Every year there are a few teams that stand out as clear winners on draft day, and a few that stand out as losers. We'll go over the winners first.
Considering where they were picking, no team came out with as impressive a haul as the Blues did. Every time they stepped up to the podium it seemed like a great player had fallen right into their laps, and they made no mistakes. Robby Fabbri may be one of the best goal scorers in the draft class, a top-ten talent, and he fell to them way down at 22nd overall. They took advantage of another faller in the second round, taking Russian left winger Ivan Barbashev 33rd overall. Barbashev was an assist machine for Moncton in the QMJHL, and was considered a top-15 guy in the draft, who clearly fell due to the Russian factor. Those two alone make this a very successful draft for the Blues. The Blues also unloaded a possession black hole in Roman Polak, and acquired a better player in Carl Gunnarsson, who the Leafs retained salary on, and sent an extra pick to get rid of. Madness.
The Islanders had a lottery pick, which has a high expectation of conversion, and they made a good pick in Michael Dal Colle. Dal Colle is one of the most explosive offensive producers of the draft, and a potential nice winger for John Tavares or Ryan Strome in the future. The Islanders also added some more extremely high end skill by trading up and grabbing Joshua Ho-Sang, a big faller due to perceived attitude issues, but also quite possibly the best pure talent hockey player in the draft class.
For years the Predators have had serious trouble drafting impact forwards (aside from Alexander Radulov, who left for the KHL). They know this better than anyone, and have been taking steps the last few years to address the lack of scoring throughout the lineup, but they took a huge step forward this weekend by taking Swiss sensation Kevin Fiala in the first round, Vladislav Kamenev in the second round, and trading for 30+ goal scorer James Neal. Neal benefitted a ton from Crosby and Malkin, but is still the best natural goal scorer on the Predators. The Preds also drafted Jack Dougherty late in the second round.
It's not often you can say that a team that drafted second overall and made a good pick had a bad draft, but it's all about opportunity. From pick 31-74, Buffalo had five selections, and they took two okay looking players in Brendan Lemieux and Eric Cornel, but passed over superior prospects like Barbashev, Anton Karlsson, and more. And the rest of their picks weren't really standouts. It was a bit of a missed opportunity for Buffalo, who likely could have traded up into the 1st round again, maybe even twice.
Vancouver made off with three seriously legit prospects in Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, and Thatcher Demko, but they're losers for the time being due to the loss of Ryan Kesler for meagre return, and the exact same thing for Jason Garrison. Garrison may have been a depreciating asset, but the Canucks have continually been trading players for less than what they're worth going back to last year's draft with Cory Schneider. It's a bad scene over there.
Not only did the Senators have a fairly poor draft, they failed to trade Jason Spezza, only succeeding in pissing him off by once again dragging him over the coals for daring to invoke his no trade clause. The loss of a first rounder in the Bobby Ryan trade was felt pretty harshly in a draft without great depth, especially since it was a top ten pick, and the Sens failed to capitalize on their mid-round picks to compensate.