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Grading the NHL Teams Draft Results

by Bill Placzek on Jun. 27, 2011

Draft grades. It sounds silly, doesn't it? To try to determine letter grades about players that in general are three to five years away from making any sort of an impact. While there will be some players who will be thrust into early duty to fill a cap need or because they showed enough early on to belong in the big show, post draft performances are about as unpredictable as the draft itself.

There were a few surprises early on in this draft, most notably Mark Scheifele's pick at 7 and Sean Couturier's subsequent drop to 8. But after that the first and second rounds ran true to form, until Nashville felt compelled to take Swedish goalie Magnus Hellberg. Around pick 50 teams started going in the direction of filling organizational needs, which made the next 160 picks a lot of fun.

I'll try not to give the highest grades to the teams with the highest picks, although sometimes it's difficult to see past the promise of youth, and I'll grade a team high if they did superbly with their picks while not squandering away others.

Let's begin:

 

Anaheim Ducks

GM Bob Murray took Brian Burke up on a two picks for one drop out of slot 22 (where Burke took Tyler Biggs) and he was able to secure Rickard Rackell at 30 and secure goaltender John Gibson with pick 39. Taking Gibson was a great way to shore up their goaltending stable since the Ducks true starter continues to have health issues. William Karlsson, a slight-bodied developmental forward, skates well but his energy play disappears when grit needs application. Joe Camarossa, on the other hand is a gritty, still developing forward who is starting to use his size speed and jam. Andy Welinski is a long term project that could develop into a tough defender, but so far his decisions tell you that long might mean eternity. Although Max Friberg is pretty much a developed fireplug and will bring an aggressive fore-check as well as finish them, he has very little upside. Anaheim is grading low as only Rackell looks to be the closest to a sure-fire choice to see some NHL time.

Grade: C+

 

Boston Bruins

No one can ever take away from what the Bruins accomplished to win the Stanley Cup, but all teams do need a bit of luck down that road.  Well, the luck never ended for Boston as Doug Hamilton falls into their laps at unbelievably slot nine! Teams wait decades to hope for a defenseman this size with an all around skill set, and in one swoop Boston has a Chara replacement. The luck didn't end there, as Alexandre Khokhlachev was still available in the first third of the second round. He is an undersized offensive player with great instincts, a full set of gears, and real speed. He is a team guy, much like many of the present Bruins cast. He may end up solely as a winger, but there is plenty to like and plenty worth waiting for. After that, I felt both big hard-nosed agitator Anthony Camara and big Brian Ferlin were reaches at wing, but the Boston scouts felt that they were perfect long range prospects, with room to get taller, fill out, and become rounded weapons. High schooler Rob O'Gara is also a wait-for guy who is already tall and needs to become better coordinated and improve all aspects.  Lars Volden adds a developmental goaler to the organization. All and all, they used each round well to stockpile assets, with one grand prize in the first probably worth giving them a high grade even without going into their other choices.

Grade: A-

 

Buffalo Sabres

New ownership is ready to help in any way, and the team wanted to try and impress, but they gave them no guarantees with their first three picks. Joel Armia, is a fluid big man who has slot area presence, a power element in his game, soft hands, and an outstanding shot release. He has top end abilities but has to dispel rumors of him not giving a 60-minute effort or caring much for the defensive zone. Dan Catenacci and Colin Jacobs also look like very good long term prospects and very well could have been gone in the second round. Catenacci is a thick undersized fireball with great stick skills, superb vision, and speed. Jacobs projects as a bigger, strong skating center with good jump in his stride. He is learning to be a better defensive center, and is committed to all-around improvement of his game, including his shot and offensive abilities.  Giant goalie Nathan Liewen wasn't picked last year but they took him this time, and he fills a need at development goaltender. Both giant defenseman Alex Lepkowski and big high school forward Brad Navin are developmental players at this juncture.  

Grade: B

 

Calgary Flames

In what was supposed to be the start of the new face of the Flames, they came off with little in terms of guaranteed help. Sven Bärtschi will have a lot less room as a pro, and will have to fight his way up with hard work to retain any of the excellence he displayed in juniors. Markus Granlund is not his brother, and is a reach at pick 45. Tyler Wotherspoon is big and a long-range project who can only be a small space defender, like he is in juniors. John Gaudreau is tiny and Laurent Brossoit fills a need at developmental goaltender. Calgary just didn’t helped themselves much and they probably fell in love with Bärtschi so they were afraid to trade down in the first round. Had they done so, they might have put themselves in a position to select better players.

Grade: C

 

Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina left Minnesota with the chance that all of their picks could eventually play some in the big league. The question remains as to what impact they will make. Going completely contrary to their philosophy of not taking D-men early, Carolina took one, despite the fact that they think it takes defensemen much longer to be ready to play. Yet they took Ryan Murphy who will never be a great defensive defenseman, and they will have to pair with a strong defensive defender. They took this route because this kid has uncanny offensive abilities that will translate to the pro game. Victor Rask on the other hand, is what we thought he was, a solid first rounder. Keegan Lowe is a great long term prospect at defense. Gregory Hofmann, a 19 year old Swiss pivot, has a strong hockey IQ, impressive skills, and was a steal in the 4th round. Matt Mahalak is a much needed goalie prospect who will to the league if Justin Peters continues to stall. Big Brody Sutter, Duane's son, finally gets picked this year and don't count him out.

Grade: B

 

Chicago Blackhawks

The idea of the draft is to not only fill your cupboard, but to fill areas of need. While none of the Chicago Blackhawk choices project to more than second-line players at this point, the Hawks have managed to provide at least a half-dozen possible roster replacements down the road. Most draft prognosticators all were sure Mark McNeill would be gone before the Hawks 18th pick and his selection there fills a need for a big bodied center-wing who has edge and scoring prowess. Scouts were so unsure about Philip Danault’s upside, that most were only willing to project him as an energy player. He is smaller in the Denis Savard vein, is a high-motor flying Frenchman who never quits on any play, and who has a much higher upside than predicted. Two second rounders provided the luxury of getting Adam Clendening, another puck carrying offensiveman in the Hawks mold, and Brandon Saad, who is the best value in the draft at pick 43 after once being considered a top ten player. Saad already has a man-sized body and may be the all around left wing the Hawks have been looking for. In Mike Paliotta, Chicago added a big, tough defender, and with Klas Dahlbeckthey added a workmanlike unspectacular defenseman who is solid in his own zone and not a liability anywhere. With the selection of Maxim Shalunov, the Hawks took arguably the best stick-handler of the draft and a huge offensive weapon, but a player who gets disinterested when play goes back to his defensive zone or he doesn't have the puck on his stick. Forward Andrew Shaw is a hard as nails fighter who plays well in every zone and never stops working. College bound defenseman Sam Jardine will develop at Ohio State, while skinny, complimentary forward Alexander Broadhurst will go to the University of Nebraska at Omaha. They added a Swedish goalie with the draft's last pick for good measure.  Lacking an impact player selection, the Hawks board is still overstocked with quality possibilities that seem destined to make it to the NHL.  Few teams can say that. Isn't that what the draft is truly about?

Grade: A+

 

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche strengthened the wing position with almost-ready-to-play Gabriel Landeskog, who can play any role on any line. Duncan Siemens is not going to be a number one, but he will provide a large presence on the Colorado blue line. Hard working two-way center Joachim Nermark has good touch, but is not a burner and makes up for it with leg drive and creativity with the puck. Solid in all phases, he is a threat whether he shoots or passes. After that Garrett Meurs, Gabriel Beaupre, and Dillon Donnelly have a long way to go. Donnelly is the son of former NHL’er Gord, who has shown some puck skills and a whole lot of nastiness, although he will have to take a developmental leap to be groomed as a 6-7 pro defenseman.

Grade: A

 

Columbus Blue Jackets

One might argue what happened before the draft for the Columbus Blue Jackets was more important than their selections, but I cannot cut them slack because they relinquished their first rounder. Boone Jenner is a strong team player who needs to get faster. T. J. Tynan doesn't have to get faster, but him and Mike Reilly won’t get any bigger. Seth Ambroz had been dropping in this draft for months, and both Lukas Sedlak and Anton Forsberg have a ways to go.

Grade: D

 

Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars were able to leave Minnesota with a possible six foot seven defender Jamie Oleksiak. Big forward Brett Ritchie is a much more iffy projection, but has shown soft hands for a bigger guy, and exceptional wall work. If he was able to get quicker, he would be an even bigger force to contend with when he goes to the net/slot area. Other than these two, the rest of their selections all are long term developmental guesses at this point. Jyrki Jokipakka is a late bloomer who might see the bigs before the rest.

Grade: D+

 

Detroit Red Wings

After trading out of the first round, the Detroit Red Wings did what they always do: draft well. Tomas Jurco looks to be a perfect guy to play wing there. While Xavier Ouellet might be very overrated and plays consistently average, Ryan Sproul can shoot the puck from the point even though he has room for 25+ pounds on that frame. Alan Quine is a smart skilled playmaker with an excellent skill package. Marek Tvrdon was injured much of the season, but in his brief season he showed had a wicked wrister, good hands, and impressive strength to go with his size. To think Detroit was able to pluck Philippe Hudon at this juncture is amazing. He is a Czech import with size, speed, and hands. Richard Nedomlel is a Slovakian giant defenseman, but their best value came with their last pick where they selected 19 year old Alexei Marchenko, who, if he were to come across, is a big prototypical Russian defenseman who can play all phases and skate well against the better opponents. A blood disorder slowed him this season, and if he was a bit more physical, he could be special. Marchenko has wonderful lateral mobility, and is an excellent passer with great hands to receive them too. He is smart all over the ice, strong in front of his nets, and solid in all phases.

Grade: A-

 

Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton may have had their strongest draft ever, one which we might see almost all of the selections eventually playing in the NHL. Not only were they able to get the most gifted offensive generator in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, they also secured a defender in the first round who may end up as good an all-around defenseman as the big two of Larsson and Hamilton. Starting the second round, they added stay-at-home defenseman David Musil, who might have limited upside to a top pairing, but will eventually make an NHL roster nonetheless. Goalie Samu Perhonen fills an organizational need. Although "just" a third or fourth line center, Travis Ewanyk wins face-offs, finish checks, and does all the gritty things you need to win. I had defenseman Dillon Simpson off the board in the early third, and they got him in the fourth. Tobias Rieder from Germany may not be the biggest guy, but fits the category of a long term prospect who needs plenty of growth, strength, and fill-in. He already exhibits very good puck-handling skills, pass and play-making abilities, and a willingness to be involved in play with gusto. Slovakian Martin Gernat is a developing big defender who has decent feet and lateral agility with good puck skills.

Grade: A+

 

Florida Panthers

Dale Tallon's biggest take-home item might have been Brian Campbell. It’s hard to find fault in Jonathan Huberdeau, despite the fact that he may never be a true impact player in the NHL. Rocco Grimaldi deserves a chance and it will be fun to see if he can make it. Rasmus Bengtsson might have slow skates but is a stay at home defender with a shot. Vincent Trocheck is a big three-zone winger who has some power game, and is very active all over the ice. Logan Shaw skates well and has shown he can score and create. He is mobile and able to jump up or simply make the safe outlet pass. Jonathan Racine is a work in progress. And Eddie Wittchow?  I thought this physical high school D-man who displays a shot, speed, smarts and snarl, would go in the late third, but he went in the sixth. I am not sure about the depth or impact these selections will make, but this is a real nice group to try and grow.

Grade: B+

 

Los Angeles Kings

Maybe the smoke from the flaming addition of Mike Richards clouded the air, but Dean Lombardi's staff drafted a group of players filled with missing pieces. Christopher Gibson might develop as a capable netminder, but I thought they were fairly strong organizationally in goal, and the pick should have been used at another position. Although Nick Shore is a scorer with an accurate shot, he needs little room to launch, and needs more to his game. I love Michael Mersch's potential, but he skates like he is in snowshoes. Hard-driving winger Joel Lowry leads by never taking a shift off. Unfortunately the Kings scouting staff did, by passing on other prospects to select these.

Grade: C-

 

Minnesota Wild

Some good days are really good days. Not only did the Wild get San Jose to overpay in the form of three number one drafted players for Brent Burns, they were able to secure to two high-end prospects at defense and center. Jonas Brodin and Zack Phillips are not ready but each looks to have attributes any club can add. While Brodin is solid all over the pond, he is not a highlight reel attacker so he is not given the respect his abilities deserve. Phillips puts the puck in the net, despite the concerns of his feet and weight room absence. Mario Lucia was picked in a good spot, Stephan Michalek is a great development goaler, and Tyler Graovac has good skating ability but needs to play with more grit once he bulks up a bit. It is necessary for an organization to make the draft a strength, and as the host of the event Minnesota did that.

Grade: B+

 

Montreal Canadiens

Every year I root for the Habs to be able to add a good Francophone prospect. This year they did, but it may be more in name only, as Nathan Beaulieu was Ontario-raised and lacking in his conversational French.  The burgeoning up-ice abilities of Beaulieu have seduced entire scouting staffs into thinking he will be able to handle defensive duties against NHL forwards once he is graduated to the NHL. My feeling is similar to that of Ryan Murphy: you will have to pair him with a strong defensive defender and scheme to protect him from many of the mismatches that occur game in and game out. I certainly hope he progresses and eases my concerns about his defensive liabilities. After that the Habs’ board is filled with "wait & sees." Josiah Didier is a strong raw defender who skates and moves well but still needs to play a tougher style and improve in judgment, skating, and offensive acumen. I think Oliver Archambault is a timid undersized right wing who is weak defensively, but displays some offensive quickness and flair. Magnus Nygren is their scouting staff’s attempt to find a puck rusher and polish it into a diamond. Darren Dietz projects as a big 3rd pairing defender. Big forward Daniel Pribyl was a steal late in the draft and has good puck abilities, scoring prowess but needs to continue to work on his skating. He continues to develop defensively with the hopes that he is that big two-way up and down winger every club looks for. Colin Sullivan is a developmental defensive prospect, who has great speed and balance, and has a nice point shot. He will jump in to the rush, but presently his abilities in his own end are his strength.

Grade: C+

 

Nashville Predators

They had no first rounder due to the welcomed addition of Mike Fisher. Nashville is presently set in goal with two large-bodied outstanding players. So what do they do when their second round pick is on the clock? They take…a goalie. He must have been the best player available on the board, but nonetheless there were teams holding multiple picks that may have been willing to move up making a five slot drop advisable. Nonetheless, Magnus Hellburg has a large calm presence who shows good flexibility and has excellent technique. He squares up, covers the bottom, and his shoulders cover the top. Hellburg has suick feet and is a really good long term project. Mikka Salomaki can be an effective supplementary defensive player who reads the entire ice and situation very well, but is a short strider with little speed and limited offensive abilities, as his hands and stick have not caught up with the high tempo game speed. Over-aged winger Josh Shalla looks good on paper always putting up good numbers, but his skating still is the weak link. Defenseman Garrett Noonan of Boston University and Simon Karlsson of Malmö are long term projects, while Chase Balisy is a former USA program player with some skills.

Grade: C-

 

New Jersey Devils

The Devils took very little time to start to further rejuvenate their franchise. Adam Larsson is a steal at the fourth spot. No matter how much you love the three forwards taken before him, he seems ready to begin NHL service as an NHL defenseman capable of big minutes and a career that will easily last a decade. A no-brainer. The Isles liked USHL star Blake Coleman well enough to reach for him with the 75th pick overall. Reid Boucher is a pure and simple go-to scorer, but an undersized wing. He has good speed and net-drive, and understands body positioning and takes it. Although still not a strong finisher, Blake Pietila is a strong, hard driving winger who plays bigger than he is. Another possible draft steal is Reece Scarlet a long-term project who is learning in all facets. He is a very mobile player who pivots and jumps into the empty spaces no matter if they are 270 degrees turnabouts. He could be a gem if he starts polishing up. He plays big, although his present size may hamper his chances. Patrick Daly is a college-bound developmental defenseman prospect. 

Grade: B+

 

New York Islanders

All hockey fans wish that a team like the Isles will draft well and eventually have a well-stocked supply of NHL-ready prospects. This draft seems to have helped to aid in that endeavor.  No one can argue with the selection of Ryan Strome, as he has shown both a poised play-making and scoring ability at high speed. Smart & opportunistic, he is destined to first line status due to his vision and fearlessness in going to the net. There was a cherry with Scott Mayfield still on the board when they chose again in the second round. Although we haven't seen him in play at higher levels to gauge where his upside falls, we already know he is huge, tough, and can skate. Johan Sundström is a promising net crasher who keeps his time with the puck short and simple. He has a strong stride and is a physical presence that flies in to the jams and disrupts, using his stick almost as well as his body. Andrei Pedan will use the OHL as a springboard. He already displays well coordinated balance and feet, as well as gap-control, due to his lateral skating ability. He has a good skill package and a huge upside, and will make the NHL if he keeps it simple and makes that first outlet pass. Robbie Russo plays his position effectively and has no apparent weaknesses in his abilities to move the puck up ice. He isn't the best skater so he will have to improve to move on to higher levels. John Persson, Brenden Kichton and Mitchell Theoret are all thought of as long-term guys at this point.

Grade: B+

 

New York Rangers

The Rangers came into this draft with organizational needs in various areas. They used their picks to shore most of them up. J.T. Miller is a center-wing who plays a nice puck possession game with grit and bodywork. He is a good shooter and decent passer and good in his own zone. He is very creative on his carries, and is solid in all zones. Steven Fogarty is more of a long-term project who needs to work to get his feet to move faster. He understands the game and is a good offense generator, who also needs to get more involved in the attack zone. He is solid defensively and strong on the puck once he is moving. Michael St. Croix is an undersized opportunistic scorer with great stick skills and superb vision, along with some jump. It remains to be seen if he can become a stronger player with a 60-minute involvement. Shane McColgan is a California-born skilled smaller wing who plays fearlessly as a Kelowna Rocket and does so at top-end speed, perhaps faster than anyone in this draft class. He has a nice snap shot, and passes well, but what sets him apart is the quick first step and the gears. Not big, and needs heaps of weight-room strength. Never the less, he brings all that he hasin the attack zone. Samuel Noreau is a strong man-mountain fist-fighter who might round out a pro line-up if his feet catch up to his size. Peter Ceresnak is a physical hard hitting stay-at-home defender, who has a hard point shot, makes a nice first pass, and even more importantly is a terrific wall player.

Grade: B

 

Ottawa Senators

Let the rebuild begin! The Senators were determined to take the plunge and select players that will aid in a steady facelift of the franchise. Mika Zibanejad is a high-motor power center with size and soft hands. He is a good two-way player, with vision, crease presence, corner work, and toolbox. Stefan Noesen is a physical big-bodied player who works at taking pucks away from the winger position with good jam. He is a very good penalty-killer, who has shown offensive upside at right wing and versatility in playing center too. Matt Puempel is pretty much a natural in the offensive zone because he has a nice feel for play there. He has a tremendously heavy shot, and is a player who is good in tight spaces. Shane Prince was a steal late in the second. He is an excellent transition player, who is able defensively and can even kill penalties. while displaying excellent skills with the puck and his stick. Combined with his superb skating and compete level, Prince has huge upside. Jean-Gabriel Pageau is a small shifty top line centerman, while Fredik Claesson is a reliable defender and puck mover who is not generally physical.

Grade: A+

 

Philadelphia Flyers

What better way to deflect the negative energy their recent roster changes have caused, than to have Sean Couturier fall to them in the 8th spot, which was the biggest surprise in the draft. He will be a pro fairly soon, but in the back of my mind, I think this high character kid might make monkeys out of the four teams above that passed on him. His goal is to be a strong NHL player and a first line center. Whether he reaches that goal, or becomes a second line winger, he still has amazing gifts and determination that will allow him to be successful. Nick Cousins is undersized but a solid smart and opportunistic performer, and could play on any line in any role. He may have been taken a tad bit high though. Colin Suellentrop is a stay-at-home defender that uses his body on the wall and in front, makes the good first pass, and is a good skater with mobility. Marcel Noebles shows agility but is raw, needing time to get stronger, fill-in his body, and get a bit more coordinated, balanced and hungry. Petr Placek is a huge kid that prior to injury showed spurts of advanced offensive prowess.

Grade: B-

 

Phoenix Coyotes

I have never questioned GM Maloney's abilities but their draft board is full of possibles, but very few solid probables. Don't get me wrong, because I simply love the upside of Conner Murphy, but I also know back problems have a way of becoming recurring. As much as I want to be as enthusiastic about Alexander Ruuttu, the 51st pick is quite high for him. He is the son of former NHL player Christian, and he is improving his face-offs, checking and feet. They must have loved his progress or were convinced he would be gone before their pick five slots later. Enigmatic Lucas Lessio plummeted down the ranking as the season progressed, as he is not a polished scorer, backchecker, nor energy player, but he can show intensity and drive that seems missing if you watch him for a couple games in a row. Defenseman Harrison Ruopp is a developing open-ice hitter and physical presence. Kale Kessy is one of my favorite sleepers in the draft. He has an untapped skill set and is an improving all-around player besides being a real fist-fighter. Andy Fritsch is a quick-footed, scoring wing who is improving his defensive coverage and wall work. He has a good head for the attack zone and is a good long term prospect. Darian Dziurzynski is a Western Junior tough guy who can score at that level. Zac Larazza was a steal toward the end of the draft. He is a long term forward project, but has size, enough skill to finish, and is an effective fore-checker. I look at the entire group and really like it, but I also see that it has a good chance of not delivering results to the major league roster, hence the difficulty of trying to grade drafts after they end. This group could adequately fill the cupboard though if the scouting staff's hopes are realized.

Grade: C+

 

Pittsburgh Penquins

The Penquins wanted to add a rushing defenseman and were able to snag Joe Morrow in the first. He will not be rushed and may even get a lot bigger in the next few years. Scott Harrington is one of the top stay-at-home defenders in the draft. There is upside, but teams will be delighted with the toolbox that he already possesses. He has very good long term potential as a top 4-6 defender. The Pens didn't pick again until the last three rounds drafting Dominik Uher, a Russian-born centre current honing his game in the WHL, high school forward Josh Archibald, and Canadian-born forward Scott Wilson who is presently attending the UMass-Lowell.

Grade: B-

 

San Jose Sharks

Call it organizational hangover. The Sharks were so desperate to add the one last piece to their defense, they ran contrary to all logic and basically traded three numbers one for Brett Burns. This left them with one pick in the range of that good developmental group of 50, where teams select and bring along their prospect getting NHL games out of him. Matt Nieto, currently at BU, may have been their only guy, as he is one of the fastest player in the draft, despite being light and thin. Justin Sefton is a big defender who seeks out opportunities to throw big hits and punches, while showing an offensive side. Sean Kuraly is a long shot due to his lack of good hands & puck skills, and is only a decent skater at this juncture, but plays big. Daniil Sobchenko is a huge center playing in Russia. Dylan Demelo is an aggressive defenseman with good offensive skills and demeanor. He needs to grow bigger and refine his decision-making allowing him to be patient when in the attack. Strength will determine if he can improve enough to reach higher levels. Colin Blackwell is a smallish scoring center. Their first and last picks were smaller players, who were sandwiched by selections that where much larger prospects.

Grade: C-

 

St. Louis Blues

In selecting Ty Rattie, the Blues may not have gotten the biggest player available but he certainly is skilled, quick and good enough with the puck to eventually fit with the Blues who were devastated by young Perron's concussion. Rattie may be the most underrated pick in the draft. Dmitri Jaskin may have been a first rounder if his feet where already a bit quicker. Large, physical power wing type with a nice hard wrist shot, good vision and decent hands. Joel Edmundson was one of the draft's risers after showing good offensive prowess to go along with his solid defensive prowess and ability to drop the gloves. Goalie Jordan Binnington is also a riser after his standout Memorial Cup showing. The Blues are hoping that in time, the once highly touted Yannick Veilleux will be able to be more than the checking line player his upside projection has been downgraded to. Ryan Tesink is an undersized two-way wing who has hockey smarts, good vision, great feet, and solid offensive skills. The two Euros, goalie Niklas Lundström and Teemu Eronen, are scout staff developmental players.

Grade: B+

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

In a draft that where the Lightening might have been thinking about rushing defenseman early, the 1st round hopefuls were all off the board before their pick. Thus they went Russian, Russian, Russian. Vladislav Namestnikov is a great value at 27 in the first. More a native of the Detroit Michigan area than mother Russia, he is very similar to Winnipeg's Alexander Burmisitrov, who spent the year with the team at 18. An energetic player, Namestnikov has great hands and plays fast. The highly skilled but undersized Nikita Kucherov must have sold Tampa with good gears and a nose for the net after his offensive display at the World U-18’s. He is still learning to play entire games without taking time off though. I’d want to make sure he is planning to make the jump to a North American junior team before I picked him in the second round of a draft. Nikita Nesterov is the third Russian. The rest are long term developments with Mike's son, Matt Peca, projected as an energy forward sometime down the road.

Grade: C

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

Ask any one what the Maple Leafs need and then decide if this draft satisfies the need. Brian Burke had his finger on the trade trigger since the combine, intent upon taking his two number ones, and turning them into a higher one. He was able to turn the lower one, at pick 30, into an eight slot jump up, by throwing in pick 39. This was done to be able to select Tyler Biggs, and still have a late first rounder to take a chance on Stuart Percy.  As much as I love the damage that Biggs can do, I wonder if there is actually a good chance that he can develop into a 20-goal scorer. Percy, who is a bit less than 6-foot-1, shows he can add to a team’s offense and handle most situations defensively supporting the puck in all three zones. The Leafs need scoring. I am not sold that trading the 30th and 39th pick for the 22nd and selecting Tyler Biggs aids your organizational need. Taking two chances on offensive help may have helped more since five forwards were selected in that area, and the next Leaf picked wasn't until way in the fishing areas of the late third where potential power forward Josh Leivo was available. He skates well and makes space for his linemates, finally showing in the playoffs that he could have latent offensive ability. Tom Nilsson is an undersized Swedish D-man who loves to hit. Tony Cameranesi is a small high school centre, David Broll is an edgy "long term Biggs" if you will, and Max Everson is basically the "U.S. Stuart Percy-lite". D-man Dennis Robertson and goalie Garret Sparks are players their scouts specifically felt compelled to roll the dice on.       

Grade: C+

 

Vancouver Canucks

Despite the disappointing implosion in the Cup Final, the Canucks were able to secure a big-bodied scorer in Nicklas Jensen, who has a ways to go before he is viewed as more than a one zone offensive generator. It is an interesting parallel that scouts think he lacks intensity, and many thought the Canucks already had twins that played that way. Much can be said about their selection of goalie David Honzik, but he was an excellent value at slot 71.  Alexander Grenier might be a developing giant in the Quebec league but it is too soon to say. High schooler Joseph Labate is also an excellent value late a juncture in round four, and he has a real nice quick and heavy shot. He uses the size he already has to his advantage in front and in the battle areas, and projects as a solid big forward when he adds size to his already wide-bodied frame. The three late Swedish picks, Ludwig Blomstrand, Pathrik Westerholm, and Henrik Tommernes, are attempts at possible roster fillers when and if they do put their games together. Frank Corrado is an OHA defender who is thick, not tall, and also a guy they hope develops.

Grade: C+

 

Washington Capitals

By trading their only pick in the first 117, the Capitals decided to sit the draft out. Even more curious was that their first pick was a Norwegian goalie Steffen Soberg whose Worlds U-18 highlight reel must be stuck in the Caps DVD machine. So they presently had three young goalies that still need to develop, but this smaller goalie with a big glove, good movement, superb agility & reflexes, and a strong low game caught their eye, and was by far the best guy on the board at 117? They may be correct! Patrick Koudys, taken in the next round, is a hard working smart and skilled long-term project, who has good North-South speed, and room for growth on his frame. His feet have to catch up to his growth spurt. Travis Boyd is a smaller USA developmental player and Garrett Haar is a work in progress. Both are going to college in hopes of developing.

Grade: B- 

 

Winnipeg Jets

I love that the Jets were able to steal away part of the draft show. Their new GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, may have brought the Chicago draft list with him. Regardless, the Jets felt they had to target a forward that could grow into a role as a franchise offensive speed type player. They had to take a leap of faith by passing four players who clearly were ranked further along than Mark Scheifele. Rumors suggest Chicago might have been trying to move into the early teens to secure this developing offensive talent, who clearly has excellent skill and will be a bigger man by the time he is ready to play. So, the Jets surprised the crowd by elevating his status. The Jets will look back at this new kid in a candy store selection with a bit of a tummy ache. If they wanted Scheifele they probably could have traded down to slot ten to get him. Adam Lowry is a work in progress. The size is there, but the skating balance, strength, and snarl need tweaking. A big guy who will get bigger, but plays with jam. The wall is where he works and with continued filling out and work on his skating, he’ll get there. Brennan Serville is a lanky mobile defender with good balance who has puck skills and up-ice strengths. Zackary Yuen works as a shutdown defender with some up-ice offensive abilities. Austen Brassard is a big three zone winger who has some power game and is very active all over the ice, with limited offensive prowess. Jason Kasdorf is a lanky netminder who led his team to the Manitoba Junior playoffs. Aaron Harstad is a mobile defenseman with power play experience.

Grade: B

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