The NHL Draft is the perfect opportunity for a struggling franchise to turn themselves around. Their success is contingent on making the right selections though. Drafting is an inexact science but is also the key to building a Stanley Cup contender. There is nothing that hurts a franchise more than bad drafting so hopefully these teams can rebound from the mistakes they made last night.
6. Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers took a shot with their second pick in the first round. They decided to take a player from Thayer Academy, a prep school in Massachusetts. O'Brien has some skill but has played at a lower level of hockey than everybody selected in the first round. It is hard to trust a kid coming out of a high school league over players who have already played pro hockey in Europe.
5. Dallas Stars
The home team decided to swing for the fences with their pick. It looks more like they struck out. Ty Dellandrea from the OHL is an undersized skilled center who works hard every shift. The fact is there were much more talented players available when the Stars stepped up to the podium at 13. The Stars have a history of going off the board so this wasn't a huge surprise coming from them.
4. New York Rangers
Rangers fans were excited to see the elite goal scoring talent of Oliver Wahlstrom fall to them at ninth overall. Unfortunately the Rangers scouting department did not feel the same way and picked winger Vitali Kravstov from Russia. Kravstov is a fine player and has talent but Wahlstrom is one of the best snipers in the entire draft. The Rangers pick wasn't necessarily bad but passing on Wahlstrom could come back to bite them.
3. Joe Veleno
Joe Veleno had an unexpectedly long night. He was projected to go in the middle teens but dropped to 30th overall. Veleno was highly talented going into the QMJHL and was even offered exceptional status to enter the league when he was 15. He never truly lived up to the hype and doesn't have any elite level skill so that hurt his stock. Veleno is a solid player though and a great pick at 30.
2. Arizona Coyotes
The biggest reach of the first round. The Coyotes went off the board and selected Canadian center Barrett Hayton fifth overall. Hayton is a very good prospect but there have been a lot of questions about his skating form and his ability to translate to the NHL level. The Coyotes also passed up Czech superstar Filip Zadina who would have been a perfect fit alongside Clayton Keller. This was a head-scratcher for sure.
1. Montreal Canadiens
The sign of a bad general manager is drafting on positional need rather than taking the best player available. That is exactly what the Canadiens did with their third overall selection, picking center Jesperi Kotkaniemi over Czech sniper Filip Zadina. Zadina was obviously the better player but Montreal hasn't had a first line center in years. So they passed on the superior talent for a guy they hope can fill that center role in two years.