(Denver) It’s through the draft that teams are formed, and that’s where the mainstays of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche teams in the Stanley Cup Finals came: Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen on one side , Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Anthony Cirelli on the other side.
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But the many complementary pieces we see at work, those shadowy players suddenly getting a lot more attention in the playoffs, are usually the work of professional scouts. A work that remains in the shadows.
In the case of the Avalanche, the shop steward of the western clubs, it is Daniel Laperrière, a former defender for the Blues of St. Louis and the Ottawa Senators, who also played in Germany for several years.
Based in Las Vegas for three years, Jacques Laperrière’s son has been a professional recruiter for the Avalanche since 2011. He therefore deals primarily with clubs in the American West, but is also called upon to spy on teams in the East late in the season when Boy Scouts cross paths.
“It’s a relief! ‘ he started, met during the post-game celebrations on Sunday at the Amalie Arena ice rink. “There are a lot of people who spend a lot of hours behind the scenes and everyone has been pushing for the wheel. It’s an incredible feeling. »
General manager Joe Sakic was hyperactive late in the season, taking on Artturi Lehkonen, Josh Manson, Andrew Cogliano and Nico Sturm in the final week before the close.
Such acquisitions are the work product of both recruiting departments. For Lehkonen, like Manson, the Avalanche has sacrificed hopes of recruiting amateurs. If the Montreal Canadiens don’t see potential in Justin Barron, if the Anaheim Ducks think Drew Helleson will never get into the NHL, those trades might never have materialized.
Of Montreal, of course, it’s Lehkonen that gets the most talked about. “He was on the radar, high on our list. We knew he would certainly be available. In the course of our discussions, we sided with him, especially our scouts to the east. He was really good,” explains Laperrière.
However, in order to afford Lehkonen, Sakic had to capitalize on his amateur recruiters’ court by sacrificing Barron, pick of 1ah Tour of the Avalanche in 2020 while the CH also has a choice of 2e round in 2024.
We paid a high price. It may be a few years before Montreal can reap the benefits of the transaction. But it is so. We’ve learned from Lightning over the past two years. They paid top dollar.
“Even Josh Manson, he maybe got us through the second round against the Blues, a more robust club. We needed that. »
In the playoffs, Lehkonen was used all over the place, but often in an offensive role. Manson, on the other hand, played his role as the fifth defender beautifully, handing out powerful checks and amassing 8 points in 20 games.
Sturm and Cogliano were deployed on the fourth line. But in post-game interviews, Makar revealed that Cogliano held a team briefing the day before Game 6. In the summary we therefore read that the former Ironman played 9:34 minutes in the elimination game and scored a shot on goal. But concretely, with his 1140 NHL experiences, he found his way to help his new team.
“I’m glad we had some pretty solid talks because we had to convince Joe that just like Manson, Lehkonen is a man we need. Even Cogliano…he’s got more mileage in his body, but he’s got a lot of playoff experience. All of these additions paid off. »