by Corey Pronman
First round, done. Thoughts, below. Division review start on Tuesday or Wednesday and I won’t have anything else up until then.
Anaheim Ducks: I had heard going into the draft some scouts liked Hampus Lindholm a lot. I just never imagined anyone liked him THAT much to go 6th overall. He’s a high-end skater who moves the puck well and really came alive in the second half, performing very well in the February and April International tournaments. I don’t buy high-end upside, but I know his transition and puck moving game could look very appealing to some.
Boston Bruins: Malcolm Subban is a very good goalie prospect, but I generally don’t like taking goalies this high. He’s a very athletic goalie who developed very well from last season and dominated the OHL this season. He’s got his brother’s skating ability too in terms of his post to post movements.
Buffalo Sabres: I was concerned about Buffalo’s prospect system coming into today, but I’m certainly not anymore. Grigorenko is an elite prospect and has the kind of rare talent level you simply don’t find. I know there are some concerns about him which I’ve addressed at length here:
Girgensons was a hard player to get a read on this season. Some scouts I talked to called him a legit top six talent, some called him a third liner, one scout I talked to even said he has top line talent. I like him a fair amount between his great skill level and intangibles.
Calgary Flames: A home run pick in every definition of the word. Jankowski is a player I ranked 36th due to several uncertainty reasons, but I would concede has top 20 tools. He’s a gifted puck possessor with good skills and arguably plus hockey sense. He’ll need several years due to his underwhelming strength level and needing experience at a faster pace, but could be a good risk/reward pick.
Chicago Blackhawks: I have no idea why Teravainen fell to 18. I know why Filip Forsberg and Mikhail Grigorenko fell; I have no idea on TT though. Every scout I’ve talked to loved him and most considered a top 8 if not a top 5 talent. He was so impressive for one of the youngest players in his draft class and based on how well he played in the second half, it’s possible his prospect stock even has another gear. This was an outstanding pick for the Hawks.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Ryan Murray adds to what’s becoming a strong up and coming defense core between him, David Savard and John Moore. I had him 8th, but could have easily had him as 6th as my top D as I felt the top three defensemen were interchangeable. As widely discussed, he’s NHL ready and could be a third pairing guy for them next year. He’s what the advanced stats guys will love as a guy who will check top players, take a lot of defensive zone starts and be above-average offensively.
Dallas Stars: Radek Faksa is a good do it all type of prospect who won’t wow anyone with high-end dazzle, but he can skate, handle the puck, pass, hit, has a good frame and plays excellent defense. He’s also the kind of player advanced stats guys will love as he’ll log tough defensive minutes and still score at a good level.
Edmonton Oilers: Logic won out. Yakupov had to be the pick if they were keeping the pick. He’s as talented as anyone in their organization and is a cornerstone type asset.
Florida Panthers: Matheson is an extremely talented player with high-end skating and puck-moving skills, but he’s a risky selection. His physical game and defense are issues and I could see him being great value where the Panthers got him, or he may not even play 100 games.
Los Angeles Kings: Pearson was a good story after going undrafted twice and just exploding onto the OHL scoring scene this year and getting WJC time with Canada. He has great sense/vision, solid skills, but is a below-average skater. I thought this was slightly high to take him, but I have him 40 so I don’t have a huge problem with this pick.
Minnesota Wild: Two consecutive drafts of adding tremendously gifted defensemen to the Wild organization, as they continue to make a case to be called one of if not the best prospect system in hockey. Matt Dumba is the top defender on my board and is a great do it all defender with fantastic offensive tools between his skating, puck skills, shot and physical game.
Montreal Canadiens: As I’ve written about,
Galchenyuk is a risk but I also had him at 3rd on my board, where he eventually ended up going. He’s one of the three legitimate star-level talents in the draft and a player who can elevate a franchise if Montreal truly hits on him. Going into the draft year before an injury knocked him out for the season, some NHL execs I talked to thought he had a chance to challenge for first overall.
New Jersey Devils: Stefan Matteau is a mean power forward type who skates well and has good puck skills too although I only see fringe scoring line upside. Some will point to several incidents this year where it’s been written he has some emotional issue. I see those incidents as isolated situations and not a real problem though.
New York Islanders: I’m usually a fan of what the Islanders have been able to do at the draft table the last few years, but I wasn’t so crazy about the selection of Griffin Reinhart. Don’t get me wrong I think he’s a good prospect, but as someone who rated him 15th, I just don’t see the high-end tools to go in the top 5. He’s very good offensively for a player his size, but I see a guy who tops out as a good #3.
New York Rangers: Brady Skjei is as good a skater as you will ever find in a defender his size as he’s a legit elite skater who can simply dazzle in that aspect. I don’t see another element to his game that is truly above-average, but that one tool drives a ton of value for him.
Ottawa Senators: Ceci is a player I know several teams had in the 6-8 range and based on Bryan Murray’s comments after picking him, the Senators were one of them. He’s a very smart player who logged huge minutes this year. He’s not a standout skill guy, but does a lot of things well. I don’t know if Ottawa ranked him that high partially to fill a need after dealing Rundblad and not having a top D prospect in their system, but even if not they still got good value for where they got Ceci.
Philadelphia Flyers: Laughton had a simply ok first half, but was much better after Christmas and put an exclamation point on his draft season with an outstanding performance at the IIHF Under-18’s. He’s a good skater, with impressive two-way hockey sense and great physical play. I don’t buy dazzling offensive skills from him, but still think if his development goes well, he could be a top 6 forward. He’s the kind of player who just manages to find ways to generate chances and prevent them. He’s a fan favorite type and someone who advanced stats guys I think will like.
Phoenix Coyotes: I liked Henrik Samuelsson a lot when he played for the US U17 team last season. He had a rough first half playing in Sweden, but came alive when he went to the WHL in the second half. He’s very developed physically already and projects as a high-end physical player with a solid but not great offensive skill level.
Pittsburgh Penguins: They certainly had an eventful night. I obviously am not as high on Derrick Pouliot as they are taking him at 8th overall, as I have him 24th. I love his puck moving skills and puck skills, as well as him being a good skater, but I don’t see legit high-end tools nor am I fully convinced he’ll be able to check tough opponents. Olli Maatta who went 22 was closer to where I had him which was 21. I know some scouts like him a lot more as he’s a very smart player at both ends, but he’s probably just an above-average offensive guy and I think his skating still needs work. Still with those two players, Brian Dumoulin and Harrison Ruopp added to the organization on top of the great D prospects they already have, Pittsburgh has one of the best foundation of young D in the league.
St. Louis Blues: Jordan Schmaltz came into the season as a projected first rounder, but slightly underwhelmed this season. His puck-moving skills are very desirable, but his physical game and defense need work and he’ll certainly need quite a few years to put it all together. He’s got good upside, but this is a bit of a risky pick in the first round.
San Jose Sharks: Hertl is an intriguing prospect based on how much he produced in a mens league at his age. He’s a very good puck possessor who if he can overcome his skating deficiencies has pretty desirable upside. He went 17th & I had him 18th so clearly I wouldn’t argue much with this selection.
Tampa Bay Lightning: I figured there was a chance a team was going to be very high on Koekkoek. He was a guy with a ton of hype coming into the season, and when he played in the summer for Team Canada he played on a top four with Matt Dumba, Morgan Rielly and Griffin Reinhart and didn’t look out of place. I don’t but tremendous upside from Slater as I see him as more of a safe player, but I know some scouts just love his potential. Andrei Vasilevski is one of the more impressive goalie prospects I’ve seen the last few years. I’m not a fan of taking goalies this high, but he’s a very good one. He’s big, athletic, advanced with his reads, and has dominated everywhere he’s gone the last few years.
Toronto Maple Leafs: As I wrote about in my mock draft, I heard Morgan Rielly was going to go high, but to be honest I never saw him going to Toronto. I had him 7th on my board, but his upside I think is the 5th highest in the draft class and the best amongst defenders. He has premier offensive tools across the board and is a risk because of the injury shortened season, but just bleeds upside.
Washington Capitals: I had heard throughout the year and had written in articles at Hockey Prospectus and mentioned it on twitter several times that I had talked to teams who simply did not buy Forsberg as a top 5 talent and some didn’t like him as a top 10. Towards the end of the year I thought those concerns subsided, but I never got this wide mainstream thought there was no chance he slipped out of the top five. I like him a lot, I think he has top line tools and I love the value Washington got for him, but I just wanted to say that to address everyone on twitter who had asked me how he could fall this low. To put it simply, some scouts simply didn’t buy Filip Forsberg having high-end offensive skills. Tom Wilson has elite physical tools in terms of his size and how he uses it. He wins all his battles and lays bone crunching hits. I’m not buying top 6 ability, but I know scouts who say him in the OHL playoffs liked what they saw offensively. I don’t think he’s a goon, but more a good 3rd line type.
Winnipeg Jets: Jacob Trouba was a fine selection talent wise around that range. He’s not a sexy pick, but he’s a plus skater with solid offensive tools, good in his own end and very physical.
Vancouver Canucks: Scouts I talked to have been divided on Brendan Gaunce’s upside, which may have led to him slipping to the late first. I love his hockey sense, shot and physicality but his skating needs work. Due to how advanced his body and reads are, I’ve heard a few scout say he potentially could push for a pro job in the not too distant future.
And three prospects dealt on Friday:
Brian Dumoulin, Defense, Pittsburgh: Dumoulin is one of the better defense prospects out there. He was a finalist for college hockey player of the year, won his conference’s defensive defenseman of the year twice in a row and he’s actually considered more of an offensive player! He’s big defender with puck skills and vision which is a rare commodity. Dumoulin’s skating is below-average which is his one notable weakness. He just signed so the Pens don’t need to worry about prying him from college. Don’t be fooled he is a huge part of the Jordan Staal deal and just about every scout I’ve talked to see him as a top four defenseman in the NHL.
Harrison Ruopp, Defense, Pittsburgh: He’s a low tier prospect who is a tough and very physical defensive defender. He has replacement level offensive skills and is simply an ok skater.
Cody Eakin, Center, Dallas: Eakin was decent in his first pro season and as a guy who last year thought he looked like a legit top six talent has at least made me question that somewhat this season although I still like him. He’s a high-end skater with a great on-ice work ethic and a plus shot. He has a solid skill level too but I think next year he’s going to need to show more offensively if he starts at the AHL level.