John McFarland was the first overall pick in the OHL draft two years ago, but slipped to the second round of the NHL draft. (Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES – It’s amazing how much added motivation and extra night’s sleep can provide a young man.
The early moments of Day 2 at the 2010 NHL draft confirmed falling draft stock and incentive to succeed share an inverse relationship.
The result of some surprise selections in Round 1 on Friday night – Joey Hishon at No. 17 to the Avs, Kevin Hayes to the Hawks at No 24 and 27th pick Mark Visentin to Phoenix – was a couple potential first-rounders waiting an additional day before expanding their wardrobe with the most exciting new sweater of their young lives.
Like most guys who slide down a touch to end up second-rounders, the first thing you’ll hear from new Florida Panther defenseman Alex Petrovic is that he was simply finally happy to hear his name.
The second item offers a bit more intrigue.
“You’re a little mad because you’re competitive, you want to go in the first round,” said Petrovic when asked if being passed over for an entire round starts an internal fire in a prospect. “(Friday) night I was like, ‘I want to prove all these teams wrong that didn’t take me.’ It’s huge motivation to tell you the truth.”
Florida nabbed Petrovic with the 36th overall pick, just after it grabbed center John McFarland at No. 33. Observers have long known McFarland has ample talent, maybe even that of a top-three pick. But just about every other aspect of his game and attitude has been questioned.
His comments sounded very similar to those of his fellow Florida selection.
“There’s a lot more motivation now than maybe there was before and I’m going to channel that and use it to my advantage,” McFarland said.
The 18-year-old admitted Friday night was “a long one,” but took solace in the fact he’s certainly not the first kid to fall in the draft.
“I think it happens,” McFarland said. “It’s happened to a lot of people in the past who expected to go (in Round 1). It’s disappointing, but at the same time, today is a new day, I’m part of the Florida Panthers now and really excited about it.”
Panthers GM Dale Tallon said he was excited to get McFarland – and Petrovic, for that matter – on Day 2. He also seemed to think having a young man with a little something to prove in your midst isn’t the worst thing in the world.
“We tell kids in the interview, it’s not where you get drafted, it’s what you do after you get drafted,” he said. “We were fortunate to get him at that position. He’s a very good player and fits what we’re looking for.”
Tallon certainly threw himself right into the Florida fire. He’s barely been on the job for a month, yet he’s already packed the franchise cupboard with prospects, starting with third overall pick Erik Gudbranson on the blueline. In all, the Cats corralled 13 new faces in the draft and, basically, every 10th pick through the first 100 selections were Florida calls. The Panthers welcomed three first-rounders and claimed six of the first 50 picks.
“We got a little bit of everything in this draft, so we’re excited about it,” Tallon said.
In contrast to Florida’s frenetic activity, the trade buzz many expected in L.A. never really materialized. Washington GM George McPhee said the inaction wasn’t rooted in a lack of desire on behalf of his colleagues, but simple cap realities.
“Lots of teams want to do things, but in a cap world it’s not easy to pull things together,” McPhee said.
But don’t fret change fans; according to McPhee, movement could be afoot.
“The trades and discussion about NHL players now probably picks up Monday,” he said.
THN Puck Panel: 2010 NHL Entry Draft roundup
PRODUCER: Ted Cooper
THN is in Los Angeles covering the NHL Entry Draft.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesdays.
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