Monday, June 24, 2019

Rating the biggest stories and moments from draft weekend on the Surprise Scale

The best kind of NHL Draft is one that surprises us. We spend weeks and months figuring out exactly what should happen, and who’s going to wind up where and it’s always more fun to be wrong. Whether it’s a big trade, an off-the-board pick, or some unexpected breaking news, the best draft weekend moments are the ones that leave you wondering what just happened.

How did the 2019 edition do? The short answer: Not bad. For the longer answer, let’s break out the surprise scale and see just how good a job this year’s draft did of delivering the unexpected.

Gary Bettman gets booed

Fans booing is part of the fun of the first round. There are even parts of the evening that seem specifically designed to encourage it, like the traditional roll call that seems to be there just so the local fans can boo the teams they hate the most. (This year’s winners: Toronto and Boston, with honorable mention to Chicago, Edmonton and Calgary.)

But the main event is always Gary Bettman, who continues to insist on appearing in front of fans who clearly don’t want to see him. This year’s reception was especially bad, as we all knew it would be. The fans gave it to him with both barrels when he first appeared; while you could hear him on TV, he was completely drowned out in the arena. The boos continued all Friday night as he did that weird thing where he shows up between every pick to tell us who’s next even though we can all see the giant logo on the scoreboard.

Surprise scale: 0/100. Only because the scale doesn’t go any lower.

Bettman brings backup

In an admittedly funny bit, Bettman responded to the initial wave of boos by acting flustered, trying to talk over them and eventually wandering away from the podium. The crowd loved that, thinking that they’d actually driven him off the stage, only to see him return with reinforcements: Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

I mean, there’s really no way to sugarcoat this. This was a full-fledged heel turn by the Sedins, right? They just aligned themselves with the sworn enemy of their fan base. This is the NHL equivalent of Stone Cold shaking hands with Vince McMahon. Sorry, Canucks fans, the Sedins hate you now. That’s just how this works.

In related news, how great would it have been if Bettman had come back out with Mark Messier instead?

Surprise scale: 22.33/100

The top two picks

There wasn’t much intrigue around the top two picks, beyond some mild (and mostly forced) speculation over whether the Devils might throw a curveball and go with Kaapo Kakko over Jack Hughes. They didn’t, making the expected pick with Hughes and the Rangers grabbed Kakko. So far, so good.

Surprise scale: 10/100

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

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