The first day and first round of the NHL Draft is now in the books. Let's try to figure out what happened.
We'll start with our storylines heading into the day:
1. Taylor Hall vs. Tyler Seguin-I've said it was Taylor Hall all along and I was right. When it came down to crunch time, Hall was just too good to pass up.
2. The Top Defensemen-This was a really crazy one, with Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley both dropping outside of the top 10, while Dylan McIlrath was the second defenseman taken, and a number of forwards jumped over them. It remains to be seen how these players pan out, but for now, a couple teams look very dumb for passing over Fowler and Gormley to take chances on less talented players. I honestly think it was a case where teams had it set in their mind that they were going to take a certain player and when those two unexpectedly dropped, they couldn't change their mind and pull the trigger.
3. The Russian Factor-It ended up not being that big of a deal. All three Russians that were expected to be picked went around where they should have. I thought there were a lot of teams blowing smoke saying they were going that high, but teams stuck with their word. If one of them ends up going back to Russia, that could really change things for future drafts though.
4. Little Guys-Definitely not a very big deal. Granlund went where he was expected, Skinner a little earlier than expected, and Schwartz way above where expected.
5. Points vs. Competition-Big points seems to have won out with Bennett going over Sheahan and Nelson going over Pitlick. If either of Bennett or Nelson match what Pitlick and Sheahan did as freshman while being a year older, I'd be surprised.
6. Goalies-I guess NHL teams didn't bother to read up on how you shouldn't take goalies early. Jack Campbell went early in the first round and Mark Visentin went late in the first round, which seems like a huge reach.
7. Injuries-Not much of a story here. Connolly went around where he was expected. Pulkkinen and Kabanov weren't picked but weren't expected to. Joey Hishon was a player that had some injury problems and ended up getting picked way higher than expected.
So what ended up being the major story of the day? I think it has to be the combination of all of those forwards going in the top ten and pushing Fowler and Gormley outside of the top ten.I would have laughed if somebody told me at any time over the past four years that Cam Fowler wouldn't be picked in the top ten of this draft.
Second on the list is probably some of the reaches that teams took in the draft. You can start with some of the guys that were mentioned as having high-end potential that teams may jump up to grab like Jaden Schwartz and Beau Bennett going towards the upper-end of where they were projected, all the way to the absolute shockers like Joey Hishon, Kevin Hayes, and Mark Visentin being selected.
Picks I Really Liked
#12-Anaheim-Cam Fowler-For obvious reasons. There was talks of teams trading up into the top six to get one of those defensemen, and Anaheim got him without having to give anything up.
#15-Los Angeles Kings-Derek Forbort-We heard all week long about teams trying to trade down, but when defensemen started dropping like rocks, it started making a whole lot of sense for a team to try to trade up and grab one, and that's just what LAK did when they traded up to get Forbort. The main piece they gave up to get him was Nick Bjugstad(picked 19th overall), which I think is a huge win for Los Angeles.
#21-Detroit-Riley Sheahan-Detroit picks up a very solid all-around player. For what it's worth, I get the feeling(slightly educated) that Sheahan will be back at Notre Dame next year.
#29-Anaheim-Emerson Etem-It was a great first round for Anaheim. You could make the argument that they got the 3rd and 15th best players available in the draft at #12 and #29.
Picks I Didn't Like
#10-New York Rangers-Dylan McIlrath-With the way defensemen had dropped in front of them, why not take a more dynamic player like Fowler or Gormley, or try to trade down, since McIlrath probably would have dropped a bit too? That's a big reach for a guy without a ton of upside.
#17-Colorado-Joey Hishon-I'm still confused.
#27-Phoenix-Mark Visentin-Did Phoenix really think he'd be gone when they picked at #57 tomorrow? If so, they're probably in a pretty small group.
My picks for the day:
Compared to what actually happened, I did pretty well. Hall and Forbort were picked exactly at #1 and #15 respectively, and Pitlick is bound to go early tomorrow. It's an interesting lesson on how things can change on draft day though.
Coming into today, based on my draft list, I would have bet money that I'd end up with Hall, Pitlick, and Pulkkinen. But when Forbort ended up dropping that low, I ultimately couldn't pass on a defenseman with that much talent and potential. This is all hypothetical, but after around pick #8 or so, I would have been doing everything in my power to trade up to draft Fowler or Gormley. I just think there's a certain point where that much talent outweighs really liking a particular player, though apparently that threshold is a lot lower for me than it is for most GMs.