The NHL and NBA Drafts took place on consecutive nights, which was nothing short of awesome. However, now that they have passed, we have reached the dreadful time in the sports world where there is little to no action going on (except for baseball of course). So as loyal fans, we owe it to ourselves to begin looking ahead to next season while also analyzing the moves either our team or others have made in hopes of having a run at success.
By: Lorenzo DeMalia
The overall consensus coming into this year’s NHL draft was that their was no one player who was an obvious selection at Number 1 (as there was in the previous two drafts with Connor McDavid going to Edmonton and Austin Matthews to the Leafs).
However that doesn’t mean that this draft lacked talented players. Overall, there were no real shockers, but there were a few teams who were able to steal some players and the most obvious one came only two picks in.
1. Biggest steal of the draft may have went to Philly
Although we all knew that the Flyers were guaranteed to land one of the two best players in the draft many believed that it would be Hischier. So when Nolan Patrick slipped to them at number two, it certainly shocked many spectators. The main reason Patrick slipped was likely due to his inability to stay on the ice. Many teams have expressed concerns about if he will be able to consistently be in the lineup on a night to night basis. Still, the Flyers should be celebrating Patrick as he was projected as the number one pick throughout most of the year and is definitely the most NHL ready center in the draft. Patrick should pay quick dividends for the Flyers next season providing a young talented center behind Claude Giroux.
2. The Blackhawks overreacting to their first round lost may cost them
After being swept by the Nashville Predators in four games in the first round of the playoffs this year, the Blackhawks seemed eager to make some changes. One year after trading Brandon Saad away to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Stan Bowman shipped out their most talented young player in Artemi Panarin just to reacquire Saad. Panarin probably has a higher ceiling than Saad and has been a high end player for the Blackhawks the past two seasons. Many people point to the “lack of toughness” in Panarin’s games as the reason he was dealt, when in reality he doesn’t get payed to be a grinder because that’s simply not his game. His game is to score goals and make space for his teammates which he has done excellently since joining the league. Finally, if Bowman thinks so highly of Brandon Saad that he is willing to deal a bright young star in Panarin to get him, then he should’ve worked much harder to sign him to a long term extension before trading him in the first place. Chicago also dealt arguably their best defensive defenseman and the backbone of their defensive core in Hjalmarsson to the Coyotes. Although what they acquired in return wasn’t awful, the move only weakens the current team.
3. Vegas has not only been making headlines but is also a very solid hockey team
Just twenty four hours after Vegas snagged some talented Veterans in the expansion draft headlined by Marc Andre-Fleury, Marc Methot, and James Neal (both Fleury and Neals teams participated in this years Stanley Cup Final), they welcomed three first round picks to their NHL roster. They used those picks to select Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, and Eric Brannstrom. Granted not all of these players are locks and maybe none of them develop into real great players, but Vegas is certainly increasing their percentage of finding a stud in the draft with all those first round selections. So far so good for the NHL’s newest team and with those three players the future certainly is intriguing for the Knights.
4. The Kings are getting a gift in Vilardi
Gabriel Vilardi was the number 11 pick in the NHL draft and just writing that is hard to believe. Many people were expecting Vilardi to go between 5-8 and the fact that he slipped entirely out of the top ten is an absolute stunner. The Kings were able to gain a strong center to bolster their roster and Vilardi will be able to provide an immediate boost to the team even if it doesn’t always show up on the score sheet. Villardi is already a force in the offensive zone with solid vision, and great on-the-puck control which allows him to act as more of a playmaker with a surprisingly accurate shot. Their is no reason I can come up with for why he slid so far. His only flaw is that he needs to work on his defensive zone positioning and his defense as a whole but that should develop as he grows older. Maybe the teams who passed on him saw something we didn’t. Only time can tell.
5. Capitals made the worst move of the night and it wasn’t even a draft pick!
The Capitals announced that they had reached an agreement with T.J Oshie for an eight year, 46 million dollar contract extension. These are the exact type of moves that the Capitals have been criticized for making yet they continue to give veteran players on the backside of thirty long term deals. Capital fans should be rioting at this contract. Oshie had a good season in Washington to say the least, scoring 33 goals and racking up 51 points however, this season was the exception not the trend for Oshie’s career and this contract makes it so he is signed as a Capital until he turns 38…yes, 38 years old! Oshie is a solid player, however this long term deal is not a move a team like the Caps should be making and it further makes people question what is happening in Washington.