NHL Draft first-round grades

Posted: June 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

As I was watching the first round of the NHL Draft tonight, I decided to jot down some notes and grade each pick. Without further ado, I present my analysis and grades.

Pick) Team- Name, Position, Country, 2009-10 Team

1) Edmonton Oilers- Taylor Hall, LW, Canada, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
I don’t care that there was a poll this week that said Oiler fans were split 50/50 between Hall and Seguin. This pick had to be Hall. Had it been Seguin, I would not have given it an A.
Grade: A

2) Boston Bruins- Tyler Seguin, C, Canada, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
I’ve been saying it all along — this was the easiest pick of the draft. On a related note, can everyone stop discussing the supposed “log jam” at center? Seguin can play wing. He said so himself. B’s GM Peter Chiarelli said it as well. Therefore, we do not need to trade a center. Looking at you, TSN panel. Seriously, I thought you guys were experts.
Grade: A

3) Florida Panthers- Erik Gudbranson, D, Canada, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Pretty logical choice. The Panthers already got a puck-moving defenseman in Dennis Wideman, but they still needed a big, physical d-man. Gudbranson is exactly that, and he was the best player on the board.
Grade: A

4) Columbus Blue Jackets- Ryan Johansen, C, Canada, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
I expected Johansen to go in the 7-9 range, but there was a lot of talk this week about the Jackets and Islanders (at five) showing a lot of interest in him. He was probably the safest bet at forward here, but Columbus could’ve used help on defense, too.
Grade: B

5) New York Islanders- Nino Niederreiter, LW, Switzerland, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
There’s no question the Islanders need help up front. The question was whether they’d play it safe or take a risk on the more talented but more injury-prone Brett Connolly. They played it safe, but that’s fine — Niederreiter is still a top-10 talent.
Grade: B

6) Tampa Bay Lightning- Brett Connolly, RW, Canada, Prince George Cougars (WHL)
I love Lightning GM Steve Yzerman, but I do not love this pick. Unlike most people, I actually have no concerns about Connolly’s injury situation. However, Tampa needs help on defense, and Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley were both sitting right there. By the way, Connolly looked like he wanted to strangle someone throughout his entire interview. I don’t know if he’s always like that or if he’s just passionately opposed to hockey in the South.
Grade: C

7) Carolina Hurricanes- Jeff Skinner, C, Canada, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
No one was less happy with the run of forwards than the Canes. They need offense and figured to land Johansen, Niederreiter or Connolly, but all three were off the board. Skinner isn’t a bad pick, but he’s not quite on par with those guys they were hoping for.
Grade: B

8) Atlanta Thrashers- Alex Burmistrov, C, Russia, Barrie Colts (OHL)
This was a big reach and a bad pick. The Thrashers need help everywhere and they passed on good value picks like Fowler, Gormley, Mikael Granlund and Jack Campbell in order to take someone projected to go in the mid first round.
Grade: F

9) Minnesota Wild- Mikael Granlund, C, Finland, HIFK Finland
The Wild needed offense and they took the best forward on the board. Hard to argue with that logic.
Grade: B

10) New York Rangers- Dylan McIlrath, D, Canada, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
I literally laughed out loud at this pick. With Fowler and Gormley, two top-five talents, still on the board, the Rangers elected to take a defenseman who probably would’ve been available 10 spots later. As a Bruins fan, I love this pick.
Grade: F

11) Dallas Stars- Jack Campbell, G, USA, USA U-18 Team
This is another head-scratcher. The Stars need a puck-moving defenseman and Fowler was just sitting there. Instead, they took a goalie despite the fact that they just traded for Kari Lehtonen (a former first-round pick) and signed him to an extension. Right…
Grade: F

12) Anaheim Ducks- Cam Fowler, D, USA, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
FINALLY! A huge steal for the Ducks. This is especially great for them since they’re currently rebuilding on the blue line.
Grade: A

13) Phoenix Coyotes- Brandon Gormley, D, Canada, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
Huge steal part two. John Madden on these last two picks: “Any time you can get a top-five player outside the top 10, that’s a good thing.”
Grade: A

14) St. Louis Blues- Jaden Schwartz, C, Canada, Tri-City Storm (USHL)
I love Schwartz and I’m praying for his sister, but this was not a very good pick. He would’ve been available 10 spots later and there were at least four better forwards on the board.
Grade: D

15) Los Angeles Kings (from Florida)- Derek Forbort, D, USA, USA U-18 Team
This pick was exciting for lots of reasons. 1) It was the first trade-up of the night. 2) When I first heard the trade, I thought, “They’re gonna take the local kid Emerson Etem.” Then I remembered Forbort was on the board. I really love what the Kings have done the last few years, and I really love that they didn’t give into the media, they didn’t take the hometown kid and they instead took the best prospect available. Great job. 3) Forbort was presented a retro yellow and purple Kings jersey. That was awesome.
Grade: A

16) St. Louis Blues (from Ottawa)- Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, Russia, HC Sibir (KHL)
The Blues vindicated themselves a little after the Schwartz pick by making a great selection here. Tarasenko is extremely talented and the only reason he was still available here is because of concerns that he might stay in the KHL, which is mind-blowing considering he’s said approximately 34,726 times that he wants to play in the NHL. Also, I don’t know if that was Tarasenko’s sister or girlfriend TSN showed while he was on stage, but she was smoking. Combined with the Alyssa Milano interview earlier in the first round, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the hotness factor of the draft show.
Grade: B

17) Colorado Avalanche- Joey Hishon, C, Canada, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
I’m not sure who decided it was a good idea to bring Al Davis on board in Denver, but it wasn’t. The Avs need help on the blue line, and there were plenty of good defensemen available. Instead, they took a forward projected to go in the mid-to-late second round that I didn’t see in the first round of any of the 30-plus mock drafts I looked at. If they were going to pass over their needs as well as the best players available and go off the board, they could’ve at least taken Charlie Coyle and added to their reputation as BU West.
Grade: F

18) Nashville Predators- Austin Watson, LW, USA, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
This is pretty much where I expected Watson to go. He should be a good all-around player in a couple years.
Grade: B

19) Florida Panthers (from Los Angeles)- Nick Bjugstad, C, USA, Blaine High (Minnesota)
Bjugstad will need a few years at Minnesota to develop, but he has a ton of talent.
Grade: B

20) Pittsburgh Penguins- Beau Bennett, RW, USA, Penticton Vees (BCHL)
Bennett’s a solid prospect, but I think defense was more of a need for the Pens. I also don’t think Bennett was the best forward available.
Grade: C

21) Detroit Red Wings- Riley Sheahan, C, Canada, Notre Dame (NCAA)
First, let’s try and get his name right, Ken Holland. It’s pronounced “Shay-han,” not “Shee-han.” Second, like Pittsburgh, Detroit had more of a need on defense.
Grade: C

22) Montreal Canadiens (from Phoenix)- Jarred Tinordi, D, USA, USA U-18 Team
I like Tinordi, but the Habs could’ve gotten a very good defenseman (Tinordi, Jon Merrill or Mark Pysyk) at 27. And honestly, I think those other two are better prospects. This isn’t a terrible pick, but I don’t think it was worth the trade-up. There was a funny moment as Tinordi death-stared the camera following his interview. Two more seconds, though, and things would’ve gotten really uncomfortable. Or we all would’ve died.
Grade: D

23) Buffalo Sabres- Mark Pysyk, D, Canada, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
I had Pysyk going in the mid-teens. Buffalo needs defense most. And Pysyk is way more NHL-ready than anyone else going in this range. Great pick.
Grade: A

24) Chicago Blackhawks (from Atlanta)- Kevin Hayes, LW, Noble & Greenough School (Massachusetts)
I’m not ripping this pick because Hayes is going to BC. Anyone who knows me knows I actually have nothing against BC. I’m ripping it because there were at least 10 better forwards on the board. Hayes is also very raw, whereas guys like Etem, Tyler Pitlick and Quinton Howden could be NHL-ready in two or three years.
Grade: F

25) Florida Panthers (from Vancouver)- Quinton Howden, LW, Canada, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Solid pick. Howden should be a good checking line player. My problem with this pick is that Etem has a lot more upside. Etem projects as a first- or second-line player. Howden doesn’t. I’m fine with drafting third-line players at the end of the first round, but not when a potential first-line player is still on the board.
Grade: B

26) Washington Capitals- Evgeny Kuznetsov, LW, Russia, Chelyabinsk (KHL)
The Caps? A Russian? No way. Anyway, I’m not too surprised by this pick, although again, I think Etem has a better future.
Grade: B

27) Phoenix Coyotes (from Montreal)- Mark Visentin, G, Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)
The Coyotes follow up a great pick at 13 with a terrible one here. 1) Visentin was projected to go in the late second or early third round. 2) Calvin Pickard was still on the board at goalie. 3) Phoenix doesn’t need goalie help. They have some guy named Ilya Bryzgalov.
Grade: F

28) San Jose Sharks- Charlie Coyle, RW, USA, South Shore Kings (EJHL)
I’m not shocked that Coyle went in the late first round. That’s pretty much where I expected him to go. But I am shocked that he went ahead of names like Etem, Pitlick and Tyler Toffoli. It’s not a bad pick, but I think the Sharks could’ve done better.
Grade: C

29) Anaheim Ducks- Emerson Etem, C, USA, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
IT’S ABOUT FREAKING TIME. The Ducks officially win the draft. They steal Fowler about seven picks later than he should’ve gone, and then they steal local boy Etem about half a round later than he should’ve gone. Incredible first round for Anaheim.
Grade: A

30) New York Islanders (from Chicago)- Brock Nelson, C, Warroad High (Minnesota)
This is pretty much where I expected Nelson to go, but I think there might’ve been better players available. Obviously the Isles really like him, though, if they traded up for him.
Grade: B

My top five players still available
Jon Merrill, D, USA, USA U-18 Team
Tyler Pitlick, C, USA, Minnesota State (NCAA)
Calvin Pickard, G, Canada, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Tyler Toffoli, RW, Canada, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
John McFarland, C, Canada, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

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