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NHL.com: Leafs, Preds, Isles all found what they were looking for

Saturday, 06.21.2008 / 10:12 AM CT / Features
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NHL.com: Leafs, Preds, Isles all found what they were looking for

The Leafs dealt the Islanders the No. 7 pick in the draft as well as two conditional second- and third-round picks to move up to No. 5 so they could take Luke Schenn, the physical, stay-at-home defenseman they coveted.
OTTAWA – The Toronto Maple Leafs wanted defenseman Luke Schenn. The Nashville Predators wanted Colin Wilson. The New York Islanders wanted Josh Bailey and some more draft picks.
 
Talk about the perfect trading partners.
 
All three accomplished what they wanted Friday during the first round of the NHL Entry Draft.
 
The Leafs dealt the Islanders the No. 7 pick in the draft as well as two conditional second- and third-round picks to move up to No. 5 so they could take Schenn, the physical, stay-at-home defenseman they coveted.
 
"We were prepared to give up what we had to in order to get him because we felt he was very important for our franchise," Leafs interim GM Cliff Fletcher said. "The key for the Islanders was they only had to drop two spots. For us the key was if we didn't move up two spots he wouldn't be there at the seventh pick, plain and simple."
 
The Islanders then traded the No. 7 pick to Nashville in exchange for the No. 9 pick and the Predators' second-round selection this year, No. 40 overall.
 
The Predators used the seventh choice to select Colin Wilson, a forward out of Boston University. The Islanders then used the No. 9 pick to select center Bailey, the player Islanders General Manager Garth Snow hopes turns into a No. 1 center.
 
"Josh was the player we targeted from the beginning," Snow said. "He's a center who makes all the people around him better and the type of center we needed in our system. He has great offensive instincts and will make things happen with his creativeness, character and leadership.
 
"We kept trading down because we believed we could grab Josh at No. 9 while also stocking up on more draft picks."
 
The Predators liked Wilson's ability to be a future power forward in the NHL. The 18-year-old from Greenwich, Conn., is 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds. He had 34 points in 34 games for BU this past season.
 
"We think he's the all-around type of center that we've been looking for that we don't have," Poile told NHL.com. "He's a player that appears to be able to play in all situations. He has good size and he's going to be a big, strong center, something we have been coveting."
 
Poile said he wasn't sure Wilson would be around at No. 9, so giving up another pick was worth moving up two spots to assure that he would be a Nashville Predator.
 
"The draft went pretty well with how we thought it would break with Stamkos and the defensemen," said Poile. "After that, he's the guy we wanted to get. You could probably say there was a little bit of nervousness of would he be there for two more picks and we obviously thought the investment of the second pick was worth it to do it.
 
"Hopefully it worked out for the Islanders. Hopefully Toronto is happy, but most important, hopefully Nashville is happy."
 
Poile wasn't done dealing. He sent the No. 15 pick to Ottawa in exchange for No. 18 and a third-round pick in 2009. The Senators moved up to get defenseman Erik Karlsson, while Nashville used the 18th pick to select goalie Chet Pickard, who was the first netminder selected this year.
 
The Predators also signed goalie Dan Ellis to a long-term contract, so now they not only have their goalie of the present locked up, they have yet another prospect for the future. They also have Jeremy Smith, whom they took last year in the second round.
 
"Last year we picked Jeremy Smith in the second round and he played on the World Junior team for the U.S. We hope that Pickard will be the Canadian goalie next year (in the World Juniors)," Poile said. "It really balanced out our depth chart nicely."
 
Even so, the team that everyone will be talking about tomorrow is the Maple Leafs. Every member of Leafs Nation felt Fletcher needed to make a splash at this draft in order to build for this team's future.
 

Fletcher thinks he did so, even at the expense of conditional second- and third-round picks. The Islanders have the option to pick No. 60 Saturday and take Toronto's third round pick in 2009, or pick No. 68 Saturday and use Toronto's second-round pick in 2009.
 
"He's a shut-down defenseman and plays with great composure out there," Fletcher said of Schenn. "He's physical and he moves the puck. He has it all. He's not an end-to-end rusher of the puck, but he's a solid defenseman who we're going to be able to rely on for lots of years."

Fletcher said he did not hesitate in giving up the two additional picks because he knew he was getting a quality, NHL-ready player in Schenn.
 
"There's no substitute for quality, in my mind," Fletcher said. "And when you can get one of the best you go after it, plain and simple."
 
Schenn told NHL.com he saw a lot of people moving around from table to table from his seat to the right of the draft floor, but didn't know what was going on.
 
"There were people walking back and forth, but you don't really know (what team) they're from," Schenn said. "It's not like they have big logos on them. I heard the trade was announced and still wasn't quite sure. To hear your name called, it's just unbelievable."
 
Schenn said he wouldn't have cared who selected him, but that it was the legendary Leafs does add to his exciting evening.
 
"It's just a crazy feeling right now," he said. "The NHL is the NHL, but I couldn't be happier to be wearing a Maple Leafs jersey."
 
Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com.


 

Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Staff Writer

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