After 210 picks with prospects hailing from 12 different countries, the 2014 NHL Draft is now over. Take a breath if you need it.
In any sport, it’s a folly to give report card letter grades in a process that can yield some highly unpredictable results. That’s especially true in hockey and baseball drafts in which teams are betting their futures on high school-age athletes. Really, it’s even risky to give a thumb’s up or down after free agent season, and many of the players being signed have been kicking around the league for a decade.
Still, silly things can also be a lot of fun, so praising or blaming a team’s scouts and executives for a job seemingly well or poorly done is just a good time. Besides, training camps won’t kick in until September, so we have to entertain our hockey minds with something, right?
Before we get to the winners and losers votes for this year’s drafts, here are a few interesting facts from the proceedings, with help from the NHL’s press release:
While there weren’t any goalies who were selected in the first round, five went in the second, including a hectic span in which four were selected from picks 34-39.
The OHL produced the most draftees with 41 players, slightly edging the WHL’s 37. The league’s most amusing moment might have come when Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon milked some tension with the No. 1 pick as he paused while a handful of possible OHL top picks were presented in an Academy Awards-like split-screen.
If you enjoy quality vs. quantity debates, consider this: the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings had the most picks in 2014 with 10. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators were tied for the fewest with five apiece.
Schlemko, who spent last season with the Sharks, was acquired by the Golden Knights at last night’s expansion draft. Vegas will receive Montreal’s fifth-round pick in 2019 as part of the deal.
Signed to a four-year, $8.4 million deal last summer, Schlemko had high expectations in San Jose. GM Doug Wilson trumpeted him as a “solid puck-moving defenseman” and while Schlemko did show it at times, he also had his low points.
It’s unlikely that Habs GM Marc Bergevin is done here. While Schlemko is a decent pickup, he’s only one of five d-men under contract for next season, along with Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Brandon Davidson and Jordie Benn. Andrei Markov is an unrestricted free agent, and it’s unclear if he’ll be brought back.
John Stevens has added a familiar face to his coaching staff.
On Thursday, the L.A. Kings announced the hiring of Don Nachbaur as an assistant coach.
Nachbaur has spent the last seven seasons as bench boss of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. He has worked with Stevens before, although it’s been a while.
Their paths crossed during their playing days with the Philadelphia Flyers and American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears in the late 1980s. After that, they coached together with the Philadelphia Phantoms in the AHL. Nachbaur was an assistant coach with the Phantoms for two seasons (2000-01 and 2001-02) while Stevens was the head coach.
They made the playoffs both years but didn’t go beyond the second round.
“Don is a great addition to our coaching staff. I personally have known him 30-plus years,” said Stevens. “I played with him and have coached alongside him. He has played the game at a high level and he is a tremendous all-around teacher who is very well-rounded.”
Nachbaur joins a Kings staff that includes assistant coach Dave Lowry and goaltending coach Bill Ranford.
So here’s the new order for the first round, which will be selected Friday evening at United Center in Chicago:
1. New Jersey Devils
2. Philadelphia Flyers
3. Dallas Stars
4. Colorado Avalanche
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Vegas Golden Knights
7. Arizona Coyotes
8. Buffalo Sabres
9. Detroit Red Wings
10. Florida Panthers
11. Los Angeles Kings
12. Carolina Hurricanes
13. Vegas Golden Knights (from Winnipeg)
14. Tampa Bay Lightning
15. Vegas Golden Knights (from NY Islanders)
16. Calgary Flames
17. Toronto Maple Leafs
18. Boston Bruins
19. San Jose Sharks
20. St. Louis Blues
21. New York Rangers
22. Edmonton Oilers
23. Arizona Coyotes (from Minnesota)
24. Winnipeg Jets (from Columbus via Vegas)
25. Montreal Canadiens
26. Chicago Blackhawks
27. St. Louis Blues (from Washington)
28. Ottawa Senators
29. Dallas Stars (from Anaheim)
30. Nashville Predators
31. Pittsburgh Penguins
That order could still change, as there’s been plenty of speculation that some of the top picks could be in play.
Are teams like the Devils, Flyers, and Stars willing to deal?
Eberle is still a quality offensive talent, though, and should be thrilled about the prospect of playing with Isles captain John Tavares. Tavares, in turn, will undoubtedly be pleased with Snow’s bold move to bring in additional scoring up front, which could go a long way towards signing an extension with the Isles.
It’s safe to assume Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli will feel some heat for this deal. While he did get out from under Eberle’s contract — $6 million annually for each of the next two years — Strome is coming off a disappointing year, and was exposed by the Isles at last night’s expansion draft.