Here's some of my notes from this past weekend's NHL Draft.
College Hockey Stuff
Will all of the college players drafted keep their commitments? Jacob Trouba seems the most likely to bolt. He was pretty adamant about going to Michigan pre-draft, but the same could be said for a lot of players that have bolted. I still think there's a chance of Winnipeg making an offer he can't pass up and signing him. The Jets have to have one of the pitiful prospect pools in the NHL.
In the first three rounds of the draft, the Big Ten had eight players selected, the new WCHA had three future players selected, and the NCHC had two.
Ohio State had both of their incoming goalies selected. Collin Olson went in the sixth round and Matt Tomkins went in the seventh round. The Vancouver Giants of the WHL were reportedly pretty interested in Tomkins, but it appears he will play in the AJHL again next year before heading to Ohio State.
Historic Days For USHL and NAHL
It was a historic day for the two top junior leagues in the United States. For the USHL, current players Zemgus Girgensons, Michael Matheson, and Jordan Schmaltz were all selected in the first round. Three players from the NTDP, and one former NTDP player that all played in the USHL were selected in the first round as well. And it was reported that Mark Jankowski will join the Dubuque Fighting Saints next season after being selected in the first round.
Meanwhile, the NAHL quietly had a pretty remarkable second day. Goalie Anthony Stolarz was selected in the second round of the draft. Goalie Connor Hellebuyck was selected in the 5th round, and NAHL alum Paul LaDue was selected in the sixth round. The NAHL isn't necessarily trying to get players drafted into the NHL so much as help move them on to the next level of hockey, but having players drafted like that is a great endorsement for the quality of the league, and shows that their players are on the radar of the NHL.
Weak Draft Means Lots of Wildcards
This draft had the stigma of being a pretty weak year, especially among North Americans, and especially among forwards, and that seemed to be the case on draft day. The end result was a lot of off-the-board boom-or-bust type picks, and a lot of goalies being taken. Players like Mark Jankowski(1st) and MacKenzie MacEachern(3rd) were talented, but unproven, and ended up going way higher than expected. Goalies are almost never a good draft value, but in a year like this, it didn't seem like a terrible idea to buy a lottery ticket and hope it pans out.
What Is a 7th Round Pick Worth?
Prior to the draft, I saw a few fans complaining that maybe the draft should be extended, at least back to the 9th round where it used to be. This year provided some evidence that maybe the draft is too long as is:
1. I'm pretty sure the Los Angeles Kings took Nick Ebert with the last pick of the draft just because they felt sorry for him.
2. Minnesota used their final pick on Edina's Lou Nanne, grandson of former North Stars GM/local hockey personality Lou Nanne. Nanne isn't a terrible player by any stretch, but there is absolutely zero chance he gets drafted if his name is Lou Smith. In the long run, it doesn't really mean much; Nanne has participated in the Wild's development camp in years past, so he was going to be there this year regardless. But it definitely left a sour taste in the mouthes of some people to see more deserving local players be passed up for the honor of being drafted.
3. There's a fantastic rumor going around today that Garth Snow and the New York Islanders offered Columbus all seven of their draft picks in exchange for the right to move up two spots to number two over all in the draft. The general consensus is that NYI is stupid for offering, and Columbus is stupid for not taking that offer. I tend to agree. Granted, I've had extremely limited viewing of the players in that area of the draft, but I would be shocked if there ends up being that much difference in value between Ryan Murray and whoever Columbus could have gotten fourth overall.
The logic in all three seems to be: What does it matter if you waste a pick that late when odds are it won't matter anyway? That's a fair point. But it's also like buying a lottery ticket and throwing it away before the numbers are announced because odds are you aren't going to win anyway.
I decided against making my own picks along with the Draft this year, simply because I didn't feel like I had seen enough hockey from this group, and didn't have a particularly strong draft list. I would have taken Alex Galchenyuk with the first overall pick. At 15, I wanted Zemgus Girgensons or Slater Koekoek, and both ended up going before that. That seemed to be the theme for this draft. There were a lot of kids that I kind of liked that ended up going way higher than I would have started looking at them. Also, for the record, Brendan Woods was taken in this year's draft after I selected him in 2010, which is like the third or fourth time I've selected a player that went unpicked, only to be picked a year or two later.