Image Courtesy of Newsday
Breaking down the winners and losers in this years NHL Entry Draft from Dallas.
By Chris Yackel
This year’s version of the NHL Draft was not as eventful as previous years in the trade market. Yes, there were trades that some would consider blockbusters, but for the most part the trades involving superstar players such as Erik Karlsson and Max Pacioretty did not occur. Instead we heard more rumors than anything on possible trades that didn’t happen, but still might be in play. Ultimately, many GM’s went home happy with how their drafting went, while others who wanted to make deals were probably disappointed on the outcome.
Winner: New York Islanders
The Islanders may come out BIG losers in a couple of days if John Tavares leaves via free agency July 1st, but in Dallas they were big winners of this draft. The Lou Lamoriello era has gotten off to a bang as the Islanders were able to use the 11th and 12th overall picks on two players that weren’t expected to be there. With the 11th pick the Islanders took Oliver Wahlstrom the Boston College commit who was ranked 7th best North American prospect by NHL Central Scouting.
Wahlstrom is a pure goal scorer in the truest sense as in 26 games with the U.S. National Development team he scored 22 goals and had 23 assists. The pick was an absolute steal as they continue to build a great prospect pool. This includes 2016 first round pick Kiefer Bellows, and top prospects David Quenneville and Arnaud Durandeau.
The Islanders 12th overall pick was arguably a biggers steal with defenseman Noah Dobson from the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the QMJHL. Dobson was ranked the 5th best North American prospect by NHL Central Scouting. Dobson had 17 goals and 52 assists in 67 games this season for the Titan. He also helped the Titan win the Memorial Cup for the CHL. His skating is off the charts as Dobson plays a great 2-way game. The Islanders certainly lucked themselves into two gems in the first round. They even got lucky with their second round pick at 41st overall in Bode Wilde. The 6-3 defenseman was projected to be a mid-late first rounder, but instead fell to the Isles.
Overall, this was a great draft for the Islanders as things seem to be moving in the right direction for the organization. In the past six months they hired a legendary GM in Lou Lamoriello and cleaned house with the old regime. They will be back on Long Island in a brand new arena in the next 4-5 years. Finally, this past week they hired a fantastic Head Coach in Barry Trotz who is fresh off a Stanley Cup victory in Washington. If they are able to re-sign John Tavares and get some goalie and defensive help, this team can be a serious threat not just for next year, but with drafts like these years to come.
Loser: The Fans
Many big names were rumored to be on the block and traded this weekend, but only two major trades were made. Fans clamor for draft day trades and many of them including myself were disappointed by the lack of trades, especially big ones. The five player Carolina-Calgary trade which saw Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin go to Calgary and Dougie Hamilton, Michael Ferland and prospect defenseman Adam Fox was a big one, but fans want bigger.
Trades including guys like Erik Karlsson and Max Pacioretty would have been amazing for fans if they were dealt. Even trades with guys like Ryan O’Reilly or Wayne Simmonds would have been great. Sometimes there are trades with big names not even speculated. This draft was not that exciting at all as it seems GM’s are becoming more and more cautious to make a big swing of a deal.
There is also a certain free agent… (cough cough, John Tavares) who is holding up the trade market for many teams. I imagine the trade market will heat up once Tavares signs with whoever, but fans wish it would have heated up on the draft floor before that instead.
Winner: Washington Capitals
This draft weekend saw the Caps trade one of the best backups in the league in Phillip Grubauer to the Avalanche. However, it also saw them trade the one year and $5.5-million-dollar cap hit of Brooks Orpik to Colorado as well. All of this enabled Washington on Sunday night to re-sign John Carlson to an 8 year, $64-million-dollar contract extension. That is a huge win for the Washington Capitals as Carlson is a crucial part of this team. He confirmed he was one of the best defenseman in the league these playoffs and having him back in the fold does nothing but help the Caps.
Loser: Calgary Flames
They may have won the trade they made earlier in the day for Noah Hanifian and Elias Lindholm, but not selecting until the 4th round of the draft is plain disastrous for any franchise. They could have chosen Noah Dobson at number 12 if they didn’t trade that pick to the Islanders. Instead they sat on the first day of the draft and the beginning of the second. All they have to show for it is Travis Hamonic. No disrespect to Hamonic he’s a solid defenseman, but the cost of a first, second and third rounder is just plain crazy. Many people may not be talking about it, but I think the lack of draft picks in this draft will cost the Calgary Flames in the big picture. That is not good news for a team with many good pieces, but seemingly not enough to make them a legit Stanley Cup threat.
In general, this draft was very uneventful, but I still expect to see some dynamite trades occur this offseason. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.
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