The 2019 NHL Draft has come and gone, and boy was it memorable! Can you believe it’s already come and gone?! I’m still re-living the magic of it all.
I’m not sure what I expected from the NHL Draft, but to say it was a whirlwind is putting it lightly. This is the first year I’ve had to privilege of attending the draft in person as the Canucks were hosts to the event. Prior to this year, I’ve only ever watched it unfold on TV or following along on social media, and I’ve got to say that seeing it all happen LIVE was something incredible to witness.
I remember the moment the NHL announced that the Canucks would be the host for the 2019 NHL Draft, and immediately I knew I had to attend. In fact, I texted my friend, Brieann and my sister and told them in uncertain terms that WE were going. Not that we should think about it, but that we HAD to go. It was non-negotiable. Their reactions were to say that absolutely we WILL go! And so this post will be purely seen from the fan perspective behind the scenes of the magic that was the NHL Draft.
Attending the draft, was a plan in the back of my mind for the entirety of the 2018-19 NHL season as we waited to hear the details of the draft and the availability of tickets. It felt like an eternity before any ticket information was available and once released, we made sure to secure our seats.
When I told people I wanted to go the Draft (& then that I was going), they told me it would be all kinds of boring. The Draft has always fascinated me and to have the opportunity to see it up close was something I had to do.
Hello Rogers Arena, the NHL Draft looks good on you.
DAY 1: Round ONE.
Walking into the arena and seeing the tables and stage set up. you could feel the electricity of what was about to happen. There was a buzz in the air. We found our seats and I was ready to take all the notes as we waited to witness history.
Shall we start with the part when John Shorthouse came out and announced that: “Hello folks, we have a trade to announce…” which brought immediate intrigue from the crowd for a brief moment before we all realized he was of course kidding. And then he gave us one of the worst kept secrets: ALEX BURROWS will be inducted into the Ring of Honour during the Canucks upcoming season. I cannot think of a more deserving candidate, especially in a season that will feature the Canucks retiring the Sedins’ jerseys.
And then came Gary Bettman and the overwhelming boos. It’s no secret that many fans, and a legion of Vancouver fans have a great dislike of Gary Bettman and they let it be known very LOUDLY, to the point of which we couldn’t hear a word he said during his introduction or when he walked away telling us that he’d be right back. Legit, because we couldn’t hear what he said due to the thunderous boos, we weren’t sure if he was even coming back to the mic or not. And then, it happened, he returned as did the boos, UNTIL we all realized that with him came the Sedins. Full credit to Bettman for taking all the boos in stride, and going with it. In fact, until I saw this video from the Canucks, it was impossible to know any part of what Bettman had actually said because of how loud it was from the booing and then the cheering for the Sedins:
SEDIN WEEK IS HAPPENING. Consider me officially booked for FEBRUARY! All the feels will be happening when #22 & #33 go up to the rafters. The Sedins may have hung up their skates, but they’ve left a permanent mark on the franchise and the fan base.
Onto the pomp and circumstance that is the opening round of the NHL Draft. Some will probably tell you that this was a very boring first round as there was very little drama with only one trade that merely involved a swap of picks. BUT, more about that later, let’s get straight to the beginning from walking into the arena and seeing the official Draft floor set to be the stage for many prospects have their dream become a reality.
It’s quite something to see each team go up as a group, call out the name of the player they’re drafting and to see the immediate of reaction of joy and relief come over that player and their family as everything they’ve worked for has become a reality. To no one’s surprise, it was Jack Hughes drafted first overall, followed by Kaapo Kaako.
And then came the Canucks with their selection. Not going to lie, I was anxious not about who they were going to select but because ALL day leading up to the draft they had been rumoured to be trading their pick both up/down. Instead of a Canucks trade, we watched the first 9 selections be made and then Stan Smyl announced the 10th overall pick: Vasily Podzolkin. There was a mix of uncertainty and excitement that met the selection, mostly because most people hadn’t had him on their list. I didn’t think he’d still be there at 10th but when you hear many commentators saying that the Canucks got a steal with this pick, you know it’s one to be excited about.
A few other highlights from the first round included: Martin Brodeur announcing New Jersey’s pick and Shea Weber announcing Montreal’s pick. Then there was the absolute surprise and perfect reaction from Moritz Seider when Detroit announced him as their pick. Oh and can we mention how Wayne Gretzky was on hand with the Oilers when they announced their pick but that fact went unannounced. Each time Bettman spoke, he was met with loud “boos” with the exception of when he made the ONE trade announcement of the evening between Arizona and Philadelphia: “Oh, now you like me.” (Credit to Bettman for handling the heavy dislike with humour).
DAY 2: ALL THE THINGS.
If people were unhappy with a quiet trade front on Day 1, they weren’t disappointed on a very active Day 2 with many trades including 3 pretty significant ones!
Changes from Day 1 is that instead of Gary Bettman making the announcements, it was Bill Daly(*Deputy Commissioner).
My sister Abi joined us for Day 2:
For those of us in the building and in our seats early before the draft began again, we were witness to all the madness that was buzzing on the draft floor with most GMs in constant rotation from table to table. Not going to lie, I felt a little on edge with nerves watching the action between all the tables on the draft floor. In fact before rounds 2-7 began, we got to our seats early and looked to the left of our seats to see Mike Babcock on what looked to be a pretty intense phone call. Moments later, we saw Bob McKenzie and his fellow reporters break on twitter that the Leafs had traded Marleau.
Around the same time that the Marleau trade broke, so did the news about PK Subban being moved. A lot of us at the draft were very surprised as he had seemed like a great fit in Nashville.
And of course, then there was the home town team trade: JT Miller from Tampa Bay. I know the Canucks took a lot of heat for this trade due to giving up a first round pick in the deal BUT I’m actually pretty stoked to see Miller join the team and give stability to either a line with Boeser/Petey or play on Bo’s wing. Time will tell how this deal works out, but I’m optimistic about seeing it play out.
All three trades while not officially announced until the Draft was once more underway, had broken on social media and spread very quickly. Aside from these three player trades, the rest of the trades were picks being swapped, but I lost track of how many trades made as I got caught up in the moment of the draft.
In fact, I didn’t even realize there were cameras scanning the crowd as I was so focused on the event itself and making sure that I didn’t miss anything important as I took ALL the notes: yes, I got caught taking all the notes. You know you love hockey when…
The Canucks went on to make 8(yes, EIGHT) selections on DAY 2: Nils Hoglander(#40), Ethan Keppen(#122), Carson Focht(#133), Artus Silovs(#156), Karel Plasek(#175), Jack Malone(#180), Aide Mcdonough(#195) and Arvid Costmas(#215).
A notable moment on Day 2 was one that happened in the 6th round. Nashville ran out the clock and used their FULL timeout before making their selection. It drew the ire of the crowd but hey, they got their player!
AND not to be forgotten, we got to meet Quinn Hughes!
Hughes was a class act. The line up was INSANE and yet he took a moment with EVERY single fan in that line.
Some may say it was a boring first day and a maybe a trade they wish the Canucks hadn’t paid the price on, BUT for me it was a weekend I’ll always remember. It was a weekend where I got to witness history, spend time with great company, make new friends, get caught taking hockey too seriously and had the time of my life!
Thank-you to Brieann and Abi for coming along with me and enduring all my note-taking. Thank-you, Canucks for hosting, I’ll never forget the magic that was the Draft weekend!
As always, until next time, nuck said.