Kevin Mitchell is the sports editor of the Vernon Morning Star.

Kevin Mitchell is the sports editor of the Vernon Morning Star.

Vernon ready for NHL lottery

Used to be people would show up on NHL Draft Day like families arriving to celebrate a wedding, yet some would feel they were at a funeral.

Used to be people would show up on NHL Draft Day like families arriving to celebrate a wedding, yet some would leave feeling they had just attended a funeral.

So wrote Canadian author Roy McGregor in a colourful chapter on hockey’s amateur lottery in The Home Team.

Phenoms Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujarvi, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Matthew Tkachuk all carry top-five ratings and will become instant millionaires when their names are called in a few minutes. They will feel like wedding guests.

Same goes for Tyson Jost, a centre with the Penticton Vees, who will go in Round 1. He was chosen 10th overall by the Colorado Avalanche. Penticton d-man Dante Fabbro was nabbed 17th by the Nashville Predators.

“They know that their lives are about to be determined by a number over which they have now lost all control,” wrote McGregor.

Scouts like Vernon’s George Fargher, who had a big say in the Sens choosing local product Curtis Lazar of the Edmonton Oil Kings in the first round three years ago in New Jersey, will take notes on a player like Jost dozens of times during the hockey season.

“He’s similar to Lazar but probably has a little more skill,” Fargher told me an hour ago from the Ottawa draft table. “He has a chance to be a top-15 pick.”

Fargher says the Sens make their choice by selecting the best player rather than taking a player at a certain position.

“Best player for sure. Sometimes you can make a mistake picking by position. You go with the best asset which also helps if you trade that asset.”

This is the 21st amateur draft for Fargher, who worked one year for the New York Islanders.

Round 1 at the First Niagara Center goes for the next few hours. Rounds 2 through 7 will take close to five hours starting Saturday, 10 a.m.

Things got wacky earlier Friday when a Tampa Bay Lightning confidential scouting list on trading analytics was found in a hotel lobby. Some young fan posted the information on Twitter.

“There’s nobody at the Tampa table right now,” said Vernon’s Marty Stein, of the Red Wings’ scouting bureau, around 2:30 p.m. PDT.

Stein, who played Junior A in Vernon with Detroit GM Ken Holland, is at his 20th draft. He says the event is pretty much a reunion of sorts.

“There’s lot of guys we haven’t seen since the winter so there’s lots of catching up to do. There’s a lot of talk and anticipation. We fine-tuned a few things this morning. We’re just waiting for (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman to announce: ‘We have a trade to announce.’”

Stein figures most of the deals will come Saturday with teams looking to move up a round or two.

For Vernon’s Dennis Holland (Ken’s younger brother), this is No. 13 at the Dallas Stars’ table. This one has a different feel.

“With expansion coming, there is a little extra buzz and excitement because you don’t exactly know what’s going to happen,” said Holland, a former superstar with the WHL Portland Winterhawks.

“We’re in the last row, the number 25 table beside Washington. We’re getting closer to where we want to be. You don’t want a good seat at the draft (weaker teams are situated closer to the front podium). It’s supposed to be sold out tonight. There is a large sea of white and blue jerseys so the Toronto fans are excited.”

Buffalo is a border town so thousands of Maple Leaf fans from nearby Fort Erie and Ridway will be at the rink.

They will go bonkers when the Leafs choose Matthews, the 6-foot-2, 216-pound C who played with Zurich in National League A, Switzerland’s top professional league, this season.

His linemate with the U16 Arizona Bobcats was Christian Cakebread of the Vernon Vipers, who has decomitted with the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks and will star for the Snakes next  BCHL season.

The Maple Leafs have three picks in the first two rounds and seven of the first 101 selections. They have two picks each in rounds two, three and four.

Vernon’s Dave Oliver is Director of Player Development with the Avalanche and was drafted in the seventh round in 1991 by Edmonton after a 24-point season with the NCAA Michigan Wolverines.

Oliver rang up 30 points in 44 games during the lockout season, earning runner-up to Peter Forsberg in the Calder Rookie-of-the-Year voting.

“For a kid who never went to the draft as a player, it’s a pretty big show,” he told me. “You’ve got kids going in rounds one through seven with their families and it’s kind of like Oscar night in the NHL. It’s pretty crazy how everything unfolds that night.

“Being a scout is probably the hardest job in hockey. Those amateur guys have a real tough job because they’re on the clock and you don’t have a lot of time to make that pick off your list. It’s pretty fun to watch them work because it’s intense.”

Sadly, Vernon’s Craig Demetrick is not in Buffalo with the Florida Panthers.

Dimmer and the entire Florida scouting staff was fired last month when the Panthers moved GM Dale Tallon upstairs and hired Tom Rowe, who brought in his own people. Florida has chosen to move toward an analytics approach.

Also in Buffalo from Vernon are Tyler Wright and Jeff Finley, both with Detroit, Stacy Roest of the Lightning and Joe Oliver, a player agent.