The NHL Entry Draft is done for another year. I have to say that there were some definite winners and losers this year at the Draft when it comes to my opinion of who selected whom and who was traded where. I looked at the Jordan Staal deal yesterday, but there are some definite highlights of the draft that I want to go over along with a few downturns for some teams. You're welcome to destroy my opinions in the comment section, but I'll try to give you the reasons as to why I said what I said.
- PITTBURGH: Say what you want about the loss of Zbynek Michalek and Jordan Staal, but $15 million in cap space allows you flexibility to add pieces you may have been missing. Adding a tough, gritty, scoring third-line centerman in Brandon Sutter also eases that burden as well. I like that Pittsburgh began restocking their reserve of quality defencemen with their selections of Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta in the first-round of the NHL Entry Draft. Taking the underrated 6'4" Matthew Murray in the third-round could turn out to be an excellent move if the goaltender can make the transition to the professional ranks.
- TORONTO: Toronto did very well by drafting two highly-rated defencemen with their first two picks in Morgan Rielly and Matthew Finn. The only thing that the Leafs have to do now is let them develop. I also like the idea acquiring James van Riemsdyk simply because he is a big kid who can bring a winning attitude to Toronto from Philadelphia. If Toronto is going younger, van Riemsdyk is a good leader in this new generation.
- LOS ANGELES: When you're already the Stanley Cup champions, there aren't really a lot of pieces that can be added to make you better. The drafting of Tanner Pearson at the end of Round One was pure gold. Pearson is a pure goal-scorer and can play physically - something that all teams love. Pearson is probably a year or two away, but Kings fans will love this guy.
- WASHINGTON: They drafted Filip Forsberg as he slid down the draft. They picked up a workhorse in Thomas Wilson five picks later. Oh, and they went and added Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars for next to nothing. In short, Washington added a ton of offensive skill and grit in three moves within the first-round of the NHL Entry Draft. Grabbing Riley Barber at 167th overall? That could be one of the greatest moves ever made by Washington.
- CAROLINA: Not only did they add Jordan Staal to beef up their offence for this season, but the drafting of Phillip Di Giuseppe in Round Two and winger Erik Karlsson in Round Four should help the puck find the back of the net in future seasons.
- COLUMBUS: If they're waiting for the right deal to come along for Rick Nash, it appeared that this weekend was the best time to move him. Although the free agency period could make teams desperate to want to add Nash, I'm thinking GM Scott Howson is asking way too much again. While drafting Ryan Murray is a great selection, drafting the top goaltender from Sweden in Round Two and then Finland in Round Three pretty much guarantees that one of those two will wear another team's colors in the future.
- WINNIPEG: The Jets made a great selection in Jacob Trouba as the ninth-overall pick, but it became a little more troubling to see what the strategy of the Jets was when it came to the rest of their picks as they didn't really add anything significant in terms of scoring or size. Adding Jonas Gustavsson from the Maple Leafs for a conditional 2013 pick was also puzzling. If the rumors of Pavelec jumping to the KHL are true, are Winnipeg fans content to start the season with one of Gustavsson, Chris Mason, or Eddie Pasquale as their starting netminder? Why not take a shot at Cory Schneider?
- NY ISLANDERS: Getting Griffin Reinhart is a huge pickup for a team short on punishing defencemen. Trading for Lubomir Visnovksy from the Ducks made it appear that the Islanders might actually try protecting their goaltender this season. That is, however, until it was announced by Visnovsky that he was thinking about playing in the KHL next season. I like that the Isles drafted seven defencemen to start building their team the right way, but they didn't draft any scoring or goaltender whatsoever. And none of their defencemen, acquired or drafted, will play in the NHL next season. These moves are four to five years from seeing fruition. There's no guarantee this team will even be on Long Island at that time.
- SAN JOSE: I like Tomas Hertl, just not as much as I would have liked Teuvo Teravainen in San Jose. I get that teams occasionally will pick a player because he fits a need on that squad, and Hertl does give San Jose another big, scoring player down the middle. But if San Jose wants to change its fortunes, it should probably look at getting some additional scoring. Gritty play didn't do so well in San Jose this season. Hertl will do well in NoCal, but I think Teravainen would have been a better fit.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!