NHL Draft Weekend: Winners and Losers

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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 2012 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 now.

The Top 3 Big Winners

These three clubs really impressed me on draft weekend, and have set themselves up going forward.

1) Montreal Canadiens: Marc Bergevin’s first draft as GM of the Montreal Canadiens looks like an outstanding success.  Bergevin came from the Blackhawks organization who built their team around Jonathan Toews, and the Habs filled their long standing hole at Centre with the closest thing there is to a Toews clone in Alex Galchenyuk.  Bergevin and head scout, Trevor Timmins  would then grab a potential steal of the draft at 33rd overall in Sebastian Collberg, a player we had ranked in our top 10.  In time Collberg could develop into a Patrick Kane-like sidekick for Galchenyuk.  At 51st overall  and 64th overall the Habs would land two more prospects from our top 35 in Dalton Thrower and Tim Bozon. The Habs would then get our 51st ranked prospect Brady Vail at 94th overall and our 65th ranked prospect Charles Hudon at 122nd overall.  With two prospects in our top 10, and six in our top 65, this is an incredible haul.   On top of all that, the Habs turned not one but two organizational weaknesses into strengths, really improving their prospect depth at both Centre and Left Wing.

2) Dallas Stars:  The Stars had a banner draft.  Like Montreal, they managed to pick up six prospects we had ranked and done full profiles of.  Joe Nieuwendyk found a big, two way centre in Radek Faksa with the 13th overall pick. The Stars would then grab 22nd ranked Ludvig Bystrom at 44th overall, 52nd ranked Mike Winther at 54th overall,  honourable mention Devin Shore at 61st overall, 60th ranked Gemel Smith at 104th Overall and 64th ranked Branden Troock at 134th overall.  The Stars also grabbed Esa Lindell, a quality defence prospect out of Sweden who just missed the cut of our top 80.  The Stars got great value on nearly all of their picks, really improved their prospect depth at forward and also grabbed two quality Swedish defenders.  J.R. Ewing would be happy finding a oil-well with this much value in Dallas.

3) Pittsburgh Penguins: The weekend started out on a bad note as Jordan Staal turned down a 10 year, $60 million offer from the Pens.  He also indicated to the team that he wished to play with his brother Eric in Carolina, and if still with Pittsburgh, he would test free agency on July 1st, 2013.  This really put the Penguins in a bind and took away most of the potential dance partners for a trade.  Despite this GM Ray Shero was able to get good value out of Carolina in the #8 overall pick, along with Brandon Sutter, who will replace Staal on the third line, and defence prospect Brian DuMoulin.  The Pens may have reached a little in taking Derrick Pouliot with the 8th overall pick, however they then got great value in Olli Maatta at 23.  I also like the picks of Matt Murray at 83, Matia Marcantuoni at 92 and Anton Zlobin at 173.  The Penguins would make a second trade on the weekend, moving expensive Dman Zybanek Michalek to Phoenix.  On top of the quality picks, the Penguins have freed up a ton of cap space for July 1st, and set themselves up to take a healthy run at Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, or maybe even both.  If they choose to go the trade route, the Pens could fit Rick Nash, Keith Yandle or Bobby Ryan under their cap.

Other Winners (Alphabetical order)

Buffalo Sabres: Got great value picks in Mikhail Grigorenko, and Zemgus Girgensons, two players who solve the Sabres need for big centres.  Also got good value in picking Jake McCabe, and a potential sleeper in Logan Nelson a talented centre for Victoria in the WHL. The draft re-entry really showed his offensive potential when he was given minutes.  The Sabres were able to turn the surplus of early picks they accumulated into good players who also fill organizational needs.

Carolina Hurricanes:  I talked about the Jordan Staal trade above, and while the Hurricanes did give up value to get him, they won the trade when Jordan put them in the catbird’s seat by making it known he wanted to play with brother Eric.  The acquisition of Jordan is a major organizational coup, and puts Carolina in the winner’s column this weekend.  Solid picks of Phil Di Giuseppe, and Trevor Carrick just add to that.

Chicago Blackhawks:The Blackhawks were beneficiaries when two falling prospects, fell right into their laps. They must have been ecstatic to get Teuvo Teravainen at 18th overall. That is an absolute steal. Later in the draft they were able to get Brandon Whitney, getting huge value in the 7th round. Their 2nd rounder, Dillon Fournier may have been a bit of a reach, but he’s still a good prospect.

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Leafs got a pair of good defencemen in Morgan Rielly at 5th overall and Matt Finn at 35th overall.  Finn in particular was a real steal given his ranking and draft position.  This left the Leafs with a glut of young players on the blue line.  With that in mind I like how they were able to move Luke Schenn and address the need for a big forward in getting James Van Riemsdyk.  Schenn may benefit from the change in scenery, but it just wasn’t happening for him in Toronto, and Van Riemsdyk might use his change in scenery to finally blossom in Toronto.

Some Good Stuff, but a lot of What were you thinking?

I don’t really want to call these teams losers, as how can you be a loser when you get the Best Player in the Draft in Nail Yakupov, or the best Defenceman in the draft in Ryan Murray, or even a first round steal in Filip Forsberg, but these teams made other moves on draft day that left me shaking my head.

Columbus Blue Jackets:  Jackets fans have to love the Ryan Murray pick.   Oscar Dansk was also good value and filled an organizational need.  However the rest of the weekend was off the rails.  They gave up a 2nd round pick and two 4th round picks for Sergei Bobrovsky.  Really?  Have the Jackets watched this guy over the last two years in Philadelphia?  He’s not number 1 goalie material and I don’t see where he fills their need for a number 1 goalie or how he has that much trade value.  The Jackets also took another goalie in Joonas Korpisalo in the 3rd round.  Taking a second goalie after grabbing Dansk tells me that Columbus has no faith in Bobrovsky as a long term solution, but the price they paid for him indicated that he was.  If you don’t believe in Bobrovsky, and are just taking a chance on him, then don’t give up 3 picks to get him including a mid second.  I don’t get it.   To top off their weekend the Jackets went and fired 4 scouts immediately after the draft was over.  Classy move to fire a guy while he’s still in a hotel room in Pittsburgh and far away from home.

Edmonton Oilers:  Coming into the draft, we knew the Oilers were well stocked with good young wingers.  We also knew that they could take the best player available in Nail Yakupov, or try to fill an organizational need on defence.  They also need a future second line centre behind Ryan Nugent Hopkins, as Sam Gagner is not the answer.  Two small offensive centres just isn’t going to work.  The Oilers went Best Player Available at first overall in Yakupov, and that was clearly the right move in my eyes.  However after that, the train came off the rails.  Mitch Moroz, a left wing was a serious reach at 32, especially with so many defencemen in this draft.  Then the Oilers took two more wingers with their next two picks in Juhjar Khaira, and Daniil Zharkov, meaning they took four wingers in their first four picks.  With Petry, Marcinin, Teubert, Klefbom, Musil, and Gernat I’m not as down on the Oilers defensive prospects as some people are, but really Tambellini and Lowe have to recognize that at some point they need to load up on defence, as right now they have little room for error if a couple of those prospects bust. They also didn’t address the need for the 2nd line centre.

Washington Capitals: The Capitals got a draft day steal with Filip Forberg.  I’m not crazy about how high they took Tom Wilson, as I feel that is a reach and his potential is to be a third liner. The Mike Ribeiro trade is a head scratcher, the Caps had shown their best playoff success by moving to a more gritty, physical, defensive style under Dale Hunter.  Even with Hunter gone, I would have thought that they’d continue down that road, but they trade for Mike Ribeiro?  This doesn’t add up.

The 3 Biggest Losers

3) Vancouver CanucksI like the Brendan Gaunce pick a lot.  However Alexandre Mallet is a real reach in the second round, and the lack of third and fourth rounders due to earlier trades make this day a loss.

2) Boston Bruins:  The Bruins got decent value in Malcolm Subban, but the rest of their draft is mess.  Matthew Grzelcyk is a 5’9″ defenceman who just doesn’t have the skills to overcome that size deficiency, in my opinion.  I would have pegged him as a bubble guy to even be a 7th round pick.  Taking him in the third round is among the worst reaches in the draft.  They also lacked 2nd round and 4th round picks which make the day a loss.  Also didn’t get enough value for Benoit Pouliot who scored 16 goals for the Bruins.  Seth Griffith was however good value in the 5th, but is still a project.

1) Colorado Avalanche:   Had to watch as Filip Forsberg was picked with the first rounder given up in the Semyon Varlamov trade.  Then reached for Mitchell Heard in the 2nd round, as he is more of a 5th round pick or later.  Troy Bourke in round 3 is a decent pick but the real lack of a lot of picks due to earlier trades makes this draft tough.    Anytime you trade away your future picks for roster players, and then fail to make the playoffs, you’ve got to be called a draft day loser.  Reach with the highest pick you do have, and you become the biggest draft day loser.

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