Significant trades, not picks, garner buzz on opening night of NHL draft
The Sharks dealt Devin Setoguchi to the Wild after inking him to a three-year deal
The Avs were already well under the cap; then they traded John-Michael Liles
The NHL's operations department and coaches met regarding checks to the head
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As it turns out, Philadelphia's pair of blockbuster trades Thursday was really only the beginning. While 30 teenagers saw their NHL dreams realized, drafted in the first round at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday, the draft floor activity pulsed throughout the night. Excluding the Flyers' deals that sent Mike Richards to Los Angeles and Jeff Carter to Columbus, the league saw five trades Friday, and three more in the works and likely to be finalized tomorrow.
Here are 10 thoughts from the eventful first round at the NHL Draft ...
1. San Jose and Minnesota pulled off the day's big trade. The Sharks sent newly re-signed winger Devin Setoguchi, prospect Charlie Coyle and their 28th overall pick to the Wild for defenseman Brent Burns and a second-rounder next year. The trade for Setoguchi, who just inked a three-year extension with the Sharks yesterday, was warmly welcomed by the crowd in St. Paul, and San Jose certainly looks like a better team with the addition of Burns on their back end. Sharks GM Doug Wilson said the Setoguchi signing was not based on this trade. "When you come to the draft, things become available and you can't always dictate the timing of when deals happen," Wilson said. "[But] I think it makes us a better hockey team today." Especially after losing defenseman Rob Blake a year ago to retirement, the Sharks could use the size that the 6-foot-5, 219-pound Burns brings, and Setoguchi is a 20-goal scorer that joins a team that had only one such player last season. It does seem to make some sense from both sides.
2. The Avs and Leafs were also dealing. When Colorado sent defenseman John-Michael Liles to Toronto for a second-rounder next year, the Avalanche unloaded his $4.2 million contract, which would seem like a good thing except Colorado is currently more than $20 million short of the cap floor, which is to be set at $48.3 million. They have some 10 players to sign or add to the roster to get there, so big moves could be lurking. And there are plenty of holes they need to fill, most notably in net. The free-agent market on goaltenders is a little thin now that Ilya Bryzgalov signed with Philadelphia. But the Avalanche could be a front-runner for Tomas Vokoun.
3. The Coyotes have a hole in net. Speaking of Bryzgalov, another team that will be looking for a goalie come July 1 will be Phoenix, who have a few goalie prospects that could be promising. But will they be ready by the fall? Very unlikely. Goalie Jason LaBarbera will be back, but will he be ready to handle No. 1 duties for the Coyotes? Again, a bit doubtful. Teams with assets in net might find some suitors in the market.
4. More concussion discussions. The NHL and its hockey operations department made a presentation to coaches Friday morning regarding the new rules on checks to the head and boarding penalties. It was an attempt to communicate with better clarity what will be deemed legal and illegal. The fact that these meetings and conversations are occurring is a positive step in shedding light on a controversial subject.
5. Winnipeg announced its team name. They are officially the Jets ... again. They don't have a logo or jersey just yet, but at least we have a name. A number of fans for the revived team made the trip to the Xcel Energy Center to watch their second, first draft. With the seventh overall pick, the Jets went off the board a bit and selected Mark Scheifele, a center that scored 22 goals for Barrie Colts of the OHL last season. He may prove to be a great prospect, but honestly, whoever the Jets picked would have been just peachy.
6. The draft had its moving moments. To begin, the league honored the late Central Scouting chief E.J. McGuire, who passed away in April after a lengthy battle against cancer, by having his wife and daughters kick off the draft. The entire building fittingly gave a standing ovation in his honor. And when the New York Rangers made their selection at 15th overall, they used the opportunity to honor the late Derek Boogaard, a former Wild player who died in May from an accidental mixing of alcohol and oxycodone. A fan favorite here in St. Paul, Boogaard was fondly remembered, and Derek's brother, Aaron, made the Rangers' selection, Jonathan Miller.
7. Onto the picks. With all the trades, the selections were a bit overshadowed in all the shuffle. But unsurprisingly, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins went first overall to the Edmonton Oilers, becoming the first British Columbia native to be the top pick. Welcoming him to the Oiler organization on stage was last year's No. 1 pick, Taylor Hall, who just told him to enjoy the moment. Nugent-Hopkins, a superb playmaking center, will likely get to know the winger well.
8. How Swede it is. Among the top 10 selections Friday night were four Swedes: forward Gabriel Landeskog went second to Colorado, defenseman Adam Larsson went to the Devils at four, Mike Zibanejad went sixth to the Senators and the Wild selected Jonas Brodin 10th. It was the most Swedes taken in the top 10 in draft history. Landeskog, in particular, seems like the most NHL-ready player, and he was excited to join the Avs, the former home of his childhood hero, Peter Forsberg. The comparisons will be inevitable, and in fact, Landeskog received last year a hat signed by Forsberg as a gift from a teammate. "He signed it to Gabrielle," Landeskog said, "but it was still great."
9. The Capitals' gain. Washington did not make a selection at all, instead trading its 26th pick to Chicago for winger Troy Brouwer, a deal Washington general manager George McPhee made before the draft began. He suggested that he wasn't exactly enamored with this year's class, so he opted for a player with Stanley Cup winning experience, a versatile forward that can fit anywhere in the Capitals lineup.
10. Panthers pounce on Campbell. Chicago also will get defenseman Brian Campbell's $7.1 million salary off their books, trading him to Florida for forward Rostislav Olesz, a somewhat underachieving forward. But getting out of the defenseman's bloated salary now gives the Blackhawks some maneuverability, something they completely lacked in the weeks after they won the Cup in 2010. Campbell had received some interest around the league, but finally, it seems, he decided to waive his no-trade clause to go to the Panthers and back to the general manager who signed that hefty contract in the first place, Dale Tallon, now the GM in Florida. Full circle, one might say.
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