June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announces a trade between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Pittsburgh Penguins for the eighth overall pick at the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Day Is Upon Us - What The Draft Means In The NHL

It is one of the two biggest days in the off-season for most hockey fans.  The NHL draft day and the opening day of free agency are like Christmas and New Year’s to me.

Today is the day where fortunes are changed and the day where the scouting staffs and front-office leadership can alter the direction of a franchise with two words – the first and last name of a franchise player.

Make the right call and you set your team up for future success – Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Vincent Lecavalier and Marc Andre Fleury (yes, at one time) are all recent first overall picks that have won a Stanley Cup with the team that drafted them.

Make the wrong call, and you set your team back a decade – Patrick Stefan, Rick DiPietro, Erik Johnson are examples of first overall busts, or players that didn’t really have the expected impact.  What if Atlanta has selected one of the Sedins instead of Stefan?  What if the Islanders had taken Dany Heatley or Marian Gaborik instead of DiPietro?  Johnson was ok for the Blues, but the next three players selected were Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews and Nicklas Backstrom.

Sometimes you can make the right call and not have it turn out.  The draft doesn’t guarantee success, and quite often it is the players your scouting staff sees something in that nobody else does and you take that player late in the draft and he becomes Daniel Alfredsson (133 overall in 1994), Pavel Datsyuk (171 in 1998) or Henrik Zetterberg (210 in 1999) that make the biggest impact.  With the increased importance placed on scouting everywhere, those diamonds in the rough are fewer and farther between, but they still can happen.

In addition to the players being drafted, the draft floor is also a place where other wheeling and dealing is done as teams use picks and players to move up in the draft and improve their teams in other ways.  While he is annually resoundly booed when he steps on stage, some of the most exciting words Gary Bettman will say today is “I have a trade to announce…” at which point the crowd turns from jeers to cheers and waits in anticipation to see what has gone down.

You can follow along with me as I tweet the major happenings and also anything that the Senators do.  Follow @senshot_FS and @alfieisgod to be kept up to date.  Also check back here for analysis and watch our facebook page for polls and other information.

As the song goes…”it’s the most wonderful time of the year…!”

Tags: NHL Draft Ottawa Senators

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