The first round of this year's NHL Draft is in the books. There was absolutely no drama with the first two picks this year and for the most part, the top ten went pretty much according to script. Things started to get a little wild in the middle ten picks of the Draft and then it was a complete crapshoot with teams going all over the board in the final ten picks of the first round.
As always, there are a few big surprises on Draft day. Here were five interesting moves made on the first day of the 2015 NHL Draft.
1. Nobody Trades Up for Noah Hanifin
Maybe this one isn't a surprise. Like I mentioned earlier on Friday, it is incredible difficult for teams to trade into the top five picks of the draft because the asking price is so astronomical, and that seems to be the case here. When the Boston Bruins--oh the Bruins....we'll get to them--acquired three picks in the middle of the first round and traded away a potential franchise defenseman, it seemed all the stars were lining up for them to make the big trade to draft the hometown kid. Alas, it never came to be and Carolina ended up benefiting by landing a defenseman that could have gone first overall in many draft years.
2. Russian Factor Be Damned
One of the big questions I had about this year's first round was if teams would shy away from talented Russian prospects due to fears of them coming over to North America. Specifically, I was talking about talented Russian power forward Denis Gurianov, who really impressed me at the World U18s, but was in and out of the first round on many rankings, in large part because he's under contract with a Russian KHL team for the next two years.
Dallas apparently had no such fears, as they selected Gurianov 12th overall, higher than even the optimistic projections had him. It may seem like a reach, but there's no doublt Gurianov is that talented. The question is will he make it over to the United States and pay dividends for the Stars.
3. What is Boston Doing?
As mentioned above, Boston made some questionable trades earlier in day, but at least came out of it with a near unprecedented three consecutive picks in the middle of the first round. Three solid picks there could have at least taken a little heat off of new Bruins GM Don Sweeney. The opportunity was there too. Two electric offensive prospects that slipped out of the top ten in Matt Barzal and Kyle Connor were just sitting there ripe for Boston to take them. Instead, they made a solid but unexciting pick in Jakub Zboril, followed it up with a slightly weirder reach on Jake DeBrusk, and then went completely off the board with Zach Senyshyn who most projected solidly in the middle of the second round. I had pegged Senyshyn as a sleeper in the Draft, but thought that meant he could go in the late first round, not the middle of the first round. The end result is that a couple trades that started out looking iffy now look awful after the Bruins didn't get a ton of value out of those high picks. Maybe the Bruins are smarter than the room and those three will turn out to be the core of a great team. They'll certainly be a closely watched and analyzed group.
4. A Goalie Goes in the First
At 22nd overall, Ilya Samsonov became the first goalie to be selected in the first round since Andrei Vasilevskiy and Malcolm Subban in 2012. Samsonov definitely seems worthy of a first round pick. There were some questions about him after he skipped the NHL Combine, but his size and athleticism was just too much for Washington to ignore. Add in that there seemed to be a big drop off in talent after about the first 20 picks and it seemed worth the gamble to take a goalie that could be a star in the NHL.
5. Toronto Keeps Trading Down
Toronto picked up a nice offensive threat at fourth overall in Mitch Marner and had a second first round pick to play with at 24th. But apparently the player Toronto wanted--my guess is still Daniel Sprong--wasn't likely to be picked for a while, so they traded down from 24 to 29 and acquired pick #61, then turned around and traded pick #29 for #34 and 68. So by moving ten spots, Toronto potentially gets the same player they wanted at 24, but also picked up the 61st and 68th picks for free. Toronto once again was the anti-Boston, but this time, that's actually a good thing.