Saturday, July 3, 2010

A League-wide NHL Draft Recap

Before we head into talk of free agents and July 1st trades, I think I should recap last week’s draft after letting it settle in for a bit. I don’t like to pick winners and losers because obviously players can get better or worse and it is way too early to tell. In 2003, Hugh Jessiman was taken with the 12th overall pick while 2010 playoff heroes Dustin Byfuglien and Jaroslav Halak were taken in the eighth and ninth rounds (respectively)—rounds that don’t even exist anymore.

I think the Wild did a great job in the draft this year (their draft as a whole might be underrated and I may be biased, but I would group them with some of these teams), but I think there are some other teams that deserve recognition for their great weekends. With that in mind, I’ll share with you some of the teams I think made out pretty well. When teams have different draft positions, different amounts of picks, and different needs and wants, it is hard to rank teams, so I put the teams in alphabetical order by location. I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but the draft is like my Christmas and I couldn’t resist. You can “ctrl/command+F” it to skim for your favorite players or teams (sorry if that comes up empty) if you’re short on time or if you’re not a big reader. Anyway, he we go:


When Scott Niedermeyer retired last week, Ducks fans couldn’t imagine how they could replace him. What defenseman could they trade for or sign to replace the captain of their squad? Well, instead of having to wait for a kind of move like that, the Ducks had the solution land right in their lap. Cam Fowler’s painstaking wait to be drafted finally ended when the Ducks took him with the 12th overall pick.

Sure, Fowler won’t immediately reinstate Niedermeyer’s veteran presence, but if he can make the team in 2010-2011, the Ducks will get instant offense from their blueline. Fowler is one of the best skaters from an impressive draft class and he put it on display in Windsor last year, scoring at a point-per-game clip. He is also pressure tested and will be out to make the teams that drafted other players ahead of him pay, so if he bulks up between now and the time he hits the ice at the Honda Center—watch out. I bet Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Bobby Ryan’s mouths will water when they see Fowler in the lineup because Fowler is a great playmaker.

A team cannot make this blog post by taking just one good player and if one player falling in the Ducks’ lap wasn’t good enough, they somehow managed to land Long Beach-native Emerson Etem without even trading up. After the Flyers (who parted with their first round pick in their package for Chris Pronger) turned a pick in the mid teens to number 29 with their run to the Cup finals, the Ducks must have been pretty frustrated. But in the end, the player they got with the second-to-last pick of the first round was one they would have been wise to choose had Fowler not fallen to them at 12.

Before drafting a few possible sleepers in the later rounds, the Ducks snagged Mississauga fan favorite Devante Smith-Pelly. If you Google him to find a picture, you will see a 6-foot-7, 300-pound college linebacker in a hockey jersey. In reality, he is less than six feet tall. Don’t be fooled though, this guy will bring Anaheim fans to their feet by bringing to the team a hard nosed boulder of a power forward. At 211 pounds, Smith-Pelly is one of the heaviest players in the draft and has a good hockey sense to go with it.

After a couple a few average years, the Ducks may have pulled off their best draft since 2003, where they added a few key cogs to their 2007 Stanley Cup run in Ryan Getzlaf (19th overall), Corey Perry (28th overall), and Drew Milled (186th overall, sixth round).


If I knew at the time the Bruins traded Phil Kessel that I would start this blog, I could have told you that day that the Bruins would be on this list. With a pick at the beginning and middle of the first and second rounds, Boston would have had to mess things up really bad to come up with anything short of a stellar 2010 draft class.

The obvious headliner on his way to Beantown is Plymouth Whalers center Tyler Seguin. Seguin brings with him a solid repertoire skills that could land him in the show right off the bat, even though the Bruins have three very good options at center in David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and if they keep him, Marc Savard. GM Peter Chiarelli may opt to make room on the team so Seguin can make his NHL debut in Prague in the fall.

The Bruins traded their own first round pick (as opposed to the one they got from Toronto) to Florida for some help on the wing in former third overall pick Nathan Horton. With these new additions, the Bruins are poised to make a solid run at home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs and to make a deep run when they get there. They already had good defense and goaltending, but they desperately needed scoring, so they went out and got essentially the best point producer from another team and last year’s OHL scoring co-champion.

But the Bruins didn’t stop there. In round two, the Bruins drafted two of the most underrated players in the draft in Jered Knight and Ryan Spooner, two of the second-rounders most likely to play in the NHL this coming year. In terms of playing in the NHL this year, they both have the fact that they are centers going against them, but having too many centers is a good problem to have—or at least a better problem than if the problem were reversed (see: your very own Minnesota Wild…edit: Matt Cullen signed as I was typing this!). Don’t hold it against them if they don’t make the team, though—just know that the Bruins had a great second round and that they can call on these players if need be.

Spooner may have ended up in first-round territory, had he not suffered a broken collarbone in playing in Peterborough. Some compare him to Jeff Skinner in that he is a high-scoring player with a good hockey sense. Knight is somewhat of a sleeper. He is a speedy two-way center that can put the put in the net (he scored 36 goals in 63 games in the O). On an aside, I’m thinking Knight will try extra hard to make the B’s to escape the Jared Knight/London Knights jokes and/or puns that he must see a lot of in juniors. That must have gotten old by now, the same way Ducks/Fowl(er) references will get old in Anaheim…I assume.

Moving on. Another player I like that the Bruins took is Justin Florek of Northern Michigan University. Working as a locker room attendant at the NCAA West Regional, I walked by the team locker rooms and saw a lot of players (mainly on Wisconsin and St. Cloud) that made me think to myself, “This kid’s a pro prospect? I feel like I could knock him off the puck.” Florek was not one of those guys. He towered over me and had me looking up at him as he walked by me to get to the bench. Florek stands at 6-foot-4, 194 pounds and was a dominating force on the ice against St. Cloud. The Wildcats fell in overtime so St. Cloud, but Florek made his presence known, notching a goal and an assist.

Florek was one of two wingers the Bruins took in the draft. The other? Craig Cunningham. Cunningham lit up the Western Hockey League for 97 points in 72 games and continued his rampant scoring pace in the playoffs by pumping in 12 goals and adding 12 assists in 16 playoff games—good for sixth place in league scoring in the regular season and third in the playoffs. He is a bit undersized at 5-foot-9, but he still managed to lead the Vancouver Giants to the WHL Western Conference Finals. If the Vancouver Giants is a name that sounds familiar to Bruins fans, that’s because Milan Lucic played for them before being signed by Boston. Cunningham played his rookie season in the WHL on the same team as Lucic (this past season was Cunningham’s fourth season with the G-men), so if Cunningham ever makes it to Boston, he will be greeted by a familiar face. That Giants team won the Memorial Cup, by the way.

The Bruins also added a North Dakota recruit Zane Gothberg, a goalie who played at Thief River Falls in Minnesota. Gothberg will have time to develop in college behind Brad Eidsness and after college, probably in Providence as a member of the Baby B’s. He projects to be a pretty good professional goalie, and this wouldn’t surprise me—he is going to the same school Ed Belfour went to.

The week of the draft brought a new crop of young talent and immediate NHL contributors to the Bay State. Chiarelli still has some work to do, but he’s in a good position for the present and the future, in large part thanks to this draft (and, in a way, Brian Burke and Phil Kessel).


The Hurricanes are always that team that you don’t take seriously until they come from nowhere beat you. The New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins found that out in the 2009 playoffs. They never really look that formidable. Eric Staal and Cam Ward are really their only standout players—or the players that you don’t have to be a huge fan of the game to know about. This season, they were giving the Maple Leafs a run for their money for last place in the East before going on a huge run and getting back into serious playoff contention. No one thought they would win a Cup when they did in 2006 and something about them has made a lot fans not take them seriously even after they won it. I think their first round pick reflects this type of mentality.

Jeff Skinner is only 5-foor-10, but he can flat out score—and he can do that arguably better than anyone from this year’s draft. He scored 50 goals last season for Kitchener and added 20 more in 20 playoff games, leading the Rangers to the OHL Western Conference finals. There, Kitchener became the only team to beat the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL postseason, pushing the Spits to seven games. It’s funny that people knock him for his skating because he was at one time a nationally ranked figure skating in Canada. Watching some highlights of him, you can see some of his figure skating past in the way he skates now—that is if he doesn’t score before can take the time to notice it. I think Skinner will be a household name in Carolina (the way he is now in Kitchener) after a year or two in the NHL, especially if he can get bigger.

After drafting Skinner, the ‘Canes stocked up on defense. With two picks in the second round, Carolina took blueliners Justin Faulk (no, not the Wild’s Justin Falk) and incoming Gopher hockey freshman Mark Alt. The reason I emphasize the word hockey is because Alt was thinking of playing football in college, after being offered D-1 scholarships following a state championship football season at Cretin Derham Hall (the same high school Joe Mauer, Paul Molitor, Rangers prospect Ryan McDonagh, and million other great athletes attended). In the end, Alt chose hockey and will wearing maroon and gold in the fall. Alt is a very big kid at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds and is one of the most athletic players in the draft. Now that he can focus on one sport, I think the gamble will pay off and the son of former Kansas City Chief John Alt will bulk up the Hurricanes’ blueline in a few years.

Justin Faulk will be on the opposite blueline from Alt in the fall as a Minnesota-Duluth recruit, making the two defensemen WCHA rivals. Faulk brings to the table a defenseman who can put up points with his good skating and hard shot. He can make due at his position at the other end of the rink, as well. Many sources note the St. Paul-native’s ability to effectively run the power play and win 1-on-1 battles. I don’t look forward to seeing Faulk play against the Gophers in the fall—we could be in for a low-scoring series.

The Hurricanes drafted two more players I’m interested in—Danny Biega and Justin Shugg. I think Biega, like Alt, will be an NHL defenseman someday, but I think Biega has some things in his way right now. Alt had football and Biega has school. Biega is trying to graduate from Harvard University in three years and as a student-athlete, that is no easy task. However, we now know that when he sets his mind on one goal, Biega can do almost anything. He showed this by training hard for the combine and dominating at it accordingly. Biega is a bit undersized for a defenseman, but if you don’t keep your head up against him, you’ll regret it when you’re lying on the ice in the neutral zone. Shugg is more of a sleeper because he was buried on a very deep Windsor Spitfires roster, but I think the ‘Canes stole this guy at 105th overall—he could have easily gone in the late second round.

Carolina will continue to sneak up on teams in the coming years like they have in the past couple years and in the 2010 draft, but maybe by the time some of these prospects develop, the NHL and its fans will see them coming and give them more respect. said Carolina was a loser in this year’s draft, but I disagree because my opinion of Jeff Skinner is much higher. We shall see…


The Oilers did really well in this draft. How could they not? They had three second round picks. With their first pick of the second round, they took Tyler Pitlick, nephew of former NHLer Lance Pitlick. Pitlick enjoyed a solid freshman season at Minnesota State Mankato, putting home 11 goals to go along with eight assists and 27 penalty minutes. I wasn’t crazy about him when Mankato played the Gophers at Mariucci in December when the Mavericks came in and beat Minnesota 3-1, but I thought he played much better the next day as he scored two goals in the second half of the home-and-home series (oddly enough, the Gophers won that game 6-2). I think Pitlick is better than his numbers indicate and that his switch to major junior hockey will show that. I think the Oilers got somewhat of a steal taking Pitlick in the second round.

Other solid picks made by Edmonton were giant Slovakian defender Martin Marincin (who THN calls potentially the next Zdeno Chara), the hard-working Curtis Hamilton, and Ryan Martindale. Each of these players comes with some sort of baggage. Marincin sounds like a pretty good player to have on your team. He is a good passer and has a pretty good hockey sense, but he doesn’t possess a ton of skill and doesn’t offer a whole lot more than his size. Hamilton is a good overall player, but he does have durability issues. If he can crack the roster and stay healthy someday, I think Hamilton will be a very useful player for Edmonton. Martindale, who the Oilers took in the third round, is a big center that puts up pretty good numbers, but has consistency issues and doesn’t quite know how to use his 6-foot-3, 183-pound frame yet. There is a chance that all three of these players and that any of the players that the Oilers took after the second round become good assets to the team, but I think only one or two of these three picks will.

Caught up in all the Pitlick, Marincin, Hamilton, and Martindale hype, there is another player the Oilers drafted that might be pretty decent. Taylor Hall, the winger from the Windsor Spitfires. Hall had a mediocre career with the Spits, logging an acceptable 356 points (158-198-356) in 227 games over three seasons. All joking aside (and yes, not mentioning Hall right away was part of the joke), Hall will probably be on the Oilers’ roster right away. He will be one of the main reasons the Oilers improve on their 30th-place finish in the NHL, along with the return of Ales Hemsky, who put up 22 points in 22 games before suffering a season-ending injury, and the addition of promising rookies Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson—hey, now that I think about it they really might be pretty good next year.

Hall was a co-scoring champion of the OHL along with Tyler Seguin, but Hall’s Spitfires dominated Seguin’s Plymouth Whalers in the second round of the OHL playoffs. It is true that the Windsor Spitfires probably could have done well if you put them in the AHL, but one of the main reasons they won the Memorial Cup two years in a row was because of Hall. After all, he was the first player to ever win two Stafford Smythe trophies (Mem Cup MVP). Hall is a game-changer. Anyone who draws comparisons to NHL legends Pavel Bure and Teemu Selanne must be. In the WJC, Hall tied for third in the tourney in scoring, averaging a goal and an assist per game. He potted a goal and two assists in the gold medal loss to Team USA. Not only does Hall put up points, but a lot of plays he makes are highlight reel ones—he has great speed and great hands and he’s just a winner.

Sure, the Oilers probably aren’t in position to win a Cup or make a deep run in the next year, but it’s not out of the question that they could be the next Blackhawks with Hall and Eberle being similar to the Jonathan Toews/Pat Kane combo. Eberle, Hall, and Paajarvi-Svensson were all in the WJC’s top ten in scoring and Eberle is probably one of the most clutch players (two separate links there) in Canadian hockey history, before even stepping foot on NHL ice. Expect the Oilers to be contenders in a couple years or whenever they can add more pieces around these three and can stay healthy.


GM Dale Tallon had one of the best drafts I’ve seen in a while. Prior to the draft, he acquired the 15th overall pick (plus Dennis Wideman and a third rounder in 2011) from the Bruins in exchange for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell. The acquisition of Wideman made former Gopher Keith Ballard expendable, so he shipped Ballard and Victor Oreskovich to Vancouver for Steve Bernier, Michael Grabner, and Vancouver’s first round pick (25th overall).

I think Grabner and Bernier are great additions to Florida’s team especially now that they are trying to replace Horton, who probably would have been the team’s leading scorer if not gotten injured. In addition to adding offense to the current team, Tallon and the Panthers made 13 picks over the two days.

With those picks, the Panthers added a lot of talent to their organization. With the third pick, Florida selected Eric Gudbranson, a towering blueliner who will probably end up being the face of the franchise someday. I see Gudbranson making the big club next season or in 2011 at the latest. The Panthers added even more size to their defense by taking Alex Petrovic in the second round. When Gudbranson, Petrovic, Keaton Ellerby, and Dmitry Kulikov take over on D and Jacob Markstrom becomes the man in net (Tomas Vokoun’s pretty good in the mean time), Florida will be one of the hardest teams to score on in the NHL.

In addition to these big D-men, the Panthers added plenty of offense by drafting (very near) future Gopher Nick Bjugstad, Sudbury’s John McFarland and center and two-way team guy Quinton Howden at left wing. Bjugstad, Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey, will add speed, size and a hard shot up front while Howden will help fill any role necessary and will aid the team in the faceoff department. McFarland, considered to be the most overrated players in the draft by ISS, could be a risk, but the Panthers could afford to take the gamble because they made so many more picks.

Connor Brickley, nephew of Bruins color guy (and former Bruin/UNH Wildcat) Andy Brickley, was the second-highest rated USHL prospect in the draft by The Vermont-bound (2011) center will bring size and an big, aggressive presence down the road. Future UMD Bulldog Joe Basaraba is a talented forward as well.

As an avid follower of Star Tribune Wild beat writer Michael Russo—former Florida Panthers beat writer—I heard a lot a lot of gushing over Florida’s draft and when I took a closer look, I must say the praise is much deserved.


Warning: an El Nino hitting Long Island. I foolishly hoped Nino Niederreiter would slip to the Wild at number nine and my heart sunk when I watched him join Entourage’s Kevin Connolly on the STAPLES Center stage. Niederreiter is one of the few players who could be NHL-ready this year. He has the size to play in the League already and although he is very young, I think he has what it takes to make a difference on an NHL team right now. His one-handed wrist shot is harder than Kim Johnsson’s slap shot and he has a knack for scoring big goals, as we witnessed when he scored a goal in the last minute of the World Junior quarterfinal game against Russia and when finished the job with the OT winner.

With the last pick of the first round, the Islanders took future North Dakota [Insert new school nickname here] Brock Nelson. Nelson a big power forward who shares a bloodline with American hockey heroes Bill and Dave Christian (gold medalists in 1960 and 1980, respectively) was simply unstoppable in high school for Warroad (Minnesota). He averaged an absurd 2.92 points per game and will hope his vision and quick hands help him show that weak competition wasn’t the only reason he put up big numbers. He still has some developing to do in Grand Forks, but I think he’ll be a big asset to the Islanders down the road.

In the third round, Islanders GM Garth Snow was “that guy.” After two rounds of watching what could be the best talent in the draft get passed up, Snow put Russian question mark Kirill Kabanov out of his misery by selecting him with the fifth pick of the third round. Kabanov could be the most talented player in the draft, but he raised red flags by leaving Moncton of the QMJHL and getting kicked off the Russian Under-18 team. I know it looks bad, but to me this doesn’t look like a kid that will bail on the Islanders for the KHL. He did all he could do to prove that after he was selected. Some say the problems surrounding Kabanov could have been caused by his parents. If Kabanov pans out for New York, GMs around the league will be kicking themselves for not taking him. A future offense that includes John Tavares, Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo, Rob Schremp, Niederreiter, Nelson, and Kabanov (all of those players except Kabanov are former first round picks) should be enough to give Atlantic Division defenses nightmares.

Ten years to the day after Mike Milbury destroyed this once-great organization, Garth Snow may have revived it with this draft. I think the organization is a little shallow in the defense department, so if Islander fans can stomach one more bad year and Snow can draft a stud defenseman like Adam Larsson next year to add to the likes of Calvin de Haan, Travis Hamonic, and Gopher Aaron Ness, the Islanders could be dangerous in the future.


After watching the Capitals obliterate the Southeast Division, the Eastern Conference, and actually the entire NHL in the regular season, I didn’t think Washington would add that many good prospects with late draft picks, but I didn’t think they really need it. The Hershey Bears are in the Calder Cup conversation every year and won it again this year. They have been able to call up prospects at crucial times in the season and receive instant production for the past few years and even though they had a late first round pick and no second rounder, they did indeed add to it this past weekend.

With their first two picks, the Caps laughed right in the face of the “Russian Factor” by taking Evgeny Kuznetsov and Stanislav Galiev. I mean, why not? They already have a couple pretty good Russian players on their team right now. Kuznetsov called the KHL his home last year and probably would have gone closer to the middle of the first round if he wasn’t from Russia and hadn’t been disappointing before making the Under-18 Six Nations tournament look like Rookie mode on NHL10. Other than his lack of physical play and consistency problems that I think will go away with his willingness to succeed, there isn’t much of a downside to this pick. He could be a project, but the Caps are a team that can afford to work on it.

Galiev has a couple question marks, but I think he easily could have been taken in the late first or second round, so the Russian-laden Capitals were smart to snap him up late in the third round. Galiev, a Russian who seems to want to play in North America, impressed scouts with his size, skill, and good offensive instincts, but did not produce a ton of points in his rookie season in the QMJHL. I expect him to recover from his statistical “let down” of a season and make a difference for Washington if they have room for him in a few years.

Another player who slipped to the Capitals, but for a more reasonable reason—not every team needs another goalie (although as Dale Tallon said, it’s never bad to have too many good goalies)—was German backstop Phillip Grubauer. In the World Under-20 Championship Division I Group A, where the winner would be promoted to the top group for 2011, Grubauer posted a 5-0 record with three shutouts, a 0.64 GAA, and .974 save percentage to ensure Germany got first place. After the tournament Grubauer was traded from the OHL’s Belleville Bulls to Windsor, where he went 13-1-1 and had a 2.37 GAA and .906 save percentage, helping the Spitfires repeat as Memorial Cup Champions.

In addition to these three picks, Washington added Minnesota-Duluth-bound Caleb Herbert and high scoring Lewiston MAINEiac defenseman Samuel Carrier. The Capitals didn’t have great picks to work with and didn’t do much to help the positions they drafted from, but I think for a team that can only add more gas to the giant forest fire of talent they have—including prospects and young players that already have good NHL experience under their belt and don’t count as prospects anymore—they did really well.



Thirteen teams didn’t make a pick in the second round and only nine of the 17 teams that had picks only had one pick. This means that eight teams had multiple picks in the second round and of all teams, the defending Stanley Cup Champions had the most with four. After making a questionable pick in Kevin Hayes in the first round, the Blackhawks added a good crop of talent by taking the tall Swedish winger Ludvig Rensfeldt, defensemen Justin Holl and Stephen Johns and goalie Kent Simpson, all good picks in my opinion. Actually, I wouldn’t have found any of those picks much crazier than picking Hayes in the first round. GM Stan Bowman may have somewhat dismantled his banner-raising team, but the core is still there and through good trades and draft picks, he has reloaded it inexpensively.


After first-round pick, Notre Dame’s Riley Sheahan, was arrested in April for public intoxication and minor consumption, I felt this guy had AJ Thelen written all over him. Some say he’s overrated, but some say his production was lacking because of the defense-first system Notre Dame employs under coach Jeff Jackson. That said, he is a good defensive forward—worthy of his late first-round flier. However, I think Detroit did their damage in the later rounds. The late-surging Calle Jarnkrok of Sweden was a steal and the underachieving Louis-Marc Aubry was worth a flier, but taking Teemu Pulkkinen at 111th overall was, in my opinion, one of the best picks in the entire draft.

Pulkkinen could have been a first round pick. It is beyond me how he fell to late in the fourth round. Pulkkinen and Wild first rounder Mikael Granlund were an unstoppable tandem as linemates in international play. It was Pulkkinen who scored ten goals in six games and won best forward at the World U-18s. Pulkkinen is one of the most underrated players in the draft and he is one of the top scorers because of his creativity and lethal shot. This could be Detroit’s biggest steal since Henrik Zetterberg. Like Chicago, I’m not crazy about Detroit’s first round pick, but what they did after made it a great weekend.


The hosts of this year’s draft didn’t have a ton of picks in the draft, but they sure made the most of the ones they had. Their first pick went to the towering Minnesotan defenseman Derek Forbort—the first of six players taken in the draft that are 6-foot-5 or taller. Forbort can make offense by joining the rush or causing havoc in front of the net on the power play and he is responsible defensively. God help the Pacific Division when Forbort is on defense with Drew Doughty, Thomas Hickey, and Colten Teubert.

The Kings also added some serious offense by getting Ottawa 67 goal scorer Tyler Toffoli and Jordan Weal, who somehow slid to the hosts in the third round. Toffoli is a competitive player with a good shot that aids him in being labeled as a natural goal scorer. Weal is listed by at 5-foot-10, by The Hockey News at 5-foot-9, and somewhere in between by ISS, but THN says some he’s closer to a Nathan Gerbe-like 5-foot-7. Clearly, this was the main reason he slipped, but even in the second round, I would have found it hard to pass up on a guy who had over 100 points in the WHL if I were a GM.


Like LA, Nashville didn’t have too many picks to work with, but still came out as winners in my book. They took gritty Californian defenseman Taylor Aronson and Patrick Cehlin looks like he will be a good two-way forward coming out of the top league in Sweden. The pick I really love that Nashville made was their first one—Austin Watson. Watson, one of 11 Americans taken in the first round of the draft, is one of my favorites. Based on what he sacrificed to get to this point as a player, I am confident that he will do everything it takes and more to become an NHLer.

A big, two-way forward, who grew up playing in Michigan while living with his grandparents after his family moved to Florida, Watson produced at a two-point-per-game pace in Peterborough. After winning a Mem Cup with Windsor, Watson proved that he wasn’t hiding behind the depth of a great team by ramping up his game after allowing the Spitfires to trade him to the Petes. He proved his competitiveness and great hockey sense were real. I was pleased to see Hungry Hill (Springfield, MA)-native and Nashville assistant GM Paul Fenton (I am a Paul Fenton Hockey Camp alum) make Watson Nashville’s first round pick—it was a good one.


The Devils didn’t have a pick in the first round, but they might as well have. They swiped highly-touted Michigan recruit Jon Merrill with the eighth pick in round number two. A lot of people love Merrill and there isn’t much not to love. ISS predicted Merrill would land with the Ducks with the 12th overall pick and if Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley weren’t still on the board, I wouldn’t have been surprised. ISS says Merrill has Norris Trophy potential and that he shouldn’t be in the college ranks too long—that there isn’t a situation he isn’t dominant in. THN had Merrill ranked 31st-overall and I thought that was low, but New Jersey made out like gangbusters by taking him at 38.

The Devils went a little off the board by selecting Scott Wedgewood with their third round pick, but I love their first round pick Joe Faust. Faust led Bloomington-Jefferson to the Section 2AA finals by scoring a nice overtime winner against Burnsville in the semis and is heading to Princeton next year. He seems like a good overall player with character who needs some developing and will be doing just that as he changes from a Jaguar into a Tiger next fall. The Devils had by far the best draft out of teams sans a first round pick.


The Blues took the first NCAA-bound player in the draft, nabbing incoming Colorado College Tiger freshman Jaden Schwartz. Schwartz is a bit undersized at 5-foot-10, but it would have been hard to pass up on a guy who broke the scoring record at a storied Athol Murray College of Notre Dame program (alums include Vinny Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Wendel Clark…the list goes on) by putting up 111 points in 44 games (what?!). He followed that up by putting up the USHL’s highest point total (83) since Tomas Vanek, so forgive the Blues for biting on this one. Schwartz just gets it done.

The Blues made two more picks I liked. Two picks after taking Schwartz, who many considered a reach, they took Russian sensation Vladimir Tarasenko at 16. Tarasenko’s stock supposedly suffered from the Russian factor, but I like the pick. Tarasenko has lightning speed, a quick release, and is effective in all situations—he is no stranger to the shorthanded goal. He is close to being NHL-ready if the Blues can get him over here and if they can…well, I’d rather not think about how good that would make the Central Division. I’ll take anyone mentioned in the same sentence as Alex Ovechkin (even if it was calling him a “poor man’s Ovechkin”) and ranked number four overall by ISS. Chances are that at least one of their first rounders will eventually be a Blue and will make them a lot better.

The other pick I liked was incoming Gopher frosh Max Gardiner, brother of Wisconsin Badger and Anaheim Ducks first round draftee, Jake Gardiner. Gardiner left a good impression on me when I saw him face Nick Bjugstad’s Blaine Bengals in Minnesota high school action. Both number 27s (Gardiner and Bjugstad) looked considerably bigger and better than everyone on the ice, although little Minnetonka freshman Max Coatta got a hat trick. Because of the riskiness of some of the Blues picks, I couldn’t put their draft with the first teams I mentioned—but I do like what St. Louis did here.


It could be because I followed this draft more than any draft in the past, but I though it was very entertaining. Every team came away with something different on the weekend and there were a lot of off the board picks and deep sleepers (or at least that is how they are though of now). I don't think there were any Sidney Crosbys, Alex Ovechkins, Bobby Orrs or Wayne Gretzkys taken, but the class of 2010 was very talented and deep. Six teams didn’t pick in the first round: Toronto, Calgary (I thought the Flames had a good draft considering…), Philadelphia, Ottawa, New Jersey (mentioned above if you skimmed), and Vancouver. Calgary, Philly, and Ottawa didn’t pick until the third round, Toronto had to trade up to get a second rounder (Brad Ross), and Vancouver’s first pick didn’t come until the fourth round, 115 overall (love it). Swiss goalie and WJC hero Benjamin Conz and Swede sleeper Jonathan Johansson went completely undrafted, which was a shock to me.

Just as a side note to people who know me, I did not include any teams on here because they are favorite teams of my friends. I think the Bruins (Pete Stevens and Chris Tranghese…and many others who may or may not have recently jumped on the bandwagon), Ducks (Cam Napolitan), Capitals (Ryan O’Toole), and any other teams my friends may like on here had great drafts. This paragraph was my shout out to those people (you should also follow Pete Stevens’ and Ryan O’Toole’s blogs, by the way).

OK I’m on my thirteenth page in Microsoft Word here, so if you’re still reading this, congratulations and thank you. I know it’s a lot, so I apologize again for making this a summer reading book. Even if you skimmed this, I hope you learned something. Maybe your opinions of some players were weakened or strengthened; maybe you agree with some of my evaluations, maybe you disagree completely with all of them (although I think it’s hard to say Florida had a bad draft, but if you think so, I guess I can respect that).

Either way, I’m glad you toughed it out and read this. I know it was long—trust me, I wrote it. It’s the longest “piece” I’ve ever written, even in college. Remember, being left off list doesn’t mean team didn’t draft well, but these are the teams and players that stuck out to me the most, so don’t panic if I didn’t mention your favorite team. It’s not like I’m a GM or a scout (but that would be awesome someday—as for now, I do my best and use the best sources I can find). Thanks again for reading. I hope to get a free agent frenzy-related post or posts up soon.

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