Monday, June 27, 2011

2011 NHL Entry Draft Recap: First Round Pick-by-Pick Analysis

As the NHL draft is my personal version of Christmas, I like to take the time in putting my thoughts out there about the happenings of such a fantastic weekend.

Here's my take on what happened in this year's first round:
  • I'm glad to see Nugent-Hopkins as an Oiler, even if it's just for Taylor Hall's sake, but I still think the Oilers should have traded down with Florida and grabbed Larsson. The Panthers could have thrown the #3 and #33 picks to go with other intriguing assets (like the rights to Niclas Bergfors).
  • Even though I still think the Avs should have went with Huberdeau, Landeskog to Colorado just makes sense if you look back at my note about 14 of 21 of their previous top-60 picks being from the OHL, USHL or USNTDP.
  • It was very intriguing to hear the Islanders say that Strome was their guy all along: it says a lot about his upside as a potential line-mate for John Tavares.
  • As much as I hate the pick, I'm not at all surprised by the Sens' selection of Zibanejad at #6.
  • Schiefele to Winnipeg at #7 was seen as "off-the-board" but it makes perfect sense considering what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff had to say about what they were targeting: Schiefele's work ethic is impeccable and it's great to see such a humble kid get taken that high.
  • After seeing Philadelphia take Couturier at #8 (WTF Sens & Jets?!?), it's clear to me that the Flyers absolutely obliterated Columbus in the Jeff Carter deal. I would love to see Couturier make the jump to the NHL at the same time as Brayden Schenn, filling the team's #2 and #3 center slots, but I'm thinking Couturier returns to junior, dominates the Q even more than he did this year, and has an absolutely phenomenal World Junior tournament.
  • Right before the draft there were rumours of Minnesota being very interested in Jonas Brodin: I guess the fact they were able to snag him meant Brent Burns was expendable.
  • Speaking of the Brent Burns deal, I see it as a huge win-win deal. Burns fills a huge need as a top-3 defenceman with offensive skills and a physical demeanor; meanwhile, the Wild fill a need in grabbing a scoring winger who constantly throws pucks on nets while adding to very solid forward prospects to their shallow pool.
  • I love seeing Carolina take a chance on Murphy, as it's exactly what they need. Already looking like a very young team for next season, it'd be awesome to see if the 'Canes could get Murphy into the lineup much like last year's #12 pick, Cam Fowler, or Murphy's former OHL teammate, 2010 #8 pick Jeff Skinner.
  • It was surprising to see Calgary draft a slight but extremely gifted player like Bartschi - I totally assumed they would grab a big, strong centre like Mark McNeill at this spot.
  • With Oleksiak on the board at #14, he's a no-brainer for the Stars since they kept their pick.
  • As much as I know the Rangers love their American kids, taking J.T. Miller that early caught me off-guard. Miller's a versatile forward and should be given plenty of time to develop into whatever role the Rangers see fit.
  • When originally setting up my mock draft I had the Sabres taking Armia, so it was cool to see that they actually did that (even if I technically ended up being wrong). I figured the fact he was Finnish would scare them away: the last three top-90 picks used on European players have been Dennis Persson, Marek Zagrapan, and Philipp Gogulla - a trio that's played a combined 0 NHL games to-date.
  • Just what Chicago needs in their system: another big, strong two-way center with offensive upside.
  • Again, I originally had the Oilers drafting Klefbom with their second first round pick but when working out the specifics I figured Brodin would be their guy. Right team, wrong player - it's an intriguing pick to say the least, but he could be ready just in time for when the rest of the Oilers are finally ready to make a playoff push.
  • Noesen to Ottawa would be a great pick had it been in the second round: with so many gifted players around and such a glaring need for prospects with top-six upside, I can't believe they went with a guy that should be a NHLer but maybe not on in a scoring role. Rattie, Khokhlachev, Namestnikov, Jurco - hell, even Grimaldi. Sigh.
  • I don't know why the Leafs traded up to take Biggs: there must have been rumours of Pittsburgh or Ottawa taking him before Toronto was up at #25. That said, I was bang-on with my selection here.
  • Puempel to Ottawa is a great pick - finally! Upside to score 40 goals some day, Puempel is a player with plenty to prove, and I sure hope so.
  • Detroit trades down, I know who I want them to take...
  • Though I'd heard rumblings about it happening, I was actually somewhat shocked to see my boy Stuary Percy go to the Leafs at #25. Brian Burke is very high on him as a jack-of-all-trades defender with big upside. Go figure, eh?
  • Interesting to find out Yzerman has known Namestnikov for 15 years - turns out he's Slava Kozlov's nephew. I wouldn't be surprised to see Namestnikov end up being a player that is very similar to his uncle.
  • Phillips is a great catch at this point in the draft. As I alluded to in my mock draft, Minnesota needs a #2C and Phillips could be a home run with this pick: does he have the skills himself or does he rely on his teammates though?
  • I hate seeing Jensen go to a team I dislike so much, but it's a great fit.
  • The same goes for Rakell to Anaheim.

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