David Poile and his staff are gearing up for the upcoming draft and are apparently targeting four prospects. Who they are is uncertain, but the most intriguing though before draft day is whether or Valeri Nichushkin is a targeted forward. Poile defended Nichushkin a bit during the press conference. See the transcript below.
Poile on the draft: “Colorado has the number one pick and have come out and said they will not take Seth Jones. In an interview that I watched Saturday, Joe Sakic said they’re going to draft Nathan MacKinnon. That’s an unusual posture, if you will, I haven’t necessarily seen it that way, but I will take him on his word. So, now we’re down to three players, assuming that they’re going to draft [MacKinnon]. Having said that, history shows—and it’s always the case things change as you get closer to the draft, whether it be teams calling you to offer you a deal you can’t refuse, teams switching positions, any number of things. Having said that, I think the players are going to remain approximately the same. We have picks in all rounds except the second. You will see me on the phone trying to trade some of our third and fourth picks to move up to the second round.”
Poile on trading the fourth overall pick: From my stand point, I don’t see the real likelihood that we’re going to move up. I might try to do that, but obviously just talking to two teams in particular—Florida and Tampa Bay—to see if they had any interest in changing positions to move back one or two picks. That would be obviously because I have my eye on a specific player. We’ll see how that works out. I really don’t see moving back in the draft, we’re so into these one of these four players we’re going to get. It would really take an unbelievable offer to do that. So, if I can reserve that 2 or 3 percent chance we would do that because I don’t want to eat my words because I know something will come to us. We’ve talked to a few clubs and there have been some really good offers. In relationship to our fourth pick and what we could get if we moved back in the draft, but right now I’m really hell-bent on quality vs. quantity and I’m really focused on these four players.
“Four or five teams have called and made legitimately good offers. And I suspect, which is always going to happen when we get up to the draft on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, we’re going to get something that comes out of left field that we haven’t anticipated and it is going to cause us to pause.”
Poile on the similarities of the 2003 draft and this year’s: “I really think this is a top draft. I liken it a lot to 2003 draft in Nashville. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for a lot of clubs and hopefully our club to use it as a springboard into our future. If as you remember from the ’03 draft we got the four defensemen—Weber, Klein, Suter and Sulzer—and that has now served us well for ten years. And if we ever have another draft like that would be fabulous and it is certainly going to start in the correct way with the fourth pick.”
Poile on if he would draft Seth Jones if he is available: “Absolutely. 100%. 110%! I think he is the best player in the draft. That’s not posturing. His size, he’s got great skating, offensive abilities and I think he is certainly going to be an aggressive player. He could be a Norris Trophy winner. And that’s not to say that the other guys couldn’t equally be as good, but right now that’s how I would have him—the best player in the draft.”
Poile on Valeri Nichushkin: “There has been lots of talk and the fact that he’s a Russian, particularly here because we had the situation with Radulov. I think that’s unfair to lump it all together. He and his agent have made it very clear that he wants to play in the NHL. They have worked hard to get their release from the KHL, which they have gotten, so he can play in the NHL if he’s good enough next year. To me, the only question is whether he would go to junior, the AHL or go back to the KHL. That is something I’ve talked to his agent in great lengths about and it will obviously be factored into our decision.
“If he signs an NHL contract, which is what his agent wants to do on the day of the draft, that’s three years right there and then you go from there. And as I said earlier, the present relationship we have in Russia is to respect each other’s contracts. It’s different, I get it, because it’s in Russia, but we deal with this a fair bit now because you have the KHL paying more money, so after three years, they will decide to pay him X amount of money and you have to step up to the plate and do that. But three years is a long time.”