Let’s be honest.
The madness of the NHL Draft weekend trumps both the frenzy of free agency and the delirium of deadline day. Sure, we get to see teenagers’ dreams come true, but we also get trades and rumours and all the decision-makers crammed onto a single arena floor.
The anticipation of what might happen is magical. What actually does happen is pretty good, too.
Here are the 15 best things about the 2015 NHL Draft weekend.
1. The Bruins’ big deals resulted in three consecutive first-rounders.
Don Sweeney wasted zero time making bold — and questionable — moves as Boston’s new general manager. By dealing RFA-to-be Dougie Hamilton to Calgary (a move one fan tried to pull on NHL 15 only to see it get rejected due to an account of lopsidedness) and Milan Lucic to Los Angeles, Sweeney gave his club the 13th, 14th and 15th overall selections.
Not since 1968 (Montreal) had one club picked thrice in a row in the first round.
Sweeney’s wheeling and dealing created a fun stir that he was gunning to move up the ladder in an attempt to grab Boston native Noah Hanifin. It never happened.
So… the Bruins will miss the playoffs two years straight, right?
2. Forget the McDavid pick. The Edmonton Oilers’ new third sweaters are sick.
Although the selection of Connor McDavid at No. 1 overall delayed any form of Friday-night suspense until pick No. 3, Edmonton smartly used the crowning of Connor to unveil a slick new alternate sweater — a throwback to the ol’ Alberta Oilers days.
Love these things.
— Mark Connolly (@MarkConnollyCBC) June 26, 2015
3. Peter Chiarelli wasted no time putting his stamp on the Oilers.
Edmonton’s new GM drafted McDavid (shocker!), but more interestingly, he went out of his way (i.e., traded away draft picks) to land some play-now defencemen in Eric Gryba and Griffin Reinhart, and a potential No. 1 goaltender in Cam Talbot.
If the Oilers finally, mercifully get some stability in net, that could possibly have more of a tangible impact on their finish next season than a rookie phenom up front.
4. Tim Murray said and did what he wanted, and it was glorious.
What if you had told the Buffalo Sabres general manager that his three first-round picks would become Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Jack Eichel?
“I would have said you’re on mushrooms,” Murray said Friday.
Later, when announcing the second-overall pick, Murray forwent the usual thanking of host Florida and congratulating of Cup champion Chicago and got straight to the point.
The guy went straight to the podium and blurted four words: “Buffalo selects Jack Eichel.”
5. The New York Islanders made history.
Last June the Washington Capitals made history by drafting the first Australian player.
This year the New York Islanders, who should be applauded for taking chances in a conservative culture, drafted the first-ever Chinese player into the league. Even better? The sixth-rounder was in attendance to celebrate the moment. Meet Andong Song.
6. Things got awkward between the Canucks, Kevin Bieksa and the Sharks.
A deal sending the Vancouver defenceman to San Jose seemed imminent Saturday morning, and then… nothing.
According to the Vancouver Province, Vancouver GM Jim Benning was pushing for a second-rounder in 2015 in return, while Sharks GM Doug Wilson wanted to hand over a second in 2016.
“Two sides have to agree,” Benning told the Province‘s Ben Kuzma. “Maybe one side thinks they’re happy but until the other agrees, it’s not done.”
So… where do Bieksa and Vancouver go from here?
7. Bryan Murray made goalie trades look easy.
When the Ottawa Senators scooped Buffalo’s additional first-round pick in exchange for odd man out Robin Lehner, many believed the market had been set for goalie deals.
It turns out, Murray may have gotten a family deal from nephew Tim.
When you look at the return Lehner fetched compared to that of Cam Talbot (a second-, third- and seventh-rounder) or Eddie Lack (a third- and seventh-rounder), Ottawa made out like a bandit.
“Seems like Swedish guys are dropping like flies,” captain Erik Karlsson said earlier this week, when it became apparent Lehner would be dealt.
8. Milan Lucic should be a nice fit with the Kings.
Unlike the Hamilton deal, the Lucic trade appears to be good for both sides. Boston wanted another pick and needed a backup goalie (hello, Martin Jones), and the Kings got another nasty forward cut in the Darryl Sutter mold.
Interesting to note that the Kings had met with Lucic three times prior to the 2006 draft. He thought L.A. was taking him nine years ago.
9. The San Jose Sharks went from shaky to shakier.
If you’re a Canucks or Bruins fan, you’re probably not thrilled with how draft weekend shook out. But if you’re a Sharks supporter, well, you’re proably still banging your head against the wall.
Antti Niemi walked off to Dallas, Bieksa fell through, and GM Wilson watched as other clubs gobbled up most of the available goalies.
“There’s more people that are available or could be available in discussions than you guys probably hear about,” Wilson told CSNBayArea.com.
New coach Peter DeBoer did say San Jose would have a captain in place for training camp. So, there’s that.
10. The Maple Leafs stayed true to their word.
Much to the delight of Don Cherry, Toronto drafted some good ol’ Canadian boys and favoured talent in lieu of size.
The draft, headed up by Mark Hunter, was an exercise in accumulating picks in the second and third round — and trying to swing for the fences with skilled, undersized players who may flame out or become impact players.
11. The Ryan O’Reilly ended.
Finally. It felt like every other week we were writing an update on what Joe Sakic or Patrick Roy thought of the two-way pivot. We knew O’Reilly was not long for Colorado, and now we know where he’ll try to prove that he’s worth his contract.
New Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma told reporters that he hasn’t started forming lines yet, but it all starts with O’Reilly as his No. 1 centre.
12. Goaltenders continued to be passed over in Round 1.
While seven of the Top 10 draftees were forwards, just one goaltender was selected in the top 30.
The consensus is that goaltenders are a gamble (see: the out-of-nowhere seasons from Scott Darling and Andrew Hammond, for example).
So when Washington took Ilya Samsonov at No. 22 overall, even Samsonov was taken aback.
“I was very surprised because I didn’t have much contact with the team and I didn’t have a chance to go to Buffalo for interviews,” Samsonov told CSN Washington through an interpreter. “So when they selected me I was very surprised.”
13. Taylor Hall’s got jokes.
The Oilers’ star winger was first to tweet at McDvaid when Edmonton won the draft lottery and was first to tweet Friday when it was made official.
Self-deprecating humour to the tune of 10,000 retweets.
14. Everyone has so much potential.
One of the best aspects of the draft is the smiling faces and proud decision-makers and the glowing reviews as each prospect walks to the podium. It’s all upside and confidence and promise.
Something the difficulty of actually being good at professional hockey hasn’t yet had a chance to spoil.
15. Chris Pronger got traded!
We haven’t been this blown away by a deal since Nathan Horton was dealt for David Clarkson. Due to some creative accounting, Pronger — who hasn’t played a shift since 2011 — is now an Arizona Coyote. Just in time for his Hall of Fame induction.
The whole thing springs to mind Tim Thomas’s glory days as a member of the New York Islanders.