Hockey analyst and Sportsology creator Russ Cohen is now the person I have interviewed more than any other, with this being the 4th time. Cohen has always been kind enough to answer all of my questions, and we decided to do another interview to explore the upcoming 2010 NHL Entry Draft on June 25.
Cohen is also allowing me to run a hockey trivia challenge that starts tomorrow, using his book 100 Ranger Greats as the medium. Every Tuesday, for the next three weeks, I will post trivia questions that can all be answered by reading the book. Participants must e-mail me their responses before the next round is posted, and the leader after three weeks will win a brand new copy! It is sure to be a lot of fun.
Below is our conversation:
GC: Who do you think the Rangers will take in this year’s draft, and why?
RC: I think the New York Rangers will select goaltender Jack Campbell. Henrik Lundqvist continues to break his own career mark for games played with the Blueshirts, and five years into his career he has some knee problems. If you consider that most of the Rangers' great goaltenders lasted right around 10 years, then this year’s draft has to yield a potential franchise goaltender for the team. Goalies take a long time to develop, so the time is now. This is a piece I wrote on Campbell.
GC: There is so much talk about who will go first overall in this year’s draft. Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall seem to be the leading candidates, but who do you think the Oilers will take with the first overall pick?
RC: I think the Oilers will take Taylor Hall. He has exceptional speed, he’s a clutch scorer, he can play in every situation and he makes players around him better. He can play in the NHL next season.
GC: What Rangers prospects have a chance of making the team this season?
RC: Derek Stepan has that kind of talent. If he decides to turn pro and not return to the University of Wisconsin, then he will certainly get a long look in camp. What’s important to note is the fact that if he could make the team without playing in the AHL, then he will be learning on the job and you shouldn’t expect a huge offensive season out of him. I think Bobby Sanguinetti has the talent, and he seems to be playing with more of an edge. He had a rocky road with the coach last season, so he has to impress him in camp or he won’t make it, even though he has the talent to do so. If Evgeny Grachev has a great start in Hartford he could get a late season promotion.
GC: Do you expect there to be many trades at this year’s draft, and do you see the Rangers making any?
RC: Toronto will be trying to move defense-man Tomas Kaberle for sure. I think one of the Montreal goaltenders; most likely Carey Price will be available as well. I think the Rangers might have interest in Kaberle. There will be some lesser talented players moved as well, there always are.
GC: The very private Glen Sather gave a very in-depth interview with Larry Brooks of the New York Post last week. What is your response to this and what do you think he has in store this off-season?
RC: I think he’s trying to add another scorer to play alongside Marian Gaborik. I think they will search for toughness on the blueline as well. They don’t have a lot of cap space so far, but that could change, so that’s why he was essentially saying don’t look for a big free-agent signing. With all of that said, it’s nice to say that you want to keep going with the youth, but the past few years the Rangers traded some of that youth, and it didn’t get the team anywhere, so it’s hard to put much stock in that statement as well.
GC: Rangers fans seem to be clamoring for Ilya Kovalchuk (obviously) and now more recently Anton Volchenkov. Tomas Plekanec has had his name thrown in the rumor mill as well, even though I do not want him. Which of these free agents do the Rangers have the best shot at signing? And would you personally make a move to acquire any of them?
RC: Tomas Plekanec was almost invisible in the series against Philadelphia, so stay away from him; he’s just too soft, even though he has solid scoring ability. Anton Volchenkov could help this team at the right price. He’s the only one of the three that I would have interest in. If Kovalchuk was going to become a Ranger, he would ask for $100 million that they don’t have. I’m not sure where he will sign, but I’m sensing he might take less money to stay in New Jersey when it’s all said and done.
I would like to thank Russ for taking the time to conduct this interview!
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