NHL Draft Winners & Losers

We take a look at this past weekend’s draft in Pittsburgh.

Ed Millerby Ed Miller

There were plenty of surprises this past weekend at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh; the two biggest of which involved high-potential NHL stars.

Friday night kicked off with a bang when the Pittsburgh Penguins dropped a bomb in front of the locals in attendance at the CONSOL Energy Center.  Just a few picks into the draft the Penguins announced a trade that sent Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes to play with his brother Eric.  The trade came days after Staal reportedly turned down a 10-year contract to remain in Pittsburgh. 

The Hurricanes paid dearly for Staal however, giving up center Brandon Sutter, defensive-prospect Brian Dumoulin and the eighth overall pick.  It certainly was a lot for Staal, but could pay off big time and relatively soon.  On the other side of things, the Penguins did exactly what the team had planned, dropping plenty of cap money that could potentially be used for Zach Parise or Ryan Suter.

The other big surprise came on Saturday when the Toronto Maple Leafs traded defenseman Luke Schenn to the Philadelphia Flyers for forward James van Riemsdyk.  The trade – along with their first round pick Morgan Rielly – capped off a good weekend for the Leafs, while the Flyers were definite losers thanks in part to drafting center Scott Laughton, a position Philadelphia is deep at.

But perhaps the biggest winners last weekend were the Washington Capitals.  To replace Alex Semin , the Capitals traded prospect Cody Eakin and the 54th overall pick to Dallas in exchange for Mike Ribeiro.  Due to an early run on defenseman, the Capitals watched Filip Forsberg fall right into their lap with the 11th overall pick and couldn’t pass him up; even though the 5-foot-1, 188-pound right winger will spend the next year in Sweden. 

“I’m kind of big-size player and trying to play a bit physical and also taking the puck to the net as often as possible. I guess that’s a bit more North American style of game than European. Hopefully I can bring that with me when the time is ready for me to come over,” he told the Washington Post.

The Capitals also picked up some grit in 6-3, 205 pound winger Thomas Wilson, who had shown flashes of greatness throughout his career in the Ontario Hockey League.

Another winner was the Montreal Canadiens.

The Canadiens took center Alex Galchenyuk with the No. 3 pick.  Galchenyuk is coming off a knee injury which he suffered last season, and was competing with Nail Yakupov for the top pick of that draft until the injury.  With their next pick, Montreal chose the third-ranked European skater, Sebastian Collberg, and had a late round steal with defenseman Dalton Thrower.

And then there were the losers, the biggest of which were the Calgary Flames.  The Flames traded down seven picks to take a guy that would have been available several picks later; instead of drafting highly-regarded defenseman Olli Maatta with the 21st pick.  That pick was followed up with Mark Jankowski, out of a small Quebec high school league.

Perhaps the only other big loser were the Columbus Blue Jackets.  They traded away a lot to get mid-level goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and then a rumor surfaced that the Blue Jackets rejected a trade with the New York Islanders that would have sent every one of their picks to Columbus for their second overall pick.  Oh yeah, and four of their scouts were fired right after the draft.

The award for most ironic draft pick would have to go to the New Jersey Devils, who drafted forward Stefan Matteau in the first round.  If the name doesn’t ring a bell, Matteau’s father Stephane scored the double-overtime goal that knocked out the Devils in Game 7 of the 1994 Conference semifinals, sending the New York Rangers to an eventual Stanley Cup championship.  Some might say it’s the biggest goal in Rangers history.  It certainly made us laugh.

Now that the youngsters are in place, we await free agency on July 1!

Ed is the lead hockey writer and a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @PhillyEdMiller, and subscribe on Facebook @ CraveOnlineSports.

Photo Credit: AP