Mullin goes to Lightning before Flyers make their move

Flyers president Peter Luukko and son Max pose in front of nameplate of Luukko's older son Nick, who was drafted by Flyers.
Flyers president Peter Luukko and son Max pose in front of nameplate of Luukko's older son Nick, who was drafted by Flyers.
Posted: June 28, 2010

LOS ANGELES - Glued to the NHL Network at his father's home in Cincinnati, Jimmy Mullin noticed a missed call on his cell phone.

His family advisor had given him a ring to let him know that the Flyers would be picking him, a lifelong Flyers fan and Delaware County native, with the 119th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

But the Flyers never got that chance. Under new general manager Steve Yzerman, the Tampa Bay Lightning swooped in and grabbed Mullin at No. 118.

"I never really expected to go that high, I had not even thought about it," Mullin said. "Central Scouting had me ranked at No. 165 [among North American skaters] and 118 is a huge jump. I was happy with my season and I would have been happy wherever I went. Once I saw a couple teammates go, and I was happy for them, I was pretty confident would go, too."

At No. 165 among North American skaters, Mullin was initially hoping to just be drafted. He wasn't even ranked among prospects by the scouting services until the final mid-term rankings. Despite 72 points at Shattuck-St. Mary's School in Minnesota this season, Mullin's 5-10, 152-pound frame was his biggest issue.

"I think whenever you are Mullin's size, you probably start to worry a little bit," Tampa Bay's head amateur scout Darryl Plandowski said. "We saw a player that was too good, too skilled and too good of a skater to not be picked - no matter how big he is. We think he was one of the best players at Shattuck."

That's a big compliment, given the fact that Shattuck has produced such prestigious alumni as Sidney Crosby. One of Mullin's teammates this season was Ty Gretzky, son of the Great One.

Mullin, 18, will spend 1 year in the USHL before heading off to Miami (Ohio) University, which has become one of the best college hockey programs in the country.

Aside from the honor of being drafted, Plandowski paid Mullin the biggest compliment of all.

"We think he can be a good player," Plandowski said. "We know that he's going to college, and we're definitely willing to wait for him."

Luukko drafted

Like Mullin, Nick Luukko was blindsided by his selection in the NHL draft on Saturday. But rather than watching the draft on the NHL Network, Luukko was watching the United States battle with Ghana at the World Cup when he found out he was picked - by the team his father runs.

"I was on my computer watching the soccer game. I hit refresh on the NHL's Web site and then I saw my name. I didn't believe it at first. I had to do a double-take and my name was still there. That's how I found out," Luukko said. "I was definitely surprised. I didn't expect to be drafted by the Flyers at all. I really wasn't sure that I was going to get drafted at all. But to get drafted by the Flyers was a huge shocker to me, especially when my dad told me that they wouldn't draft me."

Luukko's dad, Comcast-Spectacor chief operating officer Peter Luukko, said he asked Flyers GM Paul Holmgren to not draft his son to avoid any perceived bias. Holmgren said the Flyers had him on their draft board in the fifth round - NHL Central Scouting had him slated to go somewhere in the seventh round. Luukko went at No. 179 overall, two picks before the seventh round.

"I think it absolutely proves what kind of input I have in the hockey operations," Peter Luukko said.

Nick Luukko, 6-2 and 190 pounds, graduated from The Gunnery, a prep school in Connecticut, in May.

"At some point, you've got to put other things aside," Holmgren said. "He's a good, young player. He's going to the USHL next year. He's going to the University of Vermont for 4 years. He's a big right-hand shot defenseman that has a chance to play. Our hockey guys were adamant about him; he was a lot higher on our list than where we drafted him.

"I walked away from the table, I said you guys fight it out. I left before we made that pick because they made up their mind and I talked to Peter. We've got a lot of time to watch him develop."

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