Jason Brough

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Avalanche kick off Day 2 of NHL Entry Draft

CHICAGO — After a last-place finish in 2016-17, the Colorado Avalanche got to make the first pick of Day 2 at the NHL Entry Draft.

With the 32nd overall selection, the Avs took defenseman Connor Timmins from the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

With the next pick, the Vancouver Canucks took forward Kole Lind from the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets.

And with the pick after that, the Vegas Golden Knights took defenseman Nicolas Hague from the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads.

There will be 186 players drafted today in Rounds 2-7 at United Center.

If you missed Friday’s first round, click here for all 31 selections.

Read more:

Nico goes No. 1

Patrick feels NHL-ready for Flyers

— After meteoric rise up rankings, Makar goes fourth overall to Avs

— Getting drafted by Wings a ‘dream come true’ for Rasmussen

— Bowman believes Blackhawks are in ‘good spot’

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    After major changes, Bowman believes Blackhawks are in ‘good spot’

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    CHICAGO — Stan Bowman received a lot of kudos for getting the old Blackhawks defense together for another kick at the can.

    But the way it played out, bringing back two aging veterans in Brian Campbell and Johnny Oduya was a mistake by the general manager. The magic just couldn’t be recreated, and Chicago was swept in the first round by the Nashville Predators.

    Then came the offseason changes. Not just on the blue line, either. Brandon Saad is back, while Artemi Panarin is gone. Marian Hossa is gone, too — a huge loss for the ‘Hawks, even if he can be put on LTIR.

    So the forward group is going to look quite different next season.

    The blue line could look very different, though. Oduya and Campbell are both unrestricted free agents and may not be back. Trevor van Riemsdyk was lost in the expansion draft. And last but not least, Niklas Hjalmarsson is a Coyote now, traded to Arizona for d-man Connor Murphy.

    In other words, of the six defensemen who lost to the Predators, only Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are still under contract in Chicago.

    “A lot of stuff going on,” Bowman said Friday at United Center. “Sometimes, change is good. You have to make some tough decisions. But at the same time, we’re really excited about our team next year.”

    Much will be expected of Murphy, a 24-year-old who’s been toiling in Arizona anonymity since being drafted 20th overall in 2011.

    “Connor’s a little bit of a different player (than Hjalmarsson),” said Bowman. “Obviously, he’s a bit bigger, he plays probably a more physical game. But he’s a good skater and he’s six years younger. It’s really hard to find young defensemen like that. He’s got a great contract, too. He’s a guy we’re going to have for a long time.”

    Michal Kempny and Gustav Forsling will also be expected to take on bigger roles in 2017-18.

    “It’s up to them to take hold of it, but I think the opportunity is going to be there for them,” said Bowman. “It’s time to give these guys a chance to grow and take on bigger responsibilities.”

    Speaking of young defensemen, the Blackhawks added another to their stable Friday, drafting Henri Jokiharju with the 29th overall pick.

    “Henri’s a player we’ve been high on all year,” said Bowman. “A right-shot defenseman. Those are a commodity in today’s game. It’s hard to find them. He plays a modern style of hockey. Great skill-set, good skater, can handle the puck, make plays. I guess what you would term the modern-day defenseman.”

    As for Bowman, he believes his big moves have been made. He promised changes, and changes he delivered.

    “I think we’re in a good spot,” he said.

    Related: Blackhawks sign Czech defenseman Jan Rutta

    Vilardi falls down draft board, but thrilled to join Kings

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    CHICAGO — If Gabriel Vilardi was disappointed after falling down the draft board, he sure hid it well.

    The 17-year-old center looked and sounded positively ecstatic to be joining the Los Angeles Kings, who got him 11th overall Friday at United Center.

    “There’s no words to describe it,” said Vilardi. “It’s just joy. All your life you work so hard for this, and then to hear your name called, it’s just an amazing feeling. Having your family there, it’s even better.”

    That said, the consensus was that he’d be drafted a fair bit sooner. At the Stanley Cup Final, he was one of four top prospects that the NHL trotted out for reporters. The other three were Nico Hischier, Nolan Patrick, and Casey Mittelstadt, the first, second, and eighth picks, respectively.

    If there’s a knock on Vilardi, it’s his skating. To really thrive in the NHL, it’ll need to get better. That’s why he’s off to Minnesota this summer to work with power-skating coach Barry Karn.

    “I know what I need to work on,” he said. “I got a plan in place.”

    Vilardi just won the Memorial Cup with the Windsor Spitfires. Now he’ll be joining a team that’s won two Stanley Cups in the last six years with the likes of Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, and Drew Doughty.

    “I watch Kopitar a lot,” Vilardi said. “I really like the way he plays. I think some of his attributes are similar to mine. He’s so smart with the puck. He’s tough to knock off the puck. I can’t wait to go there, meet him and take whatever I can from him and apply it to my own game.”

    Related: Gabriel Vilardi deserves your attention

    Getting drafted by Wings a ‘dream come true’ for Rasmussen

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    CHICAGO — The first thing you notice about Michael Rasmussen is his size.

    This is a big kid the Detroit Red Wings just drafted out of the Western Hockey League.

    Rasmussen stands 6-foot-6 and weighs around 215 pounds. The 18-year-old center scored 32 goals in 50 games for the Tri-City Americans last season.

    “I’ve got a big wing span, so I protect the puck well,” he said after going ninth overall Friday at United Center. “When I have the puck, I pride myself on not getting it taken from me.”

    For the Red Wings, this is a big pick in another way. Amazingly, Rasmussen is the first top-10 selection the organization has made since 1991, when Martin Lapointe was drafted 10th overall.

    In other words, GM Ken Holland better be right about this kid.

    Read more: A very different draft for Detroit

    To realize his potential in the NHL, Rasmussen knows he’ll need to get faster on the ice.

    “Obviously, being a big guy it’s tough to get a bigger frame around,” he said. “It’s something I’ll work hard on this summer with my speed coach. It’s something I need to improve for sure.”

    A Vancouver native, Rasmussen was naturally a Canucks fan growing up. He particularly admired the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel.

    “They were always in the community and giving back,” he said. “That’s something I admire, even more than their play. They’re amazing leaders and amazing people. They’ve done a lot for the city of Vancouver.”

    Now Rasmussen hopes to do a lot for his future home and team.

    “I think it was one of my hopes that I could go to Detroit,” he said. “My combine meeting went really well. It was in my mind that this was a place that I really wanted to go to. It’s a dream come true definitely.”

    After meteoric rise up rankings, Makar goes fourth overall to Avs

    For all the talk about Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick, at least one NHL scout believes Cale Makar is the best prospect in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

    The Colorado Avalanche sure hope that scout is right after they picked Makar fourth overall Friday at United Center.

    The 18-year-old defenseman has experienced a meteoric rise up the rankings the past year. In the process, he’s drawn tantalizing comparisons to Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, who just happens to be Makar’s favorite player.

    Makar didn’t even play in Canada’s top junior league last season. He’s a member of the Brooks Bandits, part of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. In that way, he’s a bit like another Ottawa player, Kyle Turris, who got drafted third overall in 2007 out of the BCHL.

    Makar had 24 goals and 51 assists in 75 games for the Bandits in 2016-17.

    “I don’t know if it matters what league he plays in,” Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said earlier this week. “He’s going to be a good player. … We watched him last year. He grew over the summer. He came back this year and he was even more dynamic than he was last year. He’s an exciting player.”

    The Canucks, by the way, drafted Swedish center Elias Pettersson with the fifth overall selection.

    Related: Makar makes for a compelling prospect