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Okay, I know its early to judge the winners and losers of this year’s NHL Entry draft. And yes, its true, the real winners and losers of Draft Day will not be known for 3-5 years, but thats not gonna stop me from giving my early opinion on the winners and losers of the 2013 Entry Draft Weekend, now that its over. And heck, if we’re wrong 3-5 years from now, we won’t be writing about the draft, we’ll be writing about the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so lets do the draft recap thing now.
The Big Winners
1) Buffalo Sabres: A great draft sees the Sabres get 6 of our top 75 picks. Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov add size and nasty to the Sabres blue line and they have untapped offence as well. J.T. Compher was a real steal in the second round, I think this guy was the most underrated player in the draft. Connor Hurley has huge upside, as does Justin Bailey, they will need to develop but the potential is there. Nick Baptiste gives them a pretty safe pick and a guy who can play in the bottom 6. Lastly we love the upside in 6th rounder Sean Malone.
2) Columbus Blue Jackets: The Jackets used a bevy of early picks to take 5 of our top 75. In Alexander Wennberg and Kerby Rychel, they get two high end offensive players who will help them build their offence. Some might say that they reached for Marko Dano, and yes he did go higher than we ranked him, but Dano is a serious boom or bust prospect, and the Blue Jackets had the picks to gamble on someone like him. Oliver Bjorkstrand might be undersized but he’s got serious snipers skill. Their only defensive pick was Dillon Heatherington, but he is a good one. The Jackets needs, prospect wise, were up front, not on defence to begin with as well.
3) Winnipeg Jets: A nice first round pick in Josh Morrissey gives the Jets a puck moving defenceman in the system. They follow that up with second round steals in Nic Petan and Eric Comrie addressing their needs for skilled centres and at goalie. Jimmy Lodge is a a gritty two-way forward, with untapped offensive potential who the Jets picked up in the third round. And J.C. Lipon was near the top of the WHL in points and played a checking line role for Team Canada at the World Juniors. Overall the Jets have to be pleased with their draft.
4) Nashville Predators: The Preds got a steal when Seth Jones fell to fourth overall. There was a clear big 3 in this draft, and stealing one at number 4 has to be classified as a big win. They followed that up with getting another nice defenceman in Jonathan Diaby in round three, and the best European goalie in Juuse Saros in round 4. A good draft for David Poile who just loves building his blueline.
5) Montreal Canadiens: With 5 of our Top 75, the Canadiens did well at the draft. However there were some perplexing picks in here. I hated the pick of Mike McCarron at 25th overall. I feel that the Habs took him way too high due to the organizational need for size. The pick is a mistake with other slightly smaller, but more skilled power forwards still on the board in Adam Erne, and Valentin Zykov. The pick of Connor Crisp at 71 was also perplexing, as he was an older draft re-entry who didn’t really dominate. Again the theme with Crisp was size and physicality. However the picks of Zachary Fucale and Arturri Lehkonen made the Habs day as they got real steals in those spots. Jacob de la Rose was a solid pick at 34 who also addressed the Habs need for size and physical play. Sven Andrighetto gave the Habs 5 of the top 75 players ranked by LWOS. Jeremy Gregoire is a potential late round gem in the 6th. He just missed being ranked by LWOS. Another gritty forward, he’s a torpedo on the forecheck and hits anything that moves, also is good defensively. They had a good day, but it could have been better. With all the early picks, the Habs had a chance to dominate the draft, but missed it.
A good draft BUT
Vancouver Canucks: The Hunter Shinkaruk pick is the biggest steal of the first round. A later pick of Jordan Subban was also a major heist. Cole Cassels is a nice two way centre out of Oshawa. Getting these three was a good day for Vancouver. However we don’t like their big trade. Yes, Bo Horvat is a worthy pick, and 16 goals in 21 playoff games show his potential, he might be the best player Vancouver picked. I just don’t think they got enough for Cory Schneider, or that trading Schneider was even the right choice for the team. The mishandling of the goaltending situation has left major question marks, especially with Roberto Luongo left behind and questioning his commitment to the team.
Not a Loser BUT…
Florida Panthers: Tough to call a team with the 2nd overall pick in the draft a loser, but the Panthers had an underwhelming day. Reached for a centre in Aleksander Barkov to fill an organizational need instead of taking better players like Jonathan Drouin or Seth Jones. The Ian McCoshen and Michael Downing picks are good ones, but the rest of the draft leaves us underwhelmed. They did ok, but with the 2nd pick overall, and the first pick in every subsequent round, they really could have done a lot better.
The Big Losers: We do it in Countdown Style here.
5) Detroit Red Wings: The trade down and pick of Anthony Mantha was brilliant, and I thought the Wings were on their way to another great draft. But it all fell apart after that. Zach Nastasiuk was a good pick, but I think the Wings took him too high. Still the worst mistake was Tyler Bertuzzi at 58, a real head scratcher of a pick. Made us ask, what they are thinking. The rest of their draft is uninspiring. People will give the Wings the benefit of the doubt based on their draft history, but the fact is that the wings have not drafted a single player who is a Top 6 forward, Top 4 Defenceman, or #1 Goalie currently in the NHL, since the 2004 Draft. (Some have brought up Kindl, and Smith as top 4 defencemen… maybe, but they haven’t proven to be there yet.)
4) Minnesota Wild: The Neiderreiter/Clutterbuck trade was absolute robbery, and likely saves the Wild from the bottom of this list. That trade was the Wild’s best work of the day. The first round pick had been traded to Buffalo in the Jason Pominville deal. The second rounder was a reach in Gustav Olofsson. Kurtis Gabriel is an extremely perplexing pick. Here’s a 20 year old kid, in his third CHL season, who had 28 points in 67 games. Yeah he’s gritty and tough, but with a lack of skill, we see an AHL journeyman at best. Dylan Labbe is a defensive defenceman who went -40 for Shawinigan. Yes, we know they are rebuilding, but even then, he couldn’t handle top 6 forwards in the QMJHL. The Wild have one of the best prospect pools in hockey, so they’ll recover, but this draft was a tough day for Chuck Fletcher who doesn’t land a single player in our top 75.
3) Boston Bruins: They traded their first rounder for a guy who didn’t score a single goal in the playoffs and is now leaving as a free agent. They then learned Nathan Horton will also leave as a free agent. Their GM spent draft day Sunday calling out their stud pick from 2010 saying he needs to learn to be a professional. What is going on for the Stanley Cup Finalists? All that said, when they did get to the Draft table, Linus Arnesson isn’t a bad pick, but the rest of their day was filled with reaches.
2) Philadelphia Flyers: The weekend started with them watching goaltender Cory Schneider go to a division rival, and Mike Smith re-sign in Phoenix; taking two of their options for fixing their immediate issues off the table. Then they reached in round 1 on Samuel Morin. Yes, he’s big and he’s physical, but where is the skill. With a lottery pick I’d like to see a kid who doesn’t handle the puck as if its a hand grenade. We had him as a late first/early 2nd rounder. The Flyers follow that up with a great pick for the spot in Robert Hagg. However a whole lot of nothing the rest of the day meant that they weren’t able to make up for the Morin pick. Their third rounder Tyrell Goulbourne, was a winger with only 27 points this year, as a 19 year old draft re-entry. Yes, big, physical, but again the lack of skill here makes him look like an AHL journeyman’s future is in the cards.
1) San Jose Sharks: Gave up a 2nd rounder for Tyler Kennedy, then gave up another 2nd rounder to move up a mere two spots in the first round. They were giving those picks away like they were candy and it was hallowe’en. After the trade they reached on Mirco Mueller. I really didn’t understand this trade up as there was no reason to move up if Mueller was their guy, it was a panic move. In the second round they took Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau a round too early. Bad trades, and back to back reaches, we weren’t sure what San Jose was doing here.
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