Another NHL entry draft has come and gone. I’m without a doubt been going through with drawl this weekend after Friday night and Saturday morning. It’s the geek in me, I’m a total draft geek. And the league does a pretty good job with it having all the teams in the same building, on the same floor. The other three leagues have war rooms in their own arenas/offices/stadiums. But you can see what’s going on with every NHL team. No need for the hidden “war room” camera’s for the NHL, they have camera’s on all 30 “war rooms”.
So I do some kind of review piece every year. This will mark the 5th time I’ve done it, which would make this a good time to look back at the first two I did and laugh at how wrong I was.
Actually, I do get a few right. Like this one, raving about the draft the Jets had in 2012.
“I won’t pretend to know anything about 5th round pick Connor Hellebuyck, but I’m a big believer in taking a goaltender late in every draft because you don’t know how goaltenders will pan out”
Apparently that year I loved kids I didn’t know anything about.
“Don’t know anything about Esa Lindell in the 3rd round but again addressing their lack of depth on the blueline with a 6’3 Fin that has yet to fill out.”
But oh don’t you worry, I’ve made an ass of myself a lot.
“St.Louis – I don’t know what their strategy was for this draft but it seemed to be “let’s take as many projects and off the board picks as possible”. What were they trying to accomplish? It’s just my opinion but Schmaltz was pretty off the board at 25, then something called a Samuel Kurker was taken with their 2nd round pick, MacKenzie MaCeachern and Colten Parayko in the 3rd. Kurker and MaCheachern both played on high school teams this season, Parayko is out of the AJHL.”
I still don’t know what a Samuel Kurker is, and Schmaltz hasn’t set the world on fire even though he’s knocking at the door for the Blues. But I’d say they made up for it all taking that nobody out of the AJ….
The next year I was a little critical of the Jets pick.
“Then we have the Jets and while I don’t know if I personally would have picked Josh Morrissey over Zadorov”
It got worse.
“Toronto had a great day simply by getting a big center at 21 that I felt they have really needed. I’m a bigger fan of Gauthier than most, but I think a lot of people felt they filled a pretty big need with that pick. And then using some of their picks to bring in Dave Bolland was great. I’m a HUGE Dave Bolland guy and believe he is a perfect fit in Toronto.”
So before I completely shatter my confidence, I’ll quit that and start on the likes and dislikes from this 2016 draft. But know that I do these pieces for fun. To do what I just did, look back on them and laugh. Because I believe we need 7-10 years to know what came out of a draft, and even then it’s not clear. But let’s get this thing started with my likes.
Arizona – So far, so good for boy wonder John Chayka. Maybe they reached on Clayton Keller in my eyes, I had him 14th, but I get it. Like I said in my last write up about him, if he can play the middle in the pro’s, I’ll look like a moron. But that’s not why I really liked what they did. I liked what they did because they pounced on the Wings at 16 to move up and grab my guy Jakob Chychrun (how about me calling his fall? Most figured he would, but I said 17 which was lower than most, my arm hurts from patting my back). I think he’s going to prove a lot of people VERY wrong. Then, they still needed to load up on D-men and they did that when they took Cam Dineen at 68. Great value there, and for a kid who needs to learn to play in his own zone he couldn’t be going to a much better organization. Would Jost, Chychrun and Dineen look a lot better than this? In my opinion yes. But Keller, Chychrun and Dineen is pretty damn good.
Calgary – I’m not trying to be a homer for Alberta. But the Flames are crushing it with Brad Treliving running the show. I used to love destroying Jay Feaster, but I have nothing but praise thus far for Treliving. Tkachuk falling to them scares me as an Oiler fan. He just couldn’t be anymore of a perfect fit for this club. Needed size and bite up front, and you never want to sacrifice skill to add that and you don’t with Tkachuk. Then I personally liked the Tyler Parsons pick even though some felt 54 was early for him, and Dillon Dube at 56 is similar to Tkachuk in what he brings (though a lot smaller). I preferred Adam Fox to Niemelainen at 63 for the Oilers, and the Flames snagged him at 66. Mitch Mattson is a project centre who a lot of people liked at 126, and I’ve seen a lot of people loving the value Matt Phillips in the 6th round. He’s a tiny kid (5’6, 137 lbs…yep…137) but he’s a PPG player in the WHL, and while I consider myself a “sizest”, I’m envious as an Oilers fan the Flames were able to snatch this kid where they did. Also, you have to at least mention the Brian Elliott deal. I do question goaltenders who thrive in a Ken Hitchcock system, but for the price (the 35th pick, Blues took Jordan Kyrou) he is well worth that risk.
Columbus – No, this isn’t because them taking Pierre-Luc Dubois allowed the Oilers to get their filthy little mitts on Puljujarvi. This is simply because Jarmo Kekelainen had the balls to acknowledge that he needed to take the centre and he did. Dubois was 3rd on the list for me, nobody else and I’ll stand by that. He needs another season in Cape Breton, but he has all the tools to be a Ryan Getzlaf type. Jesse Puljujarvi might put up better stats, but Dubois will be the better player. And the Jackets needed to do this. They left a gaping hole when they traded away Ryan Johansen. You can’t go far in the NHL without a legit 1st line centre, and the way Dubois played in the second half while playing the middle, I believe he’ll become that. I didn’t love the rest of their draft, other than Vitali Abramov at 65 was a steal in my mind. But this is based off the Dubois pick. Most think it was insane, I think it was correct.
Detroit – Ken Holland, welcome back!!! I crushed the Wings last year for what they did in the draft. I hated the Svechnikov pick for them last year, wasn’t a fan of Vili Saarijarvi though he did have a good season this year, and just felt like they completely dropped the ball. In the previous four drafts, the Wings took a total of one defenceman….ONE…in the top 100. Ken Holland has completely ignored his blueline as it has deteriorated both in the system and on the big club. But this year, Holland did great in my mind. Four of their top five picks were defencemen. While I would have been high on them taking Chychrun or Fabbro at 16, moving back only four spots to both ditch the Datsyuk contract and add the 53rd pick was tremendous. Dennis Cholowski’s only knock was the league he played in this season. Givani Smith was a personal favourite of mine as I believe he has a chance to emerge the same way that Milan Lucic did in 2006 (who went 50th, Smith went 46th). Filip Hronek was a kid I didn’t know about until about a month to go in the process and I liked what I read, and really like that he’s a RH shot. RH shot guy in Jordan Sambrook was snagged with the 137th pick and Erie coach Kris Knoblauch told Oilers colour analyst Bob Stauffer that his numbers were a product of limited ice time this season. Knoblauch thinks Sambrook is going to be a steal. Finally, the Wings did what I love…took a goaltender late. I know nothing about Filip Larsson, but the Wings thrive with Swedish kids, and it’s never a bad move to take a swing on a netminder in rounds 3-7.
Edmonton – Again, not to be a homer here. But the Oilers got a lot of it right. Puljujarvi was a gift from the hockey gods at 4. Not one that shocked me, I personally had that same order in my 3rd mock draft and maintained throughout that Columbus should walk out with a centre in the draft. But then at 32, Tyler Benson is well worth the gamble. And yes he had an injury plagued season, but we aren’t talking about reoccurring injuries like having constant knee or back problems. Big thing is that he cleans up his skating. If he improve his first step and/or add another gear, it’ll be massive for him. Then Markus Niemelainen at 63 was amazing value. I’m not a big fan, I would have taken Will Bitten (BPA in my eyes) or Adam Fox if you’re going positional need, but it was still great value. They also did my favourite draft move when they took a goaltender Dylan Wells in the 5th. I only knew Wells was a goaltender in this draft, nothing else. But the OHL scouts I follow on Twitter were RAVING about this kid. Has the talent to play, just needs to clean things up technically. And to cap it off, sounded like a great kid in his interview on CHED following the pick. Finally, I knew nothing of George McPhee’s kid Graham, but Corey Pronman from ESPN raved about the pick. Says he’s inconsistent, but has the skill to play in the league someday. I really wanted them to take undersized D-man David Quennville with their final pick. RH shot who looked great at the U18’s, and this organization lacks RH shot D and puckmoving D, so that’s disappointing. But still, great draft for the Oil, just like 2015 appears to have been. It’s almost as if Peter Chiarelli knows what he’s doing…
Montreal – I really liked the Sergachev pick at 9. I personally would have gone with Tyson Jost, I think Jost is going to be a star, but Sergachev will likely be a star too, and it’s pretty tough to find D-men these days if you haven’t noticed. But I maybe didn’t like any pick better than Will Bitten at 70. I just don’t get it. I had Bitten as a top 30 guy (26 I believe without looking). I knew Bitten wasn’t going to go in the 1st round, but to fall to 70?! I wasn’t the only one who raved about that kid, enough people did for him to be a sure fire 2nd rounder, especially with him being the exact type of player the Penguins won the Cup with. Victor Mete from the London Knights at 100 was another great value pick. Has great wheels and got a lot better as the season wore on (real good playoffs). And you have to mention the Andrew Shaw trade. Again, while trades aren’t really a part of what we’re talking about, to move Lars Eller out and Andrew Shaw in for essentially just deferring picks for a few years, I love it. Marc Bergevin is a real good GM, which is why Habs fans shouldn’t kill him if he is going to move P.K. Subban. Without a doubt he has his reasons and they’ll be very well thought out.
A couple other things I liked…oddly enough I thought the Leafs and Jets each had good first selections. Was their anyone who didn’t think the Jets were taking Logan Stanley?! Every mock draft had that! I think that pick stayed in my mock from the second one on. While I have harped on the Avs for years to take some defencemen high, I do not blame them at all for taking Tyson Jost. I had him 6th on my top 50, so you know how I feel about him. Carolina didn’t need yet another defenceman in the 1st (now three drafts in a row, and they’re now overloaded with D, but you can trade D-men). Max Jones falling to 24 where of course a team like the Ducks were waiting. A total steal. And the Blackhawks really did well with what they had to work with. DeBrincat at 39 was good. That was right around where I had him ranked, but for the style the Hawks play he is PERFECT, though they should watch they don’t go too heavy on skill because we’ve seen how that can backfire too.
As for my dislikes, those were a bit tougher to find. But I managed to find some teams to criticize, don’t you worry!
Boston – This organization is falling apart. Charlie McAvoy feels like a “let’s take the kid the fans would like” pick. Not that he was a reach, not that he wasn’t a need. Over Chychrun? Over Fabbro? Not that I didn’t expect it, but I just don’t like it. Then you have the Trent Frederic pick at 29. Ok….number 54 on Bob McKenzie’s list. I had him in my top 50 midseason, but didn’t keep him there. Zach Senyshyn thinks this pick was a reach. Ryan Lindgren was an ok selection at 49, but in my opinion it was too late. The league is better when the Bruins are good, so this sucks to watch. I hope I’m really wrong about them, but I think they’re a sinking ship.
Florida – I guess we’ll see, won’t we analytic fans? I really like analytics, I just don’t understand them sometimes. But especially when it comes to the draft, I don’t know if it’s a good idea to go SO heavy on them as they appeared to do in the draft. Henrik Borgstrom is 19, and he’s rail thin. This feels a lot like when the Flames took Mark Jankowski in 2012. Also, if you’re going so heavy analytically, how is Riley Tufte not that pick? So I wasn’t a fan of that, and I didn’t like some of the other kids they took like Adam Mascherin (a pick before Alex DeBrincat) and Linus Nassen with who else was still on the board. I just wasn’t a fan, maybe they’ll prove me wrong down the line.
Minnesota – If you are a middle of the pack team with a depleted system, you should probably trade down. Oh no, not Chuck Fletcher, who is starting to feel like he’s on his last legs as the GM in Minny. Add to that, they reached a bit on Luke Kunin. I don’t mind the pick at all, but they probably could have moved back and snagged him. The rest of the draft they had a total of three picks, one before the 7th round. Yep, you read that right. Two picks in the first 4 rounds, two in the 7th. Gross. They are just the quintessential middle of the pack team that goes nowhere. I’d start blowing it up, but that is easy for me to sit here and say. It isn’t anywhere near that simple for an owner.
Vancouver – I didn’t HATE what they did at 5. I harped on how they needed to start building that blueline there, and so they took who they deemed to be the top defenceman. Fair enough, I would have moved back. Would that have cost them Juolevi, yeah probably. And I don’t know if there were options to move down, but I would guess they could have done SOMETHING. They didn’t have a 2nd or a 4th. This team needed picks. Move back, take hometown kid Dante Fabbro who I really think can be as good as Juolevi in time (and he’s a RH shot), and re-coup some of those picks. William Lockwood at 64, meh. Will Bitten, Cam Dineen, Vitali Abramov, Adam Fox all still there, I would have taken one of them. I don’t see how you like Lockwood over Bitten. 65 points in 67 games in the OHL who is an explosive skater and plays with an edge, or 6 points in 20 games in the USHL? Similar size. I just don’t get it.
So all in all, there were six teams whose draft I really liked, and only four who I felt dropped the ball a bit. But again, who the hell knows?! None of us do. There are 30 GM’s who don’t have a clue how this will go. No scout, no analyst, nobody. But 10 years from now, it’ll be fun to go back and take a look….should this fledgling website still be around.
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