted high up….but I’m not sure why any club wouldn’t draft the best available player with the #1 pick and I believe that to be Jones.

    • 19to77 - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:10 PM

      Eh. Defensemen are a tougher bet for adaptation to the NHL level. Amongst 1st-overall forward picks, Thornton, Kovalchuk, Nash, Ovechkin, Crosby, Kane, Stamkos, Tavares, etc., all reached their potential within a few years of drafting – and quite a few in their rookie years. By contrast, of the last five defenders chosen 1st overall, four were Ed Jovanovski, Roman Hamrlik, Chris Philips and Erik Johnson.

      If you want the best odds of a star at the NHL level, history tells you to go with the best forward available.

      • hockeydon10 - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:59 PM

        That’s a good point. D-men certainly take longer to mature into NHL elite talent and forwards are ready much earlier. The pressure of being the top pick as a d-man may have undermined some of these guys just a bit.

      • ray2013 - Jun 24, 2013 at 6:01 PM

        In principle, your argument makes sense but big shutdown defensemen are a rarity. You can’t trade for one, they rarely come up in free agency. The only way to get them is by drafting them. If you trust the scouting reports that his projected ceiling is the highest since Chris Pronger in 1993 (20 years), why wouldn’t he be your guy?

        Absent a scouting report that said MacKinnon is hands-down the best prospect in the draft, Jones would be my guy. The only thing that makes sense to me is that this is a hustle to drum up a trade offer from Tampa Bay or Florida to get MacKinnon, at which time Colorado would pick the Best Player Available. (Or a move to whip up a frenzy in the local market and get people talking about the Avalanche in the middle of June). But that’s just my opinion, we’ll see what they do in a few days.

      • 19to77 - Jun 24, 2013 at 6:21 PM

        I can understand the logic there. It’s true, top-pair D are as hard to come by as top-line centres. You pay a king’s ransom for either. But if I’m a GM and I have a top-5 pick in a draft, my thinking is that I have to take the best possible odds of success with that pick. I’m not saying Jones won’t be great, but there’s a higher chance that MacKinnon or Drouin will become what they’re projected to be, and also a higher chance they’ll get there faster.

        Moreover, I worry that the Avalanche would rush the hell out of Jones if they did take him. As many have said, their D is extremely thin. My concern in their case specifically is that they’d be trying to play him as a top-pair guy in his rookie season. Too much responsibility and pressure too early ruins prospects. Steve Mason knows all about that.

        So to me it seems like trying to trade down with a guarantee of getting MacKinnon or Drouin would be the best call. Or Barkov. Sakic seems to like him a lot as well, and he comes with the advantage of having already excelled in a pro men’s league. So it’s like… they’re all safer investments of your stellar draft position, if that makes sense.

      • ray2013 - Jun 24, 2013 at 10:27 PM

        If I drafted Jones, he wouldn’t play for the big team this season. I’d wait at least one season before he had a chance to play in Denver. It’s not like they’re a Cup favorite, and Jones is the final piece. Take your time with his development and be rewarded down the line. At least, that’s what we hope would happen. If they’re just going to throw whoever they draft into the lineup, I guess MacKinnon may make the most sense.

    • mathieug79 - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:44 PM

      I dont care what history has to say…if you look at history and Jones becomes the next big all star defensemen, if im the Avs I would kick myself in the ass. Realistically though Nathan MacKinnon is the best player available at 1st overall, So the Avs have to take him. Then if they really want a stud defensemen trade away one of your many centermens for a proven talent at the NHL level.

      Not saying its going to happen, but why not offer the Caps a centermen, (since they’ll probably lose Mike Ribiero) for a young Defensive dmen like Karl Alzner? package someone for Letangs? there’s plenty of defensemen available.

      Florida has to take Drouin, Imagine if they pick up Seth Jones and Tampa Picks Drouin, there stuck in the same division against Drouin and Stamkos for many years to come. I dont even think Chara could stop a combination of Stamkos and Drouin. So the card is in Dave Tallon’s hands to keep that 1-2 punch from happening.

      • tcclark - Jun 24, 2013 at 10:33 PM

        I hear what you’re saying about Drouin (I’m a huge Drouin fan), but couldn’t it be said that Florida has to pick Jones because if Jones and Hedman both reach their potential it will be impossible to score against them? They have to keep that 1-2 punch from happening.

        It’s one of the benefits of having been so bad for so many years. The lightning have options. Florida has to pick BPA

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