By Dave MacDonald
As the trade deadline ticked away, it became increasingly apparent that substantial movement was not coming this past Monday. While it wasn’t to say there weren’t trades made before 3:00pm Eastern time that will help some playoff bound clubs, they certainly were not of the blockbuster variety.
As a result, I have decided to alter the format of this week’s ramblings ever so slightly. Rather than focus on just the picks from the 2016 Trade Deadline, I have expanded it out to cover picks from the rounds one and two traded since July 1st, 2015 to expand the choices out. Included will be my selection, where the pick was acquired, the rationale for the selection, as well as a quick summary of the player. Draft positioning will be determined by standings on deadline day. Enjoy.
With the 16th Overall Selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs select… from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, left winger Max Jones.
This pick was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins on July 1st, 2015 in the Phil Kessel trade – though it is conditional on Pittsburgh making the playoffs, that condition was satisfied using these standings.
While Toronto would likely a prefer a defenceman in this slot, the reality is that this isn’t a defense heavy draft. With Mark Hunter’s ties to London, they go to familiar territory and draft a physical player in Jones who has solid offensive skill. Jones is a feisty player who plays the old way – grinding, physical hockey with solid toughness. While he may not develop into a top tier offensive talent, he has a booming shot and could certainly become a guy who will go into the dirty areas and get the job done.
With the 29th Overall Selection, the Winnipeg Jets select… from the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, defenceman Kale Clague.
Winnipeg acquired this pick from the Chicago Blackhawks in the Andrew Ladd deal on February 25th, 2016.
The Jets boast one of the most coveted stables of prospects in the NHL, and at this point go with the best player available. While Clague has been touted as a potential top 15 pick, his size and penchant for getting caught down low may result in him dropping later into the round. Playing in Manitoba, Clague will be a quasi-home grown product and will help excite the fan base. He projects to be a very good top-four defenseman, with great instincts and impressive gap control for a defensive player at his age. While he doesn’t project to be in the NHL in the near future, he has great long-term upside.
With the 46th Overall Selection, the Pittsburgh Penguins select… from the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, defenceman Samuel Girard.
As a result of the Maple Leafs receiving the Penguins first round selection, the secondary condition of that trade was that Pittsburgh reacquire their own second-round pick from the Daniel Winnik trade at last years’ deadline.
With a dearth of talent in their farm system, Pittsburgh elects to go with sheer talent. With little in terms of premier talent coming up, and Derrick Pouliot graduating to the big club this season, Samuel Girard makes a lot of sense. While small in size, Girard is extremely talented with exceptional feet and extremely high hockey IQ. With high-end offensive instincts and a bomb of a shot, particularly surprising given his 5-9 stature, Girard is