The opening round of the NHL Draft is in the books and boy, was that a dandy of a day!
Saturday, June 27
Friday of the NHL Draft was one of the more entertaining opening rounds that I can recall at the draft. We had trades – with the Boston Bruins to thank for that, we had some unsuspecting bigs – again, Boston to thank, and plenty of drama left for the remaining six rounds today. With the second round set to begin at 10am EST, I wanted to quickly check in on my thoughts from day one.
1st selection – Congrats to Connor McDavid on being selected first overall. No brainer selection but damn, that Darryl Katz bit was awfully awkward.
2nd – Sabres’ GM Tim Murray is quickly becoming my favourite GM after his four-word announcement of their Jack Eichel selection. ‘Buffalo selects Jack Eichel’. Thanks for the brevity Mr Murray.
The Sabres had a strong day landing Robin Lehner (big fan of that trade as I am a big believer in Lehner). Might this be similar to when Toronto traded Rask to Boston? A part of me thinks he’ll have a similar impact.
3rd – GM Don Maloney finally put the uncertainty to rest by selecting his big skilled pivot, Dylan Strome, third overall. I am not a big Strome fan – yes, he’ll be a very good NHLer – but this was the right choice for the desert dogs.
4th – Toronto selected another undersized forward in Mitch Marner a year after taking William Nylander. Mark Hunter knows Marner better than ever from his time with the Knights and Lindsay Hofford was part of the team that courted him in his OHL draft. It’s clear in Toronto, skill is going to be the emphasis. Rookie Assistant GM Kyle Dubas looked like a seasoned vet on the draft floor trading down twice, and ten spots in total, to boost the Leafs’ pick stock. Smart move for Toronto and when the 34th selection comes due today, they’ll get a good talent.
5th – Carolina didn’t have to think much about taking Noah Hanifin. He’s going to be a great NHL and at 5th overall, it’s similar to the Predators getting Seth Jones at 4th a few years back. Outstanding value.
6th – As I expected, New Jersey scooped up big skilled yet nasty forward Pavel Zacha. He didn’t have the most productive season but like I’ve said, the best is yet to come. Outside of McDavid and Eichel, he has the chance to be the next best forward. Great tools.
7th – Philly quickly snatched up Ivan Provorov. I haven’t seen a young prospect be as sound defensively as Provorov was this season. The kid never makes a mistakes and contributes both ways. He’ll anchor an improving Flyers blueline.
8th – Columbus targeted a defenseman and got Zach Werenski. Big fan of the UofM defender. Reminds me a lot of Jacob Trouba without the nastiness. Will the London Knights get him to come to the OHL?
9th – San Jose ended up taking burly Swiss winger Timo Meier out of Halifax. The pick was a bit surprising but he offers up a good versatile skillset. He can play tough and also flashes good finesse in tight. I think I would’ve opted for Rantanen, Connor or Barzal.
10th – The Colorado Avalanche inject some skill into their lineup by selecting high upside Finnish winger Mikko Rantanen. He showed flashes of being great so I am very interested to see his development over the next few years. He could be a dandy!
11th – Florida seem ecstatic, genuinely, to land Lawson Crouse at 11th. He’s guaranteed to play in the NHL and whether he plays in the bottom six or top six (more likely, in my opinion), the Panthers will have an intelligent, two-way competitive skilled big man at their disposal. His size will balance well with the undersized Trochecks and Grimaldis.
12th – Dallas went aggressive selecting Russian forward Denis Guryanov – my 14th ranked player. I was aggressive on my ranking with this high upside forward but Dallas trumped me. I think he’ll be a special player.
13th – The pick that Boston acquired for trading away Milan Lucic (bad deal for the Bs in my opinion), Jakob Zboril was selected to help the Bruins blue line. He’s an offensive dman that I envisioned wearing the black and yellow prior to the draft.
14th – With their second consecutive pick, Boston took 42 goal scorer Jake DeBrusk out of the WHL. He’s an honest hard working competitive forward who finds ways to scores. It was a bit high in my opinion but I’m not too bullish on this selection because he does own some good qualities…and upside. I just preferred the Barzals and Connors and Konecnys in this slot.
15th – With their third consecutive pick, Boston completed their trio of selections by going off-the-board- to select Soo speedster Zach Senyshyn. I have been high on this high-upside winger who’s just beginning to blossom (even mentioning him as a first round talent) but I never expected him to go this high. Good on Don Sweeney for having the gonads to take the chance. With Senyshyn’s skill, it could pay off. Although, I think they might have been able to get him in the second with one of their many picks. Then again, maybe they didn’t want to risk it.
16th – Edmonton deals this pick – with Barzal, Connor and several other talents still on the board – for Islanders defender Griffin Reinhart. Personally, I didn’t like this move for the Oilers even if it addressed a need. To me, Barzal’s upside and potential outweighs Reinharts and if that’s the case, always go with the more promising player. Islanders nabbed Matt Barzal – a steal at this position.
17th – Winnipeg is the NHL’s best drafting team over the last few drafts but this was a gimme for the Jets. Adding USHL leading scorer Kyle Connor at 17th was an absolute steal as he was a player that could’ve been warranted using a top 10 pick on.
18th – Ottawa Senators passed on selecting Ottawa 67’s Travis Konecny to take mobile competitive defender Thomas Chabot. He’s a good defender with top four potential.
19th – Eyes are always watching the Red Wings come draft time but Detroit had an easy decision, in my opinion, taking Evgeny Svechnikov – a player considered borderline Top 10 worthy. He’s got a great pro tool box and some promising offensive tools to go with it.
20th – Normally, I am not a big fan of Minnesota’s drafting decisions (typically in the opening round) but I loved their selection of Swede Joel Eriksson Ek. A toolsy pivot with an outstanding shot, Eriksson Ek is a player who projects nicely to the NHL.
21st – Ottawa passed over Travis Konecny again to select USA National Program standout Colin White. In a lot of ways, White reminds me of Curtis Lazar because he plays a smart calculated offensive game. He does a lot of little things well and can skate like the wind. Solid first day at the draft for Ottawa!
22nd – Washington looked a little confused taking the draft stage. Maybe they were targeting Colin White (they love their USA NTDP guys) or Eriksson Ek but in the end, the Caps selected the first goaltender of the draft in Ilya Samsonv. I’m not a fan of using first round picks on goaltenders unless they are of superstar potential. While easily the best goaltender of this draft, Ilya Samsonov here was too early.
23rd – I’m usually not on the same page with Vancouver’s drafting (except for Horvat) and it continued with their selection of Brock Boeser. The kid can score goals – that’s a fact- but there’s something about his game that leaves me feeling uneasy. In saying that… in this spot, Vancouver got good value and took a necessary risk for a team needing goals.
24th – The Leafs held this pick until they smartly traded down five spots with Philadelphia Flyers. Ask me prior to the draft where I could see Travis Konecny playing and I likely would’ve listed Philly as one of the times. I see a great fit here for Konecny and the Flyers faithful will love his heart-and-soul approach to the game.
25th – Jack Roslovic was a player who grew on me as the season wore on and he often showed some fairly dynamic offensively qualities. First and foremost, Roslovic is a responsible forward but his high-paced attack, overall hockey sense and ability to impact the game makes him a great selection for the Jets. Another great opening round for Winnipeg.
26th – Montreal definitely wanted Roslovic but Noah Juulsen was a nice safe backup plan. He’s a swift skater with a high-end hockey mind. When I watch Juulsen it’s easy to see all of the promising tools and I think he’s a prospect that has a lot of growth left under the right coach.
27th – Anaheim has had great luck selecting Swedish defenseman so it should come to no surprise that Jacob Larsson was the most recent Swede to don the Ducks jersey. He’s a solid two-way defender who many feel has some untapped offensive abilities.
28th – Garth Snow has shown over the last few drafts that he will do what he can to trade up to get their guy. After trading up for the second time, New York opted for high character productive pivot Anthony Beauvillier. Here’s a player who does what it takes to win despite being undersized.
29th – With the Leafs on the clock, Kyle Dubas and company opted to trade down five spots for the second time recouping some valuable second round picks. In turn, Columbus added their second defenseman of the draft in Gabriel Carlsson. He’s a player that addresses a need but may not provide any of you with a whole lot of fantasy value.
30th – With the final pick of the opening round and hundreds of kids sitting on the edge of their seats, Arizona scooped up Nick Merkley. Smart pick. Merkley is a flashy playmaker but he’s a productive one and his overall competitive game certainly gives Arizona great value here.
I will chime in again with more thoughts on the remaining rounds.