NHL Draft Recap

Steve Mitchell - USA TODAY Sports

It was an eventful weekend in Sunrise, Florida, but the NHL Draft has come to an end.

Not only were 211 players drafted over the span of two days, but there were many trades that moved some other bodies around the league.

It all began in the morning hours before the draft even began on Friday when the Sabres acquired goaltender Robin Lehner and center David Legwand from the Ottawa Senators for the 21st overall pick in the draft.

Then, a bomb-shell was dropped when the Bruins began to implode their young talent.

First, it was defenseman Dougie Hamilton being traded to the Calgary Flames for the 15th overall pick in the NHL Draft, as well as two second rounders this year.

Then, it was Milan Lucic going from Boston to Los Angeles and with the Kings. In exchange, the Kings shipped out goalie Martin Jones, prospect Colin Miller, and the 13th overall pick in this year’s draft.

As the first round of the draft neared closer and closer, perhaps the biggest trade of the evening went down.

Just moments before roll call to call all the teams to the NHL floor, the Sabres and Colorado Avalanche were in talks of a mega-deal that would send forward, Ryan O’Reilly to Buffalo.

New Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly

After commissioner Gary Bettman opened the NHL Draft and put the Edmonton Oilers on the clock, Edmonton made their pick with Connor McDavid going 1st overall, as expected. The Sabres then quickly went to the podium and selected center, Jack Eichel with the 2nd overall pick.

Almost before Eichel and the Sabres could step off the podium, Bettman returned to the podium to announce the trade that was reported just minutes before the draft.

Ryan O’Reilly and forward, Jamie McGinn were on their way to Buffalo, and defenseman Nikita Zadorov, forward Mikhail Grigorenko, prospect J.T. Compher, and the 31st overall pick in this year’s draft were heading to Colorado.

The draft calmed down in terms of trades for a while, as teams at the top made their picks for the future.

McDavid’s teammate, Dylan Strome, went 3rd overall to the Arizona Coyotes, while the Toronto Maple Leafs snagged London Knights’ forward, Mitchell Marner 4th overall. Then, the Carolina Hurricanes took Boston College defenseman, Noah Hanifin 5th overall, the New Jersey Devils took Sarnia Sting forward, Pavel Zacha 6th overall, and the Philadelphia Flyers took Russia’s Ivan Provorov with the 7th pick.

A lot of teams stayed where they were in the draft to make their selection, but that did not stop teams from still making moves. It began with the Oilers trading the 16th overall pick they had acquired from Pittsburgh and the 33rd overall pick to the New York Islanders in exchange for Griffin Reinhart, brother of Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart. The Islanders ended up selecting Mathew Barzal our of the WHL with Seattle.

The Philadelphia Flyers moved up in the first round from the 29th overall pick to the 24th overall pick to snag Travis Konecny out of Ottawa in the OHL.

Also, the Islanders managed to jump back into the first round again with the 28th pick to take left winger Anthony Beauvillier.

And the last move by a team was the Blue Jackets moving back into the 29th overall selection to draft Swedish defenseman, Gabriel Carlsson.

In all, a total of 21 forwards were taken in the first round of the draft, eight forwards, and only one goaltender in Russian goalie Ilya Samsonov. Washington took Samsonov with the 22nd overall pick, and made him the first goaltender drafted in the first round since 2012 when Andrey Vasilevskiy went to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

On to day two of the NHL Draft, and before the second round could even begin, the Carolina Hurricanes acquired goaltender Eddie Lack from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a couple of draft picks.

The Lack trade was the domino that fell to set off a series of trades involving goalies on the second day of the draft.

The next goaltender to move was Antti Niemi, as San Jose traded his negotiating rights to the Dallas Stars for a 7th-round pick in this year’s draft.

The next goaltender to move was Rangers’ back-up Cam Talbot. The Oilers acquired the 27-year old netminder in exchange for three draft picks in the 2015 NHL Draft.

After Talbot, the Hurricanes moved its back-up Anton Khudobin to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman James Wisniewski.

And finally, the Rangers went out and got their replacement for Cam Talbot by grabbing Antti Raanta from the Chicago Blackhawks for forward Ryan Haggerty.

A couple of other moves happened as well, including a deal between the Rangers and Ducks that sent Carl Hagelin to Anaheim and Emerson Etem to the “Big Apple.”

Also, Edmonton continued to make moves as the Oilers first traded Martin Marincin to the Maple Leafs for Brad Ross and a 4th-round pick this year. Then, the Oilers went out and acquired Eric Gryba from Ottawa in exchange for Travis Ewanyk and the 4th-rounder acquired in the Marincin trade.

As for the Sabres, Buffalo did not make another move on the second day of the draft. Instead, the team stayed put on each of its five picks on the day.


GMTM with Sabres pick Brendan Guhle

With the 51st overall pick, Buffalo selected Brendan Guhle from the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL. the 6′ 2″, 181-pound Guhle is most well known for his puck moving ability and his physical play on the ice. Guhle will certainly benefit from another couple years playing in the WHL, but could be a valuable defensive asset in the future.

But the Sabres were not done from there, especially with the defensemen. With the 92nd overall pick, the Sabres drafted William Borgen out of the USHL with the Omaha Lancers. At 122, Buffalo selected defenseman Devante Stephens from the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL. And with the 182nd overall selection, Buffalo took defenseman Ivan Chukarov out of the North American Hockey League with the Minnesota Wilderness.

The only other pick, that was not a defenseman, was Giorgio Estephan with the 152nd overall pick to begin the sixth round of the NHL Draft.

One surprising aspect of this draft was the amount of highly skilled players that fell deep into the draft. Players like Nick Merkley Travis Konecny were projected top 10-20 players in the draft. Konecny fell to the Flyers at 24, and Merkley went to the Coyotes at 30.

Paul Bittner fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round, after being projected as a top 15-30 pick in the draft.

Oliver Kylingtin dropped down to 60th overall to the Calgary Flames, after being ranked high in prospect rankings for most of the year.

Another prospect that dropped considerably is Jeremy Bracco, who was considered a low first rounder to a high second rounder. He fell to Toronto with the final pick of the second round.

Other players that fell unexpectedly were Thomas Novak (85th overall, Nashville), Ryan Pilon (147th overall), and Nikita Korostelev (185th overall, Toronto).

So we highlighted some of the main events that happened over the course of the draft. But which teams had a successful NHL Draft, and which team hurt themselves the most at the draft?



1.) Arizona Coyotes

Dylan Strome

Dylan Strome

Key Selections:

  • Dylan Strome – Center – 3rd overall
  • Nick Merkley – Center – 30th overall
  • Christian Fischer – Right Wing – 32nd overall
  • Kyle Capobianco – Defense – 63rd overall
  • Brendan Warren – Left Wing – 81st overall
  • Jens Lööke – Right Wing – 83rd overall

Key Acquisitions:

  • Nicklas Grossman – Defense – from Philadelphia

Key Departures:

  • Sam Gagner – Center – to Philadelphia

The Coyotes had the option of taking the next best player following McEichel at the top, and they hit a homerun with Strome. It also seemed like a miracle that Nick Merkley fell into Arizona’s lap at the end of the first round.

In all, Arizona got bigger in size, and added some quality, skill players that could have a major impact in the future.

A little surprised the Coyotes only took one defenseman in Capobianco, but really gained some depth up front.

Then again, they did acquire Nicklas Grossman from the Flyers shortly after the end of the NHL Draft.

2.) Buffalo Sabres

Key Selections:

  • Jack Eichel – Center – 2nd overall
  • Brendan Guhle – Defense – 51st overall

Key Acquisitions:

  • Ryan O’Reilly – Center – from Colorado
  • Robin Lehner – Goalie – from Ottawa
  • Jamie McGinn – Left Wing – from Colorado
  • David Legwand – Center – from Ottawa

Key Departures:

  • Nikita Zadorov – Defense – to Colorado
  • Mikhail Grigorenko – Center – to Colorado
  • J.T. Compher – Center – to Colorado

Not only did the Sabres draft its first generational player since Gilbert Perrault in 1970, but general manager Tim Murray set his team up to potentially have instant success for the 2015-16 season. Whether or not Eichel plays in Buffalo this year, he will be the face of the franchise for 15-20 years to come.

Buffalo also went out and acquired two proven forwards in Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn that can have an immediate impact with the franchise. O’Reilly can slot in to one of the top two center positions, and establish himself as one of the best players on the Sabres. Maybe a spot along side Evander Kane is in the works?

A lot of people are puzzled with the price the Sabres gave up to acquire Robin Lehner from Ottawa. But Lehner is only 23 years old, he has had more starts in the NHL than most of the other goalies available via trade, and Murray knows what kind of goalie Lehner is. Murray was the one who drafted Lehner in the 2009 NHL Draft in the second round.

Sabres also reloaded on defensive prospect depth with the draft, and will most likely make another move to improve the defense in free agency.

3.) Edmonton Oilers

Connor McDavid

Connor McDavid

Key Selections:

  • Connor McDavid – Center – 1st overall
  • Caleb Jones – Defense – 117th overall
  • Ethan Bear – Defense – 124th overall

Key Additions:

  • Cam Talbot – Goalie – from New York Rangers
  • Griffin Reinhart – Defense – from New York Islanders
  • Eric Gryba – Defense – from Ottawa

Key Departures:

  • Martin Marcinin – Defense – to Toronto

Connor McDavid is an obvious: generational talent, best prospect since Sidney Crosby. Hard to argue that point.

Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli wanted to answer the questions in net, and went out to get Cam Talbot to give him a chance to be the starter in Edmonton. It is a risk move, but at the price they got Talbot for is pretty good.

Edmonton also added some youth and size to the blueline in Reinhart and Gryba. Reinhart should slot in to a top six spot in the Oilers defense, which he was not getting in New York with the Islanders.

Also, drafting Caleb Jones is going to be great down the road with he develops into an NHL-caliber player. Gritty defender with an offensive flare.

4.) New York Islanders

Mathew Barzal

Mathew Barzal

Key Selections:

  • Mathew Barzal – Center – 16th overall
  • Anthony Beauvillier – Left Wing – 28th overall
  • Mitchell Vande Sompel – Defense – 82nd overall
  • Parker Wotherspoon – Defense – 112th overall
  • Ryan Pilon – Defense – 147th overall

Key Departures:

  • Griffin Reinhart – Defense – to Edmonton

In a draft in which the Islanders did not have a first round pick to start, general manager Garth Snow managed to acquire two first round picks on the draft floor and make a couple of steals.

Mathew Barzal’s potential is high, and he could be a key role player in the Islanders offense in the near future. Barzal will need another year, maybe two, to fully develop his game, but when he is ready, put him on a line with 2014 1st-rounders Michael Dal Colle and Joshua Ho-Sang. That is going to be dangerous and entertaining.

The Islanders’ defensive depth was already good, but now is full of young, talented, and high scoring defensemen. Vande Sompel is a powerplay specialist, while Wotherspoon and Pilon provide a good two-way asset to their games. Once all three have fully developed, the Islanders defense could be one of the most high-powered defenses in the league. And that is even without Griffin Reinhart now in the system.

5.) Winnipeg Jets

Kyle Connor

Kyle Connor

Key Selections:

  • Kyle Connor – Center – 17th overall
  • Jack Roslovic – Center – 25th overall
  • Jansen Harkins – Center – 47th overall
  • Erik Foley – Left Wing – 78th overall
  • Michael Spacek – Right Wing – 108th overall

Just some really quality offensive selections made by the Jets in the top four rounds of the NHL Draft.

Connor is a versatile two-way forward who will have an immediate impact at the NHL ready when he is ready. Will play at the University of Michigan for the 2015-16 season, and will probably be part of Team USA at the IIHF World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland in December.

Roslovic is another good two-way center out of the U.S. Development Program in the USHL. Roslovic is committed to the University of Miami of Ohio for the 2015-16 season, and could be another player involved in the World Junior Championships with Team USA.

How Jansen Harkins fell to Winnipeg is astonishing, and possibly one of the biggest steals of the NHL Draft. Harkins is yet another player who will probably have a huge roll in the World Junior Championships, but he will play for Team Canada.

Foley is a strong winger out of Cedar Rapids in the USHL. He will be play for reigning national champions Providence College next season.

Spacek is a young, goal scoring winger who could be the next best Czech player to come into the NHL.


1.) Boston Bruins

Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zachary Senyhyn

Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zachary Senyhyn

Key Selections:

  • Jakub Zboril – Defense – 13th overall
  • Jake DeBrusk – Left Wing – 14th overall
  • Zachary Senyshyn – Right Wing – 15th overall
  • Brandon Carlo – Defense – 37th overall
  • Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson – Center – 45th overall
  • Jeremy Lauzon – Defense – 52nd overall
  • Daniel Vladar – Goalie – 75th overall
  • Jesse Gabrielle – Left Wing – 105th overall

Key Acquisitions:

  • Martin Jones – Goalie – from Los Angeles
  • Colin Miller – Defense – from Los Angeles

Key Departures:

  • Dougie Hamilton – Defense – to Calgary
  • Milan Lucic – Left Wing – to Los Angeles

Saturday was a better day for the Bruins, but Friday was just a head scratching day for the Bruins.

To start off by trading very good a 21-year old defenseman in Dougie Hamilton was certainly puzzling. Boston did get the 15th overall pick in the draft and also two second rounders, but that was it.

Then the Bruins traded Milan Lucic to the Kings in a deal which brought you back Martin Jones, prospect Colin Miller, and the 13th overall selection in the draft. The goalie position was not exactly the position that needed to be filled with this trade, and now Boston will most likely have to find a new home for Malcolm Subban with Zane McIntyre signing his entry-level contract.

Reports were that with the three consecutive picks, Boston was trying to make a move up to draft Noah Hanifin. Well that did not come through, so the Bruins were stuck selecting three straight times.

Jakub Zboril made sense for the Bruins in the 13th slot, but Boston had much better options at 14 and 15 than Jake DeBrusk and Zachary Senyshyn.

Even though the Bruins made some decent selections on the second day, one bad day can set back a franchise for some time, and the Bruins may have done themselves no favors with their moves.

2.) St. Louis Blues

Key Selections:

  • Vince Dunn – Defense – 56th overall
  • Adam Musil – Center – 94th overall
  • Glenn Gawdin – Center – 116th overall

The Blues gave up their first round pick in 2015 as part of the Ryan Miller trade with Buffalo in February of 2014. It was made clear that St. Louis were desperate to try and get back into the first round of the draft this year.

The Blues had pieces that could have gotten them their first rounder in some current roster players. According to reports, the Blues had put a flyer out for players like T.J. Oshie, David Backes, and Alexander Steen in order to get picks and to shake up the roster.

However, the Blues could not swing any deals, and were stuck with what they had. Now, the Blues will have to try and move those players at a time when the team would have to wait for picks until next June, and St. Louis does not want to wait.

Vince Dunn is a great skating and puck moving defenseman, and Adam Musil has got great size down the middle, but both prospects are another few years away from being NHL players.

3.) Vancouver Canucks

Brock Boeser

Brock Boeser

Key Selections:

  • Brock Boeser – Right Wing – 23rd overall
  • Guillaume Brisebois – Defense – 66th overall

Key Departures:

  • Eddie Lack – Goalie – to Carolina

The Canucks grabbed the best player available with the 23rd overall pick in Brock Boeser, but did not do themselves any favors the rest of the draft.

Guillaume Brisebois is a decent pick-up in the third round, however he is still some time away from being a factor in Vancouver. The rest of their draft pick selections are going to be projects in the making.

Also, the value that they got for Eddie Lack was definitely underachieving. The Canucks wanted more value in Lack, however they only drew a the 66th overall pick and a 7th-round pick next year. Canucks did themselves no help.

With the NHL Draft over, next up is the free agency period, which begins on Wednesday July 1st league-wide. Following the opening of free agency, the NHL takes a break until the opening of training camps in September.

Stay tuned to Better Live Than Dead Sports for all the latest regarding the NHL and all other sports news!

Written by Brayton Wilson


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