For many teams and fans alike, the NHL Draft can be a very exciting time. It can bring promising new talent to an organization or reinvigorate a struggling team. In addition to drafting new players, NHL Draft weekend is usually the kickoff to the blockbuster trades of the summer. But every player drafted and traded is a game of high risk, high reward and it doesn’t always work out. On that note, here are my winners and losers of the 2016 NHL Draft.
There’s no two ways about it, the Sabres had a very good draft. Alex Nylander will eventually become the winger that Jack Eichel sets up the most and they’ll eventually become the Batman and Robin of Buffalo. Rasmus Asplund was a solid pick and Cliff Pu came on strong at the end of the year. Brett Murray is a big, young project forward. The defender Budik, and first year WHL forward Hagel all have promise. The Kulikov trade felt a lot like a wash although he eats up big 2nd pairing minutes which is sure to help the Sabres.
To me they are one of the two big winners of this year’s draft. The trade for Elliot shores up their goaltending issue and didn’t cost that much. Their first 6 picks were nearly perfect. Tkachuk falling to them was a blessing. Dube as a mid to late 2nd rounder was not quite a steal but a very solid pick up there. Adam Fox is a hit or miss small blueliner. Tyler Parsons had an incredible run at the end of the season, proving to be the fastest rising goaltender. Lindstrom is a big time scorer in Swedish Juniors and showed well on the international stage. Some had Mitchell Mattson as a 2nd or 3rd round project pick; Flames got him in the 5th. Tuulola is another big Finn with soft hands and a big appetite. Tiny Matt Phillips was a 37 goal scoring, point per game player. Falkovsky is as big as Logan Stanley and it didn’t cost a pick to select him.
Detroit Red Wings
I really liked what these guys did overall. But we all know the Datsyuk “trade” made it all worthwhile. Even though they didn’t pick up any real blue-chip players, they did pick up 4 defensemen who will all likely play in the NHL. Cholowski was a particularly fast riser at the end of the season. They also were able to sandwich Givani Smith in between, another good, big bodied forward pick.
New Jersey Devils
I hate to say it, but The Devils are another team that crushed this draft. Starting out nicely with McLeod, both Bastian and Joey Anderson followed, one a big bodied net-front presence and the other the 3rd member of the high scoring Keller/Bellow/Anderson line for the USNTDP team. They then followed it up with 4 other solid prospects: Gignac, Maltsev, Cormier, and Rykov. The Bratt pick might prove to be a late round gift.
The Flyers had 10 picks in this draft and hit on at least 8 of them. German Rubtsov is a perfect fit for what they need and what they are building. Pascal Laberge is going to surprise folks with his savvy offensive ability and the Flyers were lucky to get him at this point in the 2nd round. They then selected what was probably the best goalie prospect in the draft, Carter Hart. Wade Allison and Carter Twarynski both were late season fast risers and they project as hard working power forwards. Late picks, Tanner Laczynski and David Bernhardt both could be steals in a few years.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Some people didn’t like the Bolts’ draft as it didn’t take enough risks. I disagree. Instead of being flashy they picked the smart, safe selections with some talent mixed in. Howden is a solid 3C with 2C upside. Libor Hajek was the best blueliner on the board when they picked. Katchouk is scrappy and skilled. Raddysh was the forgotten man in Erie, but were his numbers all about Dylan Strome? Ingram, Colton, and Somppi were all good to great picks at where they were made.
Poor Boston. I just feel sorry for them given the Bruins’ front offices struggles as of late. That said I really like the Charlie McAvoy pick (NCAA, RHD) almost as much as I hated the Trent Frederic pick. The latter almost certainly would have been there at least into the 2nd round, likely the 3rd. Ryan Lindgren is a solid if not very sexy pick. Joona Koppanen might turn out to be something but they picked him right where he should have gone. Oskar Steen was a nice late round get.
Their 1st pick was in the 2nd round and they snagged Alex DeBrincat who, despite his size, is likely an NHL scorer in the future. Chad Krys, while rated highly by some, isn’t all that in my book and he was falling consistently over the last few months. The Kayumov pick was too early in my estimation. Lucas Carlsson is a mediocre “can’t hurt you” selection. The Peters selection has promise. However the rest are questionable at best and throw-aways at worst.
Riley Tufte is a boom or bust pick but has loads of talent. I think he’ll tend more to the boom side of the equation. The Stars didn’t pick again until late in the 3rd round and did something of a reach with Karlstrom. He’s a nice prospect but would have likely been there when they came around again at 116. The rest of the picks are non-factors for me.
Los Angeles Kings
A lot of people like Kale Clague but I’m not impressed. I like their 4th rounder, Moverare as much if not more. Eyssimont might turn into something but it’s a long shot. They didn’t really do anything to help the team or the prospect pool.
New York Rangers
They might as well have sat this one out. Starting with the raw, immensely talented Sean Day as their 1st pick (which happened to be in the 3rd round), the Rangers drifted from bad to, well, bad some more. There is the smaller offensive defenseman, Tarmo Reunanen. Tim Gettinger might prove to be a useful 3rd or 4th liner some day given his hulking size. But only if he improves his skating, his strength, and his hockey sense….is that all? Their best pick might have been the fortunate faller Ty Ronning who landed in their lap in the seventh round.
Well those are my winners and losers of the 2016 NHL Draft, let us know in the comment section below who you think had a good or bad draft.