Logan Couture - 9th Overall pickJun 22, 2007 - 00:00 GMT
Allen Panzeri, The Ottawa Citizen
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ottawa 67's centre Logan Couture didn't know where or if he might get picked in the first round of this year's NHL draft.
His final ranking by NHL Central Scouting was 19th, which suggested he'd either be selected late in the first round or -- gasp -- be waiting for today's final six rounds.
But when the San Jose Sharks moved up to 13th (as part of trade that sent goalie Vesa Toskala to Toronto) and then moved up again to ninth (getting St. Louis' pick), he and his family thought something might be up.
The Sharks and general manager Doug Wilson, himself a former member of the 67's, have made it almost an annual rite to take a 67 in the draft.
They took Derek Joslin in 2005 (fifth round, 149th overall) and Couture's regular linemate Jamie McGinn in 2006 (second round, 36th overall).
Ex-67's Brad Staubitz and Lukas Kaspar also played in San Jose's organization this past season.
Couture was right about something being up.
The Sharks defied the rankings to take him ninth.
"It feels great that they traded up to take me," he said. "They seem to like Ottawa 67's. I'm just happy to go there. It's pretty exciting.
"I was sitting with my family and we had a feeling when San Jose made that trade to move up to the ninth pick that they were going to take me.
"So we're pretty happy."
Couture took a big slide in the rankings after International Scouting Services had him No. 1 among North American skaters in its year-end ranking in 2006.
He was hampered during the preseason by a deep cut to a knee after getting stepped on by another player during tryouts for Canada's under-18 team last summer.
Then, after a slow start to the OHL season, he was diagnosed with mononucleosis, which kept him out more than a month. After that he had another minor knee injury in February, so he never really got going, though he did have 26 goals and 52 assists in 54 games.
What hurt him more than his injuries, though, was the consensus that his skating is not strong enough for the NHL.
Couture could read the charts that told him where he stood, but he didn't believe it.
"I guess everyone has their opinion," he said. "We had a little different opinion of our own.
"We just came in here open-minded, not knowing where I'd go and that there were different rankings out there.
"Wherever it was, I was going to be excited to go there and just hoping they'd give me a chance to play."
He had only one meeting with San Jose, during the combine in Toronto, but he had several discussions with the Florida Panthers, who had the 10th pick and appeared ready to take him. That forced San Jose's hand.