Consensus NHL Draft Top Pick McDavid Out With Hand Injury

The only player that separates Boston University forward Jack Eichel from being the top overall pick in next summer’s NHL Draft is Canadian phenom Connor McDavid. Though that gap may have just become tighter.

McDavid, who plays for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, fractured a bone in his right hand Tuesday night in a fight with Mississauga Steelheads forward Bryson Cianfrone. The 17-year-old, who has put up a staggering 16-35–51 scoring line in just 18 games, is expected to miss 5-6 weeks.

The injury likely does little to the draft boards of most NHL teams, as McDavid didn’t suffer a long-term injury. That said, it only rises the stock of Eichel, who has five goals and 13 points in seven games for the Terriers this season. McDavid is — and has been for some time — the most hyped prospect to hit Canadian Juniors since Sidney Crosby raised eyebrows playing for Rimouski of the QMJHL from 2003-05. Eichel is the hottest prospect to grace NCAA hockey in years, some saying you have to go all the way back to Brian Leetch, who played at BC in 1986-87, to find a player so hyped. So both players are firsts-in-a-long-time in their own regard.

McDavid remains the consensus first overall pick on virtually all draft boards and likely will. But Eichel also projects as a franchise-caliber player in most circles. It’s a similar situation to 2010 when Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin were set to be drafted. Two picks that aren’t 1-2 as much as they are 1-1A.

The two teams who are awarded picks one and two in the draft can’t go wrong with either player. Using the 2010 draft as precendence, Hall has been a productive player on bad Edmonton Oilers teams, having his best season last season, when he posted 27 goals and 80 points in 75 games. Seguin, who was drafted by the Bruins but traded after three largely disappointing seasons in Boston, has realized his potential in Dallas playing in a system better suited toward his strengths. McDavid and Eichel are similar players with similar skillsets.

Playing off such a premise, a strong case can be made that Eichel could be the top pick in June’s draft. Which he could. But fingers point toward McDavid being picked in front of the phenom from North Chelmsford, broken hand and all. Unfortunately those looking for a repeat of Rick DiPietro circa 2000 (BU goaltender who was drafted No. 1 overall by the New York Islanders), the hand injury likely won’t be enough to deter teams from McDavid.

Lester Return?

When the Red Sox traded Jon Lester on July 31, it appeared the left-handed starter’s time in Boston was done after 8 1/2 seasons and 241 starts. A member of the Oakland Athletics, Lester was set to hit the open market. And he was going to make a lot of money. Based off prior offers the Sox made to the southpaw, the deal Lester would get would likely be one they wouldn’t be willing to match.

But not so fast. In recent days, the Red Sox appear to have climbed to the top of the Lester sweepstakes. Baseball executives came on the record earlier in the week of saying the Red Sox were the leaders to land the 30-year-old. It was reported Wednesday that Ben Cherington met with Lester’s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, in Arizona.

It might be jumping the gun in taking the No. 31 shirts out of storage, but it’s not as unreasonable to think that Lester could take the ball for the Sox on Opening Day for the fifth straight year in 2015.

Griffith Has Flare For Dramatic

The Bruins have been trying to replace Jarome Iginla’s production on the first line through the early part of the 2014-15 season. From Loui Eriksson to Matt Fraser to Simon Gagne, plans laid for the first-line right wing position have been for naught. Through 18 games, nobody has taken full ownership on the No. 1 spot on the right side. But Seth Griffith has come as close as anybody.

The 21-year-old, who began the season in Providence despite an impressive showing in the preseason, has provided spark atop the B’s lineup. In 13 games with the varsity, Griffith has four goals and six points.

Two of the four goals have been tallies that have been all the talk among fans. The first of those highlight-reel goals came against the Minnesota Wild, in which he dove across the crease after a shot that eluded Niklas Backstrom, creating a still frame that looked eerily similar to the famous picture of Bobby Orr diving across the crease in the deciding win of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals.

The second came Monday night against the New Jersey Devils, when Griffith broke the zone with the puck before becoming engaged in a puck battle with defenseman Marek Zidlicky. Griffith won the puck battle, but Zidlicky forced the rookie to turn his back to the net, where he tapped the puck toward the net. The through-the-legs shot slid underneath the left pad of New Jersey netminder Cory Schneider, leading to the goal that turned into the top play on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

 

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Posted by: Patrick O'Rourke on