So this was the first time I covered an NHL Draft and from the outset I foolishly assumed that I had things figured out. The Panthers had the second overall pick and predicting who they would choose was
as simple as predicting the outcome of a Rafael Nadal first round Wimbledon match uhh… well lets just say I thought I had things figured out.
The Panthers wanted Nathan MacKinnon but there was a good chance he was going to the Colorado Avalanche (which he did). If MacKinnon was off the board at two, the Panthers would select Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones. I must have typed that sentence one thousand times in the weeks leading up to the NHL Draft.
After watching the Avalanche select MacKinnon and after saying a quick eulogy for my misguided theory that Colorado was bluffing this whole time and really wanted Jones, I was prepared to see the Panthers walk up and select the big defender from the WHL. You can imagine my surprise when the name announced by Dale Tallon was not in fact Seth Jones but rather Aleksander Barkov.
To be completely honest, if you asked me before the draft, I would have put the odds of the Panthers drafting Barkov at less than one percent. I thought maybe… MAYBE.. the Panthers would go with Jonathan Drouin if they were thinking offense instead of Jones but Barkov?? he never really crossed my mind. To illustrate how ill prepared I was for the announcement of Florida’s pick, here is the tweet I sent out from The Rat Trick’s twitter account immediately following the pick:
Florida Panthers select Alexander Barkov with the second pick. WOW! Did not see that coming #NHLDraft
— THE RAT TRICK (@FANSIDEDTHERAT) June 30, 2013
I misspelled Aleksander! I had given Barkov such little thought as a possible Panther draft pick that I had not even typed out his first name in any of my pre-draft coverage. Now if you are not following The Rat Trick on twitter, I urge you to do so, usually I spell all the players names correctly, I promise, but the point of the above tweet is to show how completely humbled I am by the NHL Draft.
I was the incoming high school freeman thinking I had the whole world figured out and was ready to unleash my unsurpassed meticulously perfected “coolness” on hundreds of unsuspecting high schoolers only to get kicked in the nuts by a steel toed boot wearing, eye-shadow rocking senior only minutes after walking in the door on the first day. When Dale Tallon announced the Panthers second pick was Barkov, I realized all the chatter leading up to the draft was just that, chatter, inconsequential. We have no idea what is going on behind close doors and while we try to predict things the best we can most often we are completely wrong, but I guess that is part of the fun. If everybody knew what was going to happen before hand, no one would care. The surprises, the crazy odd-ball moves, the knock you off your feet trades, those are the things that make the NHL Draft compelling. I was way happier with the thrill of being wrong when Florida picked Barkov than I would have been with the smug satisfaction that comes with making the correct prediction.
I hope everybody enjoyed yesterday’s draft as much as I did. Being humbled and surprised by the Barkov pick does not mean I was disappointed. I think he will develop into a dominating center but if we learned anything from the action yesterday it is this; what I think is worth nothing.