2020 NHL Draft: Recap

This is weird.  This is always my favourite weekend of the year and was again this year.  The start of the NHL regular season was replaced with the draft and free agency.  Still had MLB playoffs going on, still had football (though not North of the border, only South), and for whatever reason Thanksgiving feels like a lot more chill atmosphere with people in general than most other holidays.  But now, we wait.  Hopefully January 1st, but the truth is that we have no clue.  I have some confidence that we are getting close to the finish line with Covid, but the problem is that the NHL will want to hold off until the last minute in hopes of being able to fill the arenas as much as they possibly can.  It’s not a fun opening to this piece, but it’s reality.  My approach is simple: It’ll be back, so let’s just get pumped for the 2021 season!

As I always say off the top doing this piece…this is for fun.  I’m not the asshole who is going to get on his high horse and suggest that I know all, nobody else knows shit, what I say goes.  Having said that…I also believe that I might have a better POV on things than some who are doing the drafting.  It’s not that I think I’m a better scout than anyone, but I do think the logic in some people and some teams drafting is very flawed.  I often wonder about how seriously teams actually take the draft when I see a kid like Ronan Seeley (who as you’ll see, his fall in this draft hit a nerve with me) fall to the 208th pick, and then to absolutely no shock to me in the slightest that it’s the team that always drafts well, and always drafts the same way that I would, who step up and take him.

But nobody has a crystal ball.  How these players fit with these organizations…unknown.  How these players fit with the teams they’ll play on as they develop…unknown.  How these players stay healthy…unknown.  How these players work on their games…unknown.  You can do all the prep you want, but the truth is that most of it is out of your hands.

With that said, allow me to say a shit ton of things that’ll look stupid over the next few years!

 

Anaheim Ducks

LOVED the Drysdale pick for them.  Most see their D as what it was 3-4 years ago, but in reality, it’s not the strength it was.  They needed someone in the system, and really needed someone for the right side.  They get both and amazing value with Drysdale.  Perreault at 27 was solid value, just surprised me given how they like to build their teams.  Ridly Greig seemed like a slam dunk there but seemed like it in several spots.  The rest of the draft was solid.  Nothing special, but solid throughout.

Grade: B+

 

Arizona Coyotes

They hardly had anything to work with to begin with, but they did nothing in my eyes that maxed out what they had.  This organization is in big trouble in my opinion.

Grade: F

 

Boston Bruins

Much like the Coyotes, didn’t have a lot to work with, but even then I wasn’t a big fan of what they did with those limited picks.  This one could bite me hard in the ass though with how well they draft, but I’m just going off what I see right now.

Grade: F

 

Buffalo Sabres

This grade is much fairer than the last two, as they had the picks to work with.  Given their needs, given the lack of picks they had, given I had hope that they were going to show signs of a corner turned…they looked like the same fuckin Sabres.  People who I have a lot of respect for really liked it for them, and that’s cool.  Those people might be very right, and I’ll look dumb.  That’s fine.  I’m not some thin-skinned fraud who is deleting tweets, advertising to anyone who’ll listen that I bat .1000, terrified for people to see them get it wrong.  In my opinion, Jack Quinn is a disaster of a pick.  The combination of this type of player rarely meeting expectations, and the true needs of this organization, it’s a disaster and I’ll be stunned if it works.  Yet…I hope I’m wrong and I hope it works because that fan base deserves so much better.  Then the Peterka pick was good value, but they traded up to do it when they were already short on picks.  And they pick a winger, when they have question marks throughout the organization down the middle, on the blueline, and between the pipes.  You know, the IMPORTANT positions.  Massively disappointing.  Hope for the sake of their fans I’m proven very wrong.

Grade: F

 

Calgary Flames

I often like and agree with what Brad Treliving does.  I know I’m supposed to hate on the Flames, but I don’t.  I do when they have a douchey team that’s going nowhere, but that’s not because I’m an Oilers fan, that’s because I’m a hockey fan.  But I’m a Tree fan, and he handled the 1st round right moving back.  Where I fear he got it wrong was taking Connor Zary given who was on the board.  But it’s not as though it was bad value.  Then, I loved where they took the shot on Poirier.  Not at all a fan of the kids game, but at 72 he’s worth the risk.  The rest was…ok, but felt he could have done much better.

Grade: B

 

Carolina Hurricanes

Completely broke my heart at 13.  Wow, like…you talk about soul-crushing…Jarvis was MY GUY for the Oilers, even more so than Askarov.  And the Oilers were sitting at 14, the very next pick…and they got “Tulsky-ed”.  June 21st, 2006 all over again (not at all, but I nearly shed a tear both times).  But it wasn’t just Jarvis.  Gunler, Ponomaryov, Nybeck, Pashin, Seeley, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!  What a fucking haul!  This front office is just flat out doing everything right.  With their cap, with their trades, with their drafting, they’re among the elite organizations in the NHL right now.  I refuse to give any of that credit to Don Waddell…

Grade: A+

 

Chicago Blackhawks

Felt as though after they took Reichel (who was one of the four I had exact from my mock, only one after the top three), that they went in a different direction than what they’ve been doing.  That doesn’t mean it was bad, it was just surprising as the last few drafts they’ve gone HEAVY on playmaking skill.  We’ll see.

Grade: B-

 

Colorado Avalanche

Surprising.  That’s the only word I can think of.  Barron at 25, when they already have the blueline they have was a surprise.  But I really wonder if the mindset here wasn’t “let’s just take the kid we believe will have the highest value in a year or so given that we will need trade bait more than anyone who’ll fit in”.  Because this organization’s window is now open.  I liked Foudy for them where they got him, and wasn’t a big fan of the rest but it was fine.  Draft grade won’t look great, but I’m fully cognizant of how dumb this could look given how well they’re run.

Grade: C

 

Columbus Blue Jackets

The joke on the podcast was that his name is Chinakhov and when you play the clip of Chappelle saying “China Club” it sounds similar.  A lot of questions about that, hope that clears it up!  Anyway, you trade back in that scenario.  And you especially trade back when you lack picks.  If someone else takes him, whatever.  But this is chess, not checkers.  Value matters (or at least it should and does to the smart organizations), and the odds of someone else taking Chinakhov THAT high, or anywhere in the next 10 picks were slim to none.  Trade the fuck back.  Even if it only nets you a 4th round pick, at least you added an asset.  Hope for Kekäläinen’s sake it is a grand slam, otherwise, he’ll never live it down.  The rest was nothing special.  Embarrassing for the Jackets in my opinion.  This felt like an organization who might be “feeling themselves” a little too much thanks to a surprising season and having just got one over on Marc Bergevin and the Canadiens.  “Watch us be the smartest guys in the room”.  The guys who think they’re the smartest in the room, are never the smartest in the room, just have the biggest ego in the room.

Grade: F

 

Dallas Stars

With what they had to work with, and just with their top two picks, I was a big fan.  Bourque is a safe pick who is pretty similar to a kid like Cole Perfetti.  Very high IQ, not the best skater, not the best size, but can dish it and can rip it.  The Stars badly needed someone like that in their system, and then went for BIG upside with the next pick which wasn’t until 123rd, Antonio Stranges.  A lot like Josh Ho-Sang in my opinion, but from all accounts has nowhere near the baggage.  The rest was solid, nothing I got too excited about.

Grade: B

 

Detroit Red Wings

A mixed bag is the best way to put it.  I love Raymond, and he’s going to put up big numbers.  This team needs more foundational pieces right now, and I feel as though they passed on that.  The Raymond pick in my opinion will always be seen by fans and media as a home run given the production I expect out of him, but someone like Drysdale, Rossi, Askarov, or Sanderson would have been where I’d have gone.  REALLY liked the Wallinder pick for them though at 32.  In fact, the rest of their draft I basically loved!  So like I say, a very mixed bag.  Long term it’ll look very good in my opinion, but I can’t shake the feeling that they missed the boat at 4 even though it’ll look great.

Grade: B+

 

Florida Panthers

Excellent stuff here.  In fact, one of my favourite drafts.  I got away from loving Lundell for a while, but frankly put, the playoffs reminded me of how much those players matter, and players who are known more for their pro game and IQ than their skill are much safer picks.  Even if Lundell is a tough minutes 3C, that’s a massive piece for an organization.  Emil Heineman at 43 was right in the range where I had him and I really believe that kid will play.  Might only be a top nine winger, but he’ll play.  Smilanic, Sourdif, Benning and Puutio were all great value and each player has a lot of developable traits.  Took a tendy with their last pick too.  Can I tell you much on Devon Levi?  No.  But what I can tell you is that he’s just big enough, and he put up unbelievable numbers for Carleton Place in the CCHL last season.  A .941 Sv% in 37 games.  In the 7th round of the draft, I’d say that’s a good bet to make.  Great debut for Bill Zito as GM…even though it wasn’t any of his guys who were making the picks…

Grade: A

 

LA Kings

Another draft I was a pretty big fan of.  I feel like they did the right thing at 2 even though you couldn’t really go wrong.  LOVED the Grans pick for them at 35.  Both Detroit and LA taking Wallinder and Grans, I think that is so perfect.  Teams that I view as still years away, and teams that will take their time with talents like that…could be grand slam type picks down the road.  The rest of the draft was just solid.  I like everyone else thought they got unreal value with Chromiak at 128.  Good day for Kings fans.  They’re doing it right.

Grade: B+

 

Minnesota Wild

This felt to me like everything basically fell their way.  Rossi at 9 was a gift.  Specifically, a gift from the Buffalo Sabres.  To the point where I feel as though perhaps part of the Staal/Johasson deal was actually a flip of 8 and 9 given that Minny got fleeced, and then Buffalo made such a bad pick in my mind given their needs and that Rossi was there for them.  But that’s the conspiracy theorist in me.  Rossi is PERFECT for the Wild given their need down the middle.  Then at 37 they get one of my BOYS with Marat Bustanutdinov…sorry…Khusnutdinov.  He’s very similar to Rossi, and both guys are similar to Sebastian Aho and Brayden Point.  Liked O’Rourke at 39, hated Hunt at 65 though I knew someone was doing that as he was in my mind the most overrated prospect in this draft, but then got more great value with Novak at 146.  Home run.  As my buddy Neil pointed out (who is a massive Canucks fan), Judd Bracket knows how to draft and it showed again.

Grade: A

 

Montreal Canadiens

Another guy who knows how to draft (though maybe a bit overrated by the media) is Trevor Timmins and while I don’t like the Habs GM these days, they draft pretty well and did so again in 2020.  Guhle surprised me given how deep they are in the organization on the left side of the D, but he was my top-ranked player on the board at that time and if developed properly could be a home run of a pick.  Tuch, Mysak, Biondi, they took a lot of guys I was ok with but didn’t love.  Some good value, some not, but at the end of the day, it’s a solid list.

Grade: B+

 

Nashville Predators

Their top two picks were grand slams.  I don’t know if they’ll turn out that way obviously, but I absolutely LOVED Askarov and Evangelista.  But then…Luke Prokop at 73.  I watched over the WHL like a hawk this season, and I had trouble with Prokop in my top 25 (mind you, that ended up being all of the West, not just the dub).  I never saw the draw with him.  Ok skater for someone so big, but don’t think he’s anything (could be very wrong, as with all these kids).  It felt to me like that pick kicked off the rest of the draft for them with making questionable decisions.  Not usually what I say about the Preds drafting.  Still, I put much more weight into the early picks than the late ones.

Grade: B+

 

New Jersey Devils

Well…I absolutely hated the Holtz pick first and foremost.  I tried to drill into everyone I could that history shows snipers don’t pan out in the 1st round, and even before I had done that piece looking back at them, I never have liked taking snipers with a high pick as they don’t move the needle for a hockey club.  Teams picking high in the draft are mostly needing to rebuild.  They call it a rebuild for a reason.  It’s essentially a house.  Teams that pick snipers far too high are putting their money into a sweet man cave when they can’t afford a roof.  Now, I will say that some foundational pieces were gone, and some that were there maybe didn’t fit what they viewed as their needs.  But having said that, this was one of the worst picks in the draft in my opinion.  They did ok with Mercer, and then pissed away another at 20 with Mukhamadullin.  As for the rest of the draft, wasn’t a huge fan of it.  Some things I didn’t mind like Edwards where they got him, but for the most part I feel as though the Devils REALLY fucked up this draft.  I hope for the sake of their fans that this is a case of the old amateur scouting staff not having been overturned yet.

Grade: D-

 

NY Islanders

Not much to work with, and what they did I wasn’t a big fan of.  I’d be lying if I said I knew a ton about all their guys.  I know some of them, we’ll see.  But for now…

Grade: F

 

NY Rangers

We all know 1st overall.  I was stunned they traded up for Schneider.  Nothing of a bad pick at 19, I just thought for sure it would be Lapierre.  They did fine.  I like the home run swing on Cuylle at 60.  I think that was more circumstances last year then him being shit.  Too many tools to succeed in my mind.

Grade: B

 

Ottawa Senators

I didn’t hate their 2nd day as much as most did, but no doubt it felt like they’d do a much better job than they did.  LOVED day one for them though!  Stud centre, stud D-man, character kid with skill at 28, figured they’d be big fans of Kleven to pair with their puck movers on the blueline.  Tough to flat out hate their draft, but given what they should have done vs what they did, tough to give them a grade that says they knocked it out of the park.

Grade: B

 

Philadelphia Flyers

I really like Tyson Foerester when I’ve watched him play, but I just don’t see it.  Skating is bad, production 5 on 5 wasn’t great, I wouldn’t have gone there.  The rest of the draft was fine, obviously you know if you read my stuff this season that I feel as though Connor McClennon was a heist where they got him, but it isn’t as though he doesn’t have a massive uphill climb.

Grade: C

 

Pittsburgh Penguins

Not much to work with, but didn’t like what they did with what they had.  I worry about the years to come with this organization.  Could be several dark years in the post Sid/Geno era.

Grade: F

 

San Jose Sharks

In the context of what they had to play with, I feel as though they absolutely CRUSHED it!  Great job by the Sharks staff who haven’t been the best in recent years, but definitely had a good couple of days here.

Grade: A

 

St. Louis Blues

I don’t mind the Neighbours pick, but I’m here to tell you right now that this kid isn’t Brendan Morrow as they were apparently telling people.  He’s much more likely to be Ethan Moreau than Brendan Morrow, and I’m not sure that’s fair either as Ethan had one hell of a motor just like Brendan.  Potential is there, but I’m not sure a guy with a questionable motor is all of a sudden going to turn into the wrecking ball that Brendan Morrow was.  As for the rest, again, just a draft that I didn’t personally love.  But I said the same for them in 2012 when they took some Parayko kid out of Fort Mac who I didn’t think was anything special…

Grade: D

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

Sometimes it’s not so much where you get picked, but who picks you that tells the story.  I felt relieved that the kid I had 27th on my board was eventually picked by Carolina, a team that knows what the fuck they’re doing.  All year with Jack Finley, I couldn’t figure out what I was missing that other people claimed to see.  And then with their first pick, it’s the Lightning who take him, and all of a sudden I’m sticking my chest out a little further.  I think he’s Jordan Staal, and if any team is going to get that out of him, it’s Tampa…the team that doesn’t draft size…isn’t that right, media narrative?!…Wasn’t just that pick though, I really liked what they did overall.  I normally do.

Grade: B+

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

So, I don’t hate their approach to the draft like some.  I think they do a tremendous job.  Just pick the skill, and coach it up is a simple and effective philosophy.  And I was one of the people screaming that they weren’t taking Braden Schneider because this is the draft, not the big club.  Having said all this…Amirov…it isn’t a bad pick.  He has ridiculous skill.  BUT…that’s all he has, and that’s all they have.  There is not one other element in this organization.  Pure skill.  There isn’t much greasiness, isn’t much defensive play, isn’t all that much size, isn’t all that much speed, isn’t much physicality.  It’s JUST skill.  If they had stepped up and taken Ridly Greig at 15 who is a tough player to play against, tough type of player to find, AND has good skill, that would have shown me something.  But I’m losing faith in Dubas being able to figure this out.  Nothing wrong with the approach in general, and I’m not big on the whole “rah-rah will over skill, they don’t have the heart” bull shit.  But for fuck sakes Kyle, you aren’t winning shit being THIS one dimensional of a team.  Having said all this, I still love the draft approach and feel they’ll get three or four players or at least valuable assets out of this crop.

Grade: A

 

Vancouver Canucks

Hardly anything to work with, but Jurmo was pretty good to land at 82, and I am floored that Viktor Perrson lasted until the 7th round.  I don’t know what the big issue was for scouts with him, all I know is I love the skating, puck-moving, and size.  There is A LOT to work with there.  Solid draft given they didn’t have many picks.

Grade: C+

 

Vegas Golden Knights

Simply put, wasn’t a big fan.  I feel as though this organization is going to begin getting exposed a bit in the coming years.  I don’t believe they’re the brilliant organization the media makes them out to be.  Pretty easy to be brilliant when the league sets them up like they did.  “Look at all the moves they make!”  Sure…look at all the assets they were given.  I don’t think they’re shit, George McPhee specifically did an amazing job in Washington until his owner made him do one awful move at the end of his tenure.  Just that they aren’t some revelation either.

Grade: D

 

Washington Capitals

Pretty stunned that they were the ones that stepped up to get Lapierre.  I just think that kids going to be a home run of a pick.  Shit year, pretty clearly due to injuries, he’ll bounce back strong.  The rest was solid, nothing spectacular.

Grade: B

 

Winnipeg Jets

Only had four picks, but made the most of them.  I’m a little surprised that they went with Perfetti over the home town kid Seth Jarvis.  I and most others saw them as pretty similar prospects.  I like Jarvis skating much better though, so despite the points being in favour of Perfetti, I personally would be taking Jarvis.  But it isn’t as though I think Perfetti will be shit.  This might pave the way for a Nik Ehlers trade at some point.  And then Torgersson at 40…he’s just simply put their kind of player.  Big, fast, great on the wall, responsible in his own zone, zero shock that’s who they took.  Only two other picks, they were fine.

Grade: B+

 

Edmonton Oilers

I did this last year and I’m going to do it again.  My list vs what the Oilers did.  It’s not to be critical, I just think it’s fun to look at it.

14 – Lucas Reichel (I had Lapierre higher, but for the Oilers specifically I felt by the time the dust settled at 14 that Reichel was the best player for them to take…though I badly wanted and kept bringing up Ridly Greig)

76 – Ronan Seeley (27th…ends up going 208th to the team that does it better than anyone else right now)

138 – Viktor Persson (28th)

169 – Connor McClennon (54th)

200 – Kyle Crnkovic (NR…Crnkovic had I done another Western prospects rankings would have jumped up.  The closer I watched him, the fewer concerns I had about the skating.  Not sure if he can make it, but I feel as though he’ll put up numbers in the WHL over the next two seasons that will at least create a buzz around him similar to Flames prospect Matthew Phillips)

And the other thing here is that I’m fully aware that is mostly Western kids…that’s just legitimately how it fell.  The one thing that I simply can’t stand these days is the mindset of so many organizations past the 4th round who believe you take the kid who has more development time over the better prospects.  I’m not passing on good CHL players because a lesser talent doesn’t need to be signed for four years rather than in two.  Take the best player and figure it the fuck out.  I was a MASSIVE Ethan Edwards fan going into this draft.  Loved the idea of grabbing him late.  Edwards went at 120 to New Jersey, well ahead of Ronan Seeley.  Apologies to Edwards and his family if they read this, it isn’t a shot at him in the slightest (I was pumping his tires all season), but not a chance in hell should Edwards have gone ahead of Seeley.  Just by no measure whatsoever.  Yet, teams start looking for the kids with extra development time.  It’s fucked logic.  I understand it if you’re splitting hairs, but teams simply start ignoring CHL talent.  One of those teams appears to be the Edmonton Oilers who now have not taken a CHL kid past the 5th round since 2014.  I don’t agree with that method at all.  Rank them and stick with it.  You see the absolute mysteries some of the kids they’ve taken late in the last two seasons are…sure, they might know something we don’t.  But as I said earlier about the Blue Jackets, the people who often think they’re going to outsmart the room…don’t.

Anyway…now that the dust has settled and I’ve given it some good thought…even though I’m not a big fan of the pick for the Oilers, I get it.  And not just that I get it, but I am excited about it even though I still would have gone with three or four other options which I felt fit better.

They have a vision of what they want their team.  They want a team that is lightning fast, big, and high character.  And really…what’s wrong with any of that?  That’s what wins, and I don’t mean to sound like a “hockey man” when I say that, but it’s true.  Those are foundational pieces.  Even if Holloway is only a top-nine guy, he’ll be a top-nine guy who is pivotal.  Think of Sam Bennett and what he’s becoming for the Flames.  Sure, they’d like a do-over with that 4th pick in 2014, but Bennett has become a core piece for them as a top-nine guy who will likely wear a letter for that team at some point, maybe even the “C”.

But the other day I started thinking of guys Holloway could realistically become.  Not saying he will be any of these guys, but he has many of the same attributes as these players:

Mark Stone – One of the best-case scenario’s without a doubt, and by no means am suggesting this will happen.  Stone’s calling card was great hands, and that’s not it for Holloway.  But what is actually great about Stone is how he’s such a complete player.  One of the best wingers in the game thanks to the 200-foot game and willingness to do everything right.

Jakub Silfverberg – Maybe not at this point in Silfverberg’s career, but another guy who does all the right things (likely not a coincidence that he like Stone was also drafted and developed by the Senators).  Similar size and Holloway has better speed.  Silfverberg has never been known for high-end skill, just great production.

Loui Eriksson (circa 2008, not 2020) – See Silfverberg, but with better wheels.  Holloway plays more of a power game with less vision than Eriksson had in his time with the Stars, but a lot of the same attributes.

Jake Debrusk – Debrusk isn’t a highly skilled kid, he just plays the right way.  Holloway is bigger and faster but possesses the same type of work ethic and fearlessness going to the dirty areas as Debrusk.

Kyle Palmeri – Holloway more of a power game as he’s built like a tank.  But in terms of having that tremendous speed and very good two-way game, Holloway could absolutely be that level of player with a similar style.

Dustin Brown – He’s not going to be THAT physical, but Holloway is willing to throw his weight around and can be a very similar player to Brown.  On draft day 2003, Brown was known to have a better shot than Holloway currently does, but one of Holloway’s more underrated attributes is his shot.  Overlooked because he doesn’t look to just be a sniper, but he can rip it.

Brandon Saad – REALLY similar, to the point that I heavily considered having Saad as the comp on my final ranking.  Speed, size, two-way game, complete player.  Side note with Saad, loved that move by the Avs.  He’s overpaid, but given the Hawks ate a million and they shed Zadorov in the deal, felt like a huge win for the Avs who are the favourites in the West this year and in the years to come.

Chris Kreider – This was the comp that I went with for a long time, but ended up moving away from it last minute.  Still, a ton of similarities.  I’m not sure Holloway has the skill Kreider has flashed over his career, but a power game blended with nice size and tremendous speed is what I was thinking at the time and that is definitely the case.  Holloway is likely going to be a more consistent player.

Viktor Arvidsson – Obviously, Holloway has much better size.  But if you’re just looking purely at the type of game Arvidsson plays, it is without a doubt attainable for Holloway to reach that level and play that same style.

Alex Tuch – One of the hottest names around the league with fans from the standpoint of “might Vegas have to dump him for cheap?!?!”  Tuch is bigger, but the speed, size, and ability/willingness to take the puck hard to the net is very similar.

Now…that’s just the wingers who come to mind.  I’ve gone back and forth on it all season as to whether Holloway was a winger or a centre.  IF he’s a centre though, you’re looking at a lot of good possibilities too.  He said he tries to pattern his game after Jonathan Toews, and you can really see that.  Pipe dream that he gets to that level, but obviously that is music to any organization’s ears that he not only wants to play that way, but you can really see it when he plays.  Again though, that’s a pipe dream.  So I started looking at others who are Toews “like”, and it’s not nothing.

Shawn Horcoff – One of the most underrated Oilers of all-time who used decent size and great wheels to will himself into being one of the best two-way centres in the league before a shoulder injury really ruined his prime.  But from 06-08, Shawn Horcoff was an extremely valuable player.  Holloway not only has a similar game to Horc, he not only has a similar skill set to Horc, but he (from afar) also seems to have a very similar make-up to Horc.

Brayden Schenn – My comp for Ridly Greig.  One of the reasons I’m softening on the idea of Holloway is that if you like Greig, then you should like Holloway.  Holloway has better size and speed, Greig is a little more greasy, similar offensive upside.  Holloway is a much better skater than Schenn, no doubt.  But, there is a LOT in Holloway’s game that is just like Schenn.  Also, Schenn is someone who has bounced back and forth from centre to the wing and has looked better suited for both roles at various times in his career.

Bo Horvat – Same idea as Schenn.  Very similar game, but Holloway has tremendous wheels while Horvat has had to work on his skating.  But if you’re talking about the guys with “heart” and who are “clutch”, Horvat’s scouting report in 2013 had a lot of the same things in it that Holloway’s did.  Horvat got non stop “Patrice Bergeron” comps because he was “clutch” and had a complete game, but nobody was suggesting that Horvat possessed high-end skill.  Nobody is suggesting that with Holloway either.

Dylan Larkin – This was the comp I originally had on Holloway.  In 2014, I never understood why Larkin wasn’t getting top 10 hype, and even believed that the Ducks would take him at 10 in that draft (should have).  Larkin isn’t the player he looked like he might become a few years ago, but we’re still talking about a high-end 2C who can fly and does a lot of his damage by simply doing all the right things on the ice.

Philip Danault – One of Marc Bergevin’s best moves (and yes Habs fans, just because I believe he’s a bad GM who is getting worse, I have liked some of the stuff Bergevin has done at times).  Danault has emerged as a damn good two-way centre, and as is the case with all these guys, he like Holloway doesn’t have big skill.  He does it by doing everything right and playing a very responsible, very “pro” game.

Roope Hintz – The comp I settled on.  A year ago, if someone were to tell you “with the Oilers 1st round pick, they’re going to take someone who is a lot like Roope Hintz”, you’d be losing your skull.  Hintz emerged as a 2C thanks to bringing the exact same game that Holloway is capable of.  Similar powerful skating, similar size/build, similar fearlessness to play in traffic.

Tyler Bozak – This won’t excite anyone, but I’ve always been much more of a Bozak fan than most.  Bozak in his prime was a very good 2C (though he was the top guy for a Leafs team that was weak down the middle), and he hasn’t dipped too far below that level since moving onto the Blues.  Speed, responsible, he’s never going to wow anyone with his skill but he’s going to do everything right and his coach will be comfortable putting him in any situation at any time.

Derek Stepan – Basically, the exact same idea as Horcoff and Bozak.

Erik Haula – Holloway is much bigger than Haula, but again, the same idea.  A guy who does it with tremendous speed and a willingness to go to the dirty areas on the ice.

Logan Couture – Best for last?  Like Stone, this is the best-case scenario.  But Couture (like all these guys), isn’t someone who does it on skill.  Couture has great speed, ok size, and a ridiculous motor.  In fact, we probably don’t give Couture enough credit for the motor he’s had throughout his career.  I feel as though his career gets underrated because for a large portion of it he was so overrated by the media.  The key to Couture is that enormous chip on his shoulder he seems to have.  Makes him unbearable for anyone who isn’t a Sharks fan, but any fan base would kill to have a guy like that.  Holloway has a lot of the same traits…we’ll see if he can also develop that “Jordan-Esq” killer instinct that Couture developed.  Very unlikely…but possible.

I could have likely said even more players than this, but the point here is pretty simple.  Holloway has all the tools to be a cornerstone piece who his coaches love and is very difficult to find.  While I wasn’t super high on him for the Oilers, I get it.

So I’m on board.  It doesn’t mean I now love the pick.  But it’s done, and they have a great prospect on their hands.

As for the rest…

If you’ve followed my stuff this season, you know I loved the pick of Carter Savoie at 100.  Amazing value there, and while his flaws are certainly things that should concern people, I just have a feeling with this kid that he’ll be the guy who proves people wrong rather than wilts as the competition gets stiffer.  When I saw Savoie last season, I saw a guy who plays with an ego, plays up and down to his competition, and a guy who doesn’t like to get his nose dirty but when challenged he is more than willing to do so.  He’s not all that far off what Alexander Holtz is, and I’m serious about that.  Holtz plays with more energy, and obviously played against stiffer competition last season.  But if you’ve read my stuff (especially leading up to this draft in particular), you know I’m terrified to take a sniper high in the draft.  At 100, it’s cool.

It’s also cool to do so at 126, which is what they did with Ty Tullio who while I didn’t have in the top 64, he JUST missed and was heavily considered for it.  The concern with Tullio was that he lived off Nashville’s 2019 1st rounder Philip Tomasino a lot after Tomasino was dealt to Oshawa last season.  But at 126, he’s extremely similar to Savoie.  Skating concerns, not the biggest player, but can rip it.  And unlike Savoie, he is more consistent with the energy he brings and the willingness to go to the dirty areas.  Loved this pick as well.

I won’t BS anyone with the final three picks, I don’t know much other than this organization won’t take CHL kids past the 4th/5th round due to extra development time prior to needing to sign these kids.  I don’t agree with that philosophy AT ALL, but it’s what they do.  From everything I can find on who they took:

Maxim Berezkin – Big upside with size and skill, but has a long ways to go with his skating.

Filip Engarås – An older prospect who has had injury issues derail his development.  Hearing his media availability he definitely won me over a bit like Tomas Mazura did last season, so I do understand how they’d be drawn to the kid, but we’ll see.  A lot of things to like, but one drawback I’ve read/heard is that (like Berezkin) he’s not the best skater.

Jeremias Lindewall – This is actually the pick out of the final three that has me a bit excited, though not over the value they would have gotten (I’ll get into that after).   From what I can find on Lindewall, this is a kid who loves to play a heavy game, but also has the wheels to keep up.  Good size, zero flash, just sounds to me like possibly a potential Patric Hornqvist (and yes, some of that thought is where he was drafted and where he’s from).

Now, my big issue with the Lindewall pick is who was still on the board.  And look, I will say it endlessly, I’m not a scout, and while I feel I do a better job actually putting the thought into where these guys should be ranked, I don’t know what most of these guys do.  But…I’m watching Ronan Seeley fall to the 7th round, and my jaw is on the floor.  I’m sitting there watching that, texting buddies about how he is going to be a 1st round pick in the 21 draft…he’s that good and he’s getting passed on due to seemingly nobody knowing how good he is.  In no way at all is Daemon Hunt (taken 65th by Minny) a better prospect than Seeley.  Seeley is either better in every aspect, or he’s similar.  So much more offensive upside, the skating between the two isn’t anywhere close, same with the ability to move the puck, Hunt had his season cut very short due to a wrist injury (bad choice of words there as his wrist was literally cut in a game in Red Deer), but when playing he had one…ONE primary ES assist on the season.  No goals.  All the PP time for the Warriors when he was playing.  No goals.  15 assists, I believe 13 were on the PP and two of the three ES were on empty-net goals.  Maybe Hunt as a kid is of the highest character and his work ethic is legendary where Seeley might have major character issues.  Could be.  Haven’t heard that with either, but it’s the only thing that makes any sense to me.  Oilers should have taken Seeley at 200 and ran.  What makes me feel stronger about Seeley however is that the team that eventually did take him were the Carolina Hurricanes, who have knocked it out of the freaking park with their drafting now for several seasons.

All things considered, it was ok.  It wasn’t what I would have liked, but I need to get over this thing where I expect them to draft exactly as I would, and if they don’t then it’s dumb.  Goes without saying, but the organization, Holland, and Wright have a ways to go before they re-gain this fan’s trust.  But it was ok, and for me, the best part of it all was moving back from 76 to 100 and gaining 126.  Not only turning one pick into two but then what they did with those two picks.  No doubt that both were high on the list at 76, so move back and get a couple of guys who you like.  From the outside looking in when that pick was up, it was clear to me that most teams were looking to take their home run swings on players rather than making rationale picks (like Savoie and Tullio were).  So that part was brilliant in my opinion.

Grade: B

Not GREAT, but solid.

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