On the muggy Saturday morning of June 23rd NHL fans lined up outside of American Airlines Center hoping to witness a moment in hockey history. Maybe their team would snag a future hall of famer. Maybe they’d catch a prospect being shuffled away from the draft floor and get a picture with a future NHL star. Anticipation hung in the air, heavy as humidity. Certainly both could make you sweat.
Day two of the 2018 NHL Draft began with a tribute to draft legend Jim Gregory. Having announced every NHL draft since 1980, it was revealed that this draft would be his very last. At 82 years of age Jim took to the podium one last time to facilitate the delivery of life changing news to so many young men in the stands.
Quickly however, the fanfare of the first round gave way to efficiency. Teams rarely utilized their full three minutes to decide on a selection from the second round on. No general managers took the stage to announce their picks and similarly, draftees hurriedly pulled on their new sweaters at the edge of the draft floor before being directed over to the press. Almost none of these picks will have a chance to play professionally outright. They’ll be developed in the NCAA or by continuing to play for their juniors team. Still, wide smiles weren’t hard to find among the prospects, nor were teary eyes hard to find among their parents. Jamie Benn stepping onto the stage the day before, a 5th round pick now a captain and the face of an NHL franchise, had set the tone. The order wasn’t important. Anyone could rise or fall.
Missing from the festivities once again was Dallas center Tyler Seguin. Despite his presence at the June 21st 2018 Hockey Day in Farmers Branch, Seguin didn’t make an appearance at either day of the draft. The Stars can sign Seguin to a contract extension starting on July 1st and with one year left in Dallas at 5.75 million, his absence may have been a strategic move on the part of the organizers. Jamie Benn alone around every GM in the league poses far less of a risk than Tyler Seguin in the same position. With John Tavares set to meet with the Stars tomorrow, the organization needs every advantage they can get when it comes to Seguin.
Dallas selected seven new players on day two, getting to choose twice in the fourth round. For one of those fourth round selections being drafted wasn’t a new sensation. Adam Mascherin, a Toronto native currently playing in the OHL, was selected 38th overall by the Florida Panthers in 2016. Mascherin declined to sign with the Panthers and instead re-entered the draft this Summer where he was picked up by Dallas 100th overall. As for why Mascherin turned down Florida in the first place, Panthers GM Dale Tallon simply noted, “He didn’t want to play for the Panthers.” Hopefully Mascherin finds Dallas, Texas more favorable than Sunrise, Florida. He may be playing for the city he was drafted in as early as 2019.
Just two picks before Dallas selected Mascherin, the Detroit Red Wings selected Ryan O’Reilly 98th overall. Hailing from Southlake, Texas, O’Reilly was recruited to the University of Denver by Jim Montgomery who was recently appointed head coach of the Dallas Stars. Despite not being drafted to his hometown team, the crowd of AAC still whooped and hollered for O’Reilly as he hugged his family and donned the red and white of Detroit.
The prospects weren’t the only ones given a chance to shine over the weekend. Dallas Stars Music Director Michael Gruber put on quite the show. Fans familiar with Stars home games will know Gruber from his ability to nail a music cue and pump up the crowd with iconic jams. Notable was his use of Enya’s “Only Time” as one of the franchises took a timeout during the draft proceedings. Gruber is well due the recognition his draft performance has garnered and we’re looking forward to hearing him kill it in the 2018-2019 season.
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Photo: Lyndyl Randall/Dallas Sports Nation