Maven’s Ravin’: Goodbye Draft, Hello Free Agent Frenzy

1. Islanders fans perplexed over the anticipated loss of Kyle Okposo should ponder a few names as balm for the brain. Namely, Andrew Ladd, David Backes, Mikkel Boedker and Milan Lucic, just to name a few.

2. Some diffident general managers such as Detroit’s Ken Holland don’t want to talk about their pursuit of $teven $tamkos. Fortunately, Buffalo’s buoyant Tim Murray isn’t one of them.

3. “I’m going to chase The Big Fish (Stamkos),” Murray unabashedly admits. “Teams with Cap space that can fit him in all will be involved in this.”

4. There’s a lot to like about Buffalo and the Sabres ultra-first-class organization. Even foes such as Devils GM Ray Shero rave about how well the Draft was handled, not to mention the Combine.

5. “Buffalo is great,” enthuses Shero. “(Sabres Owner) Terry Pegula has been a terrific factor in all the good that’s going on with the Sabres. It’s been awesome.”

6. Apart from the Pot of Gold Pegula could offer Stamkos, there’s the magnetism of a vibrant franchise with Jack Eichel as its foundation forward. Plus, Murray nabbed a superior first round pick in forward Alexander Nylander and added defenseman Dmitry Kulikov from Florida in a Saturday deal.

7. A relatively quiet Rangers acquisition could evolve into as pleasant a surprise as Kevin Klein was when the latter came north from Nashville. The new arrival is defenseman Nick Holden, 29, who played nobly for the Avalanche in 2015-16. Among other feats, the St. Albert (Edmonton) Alberta native was only one of two Avs defensemen to play all of the team’s 82 games.

8. READERS WRITE: This from Gus Vic in Connecticut. “To me the biggest surprise of the Draft was Columbus passing on Jesse Puljujarvi at three and trumping the Canadiens to grab Pierre-Luc Dubois.”

9. Despite early raves for the Caps acquisition of Lars Eller, the naysayers claim he’s “far from the missing piece for Washington.”

10. Who’s going to want Marc-Andre Fleury, Ben Bishop or James Reimer now that Calgary’s Brad Treliving did an end run nabbing Brian Elliott from St. Louis? The easy answer to that question has to be Las Vegas for one of the trio.

11. The wisdom of the Islanders’ high command giving up on Thomas Vanek is confirmed once again; this time by the Minnesota Wild buying out the final season of Mister Disappointing’s contract.

12. Every year the Oilers draft a stud forward and every year the club gets worse. After Edmonton selected yet another sharpshooter — Puljujarvi — on Friday night, one press box wag quipped: “The Oilers are going to have to invent a new system where a defenseman doesn’t touch the puck. That’s going to be a challenge!”

13. The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons’ post-Draft review goes like this: “I’d like to thank the city of Buffalo, just in case no one else has.” But a legion have, including New York Hockey Journal’s Leo Scaglione, Jr. who waxes ecstatic over the manner in which the Sabres and the city orchestrated the Draft.

14. Just about every NHL exec expects the Ducks defender Cam Fowler to be the next worthy to be dealt. Anaheim has a surplus of blue-liners.

15. Since the Bruins appear not to have satisfied UFA-to-be Loui Eriksson, I suspect that a Met Area sextet will be contacting Larrupin’ Loui’s agent post-haste.

16. My Hockey News buddy, Matt Larkin, claims that one of the “Storylines Unresolved” post-Draft is that Scott Hartnell remains with Columbus. Could be that Scotty is getting too much moolah for too-little-production.

17. Talk about money in the bank, how about the brand-new Las Vegas franchise which has exceeded the 15,000 mark in season ticket sales.

18. Good for the Red Wings’ organization contemplating a suitable manner in which to honor Gordie Howe. Question: Is naming the new Detroit hockey rink as the Gordie Howe Arena out of the question?

19. Apart from the insane dough Keith Yandle will be getting from the Panthers, the ex-Ranger admits that another enticement — apart from breaking the bank — is the expectation that he’ll be paired with prodigy D-man Aaron Ekblad. Keith on the left, Aaron on the right.

20.  I kid you not; the Coyotes will be getting a new arena and, although its site has not been revealed one possibility is partnering with Arizona State University.

21. One player who’ll be most missed by his former club is Andrew Shaw, formerly of Chicago. A headline in the (Chicago) Daily Herald says it all: BLACKHAWKS’ SHAW TOO EXPENSIVE FOR OWN GOOD.

22. All right, already. If you want to know where The Maven believes Stamkos will go, I say Detroit. Mostly because the Red Wings’ general staff knows what it’s doing.

23. It may not be the most amazing thing in the world, but Uncle Sam’s ability to produce a large amount of quality Draftees says plenty about how the balance of hockey power is shifting away from Canada.

24. Or, if you’re a Figure Filbert or Numbers Nut, consider that 55 Americans were selected in the 2016 Draft.

25. Don’t you get the feeling that the hockey season never ends? I do!