What an interesting night.
The first round of the NHL Entry Draft has come and gone. Our questions from the months of anticipation have been answered (for the most part at least). We’re now left waiting for development camps, and more importantly, NHL teams’ main camps to see the best and newest NHL hopefuls in action with their new squads. The six rounds that are currently unfolding will also surely answer some of our outstanding questions. Despite many of the projected first-round picks being selected as anticipated, several interesting names remain on the board. As is typical, most of these next picks will come in rapid fire, so I hope you got here early… and if you’re that anxious to hear about the names remaining on the draft board, skip to the bottom… it’s the big bold title labeled “Who’s left.”
If you’re patient though, let’s first have a look at some of the interesting events of last night’s first round.
For a moment, it felt as if Ray Shero might actually pull the rug out from under us viewers. Lo and behold, Jack Hughes was selected by Shero as the right fit for the New Jersey Devils. The Devils’ selection will all but certainly be the first USNDP graduate to step directly into the NHL.
After the Devils’ selection, the Jeff Gorton and the New York Rangers wasted no time on drama, selecting Kappo Kakko. The selection of Kakko does little to hinder his peer top-prospects in the Ranger organization. The team’s left-wing depth is relatively shallow, making the pick a win for both the player and the team.
The Unofficial Start of the Draft
Stan Bowman unofficially kicked off the draft at third overall with the selection of Saskatoon Blades forward Kirby Dach. Bowman kept his hand well-hidden right up until the selection, and spoke very highly of Dach after his announcement. Personally, I have to question Bowman’s word selection in his post-selection interview, where he complimented Dach’s “compete level” – a trait that I, and several other scouts and writers believe Dach is lacking. Nonetheless, the third overall selection status should provide Dach a healthy leash to shape his game to the Blackhawks' liking.
An audible *gasp* followed as Steve Yzerman began to spell out “D…E…L…”, the league in which Seider played last season. Seider’s post-selection interview seemed extremely sincere and heartfelt, making me think he could become a fan favourite in Detroit. Yzerman’s first selection since leaving Tampa Bay and his right-hand man and Director of Scouting Al Murray behind fits the mold of a historic Tampa Bay selection. A highly intelligent and physically mature defender, Seider’s CHL rights are owned by the Owen Sound Attack, but his plans for the upcoming year remain up in the air.
As we approached Edmonton’s eighth overall selection it became increasingly evident that the Oilers were eyeing the Swedish defender Broberg. Ken Holland’s first selection in Northern Alberta may not be a flashy one, but that could be what helps to keep the team’s young pipeline in order. The Oilers will be patient with Broberg, but he does have a decent offensive upside as an Oiler, given the team commits to his development first.
Dropping to 15th and 17th overall, respectively was likely a bit of a disappointment for Cole Caufield and Peyton Krebs, but extremely exciting for both the Montreal Canadiens and the Vegas Golden Knights. Krebs’ fall was reminiscent, albeit, not as intense as the Eeli Tolvanen, and Joe Veleno falls in previous drafts. His Achilles tendon injury has been discussed as a possible factor in the late selection, but the “consensus” top-15 ranked forward brings a boatload of potential and tenacity to the Golden Knights depth chart.
I’m always forced to consider NHL teams’ valuations after the draft, especially when there are major discrepancies from my own. NHL teams’ scouting staff have access to significantly more information than many of us “outsiders”. That being said, I have been VERY high on Krebs, and the tools he brings to his workbench throughout his draft campaign in Kootenay. Despite his injury and lack of interest from teams inside the top-15, I believe we’ll see Krebs making an offensive impact in Vegas’ top-9 sooner than a handful of players selected ahead of him.
Arthur Kaliyev – Immense offensive ceiling with boom/bust type of profile
Maxim Cajkovic – Powerful release, plays on a young team in Saint John. Is a 3-4-year project with top-6 upside.
Anttoni Honka – Modern mold of NHL defenseman. Plays well, but not great at both ends of the ice.
Bobby Brink – Intelligent forward with high skill. Plays a fast-paced game in the USHL
Nils Holgander – “Undersized” elusive forward with high-end puck control skills. Plays strong game out of his weight class.
Samuel Fagemo – Talented forward with a great release and poise for making the right shot.
Raphael Lavoie – Talented power forward whose stock rose significantly during QMJHL playoffs
Brett Leason – Top ranked overaged prospect. Physical, well-rounded forward with bottom-6 potential.
Matthew Robertson – Well-rounded defender with moderate offensive upside. Skates well and is a relatively safe pick.
Let the real fun and heavy lifting begin. Enjoy the second round!
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