Round one of the NHL draft had it all. There were a couple of big trades and big signings before the festivities even got started. Once the draft was finally underway, a few big surprises kicked the night off. Those that stayed to the end were rewarded with a couple of really big personalities to put an exclamation point on it too. All-in-all, the draft was as good as any in recent memory…even if it felt like it lasted 72 hours.
Pre-DraftDraft day always means a few moves from the clubs with wiggle room. Sometimes it’s done to bolster their position and become more comfortable in their current situation. Other times it’s a complete and utter fire sale by a scrambling organization that continues to make mistake after mistake thanks to an incompetent GM. Much to the chagrin of Chicago Blackhawks fans, they fell into the second category.
Alex DeBrincat, the 24-year-old who was touted by some as “the future of Chicago hockey” was traded to Ottawa. In return, the Blackhawks got back the 7th overall pick and 39th pick as well as a 3rd rounder in 2024. Through 368 games in the league, DeBrincat racked up 160 goals. Only fifty-five players in the history of the league have accomplished that feat, including the likes of Gretzky, Lemieux, Ovechkin, Crosby, and McDavid.Trading away a guy like that takes BALLS. That, or a lack of understanding and recognizing talent when you see it. I’ll leave that up to you to decide which is which. The city of Chicago definitely didn’t hold back.
The central division wasn’t done making moves on the morning of draft day. However, instead of lightening their load, Minnesota was able to re-sign a key piece. The Wild were able to lock up future hall of famer Marc Andre Fleury on a 2-year, $7 Million deal. After signing Flower, the team’s cap space dropped to a razor-thin $1.4 Million. Well worth it in the eyes of many to keep that experience and consistency between the pipes.
First PicksShane Wright was the consensus #1 pick for this year’s draft. There wasn’t really much doubt about it. A can’t miss kid with a ton of talent who’s been touted for a LONG time. Hell, the Habs knew who they were taking MONTHS ago. For what seems like the first time in history, the entire fanbase was all-in on the decision too.
Pick 1) Montreal:
Shane Wright Juraj Slafkovsky
When the time came to actually make the pick, the entire hockey community was barely paying attention as the Habs announced Juraj Slafkovsky from the podium. Hell, some people said that Shane Wright had to sit back down because the young Canadian was already standing up.
Pick 2) New Jersey:
Shane Wright Simon Nemec
With Montreal “reaching” outside of the Shane Wright (for the 2nd highest rated player in the draft), New Jersey was on the clock. I don’t want to call Simon Nemec a “Panic Decision” because he’s a hell of a player, but it’s certainly not the direction that anybody expected the Devils to be going. It’s not often you see two players from Slovakia go early, and this year they went 1-2.
Pick 3) Arizona:
Shane Wright Logan Cooley
The same way that 9 out of every 10 dentists recommend (insert toothpaste brand here), 9 out of every 10 mock drafts had Logan Cooley going to Arizona. The Coyotes stuck with their plan and picked the upcoming Golden Gopher at 3rd overall. Cooley is in a unique scenario where he’ll get to compete at his future home rink while still playing in college. That’ll take place when the Gophers take on Arizona, on November 25th and 26th this fall.
Pick 4) Seattle:
After how poorly the Kraken screwed up their expansion draft prior to their inaugural season, people were wondering if they’d do it again. I, for one, was honestly expecting it. The highest-rated player in the draft had already slipped not once, not twice, but three times. Fortunately, Seattle learned from their mistake(s) and took Shane Wright, easily the best player available. With Matty Beniers going to them at No. 2 in last year’s draft, they’ll be set down the middle for a long time.
Shane Wright SHANE WRIGHT
Though he didn’t fall as far as some other superstars did in their own draft while managing to escape from hockey hell disguised as Arizona, that didn’t keep Shane from feeling slighted. A lot of people seemed to catch the daggers he was throwing at the Canadiens brass. I really don’t know how you could miss it.
The stare-down didn’t end at the handshake. No, young Shane Wright kept his eyes locked in as he threw on another team’s sweater right in their face. You talk about a lot of the greats and look back to the chip they have on their shoulder. If Wright pans out to his potential, this will be a look that haunts Montreal for a very long time.
The State of Hockey
Pick 19/24) Minnesota: Liam Ohgren
It’s hard to explain the level of comfort everyone has when a Swede comes off the board for your team. There are no more guarantees with these kids than any other country, but it just looks right. The fact that this kid has already got size and speed on his side is a positive, but nowhere near as exciting as “goal scorer” being the first thing listed on his draft card. He may not be the most flashy or exciting player that went in the first round, but more than a few players in the league have made a hell of a career with a heavy shot.
Pick 24) Minnesota: Danila Yurov
With everything that’s going on in Russia right now, a lot of teams were tentative about taking players from the KHL. Minnesota is not one of those teams. The Wild are becoming more and more familiar with bringing on Russian players, even with the recent circumstances/events. Their superstar forward, Kirill Kaprizov, is obviously a huge part of that, but Marat Khusnutdinov (The Piss Missile) is another name that the franchise will become familiar with when he makes the jump to the NHL. Yurov was as high as 4 in some scouts rankings, so to pick him up at 24 feels like a great move. They don’t call him Billy Gambles for nothin’!
The Big Finale
Pick 29) Arizona: Maveric Lamoureux
HOLD UP. That’s not Maveric Lamoureux. That would be his parents. ESPN looked like it was trying to be Cinemax for a couple minutes with these two on the screen. Absolute electricity that was not missed by the broadcasters. Honestly, the aggressive passion there had me a little hot and bothered too. Nothing quite like getting a little taste of what the wife had for lunch!
After the Lamoureux parents shared a minute on the casting couch, the spotlight found its way back to Maveric himself. With 4 goals, 20 assists, and 69 penalty minutes it was only fitting that he be drafted to Biz Nasty’s favorite NHL squad.
Pick 31) Tampa Bay: Isaac Howard (a.k.a. Ice Man)
With how long the draft dragged on, the NHL was wise to save the best for last. Technically, Isaac Howard was second to last to come off the board on day one, but we’re going to refer to that as the penultimate pick because that’s got more “pizazz” to match the kid’s energy. Looking like he came straight out of a Miami Vice scene, everyone should have known he was going to get picked by Tampa Bay.
It’s weird to see this much swagger out of an American kid, but even more so from one native to the midwest. Coming from Hudson, WI and starting for the UMD Bulldogs this fall, he’s going to COMMAND the spotlight. Howard saw Ryan Fanti take a role in the Edmonton Oilers organization and knew that the spot for “best dressed” in the locker room was his for the taking. Pastrnack has a little time, but he’d better be looking over his shoulder getting ready for some competition on the pre-game runway in a few years.
Not only does the youngster have the looks, but he’s got the lungs to back it up. With how much confidence he’s throwing around, it’s going to drive defenders wild at all levels of play.
I’ve been hit by cars three times, which is an indication of how stubborn I am.
I write about everything across the board, but focus on Hockey and the pain that is Minnesota sports.
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