The first round of the NHL draft came and went on Friday night with most teams selecting talented players who will make an impact for them in the future.
Others made questionable moves that will be examined until those prospects prove themselves worthy of their draft slot.
As expected, the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes made the uber-talented Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov the first two picks off the board, respectively. From there, things didn’t quite go as planned.
The Montreal Canadiens then took Finnish center Jesperi Kotkaniemi third overall, which was a surprise. Most scouts heading into the draft felt as if he would be a first round draft choice, but wouldn’t go that early.
The trade of former center Alex Galchenyuk to the Arizona Coyotes a week earlier, however, changed things for the Habs. A lack of organizational depth at center prompted them to reach for Kotkaniemi and fill a need.
Following Montreal’s decision, the Ottawa Senators snapped up winger Brady Tkachuk fourth overall. Then, the next surprising move of the night consisted of the Coyotes taking center Barrett Hayton from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
Hayton, like Kotkaniemi, was also projected to be one of the top 31 players taken. Yet Hayton, who NBC analyst Pierre McGuire likened to Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, seemed to fit what the Coyotes wanted from their centers.
Next came the Detroit Red Wings, who most observers felt would take a defenseman in a draft class loaded with quality rearguards. But Filip Zadina’s unexpected slide out of the top five helped him fall right into the Red Wings’ laps.
Four of the next six selections became defensemen, as Quinn Hughes (Vancouver), Adam Boqvist (Chicago), Evan Bouchard (Edmonton) and Noah Dobson (New York Islanders) came off the board, with wingers Vitali Kravtsov (New York Rangers) and Oliver Wahlstrom (Islanders) sandwiched in between them.
Forwards then became the prevailing theme, as seven of the next eight picks were taken – with Spokane defender Ty Smith being the lone exception, as he went 17th overall to the New Jersey Devils. The draft concluded with eight defensemen going within the last 11 draft slots – the choices of forwards Isac Lundestrom (Anaheim), Dominik Bokk (St. Louis) and Joe Veleno (Detroit) notwithstanding.
Earlier in the day the Washington Capitals traded away defenseman Brooks Orpik and goaltender Philipp Grubauer to the Colorado Avalanche for their 2nd round pick (No.47).
- There were no goaltenders selected in Round 1
- 14 defensemen were drafted in Round 1
- The Philadelphia Flyers chose center Jay O’Brien with the 19th pick overall. O’Brien played at the Thayer Academy a high-school team based in Massachusetts. The head coach is Tony Amonte who is on the record as saying O’Brien has NHL talent. John Leclair one of the famed members of the Flyers “Legion of Doom” was drafted out of high-school by the Montreal Canadiens.