Friday, July 11th
After coming down from the NHL Draft high, it’s time to do a little analysis.
I am currently (slowly) working on producing draft grades for each team and will post them in groups over the next few weeks. With that said, here are some initial thoughts that come to mind….
I felt that every team picking in the first round did a great job at not only drafting skill but also selecting players to fit within their system.
Ekblad is exactly the defensive pillar that Florida needs.
Sam Reinhart will wear a letter in Buffalo and become a huge character to build around.
The Oilers may have landed the best long-term prospect in Leon Draisaitl and finally got the big center they’ve searched for. Now, let’s see if they will show any sort of patience with him.
Sam Bennett joins Sean Monahan in Calgary and is the exact one-two punch that successful teams need down the middle.
Michael Dal Colle was one of my favourite players entering the draft and this high-character player with a high-end processor will surely look good flanking the wing on Johnny Tavares’ or Ryan Strome’s line. Mark it, I see a lot of Brandon Saad in him and he could be one of the earliest fantasy producers. Sounds like Dal Colle made a good impression at camp…
Dal Colle, a big left wing, made a neat little pass in his own zone to start a rush that led to his White team’s first goal. Dal Colle took a hit to make that pass, and that likely drew the attention of the team’s coaching and development staff.
The Canucks opted for local kid Jake Virtanen and he’ll provide weary Vancouver fans with some excitement as he comes with blazing speed, good physicality and an ability to break twine.
Carolina was the true wild card in the Top 10 but it was good to see them address a team need while selecting a highly coveted mobile defender in Haydn Fleury.
Sitting with Nick Ritchie, William Nylander and Nikolaj Ehlers (the three targets I wanted the Leafs’ to focus on) still on the board when Nonis was called to the stage, I thought for sure Ritchie would be called. He fit their MO with size but was pleasantly surprised management changed their tune and took a much needed gamble on highly skilled winger William Nylander.
Nikolaj Ehlers was quickly snatched up at 9th overall to the Jets suggesting that Winnipeg was changing their drafting tune to skill over brawn as well.
Finally, Nick Ritchie landed in Anaheim and put a big smile on my face as these Ducks got a lot more scary (between you and I, I think Ducks are scary animals anyways). With Getzlaf, Perry, Kesler, Smith-Pelly and now Ritchie, Anaheim is extremely big and strong up front.
Even through the next few selections – the skilled and tenacious Kevin Fiala to Nashville (11th), speedy sniper Brendan Perlini to Arizona (12th), confident and opportunistic Jakub Vrana to Washington (13th), mobile offensive defender Julius Honka to Dallas (14th) and a smart industrious Dylan Larkin to Detroit (15th), I felt each team nailed their picks.
After an outstanding 2013 draft, Columbus was afforded the luxury of swinging for the fences with their 16th overall pick and Sonny Milano is exactly that type of exhilarating talent. Reports are indicating that Sonny Milano is considering taking the OHL route, where the Plymouth Whalers own his rights.
I was shocked to see the Flyers go back to the defensive well with their 2014 opening selection after rolling the dice on Samuel Morin in 2013 but Travis Sanheim is a defender I really took a liken to.
After rumblings of a potential Top 15 selection, Minnesota adding the powerful, intelligent and skilled Alex Tuch at 18th was a good value pick and he should thrive around the net and in board battles.
It was a guessing game on where volatile yet skilled Anthony DeAngelo would end up but I was pleasantly surprised to see Yzerman step up a grab this uber-skilled offensive defenseman with the Lightning’s 19th pick. He should be high on fantasy lists.
One of the first round shockers was Chicago trading up with San Jose to nail down Nick Schmaltz at 20th overall. Prior to the draft, Chicago was one of a few teams I publicly stated who would target this talented playmaking pivot and they certainly s