Friday, 27 June 2014

Some Draft Things

I actually found this year's NHL Entry Draft fairly entertaining. Not that it has to be entertaining, mind you, but this year's was all about the trade that might happen for the first-overall pick. In the end, Florida retained the pick and used it to draft Aaron Ekblad, but Vancouver was busy, Winnipeg still hasn't made a player-for-player deal, and Pittsburgh somehow came away with a great pick despite picking at #22. Here are just a few things I noticed as the first-round selections were being made.
  •  Aaron Ekblad looks like he'll be a star. If he isn't the most-groomed selection at this year's draft, he's certainly got a future in an NHL front office. Ekblad is an eloquent speaker, a thoughtful kid, and he is as humble as they come. Good choice as the top pick in this year's draft.
  • The three men who followed Ekblad - Sam Reinhart to Buffalo, Leon Draisaitl to Edmonton, and Sam Bennett to Calgary - shouldn't surprise anyone. However, I think that Sam Bennett has the best chance to be an everyday player the earliest of those three. Calgary needs help down the middle desperately, and Bennett could find himself in the same situation as Sean Monahan last season.
  • Vancouver's pick of Jake Virtanen seemed odd at first, but he's going to be groomed to be the player who replaces the traded Ryan Kesler. Virtanen probably will play junior hockey again next season, but he's got the tools to be an excellent NHL player once he develops.
  • Toronto selected William Nylander with the eighth-overall pick. I'd like to say that Nylander is going to be the next Mats Sundin for Toronto, but watching his progress this season seems to have him being the next Jonas Hoglund. Toronto will need to let him find his game in North America and let him develop.
  • Somehow, Winnipeg found themselves with Nikolaj Ehlers at the ninth-overall pick, and there's a lot to be excited about with Ehlers. The Danish-born, German-and-Swiss-trained left winger is on the smaller side, but he loves to score. 49 goals and 55 assists in just 63 games in the QMJHL is a great total, and it will do him well to spend another season with Halifax. However, if the Jets wanted talent, they found a whole bunch in Ehlers... even if he is on the smaller side.
  • How the Ducks found themselves with Nick Ritchie at the tenth-overall pick is astounding. I guess big power forwards that can change games are Anaheim's thing. How badly do you think the Senators wanted that pick with the Jason Spezza drama?
  • Dallas grabbed Julius Honka with the fourteenth-overall pick. While Honka is a good defenceman, he reminded me a lot of Ryan Ellis in terms of how he plays. And look how Ellis is doing with Nashville. In saying that, though, there could be an opportunity to be a goof offensive defenceman, but Honka needs to be much stronger to carry the Stars.
  • Philadelphia got themselves a great kid and a solid player at #17 in Travis Sanheim. While most scouts agree he's a solid defensive defenceman, Sanheim could be a player much in the same vein as fellow Manitoban Travis Hamonic. He's not a big as Hamonic, but he is a beast in his own zone. Philly will love this kid.
  • Tampa Bay also did well in their search for more offence from the blue line when they chose Anthony DeAngelo at #19. DeAngelo might have won the OHL scoring race for a defenceman had he not missed some three weeks for uttering a slur at a teammate. While DeAngelo has a bright future if he can find his scoring touch in the NHL, he will need a little mentoring in the "how to talk to people" department. That being said, I think DeAngelo at #19 is a steal for the Lightning.
  • People may look back and wonder how Kasperi Kapanen fell all the way to #22, but the Penguins won't care. Kapanen doesn't have his dad's wheels, but he can finish when given the opportunity. If the Penguins - who dealt James Neal away - are looking for a guy who can slot into the spot Neal vacated alongside Evgeni Malkin, Kapanen has the raw talent to do so. His slight frame of 171 pounds may require some upgrading, though.
  • Vancouver, in using Anaheim's first pick in the draft thanks to the Kesler deal, chose Jared McCann at #24. I like this pick. A lot. McCann fits more of the Kesler mold than Virtanen, and I think these two will compliment each other well. McCann was supposed to go higher based on a number of mock drafts, but Vancouver will reap the benefits as they build around Virtanen and McCann. And they will build well with these types of picks.
  • The Montreal Canadiens opted to select Nikita Scherbak with the 26th-overall pick, and it seems odd that a small team known for its lack of size would opt for a 6'1", 175-pound Russian-born player. Scherbak is more of a playmaker off the wing than he is a crash-and-banger or a go-to-the-net finisher, but Montreal will get a guy who seemingly makes plays like they are second-nature. He may not be big, but he will come up big for Les Canadiens.
  • The New York Islanders, having traded up to get the #28 pick from the Lightning, selected Joshua Ho-Sang with the pick. Ho-Sang is an interesting case. He's immensely talented, and no one will deny he has the talent to be the best player of this year's draft class. But Ho-Sang is a very different person. He's extremely outspoken about the slights against him to the point where a third of NHL teams have him on their DO NOT DRAFT lists. The Islanders, though, chose him because of his incredible talent. Let's hope he uses that to the best of his ability. If he doesn't, we could be drawing comparisons between Ho-Sang and Robbie Schremp. And Islanders fans know all too well about Schremp.
The trades that went down slightly before and on the first day of the NHL Entry Draft left a few people scratching their heads. Honestly, there were some big names who got moved. Let's work through these, and who the winners are based on perception alone.
  • ANAHEIM TRADES NICK BONINO, LUCA SBISA, AND THE 24TH (JARED MCCANN) AND 85TH PICKS IN THE 2015 NHL DRAFT TO VANCOUVER FOR RYAN KESLER AND A 2015 THIRD-ROUND PICK - the strange part is that both Bonino and Sbisa played for the Manitoba Moose while they were the Canucks' AHL affiliate. In any case, there's no denying that Anaheim got the better of the deal with Ryan Kesler going their way, but Bonino was huge for Anaheim the playoffs. Sbisa may always be a five/six defenceman, but the Canucks will win the salary cap battle in this one. Overall? ANAHEIM WINS.
  • VANCOUVER TRADES JASON GARRISON, JEFF COSTELLO, AND A 2015 SEVENTH-ROUND PICK TO TAMPA BAY FOR THE 50TH-OVERALL PICK IN 2014 - Vancouver continued to shed salary, and they upped their total picks on Day Two of the draft. The Lightning get Jason Garrison, who can help their powerplay immensely, and NCAA player Jeff Costello. The big play in this trade was that Vancouver retained none of Garrison's salary as they continue to open up room for free agency. I'd like to say that the Lightning won this trade, but salary cap space is a major factor in today's NHL. VANCOUVER WINS.
  • PITTSBURGH TRADES JAMES NEAL TO NASHVILLE FOR PATRIC HORNQVIST AND NICK SPALING - as much as the Penguins can spin this, trading James Neal was more about ridding themselves of a divisive player on the ice and in the locker room than it was about salary cap relief. There were rumors out of Pittsburgh that Neal had demanded a trade, and Jim Rutherford made that happen. Hornqvist, who has regularly scored 20 goals per season, should fit nicely alongside Malkin if he's to replace Neal. He won't score as often, but he's sound defensively, having never finished lower than -3 in a season. Nick Spaling will be a nice addition to the lower-six forwards that Pittsburgh has. Addition by subtractions means that PITTSBURGH WINS.
  • VANCOUVER TRADES THE 85TH-OVERALL PICK TO THE NY RANGERS FOR DEREK DORSETT - Vancouver swapped the pick received in the Ryan Kesler trade to the NY Rangers for a little more grit. Derek Dorsett comes into Vancouver after having scored eight points while posting 129 PIMs. The Canucks, who have been noted as being "soft", just got a little grittier with this deal. VANCOUVER WINS.
There's a quick rundown of how HBIC saw things happen at the first night of the NHL Entry Draft. Did you like your team's pick? Did any team surprise or disappoint you? Leave a comment below and we can discuss!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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