Weeks of blockbuster trade rumors and eccentric speculated deals were expected to lead up to another headline-grabbing first-round pick for the Carolina Hurricanes.
In the minutes between Nashville's selection of Seth Jones and the expiration of Carolina's three minutes on the clock, GM Jim Rutherford and director Ron Francis put aside all the extracurricular talk and did what the afternoon's event was created for.
They walked up to the podium, shook hands with beleaguered commissioner Gary Bettman and made a draft pick.
That was it.
And that was brilliant.
Not only is Elias Lindholm an extremely consistent and reliable use of the No. 5 choice, he's also 18 years old—like almost every player chosen Sunday and unlike almost every player available in a trade.
Rutherford & Co. had their fun last year, when they traded the No. 8 pick and promising youngsters Brandon Sutter and Brian Domoulin to the Pittsburgh Penguins for household name Jordan Staal.
That trade sent a message to both the rest of the NHL as well as thousands in the ticket-holder base; it was the shock of excitement that Carolina certainly needed at the time.
This weekend, however, it wasn't needed—and the Hurricanes realized that.
The 'Canes have relatively new additions Staal and Alexander Semin to continue to freshen up the roster (and will undoubtedly acquire a few more new players in the coming month).
The 'Canes have young, highly touted prospect Ryan Murphy stepping in as the spotlight rookie of 2013-14.
The 'Canes have the media attention they desire and the playoff expectations they've sought for the coming season.
The one thing the 'Canes didn't have was a good ol' traditional prospect—the kind of prospect with plenty of talent but another year or two of development ahead of him.
Lindholm possesses "high-end offensive skills, displaying plus skating ability," per Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus, yet he remains under contract through next spring in Sweden. In other words, Lindholm is exactly that type of prospect.
His selection adds significant, elite depth and skill to Carolina's youth base—one that had grown thin in recent years with the graduations of Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk, Drayson Bowman and Zac Dalpe and trade of Domoulin—and costs Rutherford essentially nothing.
JR on Lindholm "He's got a great personality... he's a team guy who gives it everything, every shift"— Chantel McCabe (@CanesChantel) June 30, 2013
The decisions to hold onto the No. 5 pick and then draft Lindholm underline the sensible caution the club management learned from last year's draft night chaos.
Rutherford's ultimate caution during Sunday's high-profile event was, to say the least, tremendously refreshing. When it all hit the ceiling, he remained calm and simply made the pick.
Elias Lindholm, a warm welcome to the Carolina Hurricanes and an even warmer future welcome to Raleigh, North Carolina.
We're relieved to have you.
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