First and foremost, there cannot really be an analysis of who “won” or “lost” during the draft, and so I’ve decided to focus on another aspect of the draft weekend. The NHL draft is unlike the NBA or NFL draft and probably every player in this draft except for maybe three, will not play a game in the NHL this year. The draft is always about taking the best player available, because down the line it could be a need position. Rarely can you fill a need for the upcoming season on the big club during the NHL draft. The only real way to do this is to make a few trades, and there were certainly plenty of those, even with a lockout looming
The Oilers did the smart thing and took the best player available when they drafted Nail Yakupov, but many wondered why they did not take a defenseman. People fail to realize that defenseman rarely jump right to the NHL, and if you push a guy too quickly, you end up with Luke Schenn, a 22-year old defenseman with no confidence, a huge contract and a serious lack in development. Bottom line, always draft best available.
It didn’t take long for the draft to be shaken up by trades. The Washington Capitals added some secondary scoring in Mike Riberio as insurance in case they lose Alexander Semin to free agency. While the Pittsburgh Penguins traded back Zbynek Michalek to the Phoenix Coyotes (they signed him as a free agent last year), and traded Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Staal trade became expected after he turned down a 10 year $60 Million deal with the Penguins. He’s not worth more than $6 Million per year, especially as a third line center, and I think he wanted to leave to get more playing time and even more so, to play with his brother Eric. The Penguins got great return on a guy where it was publicly known he would not to re-sign before next summer, if at all. Brandon Sutter will provide a sturdy defensive third line center, Brian Duomolin is a touted defensive prospect, and the 8th overall pick yielded another good defensive prospect for the Penguins, with Derrick Pouliot.
Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson further proved he is not good at his job by trading a 2nd rounder and two 4th rounders for an inconsistent Sergei Bobrovsky, leaving their goalie tandem for next year to be Bobrovsky and Steve Mason…yikes. To further add to his troubles, he was unable to move Rick Nash and will most likely not be able to do so until Zach Parise signs. Howson has to lower his asking price, as he was reportedly asking the New York Rangers for Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan McDonagh or Michael Del Zotto, Derek Stepan or Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider and a first-round pick in 2012 for Rick Nash at the trade deadline. Apparently he has not lowered his demands by much, and I would really like to know what he is smoking if he thinks he can get this for a disgruntled player. The league knows Nash wants out, so all the teams are going to try to low ball you; at some point you have to cut your losses and take what you can get.
There were other minor trades throughout the two days, but one of the biggest trades came after the draft ended; when the Philadelphia Flyers traded forward James Van Riemsdyk to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Luke Schenn. In this trade Brian Burke absolutely fleeced Paul Holmgren. JVR has serious potential if he can stay healthy, while I firmly believe that Schenn is another overrated defenseman that was ruined early in his career by being pushed too quickly, too early. He was in a definite need of a change of scenery, so this could be good for him. It unites him with his younger brother Braydon in Philadelphia, and I have to believe that Holmgren has something else in the works. Perhaps he is going to try to acquire Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks, since Ryan has asked for a trade and prefers the Flyers. Trading JVR would free up the necessary cap to make the move, so there could be something else going on here to explain the lopsided trade. This is just the type of move where you have to see what else happens afterwards to see if it can explain the move.
In other news, the fires in Colorado have continued to rage, particularly the one in Colorado Springs that has forced 32,000 people to evacuate and has burned through 24 square miles. Things are getting intense, and the Air Force Academy could be in a bit of trouble, especially the football stadium.