Saturday, June 7, 2008

Thrashers asked Stamkos four questions at Combine

Dan Marr, Thrashers Director of Scouting and Player Development, was kind enough to chat with me during the entire first intermission of the Wolves game tonight in Wilkes-Barre. He said a lot of interesting things -- most of which will find their way into my upcoming draft preview -- but I'll share a couple of items now.

Marr joked that Steve Stamkos, the presumed No. 1 pick in the draft, was going around last week's NHL Combine saying he felt slighted by the Thrashers because they only asked him four questions in their interview. The Thrashers hold the No. 3 pick and are virtually certain to hold steady at that position. So they covered only the basics with Stamkos for their files.

What were the four questions? Marr listed three of them:
1. You were born Feb. 7, 1990?
2. You were born in (such-and-such) Ontario?
3. You've always played center?

"OK thanks," they said to Stamkos.

Stamkos was surprised by this, but caught on (that they thought he'd be gone by their pick). Marr thinks about 12-15 teams interviewed the player, as teams often think they can move up to the top.

I remarked how busy Marr has been lately. He said yeah, eight days of scouting meetings in Atlanta, then the Memorial Cup and the Combine, and now back at the Calder Cup finals. He said his dog forgets what he looks like.

As far as Russian players go, because of the new formation of this Continental League, all previous Super League contracts were null and void. All players have to sign new contracts for the new league. This means that there will be a new wave of 18-year-olds coming to the CHL, NHL and even AHL. I asked how this ties in with the Ilya Nikulin possibility (lack of contract providing an opening?). As expected, he was non-plussed. Marr said the Russian press is always after both him and Zubarev. Every year we hear stuff, but bottom line if he really wanted to be here, he'd be here. This is what I expected was the case, but had to ask the question.

We got on the topic of (draft-eligible) Kyle Beach somehow. I asked if he thought Beach had as many (character) issues as people thought. "He's an 18-year-old," Marr said. He learns, and he's not a repeat offender.

I also asked about David Toews, brother of Jonathan, with him in mind for the Thrashers' late first-rounder. (I'm in a staff mock draft and I like to get it right.) Marr made some comments but overall didn't seem jazzed about him. I asked if Toews would go in the first round. He said it was always a possibility, maybe to a team that had two picks. I pointed out that his team has two picks. "Today," he said, laughing. "We have a GM who likes to work the phones."

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