With the 2015 NHL Entry Draft having come to a close, let's take a look at some of the big winners and the big losers over the course of the last two days.
Garth Snow was busy on Day 1, grabbing two forwards in the first round despite starting the day with no first-round picks. The Islanders’ GM was able to parlay defenseman Griffin Reinhart into Edmonton’s 16th and 33rd pick. With the 16th-overall pick they would go on to select Mathew Barzal, who many expected to be selected by then. The 6’0, 181 lbs centre is a reliable two-way player, with excellent skating and puck-handling abilities.
The Islanders then flipped the 33rd pick and their own 72nd pick to acquire Tampa Bay’s 28th overall pick. With the 28th pick, the Islanders were able to select left winger Anthony Beauvillier. What Beauvillier lacks in size, he more than makes up for in speed, high end skills and hockey sense. All in all, the New York Islanders were able to draft two high ceiling prospects in the first round, without dealing a roster player to acquire those picks in return. The Islanders also made history by drafting Beijing's Andong Song, who is the first Chinese player to ever be picked at the NHL draft.
The Calgary Flames fleeced the Boston Bruins, en route to landing coveted RFA Dougie Hamilton. The Flames parted with the 15th, 45th and 52nd pick in this year's draft to land the 22-year-old defenseman. Hamilton will join a defense core in Calgary that already includes Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie. The Calgary Flames would also go on to draft two Swedish defensemen with their 53rd and 60th picks, in Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington.
Andersson looks to be a sleeper pick in this draft, having finished 3rd among defensemen in points in the OHL through putting up 64 points in 67 games with the Barrie Colts. Meanwhile, Kylington saw his stock drop on draft day despite being one of the best puck-moving defensemen available, which allowed the Flames to grab him with their late second-round pick. GM Brad Treliving's moves netted the Calgary Flames a good haul of young, puck-moving defensemen at this draft.
The Senators entered the draft needing to unload one of Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner. They left the draft having unloaded Robin Lehner, David Legwand and Eric Gryba. Bryan Murray's savvy manoeuvring prevented the Senators from having to retain salaries on any of those players and opened up roster spots for their prospects. Ottawa had the first round picks in this year's draft, having received Buffalo's 21st-overall pick in exchange for Lehner and Legwand.
The Ottawa Senators took defenseman Thomas Chabot with their 18th pick and forward Colin White with their 21st pick. Both players are considered to be safe picks but do lack the higher upsides attributed to prospects taken later on in the draft such as Evgeny Svechnikov, Travis Konecny and Nick Merkley. However, White would also go on to provide the most memorable moment from the first round of the draft, when he snubbed commissioner Gary Bettman by refusing to shake his hand.
The Toronto Maple Leafs had a fairly predictable beginning, drafting Mitch Marner with their 4th overall pick. From then on however, the Leafs were anything but that. First the Leafs would flip their 24th overall pick to the Philadelphia Flyers, in exchange for their 29th and 61st picks. The Leafs would then send the 29th pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets and received the 34th and 68th picks in return. With picks 34, 61 and 68, the Leafs would go on to select Travis Dermott, Jeremy Bracco and Andrew Nielsen respectively.
The GM-less Maple Leafs were able to turn their late first-round pick into two seconds and a third, demonstrating a sense of asset management that their previous management group lacked. The Leafs were also able to exploit Edmonton's inability to assess defensemen, by trading Brad Ross and the 107th pick for Martin Marincin. Yes, the same Brad Ross who was once suspended 20 games for using performance enhancing drugs. Needless to say, the Maple Leafs new management group seem to be making all the right moves.
It may not be too much of a stretch to claim that the Boston Bruins imploded over the two day stretch. Between losing Dougie Hamilton for very little in return, having to retain salary on Milan Lucic after trading him to the Kings and extending Adam McQuaid, Don Sweeny's tenure as Bruins' GM has gotten off to a fantastic start. But the craziness did not end there.
The Bruins, despite having the 13th, 14th and 15th overall picks decided to draft Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk and Zachary Senyshyn instead of higher ranked prospects Mathew Barzal, Evgeny Svechnikov, Kyle Connor,and Thomas Chabot. Boston also passed up on an opportunity to draft the highly skilled Oliver Kylington, in favour of drafting defenseman Brandon Carlo with their 37th pick. Though it is not very clear what the team is trying to achieve, it is very odd that Don Sweeny has set about trying to rebuild a team that was just two points short of making the playoffs last season.
Los Angeles Kings
Outside of re-signing Tyler Toffoli and trading for Milan Lucic, the LA Kings did not accomplish much else.The team was unable to free up cap space and having sent their 13th-overall pick to the Bruins in Milan Lucic trade, had no first-round picks at this year's draft. With the Lucic acquisition, it seems likely that the Kings will not be able to afford defenseman Andrej Sekera. Unless the LA Kings can manage to shed Mike Richards' contract, they will still be in cap trouble moving forward.
The LA Kings used their 43rd pick to draft Erik Cernak. The 6'4" Slovakian defenseman is definitely a long-term project that the Kings will need to take their time on, seeing as there are question marks surrounding Cernak's mobility, speed and skating. Unfortunately for the Kings, it does not look like Erik Cernak will be filling any holes on their roster in the near future.