Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs: New Player Development Focus?

Kyle Dubas has often been viewed as an “outside the box” GM. This has changed how the Toronto Maple Leafs have adjusted their draft strategies. 

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In an interview following the 2019 NHL draft, John Lilley, the director of amateur scouting for the Toronto Maple Leafs divulged some information that’s pretty interesting, in regard to the Leafs draft focus. Lilley stated that the focus heading into the draft was on identifying two key traits in players, skill and intelligence. This is a shift far from what was the focus of the Leafs for many years. Right up to the 2016 and 2017 NHL drafts the Leafs prioritized size and physical acumen over intelligence. There seemed to be a focus on drafting the biggest and strongest athlete and developing the decision making later. This was most evident in players like Nicholas Mattinen, Keaton Middleton and even Yegor Korshkov. Whilst many of the picks certainly weren’t fantastic skaters there was a priority on strength, size and physical prowess.

The New Philosophy

Following the 2018 NHL Draft, the Leafs made a few picks that gave a glimpse of a new focus. Even the selection of Rasmus Sandin, whilst a player with the physical tools of Joe Veleno was available was a surprise to many. Joe Veleno boasted incredible speed and was considered by many a top 10 talent. However, the Leafs traded down and still selected Rasmus Sandin at number 29. Thus far, it looks a brilliant pick. Furthermore, to this we saw players like Sean Durzi, Mac Hollowell and Filip Kral selected in the later rounds. These, like Sandin, were prospects who were undersized and lacked a stand out attribute, yet were very intelligent hockey players according to most scouting reports.

Kyle Dubas and John Lilley both mentioned the focus on a player’s skill and intelligence as being the prime target for the scouts leading into this draft. The NHL has long leaned on drafting the best athlete or the best physical specimen and relying on their coaches to mould an NHL brain around the body. Dubas and Lilley look to be challenging this idea and instead focus on finding young players with an NHL head and letting their team develop the body. Considering the Leafs have people like Barb Underhill, Hayley Wickenheiser and Darryl Belfry it would be a waste not to use them.

Dubas’ Comments

Perhaps the most intriguing comment following the draft was what Dubas had to say about the focus following the draft. He specifically mentioned certain names, including Rich Rotenburg and Trevor St Agathe. These are names that many Leaf fans are likely unfamiliar with. However, if you watch the 2017-18 Calder Cup final win you will see Trevor St Agathe out on the ice lifting the cup with Dubas. Trevor has had a long career in the strength and conditioning field and spent time in the NBA and NHL in his field. Dubas climbing through the ranks has gifted him with the opportunity to truly see how player development works from its core. That has given him the insight into the value individuals such as Trevor, Rich, Barb and Darryl can bring to a young players developmental curve. Targeting the strength, nutrition and physical health side with Rich and Trevor, the skating with Barb and the skills work with Darryl offers a very complete player development system.

I personally am a huge fan of people like Mike Boyle and Matt Nichol, who are the premier S&C coaches when it comes to hockey. In a podcast a few years back Matt Nichol, who formerly worked with the Leafs as the first fulltime S&C coach in NHL history, brought up a number of concerns surrounding the game. He spoke on how he felt that NHL teams and those in power around them lacked consideration and understanding for the role of sports science. He spoke about studies he completed whilst working with the team and how even with evidence some coaches seemed resistant to make changes to training styles or focuses that were proven less optimal by science.

These latest comments by Dubas show a clear recognition of those in the sports science field he has on his team. His time with the Marlies and the Greyhounds has afforded him the opportunity to see first hand of the effect that his player development staff can have on his prospects. This should give great confidence to fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs that their GM is forward thinking and ready to place trust in his team to develop intelligent players into more complete athletes.

 

Sources: Hockey-reference.com, Eliteprospects.com

Featured Image Credit: Nikos Michal

Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche Draft Recap and Analysis

The Colorado Avalanche were able to come away from the draft weekend as the big winners. Thanks to a complete lack of self realization and foresight by Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion, the Avalanche were armed with the fourth overall pick as well as their own pick at 16.

The Picks

Bowen Byram, LHD, Vancouver Giants (WHL), Round 1, 4th Overall

The Colorado Avalanche were able to land themselves the consensus top-ranked defender in the 2019 NHL Draft. A silky, smooth skater who led the WHL playoffs in scoring from the back end, Byram was an offensive catalyst. The Vancouver Giants blue liner was able to affect that game in every facet.

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The young Canadian showed outstanding potential offensively. Byram proved able to make any pass he’s asked whether it be transitioning out of the defensive zone with a long pass through the neutral zone or a short pass to alleviate pressure along the boards. In the offensive zone he is a facilitator from the point. He threads passes through the zone finding open lanes through the slot to create high danger scoring chances. He also skates extremely well with the puck on his stick, understanding when the opportunity arises to make a move and get himself into scoring position.

Defensively, Byram was consistently improving throughout the year. His gal control was excellent due to his outstanding skating and edge work. He was able to pivot and keep oncoming attackers to the outside preventing dangerous chances. His board play was impressive as he was able to win battles in the corners and along the side walls with consistency. The future Avs defender was a presence in the net front, clearing the crease with proficiency. Overall, the top defender I the draft will be a luxury for a team who’s defensive pipeline already includes Connor Timmins, Sam Girard and Cale Makar which could lead to the Colorado Avalanche having once of the best blue lines in hockey within a few short seasons.

Alex Newhook, C, Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL), Round 1, 16th Overall

Despite playing a level below major junior, the BCHL star proved that he was a first round talent. Alex Newhook battled through a slow start and not making the Canadian Hlinka-Gretzky squad. Often times players are unable to perform at their top speed but the young Grizzlies star has speed to burn and can play the game at full speed. His skating is elite among NHL talent already and his hockey IQ is top level. Often ranked among the top-10 prior to the draft, Colorado’s ability to land a top flight center to pair with the best defender in the draft class helps solidify the Avalanche as the big winners of the draft.

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Using his high-level burst and edge work, he does an excellent job of tracking opposing players into the defensive zone. He uses a quick, high-skill stick work to separate player from puck. Once the puck is turned over, Newhook is able to take a couple of strides pulling away from his adversaries with ease. The east coast native is a neutral zone wizard when it comes to the translation game. Whether it be using his crisp, accurate passing or his high-octane speed, Newhook gets through the zone efficiently and at a high rate of speed.

Once into the offensive zone, he creates space with his ability to drive defenders back with his speed before stopping on a dime. His edge work and quick first step allow him to create separation in tight spaces and get into tight areas with the puck. Newhook has a solid frame, able to handle being leaned on in the corners and still coming out with the puck more often than not. His vision and hockey sense are constantly on display as he finds and sets up his teammates. His shot is NHL ready, especially off the rush or on a one time opportunity. He is able to change the angle on his shot with excellent stick handling off the rush, which becomes nearly unstoppable at times when you combine it with his exceptional speed.

Drew Helleson, RHD, USNTDP (USHL), Round 2, 47th Overall

Helleson is a solid defensive blue liner who is a very fluid skater. He makes efficient plays with the puck on his stick and he is able to skate confidently with the puck when needed. Offensively he has a decent shot from the point that relies on accuracy to get it through more than power. He makes simple passes to the forwards, allowing the high skilled players to make plays and facilitating when needed.

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He is patient and poised with the puck in his own zone, rarely making a mistake. He moves well forwards and backwards, able to gain speed and keep pace with attacking forwards. He could stand to improve his lateral quickness as he can be turned around at times when being driven back with high-level speed. He provides a physical presence but doesn’t rely on the bone crushing hit that can often take a player out of the play. He uses his large frame with a purpose and engages at the appropriate time. He is with attend Boston College in the fall, along with fellow Avs draft choice Alex Newhook, where he is likely to continue his development for at least two seasons before making the jump to the professional ranks.

Matthew Stienburg, C/RW, St. Andrews College (CAHS), Round 3, 63rd Overall

This was the first pick that Joe Sakic and the Avalanche management team may have reached on. Due to being diagnosed with Osteomyelitis, an infection in the shoulder that was eating away at the muscle tissue and bone, the CHL route was taken away because he only played in 15 games in his CHL draft eligible year. Electing to go through multiple surgeries in an attempt to return his a to fill mobility, he dealt with adversity at a young age. He opened up to the prep school-NCAA route and is committed to Cornell next year.

While Stienburg showed skills, his physical presence is his calling card. Often compared to Tom Wilson, the young Canadian is a bit of a throwback type player. He fought in a call up to Sioux City of the USHL, racking up 15 PIM. He possesses pro-ready size at 6’1″, 185lbs. His offensive game is well rounded as he was able to produce 33 goals and 42 assists in just 56 games proving that he isn’t just a goon despite in 98 PIMs on the season. Certainly a project, Stienburg will attend Cornell for at least a couple of years and continue to develop and hone his raw skill set. With his plus hockey IQ, he may be able to turn himself into a solid middle-six forward at the professional level.

Alex Beaucage, RW/LW, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL), Round 3, 78th Overall

The 2019 Memorial Cup champion was the Avalanche’s second pick in the third round. Alex Beaucage is one of the youngest players in the draft and he put up impressive offensive numbers as the fifth highest scoring first year draft eligible players in the QMJHL. Beaucage was an offensive producer with 79 points in just 68 games, he played with older, more experienced players and was often the beneficiary of their solid play.

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He wasn’t strictly as passenger as he possesses solid traits such as a good shot and vision. He is able to get the puck off his stick quickly and efficiently whether it be a shot or a pass. Next season will provide a lot of answers for Beaucage as he will likely be asked to lead a line of his own rather than ride shotgun with some veteran players. It was a puck worth taking the risk on as he could grow into a lead-dog role with the Huskies next season.

Lottery Tickets: Round 4 and Beyond

Sasha Mutala, RW, Tri-City Americans (WHL), Round 5, 140th Overall

Mutala is a good skater with quick acceleration. He is a high-motor player who is an active forechecker creating chances from the dirty areas of the ice. Mutala has a heavy shot and decent vision. Projects as a third-line winger.

Luka Burzan, C, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL), Round 6, 171st Overall

Originally eligible for the draft last year, Burzan thrust himself in the scene with a 40 goal, 78 point campaign following a year where he had 9 goals and 21 points. Burzan is a project player who could continue to grow offensively.

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Trent Minor, G, Vancouver Giants (WHL), Round 7, 202nd Overall

Trent Minor led the Vancouver Giants to the WHL final where they fell to the Prince Albert Raiders in seven games. A sub-2.00 goals against average and a .924 save percentage which were aided by playing on an outstanding team. A teammate of Byram, the Avalanche 4th overall pick, Miner is slightly undersized but shows promise in net.

Draft Recap

The Colorado Avalanche were able to take advantage of the poor situation that Matt Duchene our them in by getting the Ottawa Senators first round pick. That gave Colorado the opportunity to use the 2019 NHL Entry Draft to bolster their depth all over the ice despite experiencing some on-ice success. Having the 4th and 16th pick in the first round was an advantageous spot to be put in. After selecting Byram with the fourth pick they were fortunate to have Alex Newhook, a player often ranked in the top-10, with the 16th pick. Those two players will bolster this team in areas of need and they were also the best players available. Byram adds to the defensive prospect pipeline making it the best blue line group of prospects in the NHL. Newhook will likely solidify the second line center spot behind Nathan MacKinnon where he will be able to follow MacKinnon’s speed with a second wave of breath taking speed.

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After the first round Colorado continued to make good decisions, going with a mix of safe picks such as Helleson and riskier picks like Stienburg. Adding a defensive defender who can skate and make a solid first pass the way Helleson does in the second round was a smart choice and then they took risks as the puck certainty decreased. Balancing the risk of drafting Stienburg with a bit of a safer pick in the offensively gifted Beaucage was a strategy that could pay off in time. Mutala and Burzan are good upside picks where Colorado took a bit of a risk later in the draft as they should. Trent Miner is a goalie who has some winning pedigree and good statistics. He has some good tools and grabbing him in the 7th round may end up being a steal.

Overall, the Colorado Avalanche May be the team that won the draft as early on as day one. Acquiring two top-10 talents, one of which being the clear-cut best defender in the draft, means that they more than took advantage of the opportunity that they were presented with. Colorado had success on the ice this year, making it to the second round and pushing San Jose to a controversial game seven. Now, after pulling in the draft class that they did, they are starting the offseason with some success off the ice.

For more the draft, prospects and the NHL in general you can follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari

All statistics and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, the NHL, Elite Prospects and Prospect Stats.

Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings Draft Analysis

The Detroit Red Wings turned the draft on its head with the sixth pick. Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman provided the first “Hold my Beer” moment of the draft by taking the high rising, high-upside, right-handed defender Mortiz Seider from the DEL. The “Yzerplan” was fully underway.

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The Picks

Moritz Seider, RHD, Alder Mannheim (DEL), Round 1, 6th overall

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The big right-handed blue liner has been rising on draft boards over the last three months. Seider was often ranked as the second or third best defender in the draft come June, usually in the top-15. Taking the German born and trained Seider at sixth overall may have been a bit of reach at the draft time but in a few years we may realize Wings general manager Steve Yzerman’s genius. He’s a mobile, 6’4″ right shot defender who excelled in latter half of the year playing against men in the DEL (top German league). Seider possesses the ability to defend with efficiency. He uses his long reach and stick to disrupt plays and isn’t afraid to close out and engage physically. Offensively, he showed promise at the junior level and on the international stage, including during his men’s World Championship with the German national team. Although this may seem like a reach at the time of the draft, even Moritz Seider looked surprised to hear his name so early, but could end up being looked back upon in a much more positive light. Grade C+

Antti Tuomisto, RHD, Ässät U20 (Jr A SM-Liiga), Round 2, 35th overall

Another big, right-handed rearguard for Detroit. Another pick that may have been slightly higher than anticipated but a good player nonetheless. An interesting fact about Antti Tuomisto is that he was set to be promoted to the Liiga but declined the promotion because he wanted to preserve his NCAA eligibility. This led to his stock not being as high as it could have been. He has a big shot from the blue line and makes a good first pass in transition. More of a passer to transport the puck than a puck carrier but he’s a strong skater at 6’5″, 198lbs. Defensively he is solid and creates separation with his large frame. He doesn’t seek out big hits, rather he engages physically with purpose. He does have a bit of an edge to his game, being suspended for crossing the line at the U18s with a knee-on-knee. With the likelihood that he fills his large frame out and his advanced hockey IQ, his defensive positioning is likely to improve over time. Grade B-

Robert Mastrosimone, LW, Chicago Steel (USHL), Round 2, 54th overall

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The first forward taken by the Red Wings was a smaller winger (5’10”, 170lbs) who was a goal scorer at the USHL. He is a decent skater but not could work on it. Robert Mastrosimone has a good first step but his top speed isn’t anything to ride home about. He has a good shot and excellent hands. He will need to learn when and when not to use his go-to move, the toe drag, to get around players. He uses the toe drag on shots as well which is an excellent skill to have as it changes the angle on the shot and deceives goalies with the shot. He will need to get stronger but the skill is there. Defensively, he’s inconsistent but shows a good ability to get his stick on passing lanes. He isn’t going to be a physical presence in the defensive zone but his stick work helps make up for it. Grade B+

Albert Johansson, LHD, Färjestad BK (SHL), Round 2, 60th Overall

A 6’0″ defender who skates well, see the ice and makes good crisp passes. Albert Johansson has a good first step, accelerates quickly and has good top-speed. He carries the puck well and has good hands as a blue liner. He has a good hard shot thats accurate from the point. Seems to get the puck through traffic more often than not. He isn’t afraid to shoot the puck and may need to hone in when to shoot it and when to pass it off. He’s very poised in his own end and does a decent job defending but could definitely work on his positioning when the opposition gains the zone and sustains pressure. He has very high hockey sense and the poise allows him to make good passes under pressure. He has a strong overall game but doesn’t “wow” anyone. Grade B

Albin Grewe, RW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL), Round 3, 66th Overall

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Graded by most as a late-first/early-second round pick, Detroit getting Albin Grewe (pronounces Gre-vah) in the third round is a steal. The Swedish winger plays like a bulldog. He is built like a truck at just 6’0″ tall, 195lbs. He is a combination of grit and skill. Grewe has the ability to turn the momentum of a game on its head. He can get a big hit on he defensive end, get the puck through the neutral zone before dangling a defender and putting the puck top shelf. He’s often been compared to Brad Marchand and Tyler Bertuzzi stylistically and if he falls anywhere on that spectrum this third round pick will be a steal. Grade A

The Lottery Tickets: Round 4 and Beyond

Ethan Phillips, C, Sioux Falls (USHL), Round 4, 97th Overall

Good two-way center who is quite undersized. At just 5’9″ and 146lbs, Phillips will be a project. He excels defensively and could be a good penalty kill player at the next level. He was a big factor in the Sioux Falls’ USHL title this past year. He will be attending Boston University in the fall.

Cooper Moore, LHD, Brunswick High School (USHS-Prep), Round 5, 128th Overall

High school players are hard to project because the level of competition is generally low. This is a home run swing late in the draft. In a game where his team was down 6-3 with three minutes left in the third period, he put the team on his back and scored three goals, as a defenceman, to tie the game. He almost scored again in overtime which would have been his SIXTH goal of the game. This was a late round flyer that could pay off big time later. Moore is going to play in the BCHL next year and then at the University of North Dakota in 2020-21.

Elmer Söderblom, RW/LW, Frölunda HC J20 (SuperElit), Round 6, 159th Overall

The massive winger is an excellent stick handler. Although intimidating at 6’7″ and 220lbs, there seems to be more skill than grit in his game. Plays on the perimeter for the most part but likes to take the puck to the net with his stick handling prowess. Taking a flyer on a forward of this size and skill set is the perfect 6th round pick.

Gustav Berglund, RHD, Frölunda HC J20 (SuperElit), Round 6, 177th Overall

A right-handed defender who progressed through the junior ranks in Sweden through the year. Good size and talent but had a rough start to the year. He was living on his own and had a hard time adjusting initially but once he was sorted out by his team and coaches in Sweden he began to excel.

Kirill Tyutyayev, RW/LW, Avto Yekaterinburg (MHL), Round 7, 190th Overall

Tyutyayev dominated the MHL, the Russian junior league, this year. He was his teams leading scoring in the regular season and playoffs. A long-term project, he possesses good puck skills, a decent offensive game and potential to get better with time. A good 7th round swing for the fences.

Carter Gylander, G, Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL), Round 7, 191st Overall

A goalie in the seventh round. He’s big, 6’5″, but needs to fill out his frame as he sits at 172lbs. Good numbers in a second tier Canadian junior league. He will return to Sherwood Park next season before he attends Colgate University in 2020-21.

Draft Summary

The Detroit Red Wings draft was a bit controversial. Taking Seider with players such as Trevor Zegras and Dylan Cozens still available. Seider is a good blue liner who could be a solid 2/3 defenceman who could be a strong defender and underrated offensive contributor. Based on public lists and rankings, it was a bit of a reach with the sixth overall pick.

The value that the Red Wings got in round two and three was good. Tuomisto, much like Seider, is a good player and excellent addition to the defensive pipeline for the Wings but may have been take slightly ahead of where he should have been. Mastrosimone and Johansson were high-upside picks who need to work on areas of their game but if they can harness the obvious skills they have and build on their weaknesses, they could be solid contributors with some time. Grewe may have been the steal of the draft. With many rankings and talent evaluators putting a late first round grade on him, getting the high-motor Swedish pinball could pay huge dividends within a few seasons.

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Overall, Steve Yzerman began the “Yzerplan” with a high-risk, high-reward 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He took the guys that he, along with his scouting team in Detroit, seems the best player available in Seider and then continued to stock pile defenders who play a good two-way game and highly competitive forwards who have never ending motors. Yzerman had a directive of the type of players that he felt the Detroit organization needed and he did an excellent job sticking to his guns and filling them when he say fit.

 

For more the draft, prospects and the NHL in general you can follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari

All statistics and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, the NHL, Elite Prospects and Prospect Stats.

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

Nashville Predators: Draft Analysis

In the past few drafts, the Nashville Predators have selected with defence in mind. This year they had a very good draft where they took some much needed forward prospects.

Picks

Philip Tomasino, 24th overall, Round 1

Egor Afanasyev, 45th overall, Round 2

Alexander Campbell, 65th overall, Round 3

Marc Del Gaizo, 109th overall, Round 4

Semyon Chystyakov, 117th overall, Round 4

Ethan Haider, 148th overall, Round 5

Isak Walther, 179th overall, Round 6

Juuso Parssinen, 210th overall, Round 7

Analyzing the draft

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Philip Tomasino, C, Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)

Tomasino excites me as a Predators fan as he is a fast, skillful skater who can both shoot and pass the puck exceptionally well. Tomasino is very similar to Kyle Turris with his pucks skill and shot but can skate and defend much better than Turris. He finished the year with 34 goals and 38 assists for a total of 72 points. He also tripled his point total this year compared to last year. Learn more about Tomasino with Spencer Loane’s article about him: puck77.com. This was a great pick by the Predators.

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Egor Afanasyev, LW, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)

Afanasyev was a bit of a surprise for me as I haven’t heard much about him, but after looking him up and seeing his stats I believe he can end up being a great second or third liner. He broke out on to the scene this year with 27 goals and 37 assists for a total of 72 points. He said in an interview on NHL.com that he compares himself to Blake Wheeler and plays a 200-ft game. The Predators, I believe, reached a little here but I do believe he will be a good player nonetheless.

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Alexander Campbell, C, Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)

Campbell played with Los Angeles Kings prospect Alex Newhook, who went number five overall in the draft, and they both played very well this past year. Campbell had 21 goals and 46 assists for a total of 67 points. He is a great skater with even better hands who can slip through the smallest of holes given to him by defensemen and when he has the opportunity to shoot he doesn’t back down and takes his chances. This was one of the best picks made by Nashville and could even end up being one of the best steals in the draft, as I believe Campbell’s ceiling is very high.

Overview of the Draft.

This was a great draft compared to last year’s draft where we didn’t have many picks at all. Poile made some great picks and trades that are going to help in the future. The team was definitely looking into the future with these picks, as some won’t be ready until 2-4 years from now. But the few who will be ready soon are some great players who fit the Predators’ needs perfectly.

 

Stats from eliteprospects.com and prospect-stats.com

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

2019 NHL Draft: Winners and Losers from Round 1

There are always teams that are perceived winners and losers on day one of the draft. No one will know who is truly and winner or loser for five years but we take a shot at picking out who made good choices and bad choices during day one.

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Winners

Colorado Avalanche (Winner of the Day)

The big winners of the day were the Colorado Avalanche. The team who absolutely robbed the Ottawa Senators in the Matt Duchene trade in November of 2017. In that trade they received a first round pick in either 2018 or 2019. When the Senators selected Brady Tkachuk last year, their 2019 first round pick went to the Avalanche. Despite finishing last in the league, the Senators lucked out and didn’t give up a top-three pick but ended up sending the fourth overall pick to Colorado.

With that pick, the Avalanche selected the clear-cut top defender in the draft, Bowen Byram. Clearly going for best player available, they continue to stack their blue line prospect pipeline. Adding the dynamic, potential number-one defender to the group that already includes Cale Makar, Sam Girard and Conor Timmins. The Avalanche blue line has the potential to be akin to the peak years of the Nashville Predators group.

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The moment that they truly jumped into winner category was when they selected high-skill center Alex Newhook. The speedy pivot was an absolute beast in the BCHL. Ranked as a top-ten prospect by many outlets and talent evaluators, Newhook’s fall to 16 in the draft was a minor shock. Colorado took advantage and solidified both their defensive core and added a future star in Newhook who slots in perfectly behind Nathan MacKinnon.

Montréal Canadiens

If it weren’t for the Avalanche arguably nabbing two top-seven prospects, the Montréal Canadiens would be the big winners. Cole Caufield‘s diminutive stature led to his fall from the top-10 down to Montréal at 15. This is a kid who can score goals. He may be just 5’7″ but he scored 72 goals last year in just 64 games, he possesses the best shot in the draft. After a year or two at the University of Wisconsin, Caufield is likely to light then league on fire with legitimate 40+ goal potential. The Canadiens stole the best goal scorer in the draft with the 15th pick.

Philadelphia Flyers

The team that couldn’t seem to make a good move in the week leading up to the draft, they made the only move at the draft. Trading back with the Arizona Coyotes, the Flyers gave up the 11th pick to move down to 14 and also acquire the 45th overall pick as well. This allowed the Philadelphia Flyers to select the defender that that wanted, USNTDP left-handed defenceman Cam York, as well as recouping an asset. The Coyotes selected the ultra-safe Victor Söderström with the 11th pick. The difference between York and Söderström isn’t so vast that trading up was necessary but the Flyers are the benefactors of the Coyotes eagerness to move up.

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Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights we’re gifted a potential number one center at 17 with the selection of Peyton Krebs. The Winnipeg ICE center is a competitor and a high skilled guy. He led a talent-poor ICE team last season and was ranked all over the top-10. Falling out of that grouping because he partially tore his Achilles’ tendon, the young center wasn’t expected to play in the NHL next season so allowing their medical staff to help through the recovery will help the 17th overall pick.

Losers

Chicago Blackhawks (Loser of the Day)

The draft started at pick number three. The Chicago Blackhawks has the choice between a future number one defender in Bowen Byram and a potential stud In the mold of Patrice Bergeron by selecting Alex Turcotte. Their selection of Kirby Dach was a head scratcher. Although he has a high ceiling, Dach has a few warts in his game. The primary wart is the fact that he plays the game at a very slow pace. He’s methodical with his pace of the game and tends to slow things down. The way Dach does this may not translate to the NHL game of speed.

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Dach has the tools to be a top-line player, whether it’s at center or possibly on the wing, and he possesses good size. His dynamic offensive upside may be equal or slighter greater than Turcotte but the floor is vastly lower. Turcotte could have been a number one pick in a different draft and passing on that could be a cause for concern for the Blackhawks.

Ottawa Senators

Lassi Thomson has a bomb from the point. You don’t take a defender this high because his shot is elite. The rest of his game, particularly in the defensive zone, needs a ton of work. His offensive skill set is good and he is able to make a good first pass but at the 19th pick they had numerous blue liners with much more well rounded and transferable games. Another factor that goes into the Ottawa Senators being a loser here is the fact that they gave up the 4th overall pick (Bowen Byram) in the Duchene trade. It was almost a certainty that they’d land here in the loser column.

Detroit Red Wings

As the president of the Moritz Seider Fan club, this hurts. Seider is an excellent defender who showed offensive skill prior to his draft year. This year he played with Mannhiem in the DEL (top German men’s league) and was asked to focus on his defensive game. He did that and excelled. He grew throughout the year, going from playing 6-9 minutes a night at the beginning of the year to playing top-pair minutes in the playoffs where Mannheim won the league title. Seider could be an outstanding defenceman in the future and the selection of him is a win for the Detroit Red Wings but taking him at 6 was a bit of a reach. Rumour has it that they almost traded down but were tipped off that other teams in the top-10 were considering Seider as well so Steve Yzerman just went and got the player he wanted.

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Tampa Bay Lightning

Calling the Tampa Bay Lightning losers is basically setting myself up for failure, I’m not the Columbus Blue Jackets after all. Their selection of Nolan Foote caused a bit of an uproar amongst Lightning fans. They wanted a goal scorer and they chose a guy who wasn’t even among the top-three available. With Arthur Kaliyev, Bobby Brink and Raphael Lavoie both still sitting on the board, Foote was a player that felt like a reach. He has a few flaws outside of his goal scoring but so does Kaliyev. Kaliyev was just a better goal scorer. It’s a shock that the Lightning took an extremely flawed goal scorer with Kaliyev available and not make the choice to select the young Hamilton Bulldog winger. Foote has the capability of being a good goal scorer but it could end up much like the OHL scoring race where he is behind Kaliyev for years to come.

Day Two, Lets Go!

While there are many winners and losers when we instantly react on day one, day two should have a boat load of talent available.

The fact that day two of the draft will feature some round one talent isn’t new. It happens every year. This year feels like there is more than normal. The forward group above is outstanding and any of them could have gone in the first round without batting an eye. The teams at the top of the second round will get some excellent talent and be the beneficiaries of some of the questionable choices of the teams in the later half of the first round. You can go back and look at the reactions of some of the team at Puck77 here on our day one live blog. Day two is upon us and we are bound to have some fun! Follow along on the day two live blog and enjoy the draft!

For more the draft, prospects and the NHL in general you can follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari

All statistics and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, the NHL, Elite Prospects and Prospect Stats.