SUNRISE, Fla. - The picks have been made, the trades have been completed (for now) and the 2015 NHL Draft is in the books.
Which teams and players made out best? And which teams and players made out worst?
You're about to find out ... in our Winners and Losers of the 2015 NHL Draft.
WINNERS: Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel
Obvious things are obvious: McDavid and Eichel finally became members of the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres respectively, and can finally stop talking about their NHL careers in hypothetical terms and start discussing how they’re going to impact the League during their race to the Calder Trophy in 2015-16.
LOSERS: Teams Trading Up to No. 3
The Boston Bruins and Columbus Blue Jackets were among the teams seeking to trade with the Arizona Coyotes for the No. 3 overall pick. But they kept it and took Dylan Strome, which is a great addition to a franchise that needs to develop some significant talent down the middle.
WINNER: Buffalo Sabres
What a weekend for Tim Murray. He’ll leave South Florida with Jack Eichel, Robin Lehner, Jamie McGinn and Ryan O’Reilly. Pretty good haul for the Sabres to add to a roster featuring a healthy Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian, who were acquired in February. According to CapFriendly, the Sabres are about $16 million under the cap ceiling, meaning more opportunities for Murray to upgrade his lineup. The one year of pain was worth it for the what’s looking like a quick turnaround for the franchise.
LOSER: San Jose Sharks
The Sharks were in on Cam Talbot and missed out after he was dealt to Edmonton. They then dealt the negotiating rights to Antti Niemi to Dallas. “As we look at it, there are more goalies than teams,” said GM Doug Wilson. “And there are more people available in discussions than you guys hear about.” So what does he do now? He didn’t rule out bringing Niemi back should he fail to sign with the Stars. But with all the goalies on the move this weekend, San Jose failed to snag one. Maybe Wilson can give Bob Murray a call. He’s got three NHL-level ones in Anaheim now.
WINNER: Andong Song
The 18-year old defenseman became the first player born in China to be drafted when he was taken No. 172 by the New York Islanders. His entire draft weekend was documented by Chinese TV station CCTV. After moving to Canada at age 10, he then went to New Jersey at 15 to play at the Lawrenceville School. With the Asian market one the NHL is hoping to crack, Song’s success in professional hockey on this side of the Pacific Ocean could do wonders to help grow the sport there.
LOSER: Oliver Kylington
Projections for the blueliner had him anywhere from No. 15 to somewhere in the second round. He almost fell into the third round before the Calgary Flames took him 60th overall. He fell from No. 1 to No. 6 in NHL Central Scouting’s final draft rankings and plans to use the fall for motivation against the teams that passed him over.
WINNER: Devan Dubnyk
The Wild wanted security in net and Dubnyk wanted security after coming to Minnesota and being a huge part of the team’s turnaround after January. The Wild handed him a six-year, $25 million extension on Saturday, shoring up their goaltending and rewarding Dubnyk for helping to save their season. GM Chuck Fletcher called it a “market contract” and added he’s comfortable with the numbers. At 29, the goaltender is entering the prime of his career and the Wild are hoping his best years are ahead of him.
LOSER: People Trading Goalies
We knew there would be goalies on the move, but Bryan Murray and Glen Sather got a jump on the trade market and got the best returns of the bunch. Ottawa received the 21st overall pick Friday night for Robin Lehner, which they turned into center Colin White. Sather flipped Cam Talbot, who was never going to usurp Henrik Lundqvist in New York, for a second, third and seventh rounder this weekend. After those two went, the prices dropped. Eddie Lack garnered a third and seventh; Antti Niemi’s rights landed a seventh; Anton Khudobin was dealt straight up for playoff scratch James Wisniewski; and Blackhawks third-stringer Antti Raanta went to the Rangers for forward prospect Ryan Haggerty. It paid to be aggressive early if you had a goalie you were looking for move.
The number of Russians drafted had declined over the years for various reasons, including the influence of the KHL. But 17 Russian-born players were taken this year, after just 13 last year, including four in the first round: Ivan Provorov (Flyers, No. 7); Denis Gurianov (Stars, No. 12); Evgeny Svechnikov (Red Wings, No. 19); and Ilya Samsonov (Capitals, No. 22). In Samsonov’s case, the Capitals may have to wait three years before his Russian contract is up.
LOSERS: Future Tyler Johnsons
Remember when the diminutive Tampa Bay Lightning star’s breakout offensive season was going to make the world safe for smaller stature player? Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News sees size bias still ruling the roost in the NHL Draft:
Once again this year, scouts sang the praises of players in the 5-foot-10 range, but couldn’t convince their bosses to pull the trigger early. While I didn’t expect Travis Konecny or Nick Merkley to go in the top 12, I thought one or both would go in the top 20. As it turned out, Konecny went 24th to Philly, while Merkley lasted until No. 30 when Arizona scooped him up.
Instead, big bodies like Dylan Strome (6-3, 185), Pavel Zacha (6-3, 210), Zachary Werenski (6-2, 206)and Mikko Rantanen (6-3, 211) all went in the top 10.
WINNER: Peter Chiarelli
Well, obviously, he ends up Connor McDavid, so that means he wins the draft on its own. But the Oilers also patiently waited out the Rangers to secure the services of goalie Cam Talbot for far less than what was assumed he’d go for. But mostly, Chiarelli continued to look like he’s smartly building a formidable team around McDavid while his former team looks absolutely hapless.
LOSER: Don Sweeney
“Laughingstock” is a harsh label to throw around, but we just report what we see on the ground here: Sweeney’s first NHL Draft as Boston Bruins general manager, at least on Day 1, was lambasted off the record by his peers. The Dougie Hamilton debacle netted a disappointing return compared to what they would have gotten for an offer sheet on him. The three picks in the first round the Bruins had resulted in two players that many felt were drafted well ahead of their rankings – Jake DeBrusk at No. 14, about 10 picks too high; and Zachary Senyshyn at No. 15, arguably one round too early. The return from the Los Angeles Kings for Milan Lucic, whom the Bruins wouldn’t have signed after this season, was solid. But the rest of the weekend was a stumble at the start for Sweeney and his boss Cam Neely.
WINNERS: Winnipeg Jets
The consensus in Sunrise is that the Jets had the best draft, top to bottom, of any team. The Jets had Kyle Connor fall into their laps at No. 17, and Jack Roslovic was a strong pick at No. 25. Erik Foley, at No. 78, could be one of those latter round picks we marvel at some years from now. Seven forwards, and four straight Americans to start for GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.
LOSERS: Teams We Expected To Be Movers And Shakers
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks were supposed to trade big names and big contracts this weekend. Phil Kessel! Dion Phaneuf! Patrick Sharp! Bryan Bickell! And … nothing. But July 1 beckens.
WINNER: Carl Hagelin
Matt Beleskey had 22 goals skating with Anaheim Ducks stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, which was more than he scored in his previous three seasons combined. So an early congratulations to Carl Hagelin, assuming he brings his speed to that top line spot after being acquired from the Rangers. The only downside: He’s a restricted free agent, so he won’t get a season of inflated stats before cashing in.
LOSERS: Eddie Lack Fans
The petition didn’t work, and Lack was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in what Trevor Linden knew would be an unpopular move for the Vancouver Canucks.
- Sean Leahy and Greg Wyshynski
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